First, Last & Only: 5 milestone events from the Brazilian Grand Prix

Did you know that the 2003 Brazilian Grand Prix was the last race to feature only two drivers on the podium? Or that Graham Hill made his final Formula 1 start at Interlagos in 1975? Here are five momentous F1 occasions which have taken place at the Interlagos circuit.

1980: First win for Rene Arnoux

Rene Arnoux took the first victory of his career at the 1980 Brazilian Grand Prix. It was Arnoux’s Renault team-mate Jean-Pierre Jabouille who had taken pole position for the event, while Arnoux qualified sixth. Renault were aided by the high altitude of the Interlagos circuit, which suited their turbocharged car.

Though Jabouille lost a position to Gilles Villeneuve at the start, the Frenchman took the lead back on the second lap. By Lap 14, the Renaults were running first and second, but a turbo failure for Jabouille put an end to his race just past the halfway point. From there, Arnoux led to the end and took his maiden Grand Prix win. Arnoux’s victory marked only the second win for Renault, as well as the second win for a turbocharged car.

2018: First Brazil race with no home driver

The 2018 Brazilian Grand Prix was the first time that the Brazilian Grand Prix had been held without featuring a Brazilian driver. A Brazilian driver has won the race eight times. Emerson Fittipaldi, Nelson Piquet, Ayrton Senna and Felipe Massa each won their home event twice during their careers. Piquet’s two victories are the only two which were not won in Interlagos. Brazilians have also done pretty well in qualifying here too, with Senna, Barrichello and Massa sharing the record for most Interlagos poles, along with Mika Hakkinen and Lewis Hamilton.

Following Felipe Massa’s retirement at the end of 2017, the 2018 race was the first one in which the partisan crowd had no home driver to cheer on. Massa’s illness at the 2017 Hungarian Grand Prix meant that race was the first Formula 1 Grand Prix to not feature a Brazilian driver since the 1982 San Marino Grand Prix.

1975: Last start for Graham Hill

Graham Hill made his final Formula 1 start at the 1975 Brazilian Grand Prix. This was Hill’s 175th race start – over fifty more than Jack Brabham, who was second in the list at the time. Hill’s career had started eighteen seasons prior, at the 1958 Monaco Grand Prix. Since then, he had won two World Championships and in 1973 founded his own team, Embassy.

The outfit was largely uncompetitive, and Hill scored only one point in his final three years in the sport, with a sixth place finish at the 1974 Swedish Grand Prix. His final race appearance came at Interlagos in 1975, where he finished only twelfth and a lap down on local winner Carlos Pace. Hill would attempt to qualify for two more races that season – the South African and Monaco Grands Prix – but failed to qualify at either event.

2003: Last podium to feature only two drivers

There was plenty of confusion after Red Flags brought an early end to the 2003 Brazilian Grand Prix. The race was stopped on Lap 56 following heavy crashes for Fernando Alonso and Mark Webber. The result was declared as Kimi Raikkonen being the winner, Giancarlo Fisichella second and Alonso third. Alonso had suffered bruising to his left elbow, knee and thigh and as a result missed the podium celebrations. It’s the most recent occasion in F1 history that only two drivers have appeared on the podium.

Neither McLaren nor Jordan were sure who the real winner was, and there were suggestions of an error in the timekeeping. After the matter went to court, it was decided that Fisichella had actually won the race. It was the Italian’s first win and the Jordan team’s fourth and final victory in Formula 1. It meant that none of the three drivers had stood in the correct position on the podium!

2010: Only pole for Hulkenberg

Nico Hulkenberg took the only pole position of his 179-race Formula 1 career at the 2010 Brazilian Grand Prix. The unexpected pole came as the result of a rain-hit qualifying session in the German’s rookie season. After a long delay to qualifying’s concluding session, Hulkenberg did a much better job of getting his tyres to the correct temperature on his out lap in the trying conditions, and was able to deliver Williams’ first pole position in over five years. He lapped 0.049s faster than Sebastian Vettel.

In the race, Hulkenberg was overtaken by the two Red Bull drivers on the first lap and eventually finished down in eighth place – the lowest finish for an Interlagos polesitter who has not retired from the race. Hulkenberg would go on to lead the Brazilian Grand Prix two years later with a strong drive in similarly damp conditions. However, a collision with Lewis Hamilton saw him finish only fifth.

The 2021 Brazilian Grand Prix takes place at Interlagos on November 12-14.