E s is my last trip of the year. For the second time in my career, the hell of Sao Paulo is waiting for me. This is what colleague Michael Schmidt calls Brazil's megacity. He mainly refers to traffic. It takes between 45 minutes and an hour and a half to fight our way from the hotel to the race track. For a distance of around 20 kilometers.
Police officers every 200 meters
The horn is as important as an inconspicuous car. We get a Peugeot 2008 from the rental company. It is inconspicuous and not a target for the bandits. There are four of us in the car. Schmidt controls, Roger Benoit from the Swiss view smokes a cigar in the passenger seat, Lennart Wermke from Bild and I share the back seat. After the raids in 2017, Sao Paulo is preparing. After negotiations with the FIA, the mayor promises a large police presence. And he keeps his word.
From Thursday the police officers will be stationed at all entrances from the favelas to the main street and secure Formula 1. They stand every 200 meters. The teams drive to the racetrack in a convoy. Hell is safe this time. We just have to adjust a little. The press center closes earlier than usual. On race Sunday for example at 11pm. After that, the police can no longer guarantee our safety.
Our neighborhood is one of the better ones in town. Nevertheless, the high-rise buildings are secured with security guards, cameras and meter-high fences. We can move around the streets without fear. We are drawn to the Churrascaria three times. Tender meat, caipirinha, crema di papaya: Sao Paulo also has its good sides. To get to the pointbring. The traffic is sore, but somehow every trip is still fun. Otherwise, the Brazilian GP is a wonderful Grand Prix.
With a view of the Senna-S
The press center is one of the best of the year. With a view of the Senna-S, turn three and part of the back straight. The wifi is free. If you want a better line, you have to pay 300 euros. But it is not necessary. The standard bandwidth is completely sufficient to tap slideshows into the net and to build articles into our editorial system.
The season is drawing to a close. The journalists no longer really know what to ask. The drivers are no longer quite sure what to answer. “The season feels like we're doing 25 races,” groans World Champion Lewis Hamilton. Most of the stories are told. Still there are a few. For example, that Robert Kubica should be close to a deal with Williams.
On Friday training, Nico Hülkenberg dismantled his Renault. It's a 32g impact that destroys the suspensions and body panels. Nothing is missing from the pilot. The long runs indicate a close race. The usual thing happens on Saturday. As soon as Mercedes and Ferrari turn up, Red Bull falls away. But on race Sunday the balance of power turns. Suddenly the RB14 is the fastest car. Max Verstappen plays with Kimi Räikkönen, Sebastian Vettel, Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton. Daniel Ricciardo almost plows onto the podium from eleventh place after an engine penalty.
Ocon knocks out Verstappen
After 43 laps, Verstappen looks like the sure winner. Then Esteban Ocon sneaks up from behind and sits down in the Senna-S to the right of Verstappen. In the second part of the curve, the two do not agree on the right of way. Ocon knocks Verstappen off the slopes. A lap costs the front runner the victory. Hamilton dusts off, Mercedes is constructors' world champion.
Verstappen freaks out after the race and attacks Ocon on the FIA scales. The Red Bull bosses are furious. At Force India, you don't understand why Verstappen didn't just let Ocon go. After all, the Frenchman was with freshTires faster. 'Verstappen just had to bring the race home,' says Force India team boss Otmar Szafnauer. Verstappen's bump punishes the FIA with community hours.
Ferrari is standing next to him. In the qualification, Vettel missed the pole by only 93 thousandths. But a day later, his car is transformed. Sensor and balance problems cause a roll backwards. Instead of the hoped-for victory, only a sixth place jumps out. In between, Vettel even has to drive aside for his teammate.
Ferrari and the press laps
Ferrari keeps silent about the exact reasons for the poor performance. What kind of sensor problems? “We can't say any more.” It's a shame that the most successful racing team in Formula 1 history is so ingrained. You don't have to tell everything. The others don't do that either. But Ferrari is the only team that does not even manage to post a notice with the drivers' media appointments in the press center. And Ferrari is the only team that does not distinguish between TV and print media. The pilots then speak behind the garage for five to ten minutes. The TV teams fight for the best seats and in between the writing guild squeezes with a recording device. So that your arm almost falls off. I think: Ferrari is harming itself.
The historic achievement of Mercedes is almost going under a little. The fifth consecutive constructors' title follows the fifth driver title in a row. The best driver in the best team: The 2019 World Championship titles will once again only go to Mercedes.
In our photo show, we look back on our week of racing in Sao Paulo.