While race winner Max Verstappen and polesitter Lando Norris were able to break away at the front, the mid-pack was defined by DRS trains and high levels of lifting and coasting to control tyre wear and temperatures.
All but three racers started the 24-lap Saturday race on soft tyres, while the three medium runners (both Haas cars and Logan Sargeant of Williams) complained of similarly bad wear come the halfway point.
Leading the complaints was Williams driver Alex Albon, who reckoned the tyres felt “terrible to drive” and that the hard compound was unusable – he added that both elements were reoccurring features of hotter races.
After climbing four places to 15th, he said: “It looked like a scrap everywhere. It was a slow race.
“The [degradation] is just massive. It feels terrible to drive, to be honest.
“I think everyone must be terrible because the pace was actually not that bad but the racing didn’t feel good for me. So, it is tough.
“It feels like it’s a strange one because obviously when you have that much deg, you think everyone should have just gone on harder tyres. But the hard tyres are just so bad around here that you have to use the soft tyre because they’ve got the grip to begin with.
“These tyres are just not good. You have to manage them so much.”
Photo by: Simon Galloway / Motorsport Images
Alex Albon, Williams FW45, Zhou Guanyu, Alfa Romeo C43, Logan Sargeant, Williams FW45
Albon reckoned this had also been the case in Mexico, Qatar, the United States and in qualifying.
He continued: “There’s a lot of deg, especially when we get to hotter climates and tough tracks with high deg. These old Tarmac tracks tend to really eat into the tyres.
“It feels like when we’re driving around, it’s just such a [management] race.
“It’s been a while now that we’ve been on these tyres, so I don’t think much is going to change.”
Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes F1 W14, Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing RB19
Lewis Hamilton reckoned he had never previously experienced such extreme degradation at the Sao Paulo circuit, while AlphaTauri driver Daniel Ricciardo laid some of the blame with the actual track surface.
After finishing ninth, the Australian said: “The track was super weird, obviously with the tyres as well. This asphalt here is bad. It sucks.”
“So, I don’t feel like it’s particularly bad this year compared to other years. It’s pretty similar.
“I’ve been struggling as much as I’ve been struggling in the last few years in terms of overheating and managing it. But it’s always the case.”
Additional reporting by Adam Cooper
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