By Sarah Peddie
Round 20 of the Formula One championship is fast approaching as the teams head to Interlagos for the Brazilian Grand Prix this weekend.
Formula One has been going to the iconic circuit for 45 years, with the first ever race won by home hero and two time world champion Emerson Fittipaldi in 1973. However, this year there are no Brazilian drivers on the grid for the home fans to cheer on for the first time since 1969.
With Lewis Hamilton winning his fifth World Drivers’ title two weeks ago at the Mexican Grand Prix, Mercedes are looking to do the double again this year as they could be crowned constructors’ champions on Sunday.
The Drivers’ Championship may have come to an end but there are still a lot of things to look forward to this weekend.
Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel won the Brazilian Grand Prix last year from pole position on the grid and will be looking to do the same again this year. If Vettel can win the race again this year then he will be helping his team challenge for the Constructors’ title which has been won by Mercedes for the last four seasons.
Mercedes are currently 55 points ahead of their main rivals Ferrari with two rounds of the 2018 season remaining. Ferrari must outscore Mercedes by winning the full 43 points available (25 for first place and 18 for second) if they want the challenge for the title to continue onto the last round in Abu Dhabi.
Beatrice Zamuner, a journalist for MotorLAT, expressed that the weather is an important factor when it comes to the race at Interlagos: “The weather is always key in Brazil, as we’ve seen many wet races in the history of this event. Tyre strategies might be swept away by rain, which can level the performances amongst the top teams.”
Ferrari haven’t won the Constructors’ championship since 2008 when Lewis Hamilton won his very first World Drivers’ Championship ten years ago.
Beatrice then adds: “If both Ferraris drive as competitively as Raikkonen did in the US and Vettel in Mexico, they can have a clear shot at the constructors’. Both packages are close in terms of competitiveness, after Ferrari decided to take one or two steps backwards following Singapore.”
Aaron Gillard, an F1 journalist for The Checkered Flag, gave his thoughts on the upcoming race: “Brazil often produced some unexpected races, mainly due to the weather as it can be unpredictable due to the climate of the Sao Paulo area.
“It’s a retro circuit with a lot of history and can often be challenging for the drivers’ and cars. The tyres can often be a factor due to the heat and stress it’ll take through the corners, especially the middle sector.”
He adds: “If Ferrari can be consistent over the next two races, then they can certainly provide a challenge to Mercedes for the constructors’ title. But it’ll be a big ask as Hamilton and Bottas have been very consistent throughout this season.”
Red Bull will be hungry for more race wins this season as Max Verstappen won his second race of the season two weeks ago at the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez in Mexico. They will be looking for their fourth race win before the season comes to an end. If the race is in mixed or wet conditions then the team may have a chance of fighting for a podium or a win.
Aaron adds: “Red Bull could be a contender if it’s wet. Verstappen has shown what he can do around in 2015 in the dry and then in the wet in 2016. But the long straights could be a downside to their package and will leave them vulnerable to the likes of Mercedes and Ferrari.”
Beatrice also adds: “However, in normal conditions I would say Red Bull is no longer a favourite. Mexico is a rather atypical track, where altitude affects the overall performances and the combination of straights and Monaco-style corners suited Red Bull.”
Verstappen’s Red Bull teammate Daniel Ricciardo experienced his eighth DNF of the season in Mexico. After the race Ricciardo commented on the reliability of his car and said that he did not see the point in continuing the remaining races of the season.
A few days after the race, Ricciardo posted a video on his Instagram account telling his fans that he will be taking part in the remaining races before he parts ways with his current team to join Renault next season in 2019.
The race on Sunday will start at 18:10 UK time and there will no doubt be a high chance of rain in the air.