Our former F1 scribe comes out of retirement to give his views on Sunday’s Brazilian Grand Prix.
With just two races to go, the battle for the 2016 Drivers’ Championship is about to reach boiling point. Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton are separated by only 19 points on the standings. So if Hamilton can claim victory at Interlagos this weekend, the fate of the 2016 Drivers’ Championship title will be decided at the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
The Mexican Grand Prix may not have produced the riveting racing action we were all hoping for but at least the race result ensured that the battle for the Drivers’ Championship would still be alive heading into the penultimate race weekend of the year.
Lewis Hamilton dominated proceedings at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, claiming pole and converting that into a race victory. The defending Drivers’ champion was followed across the line by teammate and title rival Nico Rosberg while Red Bull man, Daniel Ricciardo, was awarded the final podium position due to Max Verstappen and Sebastian Vettel’s indiscretions.
The Dutch youngster looked to have gained an unfair advantage in his battle with Vettel when he ran off the track. His team then ordered him to give the place to Vettel, who had already been hit with a time penalty. Verstappen refused and, as expected, was hit with a five-second penalty which saw him relegated to fifth place at the conclusion of the race, while Vettel dropped to fourth due to his time penalty.
Daniel Ricciardo was the man who capitalised on Verstappen and Vettel’s faux pas, with the Aussie being promoted from fifth to third.
The rest of the top ten was rounded out by Kimi Raikkonen (sixth), Nico Hulkenberg (seventh), Valterri Bottas (eight), Felipe Massa (ninth) and Sergio Perez (tenth).
The Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace hosted its first Grand Prix way back in 1976 and instantly became a favourite amongst drivers and spectator alike. The Locals are passionate about their racing mainly due to the legacy left by racing legend Ayton Senna. The Sao Paulo native was one of the finest drivers to ever take to the track and is still an inspiration to aspiring drivers throughout Brazil.
The total race distance measures 305.909 kilometres and is made up of 71 laps, with each lap spanning a distance of 4.309 Kilometres and containing 15 corners. There are some extremely long straights which will favour the two Mercedes men. We’re also likely to see a lot of dueling on these straights between the middle of the field especially with the two DRS zones situated on the longest straights: between corners three and four, and the start finish straight.
The weather gods are certainly not smiling on the race organisers with thunderstorms being predicted for Friday’s practice sessions and Saturday’s qualifying stints. Sunday will see a bit less rain but the field may well have to switch onto the wets at some point.
Brazilian Grand Prix | Sunday 13 November | Interlagos | 17:30
To Win Outright
Lewis Hamilton 8/10 | Nico Rosberg 16/10 | Daniel Ricciardo 11/1 | Max Verstappen 12/1 | Max Verstappen 12/1 | Sebastian Vettel 12/1 | Kimi Raikkonen 33/1
Podium Finish: Sebastian Vettel (Yes) 26/10
Vettel has a healthy record at Interlagos, claiming victory at the track in 2010 and 2013. He may not be in the form of his life but at 26/10 for a podium finish, I will certainly be bombing R50 on him. There is a bit of a catch to this one, though, as the Ferrari man may not even take to the track after being threatened with a race ban due to the expletives he bombarded FIA Race Director Charlie Whiting with. The FIA are set to reach a verdict on Vettel by Thursday afternoon. If he is cleared to race, I strongly recommend having a punt on him securing a podium finish.
To Win Outright & Fastest Qualifier: Lewis Hamilton 8/10 & 9/10
I tipped the Brit to deliver under pressure last time out and he did just that. His victory in Mexico has heaped the pressure on Rosberg and I can see him adding further pressure on his teammate this coming Sunday.
Fastest Lap: Kimi Raikkonen 14/1
Daniel Ricciardo secured the fastest lap out in and I reckon one of the bigger price drivers will do it again. And I quite fancy Kimi Raikkonen to be that man. While he doesn’t have the fastest car on circuit, the Finn is more than capable of making up for his lack of speed with race craft. At 14/1 he’s certainly worth a small punt.