Red Bull will hope to increase their championship lead at the iconic Interlagos circuit.
After putting in another dominating performance last weekend in the Mexican Grand Prix, Red Bull will head into this week’s race full of confidence and for the first time since 2013, they have a real shot at winning the double championship.
Although the circuit should suit the Austrian team, the title fight is far from over. Lewis Hamilton‘s resilience in Mexico, coupled with the fact that he’s a two-time winner at the track, will boost the confidence of the German team and the championship contender.
It’s safe to say that the race will only be decided on the track come Sunday and nothing else will matter till then.
One of the most iconic and universally loved circuits on the calendar, the Interlagos circuit is an anti-clockwise circuit with multiple left-hand corners that test the physicality of the drivers.
The lap starts with a slight incline into Turn 1 before plunging down into the Senna S at almost 220 km/h. Drivers need to be aware and avoid locking their fronts while maintaining a high average speed which sets them up for the DRS blast heading into Turns 4 and 5.
Drivers then need to hit the brakes before pulling into a left that leads into a small straight that heads into an infield section where the final DRS zone lies.
Heading towards Turn 6, it’s an elevation shift and the next few turns see off-chamber corners, grassy run offs and lots of g-force pressure on the drivers.
Between Turns 6 and 10, although there aren’t many overtaking spots, the quick-fire section does test one’s car setup.
Turn 11 is a high-speed one and leads into the downhill run towards Turn 12 where braking is critical for the drivers, and as the drivers head into the long bends of Turns 13, 14, 15, one needs to maximise the exit from the low-speed corner and breeze into the main straight.
THINGS TO LOOK FORWARD TO
Sprint is back
Apart from it being one of the tightest championship seasons, what the 2021 FIA Formula One World Championship has also given us is the Sprint format.
The Brazilian Grand Prix will see the final Sprint of 2021, which has already been hugely successful in Silverstone and Monza. The Sprint format has not only brought a breath of fresh air in the paddock but also will play a crucial part in the championship.
The new format sees the Qualifying session set the grid for the 100-km Sprint race on Saturday that decides the final grid for Sunday. What makes it most interesting is the fact that Sprint race winners get three points, and given how close the title fight has been, each point will make a difference.
An interesting factor about the Sprint is that none of the Sprint winners have gone on to win the race on Sunday, and it will be something that drivers will look to change.
All or Nothing
Never in the turbo hybrid era have Mercedes been in this situation. Heading into the final four races of the season, not only do they trail in the Drivers’ Championship, but they also hold just a point’s lead over Red Bull in the Constructors’ Championship.
With Verstappen beginning to pull away with the Drivers’ title, Hamilton knows that his work is cut out whether the track suits him or not. Red Bull have been superior all year long, and its time Hamilton answered back on track, or he will be left second-best.
Hamilton’s teammate, Valtteri Bottas, is another who will have his task cut out, given how Sergio Pérez is playing the perfect foil to Verstappen. The Brackley-based team need both their drivers to drive out of their skin in the remaining four races to bring home the eighth championship title.
But then, if there was any driver in the grid who could take the title away from Verstappen at this point, it would have to be Hamilton.
High stakes in the lower midfield
What makes the ongoing season on of the finest in recent history is the fact that there have been battles going on throughout the grid.
Although Hamilton and Verstappen have taken most of the spotlight, their teammates have been crucial in the Constructors’ battle as well, and two old rivals in Ferrari and McLaren have also been involved in an epic third-place battle.
One battle that has gone under the radar, though, has to be the fifth-place battle between AlphaTauri and Alpine. With new regulations coming in that will see cost caps, a position up or down will make the difference for the teams in the Constructors’ fight.
Alpine and AlphaTauri have been locking horns with each other since the start of the season, when Yuki Tsunoda broke onto the scene in a phenomenal manner, and although the rookie Japanese driver has taken his time to find his feet in Formula One, his experienced race-winning teammate Pierre Gasly has almost single handedly taken the fight to Alpine.
Scoring an incredible 86 points out of the team’s 106, Gasly’s incredible consistency has kept the Italian team in the battle for the fifth place in the Constructors’, and with the Frenchman showing no signs of slowing down, it will take all the experience and skill of Fernando Alonso and his teammate Esteban Ocon to hold on to the fifth place come December 12.
- At the venue where he scored his maiden podium by beating the Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton in a flat-out drag race, Pierre Gasly is not only favourite for points, but he can also conjure up a shock podium if things go haywire ahead of him.
- When Formula One was at Interlagos two years ago, Max Verstappen took a dominating victory that afternoon, and one expects the championship leader to put in a strong show once again.
- Although you can expect Hamilton to put up an epic fight, the Red Bull team this year are probably a touch too far for the German team.
- The already epic and tight fight for the fifth place in the Constructors’ Championship could have been even closer had Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettel not been disqualified from his P2 finish in Hungary. Although that and the aero changes have hit Aston Martin hard this season, heading into the Brazilian Grand Prix, Vettel comes off the back of consecutive points scoring finishes, and the four-time world champion is the most successful driver active on the grid at Interlagos with three previous victories.
- Vettel will hope to score heavily for the British team to end his maiden season with the Silverstone outfit on a high.
Number of Laps – 71
Circuit Length – 4.309 km
Race Distance – 305.879 km
Lap Record – 1:10.540s, (Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes, 2018)