After a long season, Formula One arrives in Brazil for the final round of the 2013 championship.
Everything has long since been decided in Vettel and Red Bull’s favour, but there will still be plenty of interest this weekend. There are those who are leaving the sport entirely, those who are moving to other teams for 2014, and some who are yet to secure their futures in the sport.
As ever, plenty of attention will be on Red Bull. However, for once, it is likely that the focus will be on Mark Webber, and not Sebastian Vettel. The affable Australian will be taking part in his final Grand Prix, and will be determined to go out on a high. 2013 has been something of a year to forget for Webber, who has often endured a rotten amount of misfortune and sheer bad luck.
But his recent upturn in form suggests that he could be a difficult man to beat, particularly at Interlagos. He won here in 2009 – a success that was, unfortunately for him, overshadowed by Jenson Button claiming the title. He also won here in 2011, partly due to a gearbox problem that slowed Vettel, but he’ll certainly be one to watch this weekend. A victory would be a great way to sign off from F1, before he officially begins life as a Porsche driver on Monday.
It’ll also be an emotional weekend for Felipe Massa. Unlike Webber, he won’t be leaving the sport, but he will be leaving Ferrari. The Brazilian Grand Prix is the last time we’ll see Massa as a Ferrari driver, as he moves on to Williams for 2014. He’s had seven years at the Italian team, and won this very race in 2006 and 2008. Spurred on by the vocal home support, will he be able to finish on the podium as he did last year?
Then there are those drivers who may well be driving for their careers. Sergio Perez, Nico Hulkenberg, Esteban Gutierrez, Paul di Resta, Adrian Sutil, Pastor Maldonado, Giedo van der Garde and Charles Pic will all have something to prove as they attempt to impress potential employers. Hulkenberg in particular has a fantastic record here. In 2010, he memorably claimed pole position, whilst 12 months ago he was challenging for victory until he tangled with Lewis Hamilton.
This event also marks the end of an era. Since 2006, Formula One circuits around the world have echoed to the sound of 2.4 litre V8s. That will all change for 2014, and this will be the last time the high revving engines, which have provided the soundtrack to F1 for seven years, will be used.
There is also something else teams will have to consider this weekend. Rain.
Over the years, we’ve seen some crazy rain affected races at this track. From the chaos of 2003, to the final corner championship decider of 2008, and the drama of 2012, rain has always added excitement to the Brazilian Grand Prix.
Incredibly, so far this year, we haven’t had a single wet race. There are indications that may well change though, with rain being forecast at some point over the next three days. For those who have become bored by Vettel’s dominance, a chaotic wet race may be just the tonic the doctor ordered as the sport enters its winter break.
Will Vettel extend his winning streak to nine races, or will someone else finally take the fight to the four times champion? It certainly shapes up to be a fascinating race weekend.