Much of the intrigue of the 2015 FIA Formula 1 World Championship campaign has been drained away by Lewis Hamilton‘s dominance. It’s not always as much fun for fans when the championship is decided before the end of the year, but it’s not as if it’s uncommon. Many years we see a dominant champion take control of the standings with several races to spare, and 2015 is just another example: Hamilton has already been crowned World Champion, once again.
However, that doesn’t mean the final weeks of the season can’t be entertaining. In fact, recent years at the Brazil Grand Prix have produced a number of memorable moments that should serve as a reminder for how much drama the country’s F1 races inspire.
In 2014 the race was even more of a non-factor in the standings than it will be this year, as Hamilton and Nico Rosberg had the top two spots locked up. Nevertheless, the race is interesting in retrospect because Nico Rosberg put in a very strong performance in Sao Paulo. Rosberg will be looking to wrap up second place this time around, and he’s likely going to secure that place on the podium. But with Sebastian Vettel hot on his heels, he’ll need to turn in another great race in Brazil, which adds an element of intrigue this season. Also of note is the fact that Rosberg is going through some drama on his own team, with Lewis Hamilton recently suggesting that Mercedes cost him a win in order to keep Rosberg happy at the Mexican Grand Prix. Should next week’s race come down to Hamilton and Rosberg battling for position, things could get very interesting.
Even more interesting is the fact that Vettel triumphed decisively at the same race in 2013. At the time, it was the German’s ninth straight Grand Prix victory, part of one of the most dominant runs we’ve seen in Formula 1 in many years. It may not be relevant to Vettel’s performance next week given that his 2013 win came with Red Bull and he’s now with Ferrari and fighting from behind, but the memory of that dominance could help him to mount a serious challenge to Rosberg’s spot on the podium.
Beyond the last couple of years, some of the most dramatic and significant moments at the Brazilian Grand Prix, at least with relevance to this year’s race, took place back in the late 2000s. And looking at them in a modern context feels almost strange. Where we sit in 2015, Lewis Hamilton is almost as untouchable atop the F1 standings as Vettel was a few years ago. One recent analysis made the case that Hamilton has become statistically the best British F1 driver of all time, and he’s already wrapped up a second consecutive championship and third top finish overall. But back in 2007, Hamilton was still a young driver chasing his first title, and he needed a strong performance in Brazil to keep hope alive.
The race, which was then a season finale, proved to be a nightmare for Hamilton. Kimi Raikkonen won to snatch the title by a single point, as Hamilton experienced problems with his car and was denied a first title that he had appeared on the cusp of winning. Then, sure enough, Hamilton came back in 2008 and while he didn’t produce a masterful performance, his fifth-place finish in Brazil secured his first world title. When that happened, he became the youngest driver to win the world championship (though Vettel stole this record two years later).
Considering all this recent history, next week’s race in Brazil should actually be packed with drama. Hamilton has a unique history in the country, and while he’s already assured the championship, one can imagine there’s a part of him that simply wants to conquer the track. Meanwhile, Vettel and Rosberg have both been champions in Brazil, and they’re the two men with the most to race for this time around. Whatever happens between these three, it should be a thrill to watch.