The title is decided. Lewis Hamilton is the 2017 Formula 1 World Champion. Second place though? That’s very much still up for grabs.
Whilst Sebastian Vettel was an early contender for the title, looking like a potential five-times world champion, since the summer break the top spot slipped further from reach, ultimately becoming unattainable last time out.
The German currently holds onto second-place by a slim fifteen-point lead over Hamilton’s teammate Valtteri Bottas. Fifteen points in two races is very attainable, and with the Ferrari man’s form in the previous few races, could he suffer a final bout of misfortune to slip to the third step of the podium? Formula 1 heads to the Autódromo José Carlos Pace to find out.
Following on from the highest-altitude race on the calendar at the Autódromo Hermanos Rodriguez, Formula 1 heads to the second-highest altitude track this weekend to let drivers battle it out over the fifteen-turn, 2.67-mile track.
The circuit itself is carved into the Brazilian hillside, snaking down from the start-finish line towards turn five, before climbing and weaving back up to the pit straight, providing a natural amphitheater for fans to watch and adding an extra element into the mix.
The Sao Paulo track is one of the few on the calendar with real history, with real excitement, and with real penalties for making slight mistakes. The track has seen some fearsome crashes, including Jos Verstappen‘s four-car shunt in his opening race and the Mark Webber – Fernando Alonso incident which saw Webber’s car dismantled and strewn across the track, before Alonso rounded the final corner and collided with a separated wheel. Thankfully both were relatively unscathed, and the ferocious final corner has remained.
Champions crowned, legends made
Brazil is the home country of Formula 1 legend Ayrton Senna and, with the track’s first corners bearing his name, the circuit has created some equally legendary drives. Sebastian Vettel was able to win the championship in 2012 despite travelling through backwards on the first lap, whilst four years earlier Lewis Hamilton took his first world championship at the track.
Just last year we saw Max Verstappen put in arguably the most incredible drive of recent times to take a valiant third position in the wet, taking to the podium amid chants of “Senna” from the Brazilian crowd. When the Brazilian crowd are chanting the great man’s name at you, you know you’ve done something right.
An emotional track for Massa
Whilst it may be a Brazilian track, Brazil’s own Felipe Massa has had a tough time at Interlagos. 2008 saw him win the World Championship, only to see it cruelly taken away by Lewis Hamilton (with the help of Timo Glock) almost forty seconds later. This was to be the closest he would come to a Championship, having it taken away at his home track, in front of his home fans.
Just last year we saw tears again, as he crashed out during what was, at the time, his final Formula 1 race, and marched down the pit lane to claps and cheers from each of the teams’ crews. This year we see him retire again – will we see the same display of emotion from not only him, but the rest of the Formula 1 paddock?
What do I need to know?
The race starts at 4pm on Sunday, with qualifying also starting at 4pm on Saturday. It will be live on Sky Sports, with highlights race highlights shown at 10:30pm on Channel 4 on Sunday.
The weather, unfortunately, looks to be dry.
It will also be the second running of the Brendon Hartley / Pierre Gasly format for Scuderia Toro Rosso, following the official demotion of Daniil Kvyat.
Should I watch it?
Brazil is a passionate country, with even more passionate fans. The circuit is one of the last of a dying breed – circuits on the Formula 1 calendar that haven’t been designed by Hermann Tilke – and as such means that not only are there a mixture of corners, but mistakes on some parts of the track can be incredibly costly – both in terms of broken cars and in terms of time (who can forget Kimi Raikkonen‘s incident in 2012?). Throw in the end-of-term feeling that comes when a title is decided, and you’ve got the makings of a brilliant race.
If you’re still not convinced, take a final look at what Brazil can produce before deciding not to watch.