F1 Preview: The Brazilian Grand Prix
November 07, 2016
The destination of the 2016 Formula One (F1) World Championship remains very much under the regiment of Nico Rosberg, but even the current front runner was powerless in preventing Lewis Hamilton registering a second consecutive Grand Prix (GP) victory in Mexico.
Rosberg was unable to live with the undiluted speed of his Mercedes ally as Hamilton emerged victorious from a weekend in which he exhibited complete control on his way to a 51st GP win that puts him level with Alain Prost in second place on the all-time winners roll of honour.
However, Rosberg will be relieved that he still has the assurance of his “one race at a time” doctrine to fall back on following an early scare in front of the 120,000 animated spectators in attendance when Red Bull’s Max Verstappen collided with the 31-year-old at the first corner following an overtaking attempt by the Dutchman.
Despite having to diverge onto the grass, Rosberg recovered to ensure that his arch-rival could only curtail seven points from his championship lead whilst still having the luxury of knowing that two more runner-up finishes from the last two outings will be enough to edge him over the definitive line.
The next chapter in this topsy-turvy title race will be written in Brazil – a circuit that historically appears to favour Rosberg who has triumphed at Interlagos the last two years. It is one of two circuits on the current F1 calendar that Hamilton has never secured victory at, but momentum is firmly with the British number one as he aims to master the anti-clockwise hilly course of South America – steeped in inclines and possessing one of the longest pit-lanes ever used within the sport.
Despite his commanding lead, Rosberg is refraining from daring to dream of lifting the coveted prize, even though victory on Sunday will kill off the title race with a race to spare. “I don’t think about the title. I’ll just be in the moment and that’s it.”
Aside from Rosberg, Sebastian Vettel was the last driver still competing in F1 to succeed in Brazil when he triumphed in 2013 during his title-winning campaign. The Ferrari driver was involved in a breathless finish in Mexico which sparked heated scenes with the Red Bull pairing of Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo, resulting in Vettel being demoted from third to fifth after stewards deemed his change of direction under braking to be “potentially dangerous”.
Expect another Mercedes duel for first prize in Brazil as these two cutthroat competitors collide at the penultimate stage of the run-in. Rosberg has been priced at evens with Betfair – fantastic odds given his track record at Interlagos. An in-form Hamilton can be backed at 11/13 with Betsafe, whilst the hot-headed Vettel is 23/2 to repeat his heroics from three years ago.
One can only admire the resilience and defiance of Hamilton in refusing to surrender his crown without a fight and he will recognise that if he can take the championship to the final day, the captivated neutral will be in for a dramatic finale. After all, this is Formula One and anything is possible.