After two years away from the Formula 1 circuit, the Autodromo de Interlagos will once again receive the class cars for the So Paulo Grand Prix this Friday (12), a testament to the fact that the championship will play an important role in the decision. could. in 2021.
That’s because Dutchman Max Verstappen from Red Bull, and Briton Lewis Hamilton from Mercedes, compete from race to race, for the lead of the season.
Verstappen comes 19th out of 22 races in 2021, with 312.5 points in the Drivers’ Championship, just 19 ahead of Hamilton. And, in team contention, Mercedes only has a one point advantage over Red Bull.
The race at Interlagos will be held in a special format – adopted only at Silverstone, England and Monza, Italy – with a sprint race performance on Saturday (13) to define the starting grid on Sunday (see times below,
With this, instead of the 26 points that Sunday’s winner might normally accumulate – considering 1 bonus point if he also marks the fastest lap –, the So Paulo GP will distribute up to 29 points, as the sprint races. The winner gets three extra points. Number.
Thus, in the most optimistic scenario (win in both races and fastest lap on Sunday) the Dutchman could extend his advantage to 28 points, leaving Hamilton no longer dependent on his own results to become world champion for the eighth time.
On the other hand, if Mercedes’ multi-champion achieves the weekend’s maximum score, it could reduce its loss in the competition to almost 50% and reach the next stage, in Qatar, just 10 points behind its rival. .
The Constructors’ Championship will also see fierce competition. With these scenarios of Vertappen and Hamilton (without considering their teammates’ potential scores), Red Bull could leave Brazil with at least 10 points more or Mercedes could increase its margin to 12 points.
Mercedes has a positive track record in Brazil
Since the introduction of the hybrid engine in Formula 1 in 2014, Mercedes has dominated the category. The Germans established the greatest hegemony in the history of the sport, winning seven consecutive world titles, six of them with Hamilton.
This is also reflected in victories in all stages of the category, including at the Autodromo de Interlagos, where they took the top positions on the podium in 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2018.
The exceptions were 2017, when the victory was for Sebastian Vettel, then at Ferrari, and in 2019 – the last time the race was played in the country – when the winner was precisely Verstappen.
On that occasion, however, Hamilton had claimed his sixth world title two weeks earlier, having finished second at the US Grand Prix.
This year, Red Bull came in as the favorite – and confirmed the position – in several stages. The team has already won 10 races against six Mercedes victories. At Interlagos, however, the two are expected to fight on an equal footing for first place, from the first minute of free practice until the last lap of the race on Sunday.
other important disputes
Although the 2021 title shot is the highlight, Interlagos could also help define other important prizes in F1.
This is the case, for example, for third place in the Constructors’ Championship disputed by Ferrari and McLaren. The Italians lead with 268.5 points, while the English team has 255 points.
Thus, the results of Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz for the Italian Scuderia and Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo for the English could be fundamental to their teams’ intentions.
And, right behind in the team competition, in fifth and sixth place, another matter is even more uncertain, as French Alpine and Italian Alphatauri are tied with 106 points each.
These controversies are significant because the prize Liberty Media – Formula 1 organizers – gives to each team depends on their final position in the Constructors’ Championship.
It is also to finish third in the drivers’ championship, with at least three competitors fighting for the position: Valtteri Bottas, from Mercedes, with 185 points, Sergio Pérez, from Red Bull, with 165, and Lando. Norris, from McLaren, with 150.
Check out the F1 Sao Paulo GP schedule:
- First Free Training: 12:30 PM to 1:30 PM
- Eligibility: 4 PM to 5 PM
- Second free training: 12 noon to 1 pm
- Sprint Race: 4:30 PM to 5:00 PM