Pride at stake in Brazil after main accolades won
The championship is over, the accolades won; there is nothing left to fight for but pride – and, of course, the Brazilian Grand Prix win.
Last time out in Mexico, Lewis Hamilton wrapped up the Drivers’ Championship to hand Mercedes the 2017 double.
The 32-year-old overcame a slow start to the season – by Mercedes’ standards, at least – to once again write his name in Formula One’s record books as the sport’s mostdecorated British driver with four world titles.
Hamilton, though, is by no means willing to gift the final two races to his rivals.
Needing another two victories to equal his career record of 11 wins in a single season, he insists he won’t let up, telling journalists in Brazil: “It wouldn’t feel normal to back off at this moment. It is the best time ever to apply even more pressure – just because I can. There are still two wins available.”
The Brit doesn’t have a great record at the Interlagos circuit as last year’s wet race handed him his only Brazilian Grand Prix win.
The circuit still holds many good memories as it is here that he wrapped up his first world title back in 2008 by overtaking Timo Glock in the final lap to finish fifth, taking the crown by a single point ahead of Felipe Massa.
Hamilton could face a stern challenge today as Sebastian Vettel and Valtteri Bottas are locked in a battle for second place.
Drivers may tell you it doesn’t matter, that only P1 counts, but second is always better than third.
The duo are separated by 15 points in Vettel’s favour as Bottas reduced the deficit last time out when he finished as runner-up in Mexico, while Vettel was involved in – some would say instigated – firstlap contact that dropped him and Hamilton to the back of the field. He recovered to fourth.
Ferrari have not won in Brazil since 2008, while Mercedes have claimed three on the trot.
As such, the Scuderia will be hoping that the weather levels the playing field, although this weekend’s rain is expected to let up before today’s race.
But the man of the moment is without a doubt Max Verstappen, who has won two of the last four races to outscore his rivals during that time.
With Red Bull putting the building blocks into place for next season, expect them to continue pushing hard.
The team believes wins are possible in the final two races, they just need to avoid engine penalties. Unfortunately for Daniel Ricciardo, he is likely to receive just that after his engine failure in Mexico.
With the top four teams in the championship set in stone, there is still a close tussle in Formula One’s midfield. Williams are leading that on 76 points, however, Toro Rosso, Renault and Haas are separated by just six points – meaning there is a lot of money at stake for the team that manages a strong finish to this season.
Spare a thought for the 19 non-Brazilian drivers as they’ll become the Brazilian equivalent of chopped liver when Felipe Massa races in his final home Grand Prix.
This time last year, the Brazilian said a tearful farewell with his Williams F1 car breaking down and leaving him parked on the side of the track.
To thunderous applause from the partisan crowd and a guard of honour by the pit lane, Massa took what was to be his final walk down the Interlagos pit lane with a Brazilian flag around his shoulders and tears pouring down his face.
This year, it is likely to be a more muted farewell as Massa insists it is definitely his last – again.