Constructors race to podium and purse
SAu4er-FerrAri All hail Lewis Hamilton, who became this year’s champion-elect last time out in Mexico. Now the focus turns to the money – the constructors’ championship.
It doesn’t have the glitz or glamour of the drivers’ crown and even the most dedicated fans would be hardpressed to tell you who won the 1988 constructors’ title – it was McLaren – but they will all know that was the year Ayrton Senna won his first of three world titles.
However, it is arguably the one race the teams most want to do well in, given that it carries the prize money.
The difference between first place and second place is about £10 million (R183 million), with the champions taking almost 20% of the pot, while P10 gets just 4%.
It is a prize worth fighting for and that’s exactly what Mercedes and Ferrari will be doing today at the Interlagos circuit in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
Mercedes lead the battle by 55 points, with 86 points still in play. That means the Silver Arrows could seal the double in Brazil by getting both cars on to the podium.
Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff said: “Our target for this season was to win both championships, not one title or the other, so our mind-set is one of unfinished business as we head to Sao Paulo.
“The constructors’ championship pays the mortgage of the colleges and the Christmas gifts. And that one is still out there and is still on.”
All, though, is not lost for Ferrari. If they can outscore Mercedes by at least 13 points tonight, that race will go down to the wire in Abu Dhabi.
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Ferrari need some good news
The Scuderia are still licking their wounds as even their double podium and Sebastian Vettel’s P2 in Mexico couldn’t stop Hamilton from wrapping up the drivers’ title.
The German is determined to bounce back and hopefully redeem himself after one mistake too many cost him this year’s title race.
“We [will] try to fight Mercedes for the constructors’ [title] and knock them off their throne, maybe to give them a taste for next year,” he said.
“I think people back there [at Maranello] certainly deserve [a win] and I will try everything to score as many points for them as I can.”
Both drivers have won at the hallowed Interlagos, which, for all the security issues outside the track, is rated as one of the best by most Formula 1 drivers.
Hamilton claimed his first win at Senna’s home circuit in 2016, while Vettel triumphed in 2010, 2013 and last year.
Last season, Valtteri Bottas started from pole, but lost out to Vettel at the first corner. The Finn finished at P2, ahead of Kimi Räikkönen.
Hamilton started from the pit lane after crashing in the qualifying race, but raced to P4, while Romain Grosjean took out Esteban Ocon, and Stoffel Vandoorne and Kevin Magnussen collided.
The only other current driver to win the Brazilian grand prix was Räikkönen – back in 2007.
While the constructors’ championship title comes with money and a trophy for P1, it is undoubtedly those behind the champions who are scraping the hardest for every point and every position on the log.
Red Bull aren’t involved in that battle – they’re set to finish this season at a distant third despite adding more points to their tally with Max Verstappen’s Mexican win. The Renault-powered team has ruled out any chance of being involved in the race for today’s win, with Verstappen adamant that the track won’t suit their RB14.
Bar a massive result from Haas in the final two races of this season, Renault are on course for P4 in the standings as they hold a 30-point advantage.
Force India can still catch McLaren, especially as the latter are struggling to score as the season draws to a close, while Sauber are holding off Toro Rosso by three points.
The last person outside the big three – Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull – to stand on the Interlagos podium was Felipe Massa in a Williams in 2014. While the chances of a repeat performance this weekend are slim to none, there is rain forecast for tonight’s race and, in the past, even a brief shower causes havoc due to the Interlagos drainage system.
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