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Formula 1 Preview: Brazilian Grand Prix

Written by Marcus Woodhouse, Edited by Meghana Sree

Image Credit: Charles Coates/Getty Images

Welcome back to the carnival that is Interlagos, for the hotly anticipated Brazilian Grand Prix. Every year, we are treated to thrilling racing and heaps of drama here, no matter how the season has fared up till that point. With a lot to still prove in these final few races of 2023, settle down and buckle up for a rip-roaring weekend.

Circuit Guide

Credit: Formula 1

São Paulo is the home of this incredible Autódromo José Carlos Pace, more commonly known as Interlagos for its geographical location between two artificial lakes. The circuit dates back to 1938, and consists of some epic banked corners. The lap begins with a short drive to the S do Senna, before the Curva do Sol leads into the DRS (Drag Reduction System) zone of the Reta Oposta. Sector Two is made up of a string of swinging, elevation-changing turns, until the drivers slam on the brakes for Junção. It’s pedal to the metal from then on, as the drivers get another dose of DRS across the finish line.

Weekend Format

The F1 Sprint format returns here for one final time in 2023, providing competitive action every day from Friday to Sunday.

Schedule (in BST)

Practice 1 - Friday, 14:30 pm

Qualifying - Friday, 18:00 pm

Sprint Shootout - Saturday, 14:00 pm

Sprint - Saturday, 18:30 pm

Race - Sunday, 17:00 pm

Weather Forecast

While Sunday’s race looks to be clear of rain for now, there are significant chances that the action on Friday and Saturday could be spiced up by some wet weather. Track temperatures are relatively cool as a result.

Major Talking Points

  • Alonso’s Future - The Formula 1 paddock has been frenetic this week, with rumours of Fernando Alonso’s imminent retirement or even transferral to the second Red Bull seat shared copiously between fans; so will the Spaniard be out to prove his skills this weekend after a dismal run of form for his Aston Martin team?

  • Ricciardo’s Remontada - The Honey Badger very much silenced his critics with a superb performance in Mexico, qualifying fourth and finishing with a highly impressive seventh place, in contrast to Sergio Perez’s disastrous first corner retirement. Can the Australian silence the haters and doubters once again to put himself in serious contention for that Red Bull seat?

  • The Race to be Runner-Up - Lewis Hamilton has closed the gap to Perez to a mere 20 points, and with just three races remaining, plus a sprint, the battle to be the next best after Max Verstappen is drawing to a dramatic conclusion. Can either one of them turn the tables on the other here in São Paulo?

Interlagos in Years Gone By

Image Credit: Bernard Cahier/Getty Images

Interlagos has set the scene for some iconic Formula 1 moments, and none more heartwarming than Ayrton Senna’s miraculous home victory in 1991 to break his Brazilian GP duck and emulate his fellow countryman Emerson Fittipaldi’s 1973 success.

We’ve also seen some crazy title deciders here, such as in 2008 when Hamilton swept past Timo Glock in the final corners to snatch the championship away from home hero Felipe Massa. 2012 saw a catastrophic start for Sebastian Vettel, giving him the mammoth challenge of having to climb his way through the majority of the grid to secure his third successive title, which he ultimately managed to do at the expense of Alonso. Most recently, during 2021’s fierce duel between Verstappen and Hamilton, it was the Brit that managed to come from plumb last in the Sprint to lunging past his rival near the end of Sunday’s race.

Last Race Recap

Last weekend in Mexico City we witnessed yet another dominant display from Verstappen, as he breezed past both Ferraris at the start and never looked back. Hamilton put in another solid showing to take a second place finish, with a legal car this time, while polesitter Charles Leclerc could only do enough for third. Lando Norris secured Driver of the Day with a commendable recovery drive to fifth place after a frustrating qualifying. Daniel Ricciardo showcased his skills once more as he took the challenge to the big boys out in front, eventually finishing just behind George Russell in seventh. The other McLaren of Oscar Piastri tussled with Yuki Tsunoda for some laps, before an unfortunate collision ended the AlphaTauri driver’s chances, leaving Piastri to take eighth position.

Drivers to Watch

Credit: Nelson Almeida/AFP via Getty Images

Lewis Hamilton - British Brazilian

Hamilton’s popularity in Brazil is immense, as shown by the honorary citizenship gifted to him at a ceremony in Brasília. He has three victories to his name around Interlagos, which is unsurprisingly the most of any current driver. With a very strong run of form preceding this weekend, the Mercedes man will surely be looking to get one over on Verstappen here and earn Mercedes their first win of the season, as they got last year with a shock 1-2.

George Russell - Manifesting Memories

Of course, that 2022 Brazilian Grand Prix was won by Russell, as he claimed his maiden victory in Formula 1, and his only victory to date. Unlike his teammate, his recent form has been lacklustre to say the least, but he will surely be hoping that his magical Interlagos memories from last year will rekindle his fire to see success once more come Sunday’s race.

The Other Contenders

Obviously, Verstappen comes into the weekend as the clear favourite, as even with the title already wrapped up, he has his sights set on extending the record number of wins in a season. Ferrari will be desperately hoping that they can turn one of their sublime qualifying performances into any sort of race pace. Meanwhile, Norris showed the true pace of himself and his car on Sunday, storming through the field to nearly threaten the front starting Ferraris. Finally, Perez is in dire need of a victory to provide any sort of answer to the questions that have been asked of him given his recent performances.

Marcus’ Predictions

You heard it here first: Verstappen will not be winning the Brazilian Grand Prix. I can genuinely foresee another Mercedes Interlagos masterclass, with Hamilton coming out as the victor this time around. Ferrari will inevitably ruin their chances on race day with some easily avoidable mistake, and Ricciardo will outshine Perez once again. To wrap things up, Alex Albon will make it four points finishes in a row.

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