With the Championship Decided, Who Will Win the Brazilian Grand Prix?
Should we expect more from Verstappen or added celebration from Lewis?
The last handful of Grand Prix races have had the limelight stolen by 2017's championship fight. With all of the attention on Hamilton and Vettel, the rest of the field has been somewhat downplayed while Verstappen has shined through, splitting the previous four contests with Lewis. The Brazilian Grand Prix is coming in hot next Sunday, and given the current field's history at the race, there's no telling who will triumph the rest–but it doesn't hurt to guess.
Hamilton won the race in Sau Paulo last year, his first and only victory at the Autódromo José Carlos Pace circuit. Tight contests with his former Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg kept him from gaining the number one position in years prior, but he has visited the rostrum three times at the Brazilian GP. His impressive pace in qualifying earned him P1 for the start of 2016's contest, so he'll be looking for a leg up come next Saturday.
Lewis Hamilton's performance this season should also be taken into account as he has won nine races so far in 2017–five more than runner-up Vettel. Coming into the November 12 race, Hamilton has taken the checkered flag six times out of the last ten, being beaten to first place by his Ferrari rival just once. The only driver to take multiple wins from Hamilton in the previous ten races? Max Verstappen.
While Lewis was busy in the winner's circle, Verstappen was in the background setting the fastest lap of the 2016 race. He's also displayed that pace in the second half of this season, even causing his Red Bull superiors to slow him down after becoming "bored" at Mexico last week. Max will certainly be looking to keep it up in Brazil and his resiliency will be tested as this particular Grand Prix runs 71 laps around the circuit.
Fellow Red Bull F1 driver Daniel Ricciardo is also in the mix. The Australian has been forced to retire in the last two races at Austin and Mexico City, the last being a failure from his seventh MGU-H of the season. Team boss Chrisitan Horner admitted that the team is working to salvage the faulty equipment to avoid replacement which would also come with a 10-place grid penalty. Ricciardo has been troubled by the Brazilian track in the past, but don't expect anything less than a fight from him after watching Verstappen's recent string of success.
Lastly, you can't forget Vettel. Although he hasn't won a race since Hungary, the German is one of just three active drivers to win in Brazil aside from Hamilton, the others being Raikkonen and Massa. With nothing owed to politics, it should be entertaining to see him genuinely duke it out against the rest of the grid after several races filled with doubt and strategy. He clinched a title of his own here in 2013, so he's got a taste for victory in the least.
If anything, this year's race will be a proving ground for both upcoming and established stars. Toro Rosso will likely bring with it the duo of Brendon Hartley and Pierre Gasly, and Renault will look to turn around its misfortune from Mexico with young ace Carlos Sainz leading the Enstone-based crew. Hamilton will surely be looking to run the board once more before the season finale in Abu Dhabi, and don't expect Verstappen or Vettel to let him off without a fight.