The big question on everyone’s mind this weekend is “Will Nico Rosberg be an F1 champion?” By the time the F1 circus leaves São Paulo, Brazil, that’s a very real chance. The German driver leads his AMG Mercedes teammate, Lewis Hamilton, by 19 points. If he leaves Brazil with a lead of 26 points or more, he will be untouchable going into the season finale in Abu Dhabi.
But, not everything will be smooth sailing for Rosberg. Rain could throw a serious wrench in this weekend’s race. There is an 80 percent chance of rain on Sunday, and that could definitely interrupt Rosberg’s cruise to his first championship.
Lewis Hamilton has notably been the beneficiary of rain at the Interlagos circuit before. He won his first championship, in 2008, after rain fell in the later stages of the race. He passed Timo Glock, securing the position he needed to clinch the championship, on the very last lap as Glock struggled on dry tires in the drizzle. However, Hamilton has never won at Brazil and if Rosberg can beat him to the top step of the podium, no matter how Hamilton does, Rosberg will clinch the drivers’ title.
Behind Hamilton and Rosberg, Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo has already locked up third position in the championship after, eventually, being rewarded third place in the Mexican Grand Prix. The championship race tightens up behind Ricciardo with the Ferrari duo of Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Räikkönen sitting on 187 and 178 points, respectively, and Ricciardo’s teammate Max Verstappen just behind with 177. Vettel and Verstappen both lost third position in Mexico after a contentious battle between the two that ended with multiple penalties, giving Ricciardo the position. The two could provide fireworks again in Brazil, as neither is known for backing down.
Felipe Massa will be a story of the weekend as he contends his final Brazilian Grand Prix. When Hamilton took the championship in 2008, he beat native son, and current Williams driver, Felipe Massa to the title by just one point. Massa won the race in Brazil that day, his second victory in front of his home crowd, and, while he likely won’t stand on the top step this weekend, his last Brazilian GP before retirement will be just as emotional as that November day in 2008.
Another driver to watch this weekend is Nico Hulkenberg. The German, driving for Force India, loves the São Paulo circuit and typtically does well there. He took pole position his rookie year, while driving for Williams, and has scored points in every appearance at the track.
The anti-clockwise circuit will prove a challenge for many this weekend, especially if it rains. The undulating track is fast and even claustrophobic at times, with the crowd butting right up against the circuit. But, at the end of the race, we might even be crowning a new champion.