By Neil Leverett
- Round 18 of the Formula 1 calendar arrives in Interlagos for the Brazilian GP
- Lewis Hamilton will be looking to finish the final races of season in style
- Briton sealed fourth world title in Mexico City a fortnight ago, despite finishing ninth
INTERLAGOS, BRAZIL – After Lewis Hamilton secured his fourth World Drivers’ Championship, is it a case of ‘After the Lord Mayor’s Show’ in South America, or is there more to play for?
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Party time for Hamilton in Interlagos?
Despite finishing in a relatively lowly ninth spot down the field in Mexico City, Lewis Hamilton secured his status as not just a great in the annuls of British motor racing but sporting history as he became the first Brit to wins four World Drivers’ crowns, with the possibility of more to come in his near future.
Whether a fan of the 32-year-old or not, few can dispute his lofty position in the upper echelons of modern sporting legend. For the remainder of the season however, the concern that final the three races of the season becoming somewhat of a procession are a distinct reality.
Hamilton is likely to be in party mood in Brazil – despite his ongoing tax wranglings – but will be keen to stand on the top step of the podium come Sunday evening, 12 months after winning for the first time at Interlagos.
Statistically, the record books will state the Brit’s dominance and deserved title win, but that would not tell the true story of proceedings. Hamilton will want to take any lingering doubt of good fortune falling at his feet with a storming end to the campaign.
Ferrari attitude could indicate Italians’ future
Outside of the title picture, Ferrari’s future in F1 has been plunged into doubt since Mexico, with the news last weekend that the Italian manufacturer has threatened to walk away from the sport, if proposals by new owners Liberty Media are put in place.
Plans for 2021 include a change in engine design and their objections follow on the heels of objections from both Mercedes and Renault over plans that were presented jointly a week ago on Tuesday by governing body the FIA and the F1 Group, which was bought by Liberty earlier this year.
Ferrari chief Sergio Marchionne said:
“F1 had been part of our DNA since the day we were born. [But] If we change the sandbox to the point it becomes unrecognisable, I don’t want to play any more.”
With the Italians now unable to catch Mercedes for the Constructors’ title, their showing this weekend could be indicative to any threats they intend to carry out, in disappearing from Formula 1 altogether.
Can Verstappen re-assert his late-season form?
Across the paddock, Mexico saw Red Bull’s Max Verstappen regain his throne on the podium in beating Valtteri Bottas by over 19 seconds at the Autodromo Hermanos circuit last month.
The Dutchman has failed to finish in the top three in just one of the last four races, having won in Sepang and coming in as runner-up to Hamilton in Suzuka.
Verstappen sits on sixth spot in the points table and despite a 30-point deficit to team-mate Daniel Ricciardo, the 20-year-old may now look to make a game of catching his Australian rival.
Having now left his teenage years behind and with a newly-honed maturity in recent weeks on show, the goal for the remaining trio of races will be to send a message ahead of next season.
Inconsistency has dogged Verstappen this season, but as dad Jos watches on from the sidelines with increasing hope of seeing his prodigal becoming a motoring great, Max waits in the wings to provide Hamilton with his next big test in the years to come. That begins with another drive of maturity in Brazil and above all the ability to back up a win.
The Brazilian Grand Prix takes place this weekend at Interlagos, Brazil, with the race on Sunday evening at 6pm UK time.
Main Image: Photo by AP/REX/Shutterstock
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