By Neil Leverett
- Round 20 and the penultimate race of the season rolls on to Brazil as Lewis Hamilton seeks to end season on high after fifth title win in Mexico
- Despite Briton’s title dominance, Constructors’ Championship still at stake heading into this weekend
- Interlagos stages the 37th running of the race, as former season finale venue.
INTERLAGOS, BRAZIL – As Lewis Hamilton basks in a glorious fifth World Drivers’ Championship, the F1 circuit rolls into Brazil with Mercedes looking to tie up the Constructors’ title for a fifth successive season.
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Samba time for Hamilton, but Briton has ‘job to do’
After winning an historic fifth World Drivers’ Championship on the streets of Mexico City two weeks ago, talk of Britain’s Lewis Hamilton being one of the greatest F1 drivers in the sport’s history, temporarily takes a back seat for the Brazilian Grand Prix at Interlagos this weekend.
Finally sealing title number five at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez in Central America. the Briton came out on top against Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, as the ‘Fight for Five’ went the way of the 33-year-old Briton.
As the penultimate round of the season makes its’ way to Sao Paulo’s historic circuit however, Hamilton returns to the drivers seat with two more races to run before celebrations of his sporting feat can begin in earnest at Marina Bay in a fortnight’s time.
The Briton is nothing if not the ultimate professional, and despite talk of team-mate Valtteri Bottas potentially being ‘handed’ a first win of the season as a good will gesture after seven runners-up spot this year, Hamilton has batted away any suggestions as conjecture with the Mercedes driver aware he still has ‘a job to do this weekend’.
As the Briton told BBC Sport, also mentioning his team’s car issues:
“I don’t know how it’s going to be at the next two races and I can’t really explain to you why it’s been so difficult for us the last two races, particularly the last one. But I am really hopeful we get in the car this weekend and it feels more normal and we are more competitive.
“We still have a job to do this weekend, which is to win the constructors’ title, so the focus remains exactly the same as it has done the previous races in my mind.”
Constructors’ title still up for grabs
As the Briton states, his personal triumph may be close to complete, but there is still work to do to clinch Mercedes’ fifth Constructors title’ in a row in Brazil. The last time the German manufacturer failed to finish on top in the paddock was back 2013, when Red Bull’s double of Vettel and Mark Webber saw a four-year period of dominance with the superior Renault engine.
This time around, Mercedes hold a lusty 55-point advantage over Ferrari and even though are all but guaranteed to continue their motoring monopoly over the rest of the field, Team Principal Toto Wolff will not be taking this weekend any less serious than the nineteen that have preceded it this year.
Of slight concern for the former F1 driver would be his team’s form since the Americas triple leg began of the season last month, with just a third placed finish in the records, with neither Hamilton nor Bottas on the podium in Mexico.
Given Kimi Raikkonen‘s win in Austin and a 2-3 last time out also, the Italian Horse have kept faint hopes alive of a miraculous comeback and given Vettel was again threatening a fastest time in practice here, there is work left for Mercedes to do yet.
F1’s storied Interlagos history
As now the final leg of the calendar before F1’s now traditional and spectacular night conclusion in Abu Dhabi, Interlagos still remains one of the most iconic venues in the sport’s annuls of history.
In what will be it’s 37th running of the 71 laps of the Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace in the suburbs of Sao Paulo, since its’ first set of green lights back in 1970, Brazil has been a spectacular backdrop to one of the most frenzied races of any year – including Giancarlo Fisichella‘s dramatic, rain-sodden win in 2003 for Jordan.
Won six times by Alain Prost, it is Vettel who boasts the more suited record on Brazilian tarmac with three wins to his name – including 12 months ago – compared to Hamilton’s sole victory in 2016.
Indeed for the Brit, almost the entire 4.309 km distance was needed to clinch a dramatic first world title ten years ago when Hamilton overtook Timo Glock on the final raised bend to grab the fifth place needed to pip race winner Felipe Massa to the title in his own back yard.
The 2018 F1 season comes to conclusion in a fortnight’s time in Dubai at the Marina Bay Circuit in Abu Dhabi, between 21-23 November.
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