Brazilian Grand Prix 2017: What’s left to race for?
Both championships have been decided, so what is there left to race for in Interlagos?
Mercedes left Mexico City with a fourth consecutive World Drivers’ Championship under their arm, adding it to the fourth consecutive World Constructors’ Championship they won in Austin a week earlier. What was looking like a competitive season that would go down to the wire was scuppered by Sebastian Vettel’s bad luck and misjudgments in Singapore, Japan, and Malaysia.
So as the F1 paddock heads to South America for the Brazilian Grand Prix, we have to ask just what is left to race for?
Red Bull bragging rights
The battle between Red Bull’s talented pair of drivers has been intense all year. Daniel Ricciardo held the edge early in the season, but Max Verstappen saw reliability scupper several races before he was finally able to surpass the Aussie on Saturday, and then begin winning races recently. The young Dutchman signed a new contract keeping him with the Milton Keynes outfit through 2020, and dominated the Mexican Grand Prix last time out.
Verstappen is the hot hand in Red Bull right now, and Ricciardo will be aiming to reassert himself at a track where Verstappen won over so many fans last year.
#4 in the championship
Speaking of Daniel Ricciardo, he currently sits fourth in the drivers’ championship standings. While he has finished third twice before, a fourth place this year would be a very good return given that Red Bull have clearly been behind Mercedes and Ferrari for large chunks of the season.
Kimi Raikkonen sits 14 points behind Ricciardo and has a far better record at Interlagos than Ricciardo does. Can the Finn stir from his slumber now that the shackles of a championship battle have been removed?
Force India supremacy
Away from the front of the grid, one of the best storylines this year has been the battle inside Force India between Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon. The two have had a strict no racing policy laid upon them by the team since their last coming together in Spa, and it has frustrated both drivers.
With fourth place in the Constructors’ Championship wrapped up and only nine points between the them, we could see more fireworks this weekend as they vie for the number one driver designation going into next season.
Williams #2 seat
With Felipe Massa once again heading into retirement this winter, there is a Williams seat for 2018 up for grabs. While the team is not as strong as it has been in the recent past, they are very capable and would represent an upgrade for several drivers.
While the favourites for the seat will not actually be racing on Sunday, the likes of Pascal Wehrlein will be looking to impress Claire Williams and the rest this weekend in hopes of getting the call. You can vote for who you think should get the 2018 seat here.
While Force India and Williams are locked into fourth and fifth, the race for sixth in the constructors’ championship is very tight.
Toro Rosso currently hold the position on 53 points, but 48 of those were earned by Carlos Sainz who is now racing for Renault, their closest rivals just five points behind. Haas are only another point behind, and with Toro Rosso now sporting a rookie pairing of Pierre Gasly and Brendon Hartley there is a good chance that they won’t score another point all year.
I expect Renault to beat out Toro Rosso and Haas for sixth given their clear driver advantage, but there are not that many opportunities for points left and one error or bit bad luck with reliability could see any of the three teams win out.