Most of the major battles have already been resolved, but there are still a few things on the line ahead of the penultimate race of the 2019 Formula One season at this weekend’s Brazilian Grand Prix (Race: 1.10pm ET Sunday).
Lewis Hamilton confirmed his sixth drivers’ championship by finishing second to Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas in the United States a couple of weeks back, while Mercedes had already confirmed a sixth consecutive constructors’ championship two races prior.
Hamilton wasn’t able to seal the championship with the victory he had hoped for, but he may well get a chance to celebrate from the top step of the podium in Brazil. He has won from pole position at Interlagos in two of the last three years. He even managed to make his way up the fourth when he started at the back of the grid due to a qualifying crash in 2017.
With Charles Leclerc set to serve a grid penalty after taking a new engine, Ferrari will not have the opportunity to get two cars in and around Mercedes at the front of field to try and control the running. Although given how far off the pace Ferrari were on race day in the United States, even that might not have been enough to see them to victory.
Mercedes’ superior Sunday pace should make them the team to beat and Hamilton is the most likely driver to profit.
Leclerc currently has the upper hand over Red Bull’s Max Verstappen and his Ferrari teammate Sebastian Vettel in the fight for third in the drivers’ championship. Verstappen edged to within 14 points of him by finishing third to Leclerc’s fourth in the United States and could get closer this weekend due to Leclerc’s grid penalty. His favourable chance of reaching the podium is, though, fully accounted for by the USA online bookmakers’ odds.
Alexander Albon took fifth for Red Bull in the United States and moved ahead of McLaren’s Carlos Sainz into sixth in the drivers’ championship. Albon’s seven consecutive top-six finishes, including a fourth and four fifths, since moving up from Toro Rosso have earned him a full-time drive with Red Bull for the 2020 season. Unless he suffers a retirement, he should now be fancied to hold onto sixth in the standings.
In the constructors’ championship, first through third are now set, while McLaren are close to sealing fourth. That is ahead of a Renault team who also have a good margin over Racing Point behind them.
McLaren and Renault shared the positions between sixth and ninth in the United States, with Daniel Ricciardo taking sixth for Renault, followed by the McLarens of Lando Norris and Sainz, and his teammate Nico Hulkenberg. Racing Point’s Sergio Perez finished 10th.
Renault have a near impossible task ahead of them in terms of overturning their 38-point deficit to McLaren, despite good performances in recent races. Even if McLaren failed to pick up any more points, Renault would need a fourth, a pair of fifths and a sixth to overhaul them. In the 19 races to date, they have accumulated just one fourth, one fifth and two sixths.
They can be expected to go well this weekend. The team have got both of their cars into the points in each of the last two races and also did so on track three races back in Japan, only to be disqualified for using illegal driver aids. Both Hulkenberg and Ricciardo always go decently at Interlagos and another double points finish is a real possibility.
It is the standings in the constructors’ championship that dictate prize money allocation, and so the battle for sixth between Racing Point and Toro Rosso, currently separated by just one point, and for eighth between Alfa Romeo and Haas, separated by seven, will be competitively contested over the remaining couple of races.
Those latter two have rarely been points scorers since the summer break, so an unexpected result here or there might decide it. The fight between Racing Point and Toro Rosso is likely to swing back and forth. Perez has been a regular scorer for the former, while Pierre Gasly has gained most of Toro Rosso’s points following his seat swap with Albon.
Gasly has missed out on points in each of his previous two races in Brazil but he and the team believe he has a solid chance of getting into the top 10 this time around. He looks much more comfortable back in Toro Rosso than he did at Red Bull and can be fancied to help the team out with a points finish on Sunday.