Brazilian GP Preview | Hamilton’s champion so time to trial fresh concepts

Preview the Brazilian Grand Prix, the penultimate round of the 2017 Formula One season.

Lewis Hamilton may have clinched his fourth Formula One crown at the Mexico Grand Prix to draw level with Vettel, but that does not mean the season is over. With two rounds still on the table, and a chance to look ahead at the 2018 season. Starting at the Brazilian Grand Prix, once again an emotional race as Formula One wishes Felipe Massa a fond farewell as he retires from the sport, again.

Hamilton only had to finish fifth in Mexico to clinch the crown and join Vettel with the third most championships to his name in F1 history. But, after qualifying in third place, finishing fifth was too tall of an order come the third corner.

Clashing with Vettel as the German squabbled for the lead against Max Verstappen, Hamilton took a puncture to his rear-right tyre that left him limping at the back of the field. Forced onto the hardest compound tyre Pirelli had brought, and struggling in traffic as Vettel made his way back through after a front wing change.

Eventually, Hamilton came home in ninth place and over a lap down on the race-winning Red Bull driven by Verstappen. But with Vettel not on the podium either, the chase was over. Lewis had the title.

Hamilton celebrates 2017 title Mexico GP -

Lewis Hamilton celebrates clinching the 2017 Drivers’ Championship at the Mexico Grand Prix. Photo Credit: Mercedes AMG F1 Team.

Now that the championships are decided and Mercedes’ clean up both titles, for the fourth successive season and across a rule change, the dominant Silver Arrows will look at the final two rounds as test sessions ahead of 2018.

“Inside the team, we are looking at the next two race weekends as the first two Grands Prix of 2018,” claims Mercedes. “We have two races that we are determined to win in order to take that positive momentum into the winter. There will be no backing off just because the championship business is now done.

“These next two races speak to every principle that makes us what we are. We aspire to excellence in everything we do, from the first lap of the winter shakedown in Silverstone to the final lap of the post-season test in Abu Dhabi. And every time we race, we race to win. That is the mindset we take to Sao Paulo.”

With 2018 in mind, the team will be bolder as they test new parts and experiments deemed too risky to undertake in a championship fight.

But while Mercedes’ trial new concepts, should Formula One? For when elimination qualifying was brought in for 2016, it was a disaster for the first rounds of the season. Killing the excitement for fans as cars were in the garage rather than on the track.

But now the titles are secured, Formula One’s controllers could take this time to test new ideas at a race weekend to see how they would impact ‘the show’. If it creates more on-track excitement for fans or if the ideas should be kept well away from the sport in favour of what worked across the season.

Mexico GP pack - Hamilton Bottas -

Lewis Hamilton fighting in the pack at the 2017 Mexico Grand Prix. Photo credit: Mercedes AMG F1 Team.

With fourth place in the constructors’ championship now wrapped up by Force India, too, the team will once again allow their drivers to race against each other following a string of inter-team collisions that brought in team orders.

The points wracked up Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon would also have been enough to see the pair take fourth and fifth in the team’s standings if they were their own entity.

Ahead of the midfield and alongside Hamilton, Ocon and Perez race at the Mexico Grand Prix. Photo credit: Force India.

With Verstappen winning after another demotion for Kvyat, the trend continued for the youngest race winner in Formula One history. But with Kvyat now ousted from the Red Bull family, the trend must end if Verstappen is to win again.

Although that does not stop Verstappen from feeling ready to fight the Mercedes to a title in 2018. Having outscored Ferrari across the second-half of the 2017 season.

“[Hamilton] is a great driver and he really deserved it this year because he was the most consistent and fastest driver from the guys who were fighting for the championship,” Verstappen told
“But yeah, I would love to [fight with Hamilton]. Hopefully, we can do that already next year.”

Verstappen was then asked if he felt ready to challenge for the title.
“Of course, otherwise I wouldn’t be driving in Formula 1. I would do something else if I thought I was not able to do it.”
“I would have never expected to win a race [this year]”, Verstappen said. “But already in Singapore, with the fuel upgrade we had there, I think we got a lot more competitive and we continued that trend.
“And when you are improving faster than the others around you then you can fight for victory. But I never really expected it because of my bad luck.”

Unleash the lion, Max Verstappen celebrates his victory at the Mexico Grand Prix. Photo credit: Red Bull Racing.

While the trend of Verstappen winning after Red Bull demote Kvyat may be over. A Formula One career may not be over for Kvyat. With the Russian touted as a possible replacement for Felipe Massa at Williams, after the Brazilian confirmed he would be leaving Wantage based outfit.

Massa initially announced his retirement from Formula One at the 2016 Italian Grand Prix as he moved aside for Lance Stroll to enter the fray alongside Valtteri Bottas.

But when Nico Rosberg made the shock retirement call just days after taking the title, Massa was back in at Williams as Bottas replaced the championship-clutching German at the Silver Arrows.

Nico Rosberg jumps for joy after claiming his Formula One title at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. Copyright: Mercedes AMG F1 Team.

Nico Rosberg jumps for joy after clinching his Formula One title at the 2016 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. Copyright: Mercedes AMG F1 Team.

A year on, though, and Massa’s time is over again. With Williams not confirming his retention, as they trial Paul di Resta and Robert Kubica in private tests to see if they could cut in back in the hot seat, Felipe took his future into his own hands.

Calling time on his F1 career in time to celebrate with another emotional farewell at his home round, the Brazilian Grand Prix. A wet affair a year ago, as rain poured from the sky and tears flowed down the cheeks of the passionate fans sending off the dignified racer that came closer to winning a championship before falling short than any driver had before.

Having won the 2008 Brazilian Grand Prix to clinch what he thought would be the championship. Before Lewis Hamilton eased passed a slowing Timo Glock on the final lap to move back into the championship position once the chequered flag had already fallen for Felipe in the lead.

Felipe Massa walks back to the pits with tears in his eyes after retiring from the 2016 Brazilian Grand Prix. Copyright Williams Racing.

Felipe Massa walks back to the pits with tears in his eyes after retiring from the 2016 Brazilian Grand Prix. Photo credit: Williams Racing.

Nine years on from Hamilton’s maiden title-triumph and Massa’s dignified display atop the podium as he thumped his chest in pride towards the adoring fans, the Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace remains unchanged in design.

With the Interlagos circuit consisting of 15 corners, predominantly left-handers, and situated on a plot of land originally purchased by two local property developers. Luckily for Formula One, though, the plot of land was not suitable for properties and instead, the owners decided to build a racetrack.

Modifications have been made to the track over the years since its arrival in Formula One in 1973, but the current layout has failed to remove the circuit from the heart of many drivers and fans.

The elevation changes, types of corners and straights have also seen the track create drama & action, including Hamilton’s dramatic final lap title win in 2008 as he overtook Timi Glock for fifth place – the championship position.

The circuit’s current design still encompasses most of the original challenging corners, but without the long straights that made up the old first sector. Instead, the current circuit begins with the Senna S. A downhill double corner that flows into the high-speed turn three before the first DRS straight, Reta Oposta.

The start of the Senna S also provides one of the best overtaking areas of the track as drivers brake hard at the end of the DRS aided pit straight.

The middle section of the track begins to tighten up through a high and low elevation period, which can allow drivers to gain time under braking or try a lunge into the apex. A clean exit from this sector is vital however as the third sector begins with the uphill approach for the pit straight.

Interlagos - Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace - Track guide - (c)

A track guide to Interlagos, the Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace. Credit:

The 2017 Brazilian Grand Prix will be broadcasted exclusively live on British tv via Sky Sports, with Channel 4’s selection of live races not including the penultimate round.

Sky Sports F1
08/11 – 20:30 – F1 Report: Preview
09/11 – 13:00 – Driver Press Conference
09/11 – 20:00 – Paddock Uncut
10/11 – 11:45 – Practice 1
10/11 – 15:45 – Practice 2 (also on Sky Sports Main Event)
10/11 – 18:00 – Team Press Conference
10/11 – 19:00 – The F1 Show
11/11 – 12:45 – Practice 3
11/11 – 15:00 – Qualifying
12/11 – 14:30 – Race
=> 14:30 – Track Parade
=> 15:00 – Pit Lane Live
=> 15:30 – Race
=> 18:30 – Paddock Live
16/11 – 20:30 – F1 Report: Review

Channel 4 F1
11/11 – 19:30 – Qualifying Highlights
12/11 – 22:30 – Race Highlights
12/11 – 00:45 – FILM: Life on the Limit

BBC Radio F1
10/11 – 11:55 – Practice 1 (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
10/11 – 15:55 – Practice 2 (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
11/11 – 12:55 – Practice 3 (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
11/11 – 15:55 – Qualifying (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
12/11 – 15:30 – Race (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)

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