Formula 1 rolls into Brazil this weekend for the Sao Paulo Grand Prix at Interlagos
Red Bull looking for 10th consecutive race victory and 17th of campaign
Sprint weekend returns for penultimate race of 2022 season
SAO PAULO, BRAZIL – As the penultimate weekend of the season arrives, can Red Bull achieve Formula 1 perfection and a 10th-straight season win at Interlagos?
As the 2022 season continues to wind down towards its climax, this weekend, Formula 1 rolls into Brazil for the penultimate stop on the calendar, the Sao Paulo Grand Prix at Interlagos.
The second running of the race since its renaming from the Brazilian GP, Lewis Hamilton was winner here 12 months ago – his third in Brazil – as the Briton embarked a late-season surge by taking three chequered flags on the bounce.
There can be few stops on the calendar that evoke such feeling, boasted more boldly than any other venue than the annual trip to the juxtaposition of life that are the suburbs of Sao Paulo.
Though the samba nation have been bereft of a world champion since the untimely passing of Ayrton Senna, with the GP now a staple until 2025 at least, more memories are waiting to be written.
Weather has often played a pivotal part in proceedings here and the forecast is poised to deliver more unpredictable conditions this time around.
Red Bull on mission
Having broken the record for race wins in a season last time out in Mexico City, the Sao Paulo GP will see Red Bull look to further extend their feat and also attempt to win a remarkable 10th race in-a-row.
After Max Verstappen took top spot on the podium for the 14th time this season a fortnight ago, not since the Austrian GP have Red Bull failed to win a race – ironically, that was on their home track and also where Charles Leclerc’s last victory came.
So utterly dominant over the chasing pack, Red Bull have amassed a combined total of 696 points, with their tally set to tick over the 700-mark in Brazil.
Yet, despite having locked up major honours for some weeks now, boss Christian Horner will have driven the need to further emphasise their monopoly in 2022, with next year potentially, looking like it could be a different tale.
Sprint returns for final fling?
For the third time this season, Sprint qualifying makes its return to race weekend.
Not since the Red Bull Ring in the summer has qualifying been held on the Friday, with Verstappen claiming P1 in Q3 and holding on to his position by winning Saturday’s race in Austria.
The consensus remains that the shake-up to F1 weekends has been a good thing, but some – many on the grid – have yet to fully support the innovation.
Indeed, it is yet to be confirmed that the sprint will be retained for next season, meaning Sao Paulo could be its last outing.
‘Perfect’ finish needed to catch Ferrari
The season has of course, been a chastening one for Mercedes.
Still burning from the controversial conclusion to last year’s campaign, the Silver Arrows have been forced to endure the pitfalls of new regulations, including a porposing issue that whilst having now been solved, set in place irreparable damage to their hopes.
Though huge improvements have been made throughout the course of the year, Mercedes still find themselves in third spot in the constructors championship, a full 40 points behind Ferrari and needing a huge points swing to leapfrog The Prancing Horse.
Finish P3 in the table would equate to nothing less than a hugely disappointing term, and as Mercedes’ Motorsport Strategy Director James Vowles acknowledged in debrief ahead of the weekend, the Bracknell manufacturer will need everything to go their way to jump into second spot.
But as he noted to F1.com, that will not stop Mercedes throwing everything at their effort.
“We are here to finish second in the championship….every single race that we can start pulling that points gap down is a success. In Mexico we took just 13 points out of them [Ferrari], so there are still 40 left to go with two races; fortunately, one of those is a Sprint race. I think we have a package now, unlike the beginning of the season or the mid-season, that can really bring the fight to them.
“But 40 points is a tremendous ask – it will need us really having everything perfect, everything right – and Ferrari perhaps to give us opportunities to open the door for us to pick up second. What I can tell you is that we are not giving up until the chequered flag in Abu Dhabi.”
The Formula 1 Heineken Grande Premio de Sao Paulo 2022 takes place at Interlagos this weekend.
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