Why Hamilton can still win the F1 drivers’ crown
The Brazilian Grand Prix has served up incident-packed races ever since it first appeared on the F1 calendar in 1973.
And a good dose drama at Interlagos is exactly what Lewis Hamilton needs if he is to take the drivers’ championship into the final round in Abu Dhabi.
His Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg will take the crown if he wins either of the year’s two remaining races, or by finishing with at least one second and third place even if Hamilton wins in both Brazil and Abu Dhabi.
So can Hamilton snatch the title out of the German’s grasp despite trailing him by 19 points?
Most petrolheads will tell you that Interlagos is a circuit that produces tantalisingly good races – contests that, down the years, have seen many championships won and lost.
So Britain’s three-time F1 champion only needs to glance through the Brazilian GP’s history to be hopeful of derailing Rosberg’s title dream.
Comebacks and drama
In 2006, Michael Schumacher proved the circuit is one for overtaking. Starting from 10th position on the grid, the German did an astonishing job after falling to 19th position due to a flat tyre.
The seven-time world champion returned to the race, having almost been lapped, and carved his way through the field to finish in fourth place.
“Hamilton will take confidence from replaying his 2008 outing at Interlagos, showing that miracles in Brazil can happen.”
‘Schumi’s’ performance was agonisingly not enough to win his eighth drivers’ crown, as Fernando Alonso successfully defended his title.
Hamilton will also surely take confidence from replaying his own 2008 outing at Interlagos, showing that miracles in Brazil can happen.
After adopting a conservative strategy to secure at least 5th place, and the title, a late-race rain shower caused unexpected problems.
Hamilton was pushed down to 5th place by Timo Glock who didn’t enter the pits for intermediates like most others.
With just three laps to go, Sebastian Vettel overtook the Briton which meant Hamilton would end up with equal points to Massa, but with one fewer victory.
Against all expectations Vettel and Hamilton were able to overtake Glock, who had lost all grip with his dry-weather tyres, in the very last corner of the race.
This meant that Hamilton ultimately grabbed the fifth place he needed to become champion.
The 2009 season saw more drama as Jenson Button sealed the drivers’ championship with a sublime recovery drive, starting in 14th but finishing fourth.
In 2012, the outcome of the championship remained in doubt until the final lap, as Vettel – who fell to the back of the field on the first lap – drove a gritty race back through the pack to seal the title.
Although Hamilton is yet to win in Brazil, he can take confidence in denting Rosberg’s maiden title hopes from the tracks record of drama.
Rain is nothing out of the ordinary at Interlagos in November, and so the weather might also give Hamilton a helping hand.
He won’t have forgetten the Monaco GP earlier this year, which he won in in wet conditions while Rosberg struggled home in seventh place.
Inclement weather often courses havoc in F1, with drivers’ race strategies hit by puddles and spray, while chopping and changing tyres from full wets, to intermediates and back to slicks can often catch them out.
The forecast for Sao Paulo suggests there is a chance of low temperatures and showers on Saturday and Sunday.
Another seventh placed finish for Rosberg and a win in the wet for Hamilton would leave the pair level on 355 points going into the final weekend in Abu-Dhabi.
Three of the last six race weekends in Brazil have featured wet weather.
Combine that with Interlagos being a tight, twisty circuit which dries out quite quickly, and unpredictability is almost guaranteed.
For example, Nico Hulkenberg won a surprise pole position for Williams on a drying track in 2010.
A full-on wet race could also swing the balance towards Red Bull who have looked strong in the rain this season.
Red Bull’s Max Verstappen finished second in a wet British GP earlier this year with Hamilton winning, Rosberg third and Verstappen’s team mate Daniel Ricciardo fourth.
Rosberg overdue bad luck
Over the course of the year Rosberg has surprisingly only won one more race than Hamilton, despite the large points difference between the two.
Hamilton has had the lump sum of bad luck between the pair. You only need to glance at the table below to see that Rosberg is due a blip.
Race’s in which Mercedes drivers have had problems
|Hamilton suffered a first-corner collision dropping to 7th; he fought back to 3rd
|Hamilton started at the back of the grid due to a power unit failure; he finished 7th
|The Brit started 10th after an engine failure in qualifying; he finished 5th.
|Hamilton & Rosberg
|Rosberg and Hamilton collided on the first lap resulting in both not finishing the race
|The German finished 5th after suffering a slow puncture during the race
|The German turned into a corner late as Hamilton tried to pass around the outside and damaged his front wing, finishing fourth. Rosberg was given a 10-second penalty.
|Hamilton started in 21st place on the grid, after a raft of engine penalties resulting from failures early in the season. He fought back to third.
|Hamilton’s title hopes were dealt a heavy blow when his engine failed as he led the Malaysian Grand Prix.
Just one error for Rosberg will blow the championship wide open, be it in the wet conditions he’s struggled in this season, the drama the Brazilian GP often throws up or an overdue car performance issue for the German.
If Hamilton can emulate his hero Senna and notch his first win at the late Brazilian’s home circuit; the current world champ could bolster his chances of defending his crown and taking it right down to the wire in Abu-Dhabi.