São Paulo is this weekend’s location for the final Grand Prix of a triple-header.
The Autódromo José Carlos Pace better known as Interlagos challenges the teams with their set-up this weekend. The first and third sectors require low drag for the long straights, but the twisty middle sector requires high downforce. Throw in the possibility of rain over the weekend and the high chance of a safe car, and it could be anyone’s race.
We take a look at five drivers who head into the Sprint weekend in fine form and are favourites to finish on the podium.
Max Verstappen – The 2023 world champion hasn’t won at Interlagos since 2019. However, he is looking to collect his 17th win of the season but knows it won’t be easy. According to F1.com, Verstappen said in a press conference: “There is a lot of high degs here and the way you have to set up the car, a lot of low-speed corners, I don’t think our car is particularly amazing in the low-speed corners, so I’ll guess we will find out.”
Lando Norris – The McLaren driver performed brilliantly at the Mexico City GP to haul himself from 17th to 5th. He finished 7th at Interlagos in 2022 and knows McLaren’s strength at a circuit like this will give him a good chance this weekend. The high chance of rain in São Paulo over the weekend could benefit McLaren and co and leave favourite Verstappen compromised.
Lewis Hamilton – Brazil is a special place for the seven-time world champion. In 2022 he was made an honorary citizen and has won the race on three occasions. The Mercedes driver finished second in Mexico City last week and feels the W14 is in a good window of performance. Mercedes boss Toto Wolff said: “We will look to arrive in Interlagos with a solid baseline to work with and we’ll see what we can do from there.”
Daniel Ricciardo – The Australian returned to racing three weeks ago in Austin after breaking his hand at the Dutch GP. However, the AlphaTauri driver didn’t drive to the best of his abilities at the Circuit of the Americas, and his experience showed in Mexico City. He finished seventh after qualifying fourth. It will be interesting to see if Ricciardo can follow up last week’s performance with a good showing at Interlagos.
Nico Hulkenberg – The German was unlucky in Mexico City after the Haas suffered from heavy tyre degradation. Hulkenberg lost out on scoring points, but the heavily updated Haas showed it has the pace to compete with teams in the midfield. Hulkenberg is a strong contender to haul himself into scoring points this weekend. He’s also strong in the rain and that could make him a dark horse in the Sprint.
GP Winner: Hamilton
Sprint Winner: Hamilton
GP Podium: Hamilton, Perez, Russell
Sprint Podium: Hamilton, Leclerc, Sainz
Pole position: Leclerc
Sprint pole: Verstappen
Fastest lap: Hamilton
First to retire: Sargeant
Fastest pitstop: McLaren
Most Team Points: Mercedes
Both Cars Qualify for Q3 Shootout: Mercedes
Practice 1/2/3 Winning Car: Verstappen/ Red Bull
Safety Car: Yes
Top 6: Piastri, Norris, Gasly, Ocon, Albon, Ricciardo
Top 10: Albon, Tsunoda, Bottas
Winning margin: Over 5 seconds
Number of classified finishers: 18