Max Verstappen will once again be the hot favourite to land pole position at the Brazilian Grand Prix on Friday, but Mercedes’ one-two at Interlagos last year will give the Silver Arrows some confidence that Lewis Hamilton can pip Red Bull to victory in Sao Paulo.
The Dutchman has won 17 of 20 races this season, a new F1 record, and the 26-year-old’s thirst for winning means he is unlikely to take his foot off the gas at the Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace. But Mercedes’ recent history at this track means they will be ones to watch – and a recent rule change banning drivers from slowing in the pit lane could affect Verstappen too.
Ferrari can no longer be discounted after locking out the front row in Singapore and Mexico last time out, although their race pace showed there are still improvements to be made. But the Scuderia did at least set the pace in FP1, with Carlos Sainz the quickest of the drivers ahead of George Russell and Charles Leclerc.
With Red Bull or Mercedes both opting against running the soft tyre in that session, Verstappen and Hamilton would expect to find much more pace in qualifying. But with a good chance of rain falling before the checkered flag, it promises to be a fascinating qualifying session at one of F1’s most unpredictable circuits.
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