Wow, what a great race we had in Austin. Not only was the racing exciting, but the Formula One fraternity was comparing it to Adelaide (Home of the Australian GP before Melbourne) for energy, atmosphere and the complete embracement of Formula One by the citizens there.
With talks of another Formula One race in the USA along with one in Mexico soon, this could be the beginning of Formula One being really accepted by the States. Now all we need is an American driver to mix it up with the best currently racing in Formula One.
As much as we all enjoyed the US GP, there is no time for R&R as all the teams head straight to Sao Paulo, Brazil for the last race of the season. In many ways, I find it incredible that we have reached the last of this year’s 20-race calendar.
Interlagos, just outside of Sao Paulo, is an old style Formula One track. While not in the same sort of enjoyment level as Suzuka and Spa, it’s still one that I love. There are great elevation changes and the bumpy nature of the track is very challenging, especially as the bumps seem to move to different parts every year.
Aero efficiency is very important here as it is at most tracks. Another unique feature is that the circuit is high up, around 700m above sea level. This means a loss of power (around 60-70bhp) that the drivers feel straight away. Horse power is important here as the long, main straight curves uphill quite dramatically. With practically almost no high speed corners, and it being bumpy, the teams will be looking for good mechanical grip. So good stability under braking and good traction will be key. This will suit the Red Bulls well.
With the constructors title already decided in Red Bull’s favour, all eyes will be on the fight for the drivers’ world championship. Vettel leads Alonso by 13 points, which means that if Alonso wins this weekend, then Vettel needs to finish in the top 4 to win his third title in a row. There are other permutations but what it all means is that, Alonso and Ferrari need to attack and hope Massa and McLaren bring their ‘A’ game so that Vettel finishes outside the top 4.
McLaren being fast is easy to see, as although they have admitted not getting the most of their car this year, they do have a quick one. And as we saw from last weekend, the team is more than capable of fighting for the win. What is not easy to see is Ferrari bringing a fast enough car to help Alonso fight for the podium, let alone a win.
But we all know that there are reliability problems with Red Bull while Ferrari have had pretty much none at all. So in Vettel’s eyes the 13 point gap will not seem like much and I fully anticipate they will attack.
Weather also plays its part here in Brazil. Let’s not forget that Massa had the title when he won the race in treacherous conditions back in 2008, only for Hamilton to overtake Glock with one corner remaining to finish 5th and win the title himself. It’s forecast for more rain this weekend, and as a neutral I hope it does. That should make for an exciting end to an epic season. Who knows we may even have a new winner that would then result in nine different winners in one season.
—The writer is a F1 expert with Star Sports