The title challenge is still alive! After back-to-back victories for Lewis Hamilton, he is now 19 points behind team-mate Nico Rosberg, but there are now just two races left in the season for the top two spots to change hands again.
The F1 roadshow now rolls on to Brazil, and Betsafe have linked up with Planet F1 to bring you all the latest ahead of the penultimate round on the F1 calendar.
Listen to the experts and bet on who you think will win in Brazil and go on to win the tightly contested championship with betsafe!
Hamilton strikes again
Prior to winning the United States Grand Prix, Hamilton was solely focused on getting “the job” done and that was exactly what was on his mind in Mexico. The Brit, keeping his emotions in check, delivered yet another business-like performance to keep his slender chance of winning his fourth world championship intact.
There was always going to be drama on the run down to the first corner, which is the longest on the F1 calendar. Rosberg, in second, got away slightly better than his team-mate, who locked up hard after braking very late and was forced to go off track and abandon the second corner altogether.
Rosberg was also under attack himself from a typically aggressive Max Verstappen in his Red Bull and was under investigation by the stewards after appearing to gain an advantage by leaving the circuit. However, replays eventually showed that he was given a gentle nudge by the young whippersnapper and no further action was taken.
A first-lap collision at Turn Three involving Pascal Wehrlein brought out the safety car, which prompted Daniel Ricciardo in fourth to immediately ditch his supersoft tyres and boldly try to make a set of mediums last the entire race.
Back out in front, Hamilton was building a handy lead despite the self-inflicted flat spot which would have caused plenty of vibration as he zoomed round the track.
Rosberg, in comparison, was beginning to look a little vulnerable and Red Bull were confident that they could get Ricciardo in front of the German for second when he eventually pitted.
However, that did not prove to be the case. Ricciardo’s trademark smile would have turned into a grimace as he continued to be held up by home favourite Sergio Perez, which ruined all chance of performing the perfect undercut as Rosberg darted back out in front of the Aussie to hold track position.
With both Mercedes’ completing their pits, Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel was the new race leader and stayed out for an absolute eternity on his old soft tyres. He ignored initial calls from his engineers to come into pits, before eventually yielding by lap 32 – a decision that would create a fantastic finish in the fight for the final podium spot.
Now Vettel was out of the way, Hamilton sped off into the distance no doubt praying that his car would not let him down like it has on so many occasions this season. Thankfully for him and his legion of followers, this was not the case as he went on to record his 30th career win from pole position and secure his first win in Mexico.
The drama all unfolded behind in the battle for second and third. On lap 50, a mistake from Rosberg trying to pass a backmarker gave Verstappen a small window of opportunity to overtake once again. However, he was a little too ambitious and could not make his daring manoeuvre stick.
The hunter then turned into the hunted. Vettel was reaping the full reward of his mammoth first stint and, with his significantly fresher tyres, charged down Verstappen to set up an amazing finish.
On lap 67 of 71, Verstappen locks up, runs wide and goes over the grass at Turn One and rejoins ahead of Vettel, a move that forces the German to go as red as his Ferrari colours and launch a foul-mouthed tirade over his team radio.
“He has to let me go, he has to let me go. Move! Move! For **** sake!” screamed Vettel. But, with no official ruling from the stewards until after the race, Verstappen did not have to give the place back.
Whilst the steam was coming out of Vettel’s ears, Verstappen’s team-mate Ricciardo popped up out of nowhere and almost passed Vettel into fourth place. The duo coming inches away from colliding with each other.
Verstappen held on for third spot but, just as he was about to head onto the podium, the stewards dished out a five-second penalty which moved him down to fifth spot and promoted Vettel to third.
The German joined in the celebrations on the podium, only to be given a 10-second penalty later on after becoming the first driver to be punished under the dangerous driving rule – introduced at the United States Grand Prix – due to replays showing him moving in the braking zone when defending from Ricciardo, who then became the third driver to take third spot.
The Mexican Grand Prix took a while to get going, but it was certainly worth the wait!
What to expect in Brazil
Hamilton is enjoying a late revival, but it may still not be enough to stop his team-mate from winning his maiden title.
Rosberg could be crowned world champion if he wins in Brazil, so it will be very interesting to see how he approaches the race with that very big carrot dangled in front him.
All Hamilton can do is keep applying the pressure. If he can take this title fight all the way down to the wire in Abu Dhabi then who knows what might happen. If there is one man who knows all about the unexpected occurring, it is most certainly him.
About Interlagos circuit
The drivers will be returning to much more familiar territory than Mexico when they arrive at the Autódromo José Carlos Pace. An ever-present on the calendar since 1973, Brazil is a country steeped in F1 history and is the homeland of some legendary names to have graced the sport.
The 4.3km layout produces one of the shorter lap times of the year at just under 70 seconds. However, that does not mean the drivers will be in for an easy ride over the course of the weekend.
Firstly, there is the physical challenge of driving on an anti-clockwise track. This will put more strain than usual on the left side of the body and, coupled with the fact that the race is run 800m above sea level, the drivers will be bracing themselves for an uncomfortable race.
These negatives, though, are counter-acted with the knowledge that this is a particularly exciting track to race on with plenty of opportunities to overtake.
Sectors One and Three, which both have long straights that are begging to be attacked, will provide the fast and frantic pace, but a tightly-packed middle sector that has eight of the 15 total corners bunched in will test the drivers’ discipline and patience, too.
This contrast in styles within the three sectors makes the process of finding the right balance with the car a daunting task. A compromise on downforce is needed in order to be successful in Brazil.
Previous winners and track suitability
If there is one track that suits Rosberg down to the ground then it is definitely Interlagos. He arrives on the back of two consecutive victories in Brazil and is looking to become the first driver to record a hat-trick of wins at the circuit.
The German is one of five current drivers to have won here with Sebastian Vettel, Jenson Button, Kimi Raikkonen and home favourite Felipe Massa all joining him on the winners’ board.
Rosberg and Vettel, with their two race victories each, are aiming to bridge the gap to the high and mighty on the all-time winners’ list. Michael Schumacher and Carlos Reutemann have four victories apiece, while Alain Prost’s incredible record of six success will take some beating.
Four of those six wins for Prost came in McLaren colours and they are the most successful manufacturer in Brazil with a whopping 12 victories – their last coming in 2012. Ferrari, currently on a eight-year drought here, have 10 and are followed by Williams (six) and Red Bull (four). Renault and Mercedes bring up the rear with two wins respectively.
Hamilton is a notable omission from Brazilian honours’ list. Second place is the highest finish of his career at Interlagos but his thrilling fifth in 2008 secured him his first world championship.
While Hamilton has had mixed fortunes, one man who is not on the best of terms with Brazil is Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo. He has openly discussed in the past that the track does not suit him and his career finishes of: 20, 13, 10, retired, 11, accurately reflect his frustrations with a track that many love.
About Mark Scott
Mark Scott is a contributor for PlanetF1, the definitive site for Formula One news, features, galleries and live coverage.