Interlagos served up a cracker; proper racing around a proper track. Champions were crowned and rivalries intensified. Trying to come away with just 5 talking points was a tall order, but here are Chris Fawcett’s picks as the season’s end draws nearer.
Kimi: a man reborn?
It seems easy on paper to offload a 39-year old Finn who, up until a month ago hadn’t stood on the top step of the podium since 2013. But when you look across the season, Kimi is having one of his strongest and most consistent at Ferrari.
While it wouldn’t be my place to suggest that Ferrari are letting the wrong man leave at the end of the year, it’s something to consider, as crazy as it sounds.
Yes, Sebastian Vettel may be a four-time Formula One World Champion but he’s let A LOT slip through his fingers this year due to errors, particularly while battling with Red Bulls. His team mate however has been maximising the car on a regular basis and has picked up 12 podiums along the way – a joint career best.
Next year sees a highly thought of youngster in the shape of Charles Leclerc join the big time. The last time Sebastian Vettel had a situation like this to content with was when Daniel Ricciardo joined Red Bull, and we all know how that played out.
Next year will be an interesting one, Sauber are getting a version of Kimi Raikkonen who hasn’t lost much pace over the years but has an absolutely endless supply of experience and race craft to offer.
If Sebastian Vettel doesn’t have his head screwed on when times get tough next year, the image that people have of the four-time champion could easily be washed away and replaced by that of someone who can’t take pressure, doesn’t like a competitive team-mate and will take silly risks at the expense of the team.
Pace, where does it come from and where does it go?
The speed that Red Bull showed all weekend was a real eye-opener for Mercedes and Ferrari. Not many could have predicted that Max Verstappen should have and would have won that race with Daniel Ricciardo almost scraping onto the podium after starting so far back.
I have said it before, but after a performance like that it’s worth noting again. IF the Honda engine is strong and reliable next year, Mercedes have a proper fight on their hands to make it six doubles in a row because the aerodynamics of the Red Bull will be unmatched, just like every Adrian Newey car that’s ever existed.
Brazil wasn’t a happy place for Ferrari who’s pace through the speed traps was undone by their overall race pace. Vettel had a Grand Prix which can only be described as “blugh” while Kimi, although making it to the podium, almost had 3rd snatched from him.
Precursor to playground punch up?
Ok, I couldn’t wait any longer to mention this, it was after all THE talking point to take away from Brazil.
Max’s corner/Ocon’s corner/un lapping/faster tyres etc.
What we’ve really gleamed from this is the fact that Formula One drivers are not allowed to show their true emotions according to the media. It makes me sick to my stomach to have these athletes vilified, particularly Max on this occasion and made out to be animals.
Excuse me, but football players dive multiple times in a game, rugby players get into actual punch ups, ice hockey players are almost encouraged to have all out warfare, but the moment a Formula One driver pushes another one, outside the immediate public eye I might add – then it becomes headline news and deserves every man and his dog to comment on it. It’s frankly ridiculous.
Yes, what Max did wasn’t “good”, it wasn’t sporting and certainly wasn’t what we typically see on a Grand Prix weekend, but let’s relate this to real life. If you were driving your £250,000+ supercar and someone knocks your back end and you spin around. You then can’t confront them until half an hour later and when you do, they hold their hands up and say “wasn’t me”. You’re not going to shake hands and walk away are you?!
Lessons need to be learned about future conduct from both drivers on and off the track, but if it happens again, guess what? It isn’t the end of the world, it’s just human emotion.
Self appointed experts commenting in papers and on social media should stick to their day job of over sensationalising Kim Kardashian’s new curls or writing about a heartbreaking moment when someone falls over in Strictly Come Dancing. Oh, and while their at it, get off their high horses.
Mercedes have constructed a perfect team
We’re in the midst of a period of domination. Just like Ferrari previously and Red Bull more recently, Mercedes have found themselves at the top of motorsport’s pecking order and seem intent on staying there.
Despite neutrals and casuals becoming bored with the sight of Lewis Hamilton on the top step of the podium and seeing Toto Wolff celebrating in the garage, it’s perhaps lost on them just how hard they’ve all worked to get there. Lewis didn’t walk into a winning team, he strategically picked Mercedes for their hybrid-era potential and they’ve fulfilled their promise in spades.
The team who fly out to each race and even those back at Brackley and beyond should give themselves a huge pat on the back. This year they were not the best package, they didn’t have the fastest car and the tyres seldom suited their race strategy. That said, they’ve still walked away with the constructors championship again. They gel together, they listen to each other’s feedback, they’re hugely talented and they have the best driver in the sport, who goes the extra mile to maximise their return on a weekend.
The repetitive nature of Lewis Hamilton thanking his team isn’t just for sound bytes, he means it, without them he wouldn’t be a five-time driver’s champion and without him they’d certainly not have been constructors champions again.
It wont last, it never does.
Kimi: too cool for school
I just want to end on the podium if possible. You had an elated champion pulling off an unlikely victory, a furious Dutchman who couldn’t wait for round 2 with Ocon and a chilled out Finnish “pensioner” who refused to take his sunglasses off.
It got me wondering, is the pay cut he’s taking at Sauber next year so great that he now needs to supplement it with impromptu fashion exposure?
It cut a funny looking scene and was a great way to end a remarkable weekend in Brazil… never change Kimi.