F1: 5 storylines to watch at the Brazil Grand Prix (Interlagos)

F1: 5 storylines to watch at the Brazil Grand Prix (Interlagos)

It’s the penultimate weekend of the 2022 Formula 1 season. Max Verstappen has claimed his second World Championship, Red Bull has won their first Constructors’ Title in nine years, and it appears the rift between Sky Sports and the team has been resolved heading into the Brazil Grand Prix. The titles may be decided, but the rest of the grid still has plenty of battle for, and with a Sprint Race on Saturday it’ll be an action-packed weekend.

Since Mexico City, the F1 circus visited Las Vegas for the official launch party ahead of next year’s Grand Prix down the Vegas Strip, which will be a (very) late Saturday night race the weekend before Thanksgiving. It’s hard to quite picture the spectacle that awaits. Meanwhile, back on the track keep an eye on Pierre Gasly. Any further incidents could result in additional penalty points and rule him out of the season finale in Abu Dhabi.

But first, it’s the Brazil Grand Prix at the Interlagos circuit in São Paolo. The weekend will feature a Sprint Race, memories of Lewis Hamilton heroics, a tense battle for 4th, an American back on track, and more.

1. The Sprint Race

Loved by some, loathed by others. The third and final Sprint Race of the season will take place on Saturday. If you are new to F1, here’s the overview:

  • Qualifying moves to Friday afternoon
  • On Saturday there will be a shorter, 24-lap race
  • Points are awarded to drivers finishing in the top eight (1st gets eight points, 2nd gets seven, etc.)
  • The results of the Sprint Race set the grid for Sunday’s Grand Prix

The argument for Sprint Races is that it creates more racing (action) and removes one practice session, increasing the weekend entertainment package for F1. The argument against is that it goes away from the traditional qualifying to the Grand Prix format and that drivers will be more cautious to avoid damaging their car for the main race. Either way, get used to them because in 2023 F1 is expanding the format from three rounds to six.

2. Lewis Hamilton

Expect plenty of attention on the 7-time World Champion this weekend. Firstly, Hamilton was awarded Honorary Brazilian citizenship this week. Second, Mercedes have made huge strides in their development in recent weeks as they have bested Ferrari the last two weeks with Hamilton finishing second both times. Could their improvements combined with Red Bull turning some attention to 2023 lead to a first win for Mercedes in either the Sprint Race or Grand Prix?

Finally, there will be numerous mentions of Lewis’ legendary drive at Interlagos last season. He took pole position by about half a second, but a rear-wing infraction sent him to the back of the grid for Saturday’s Sprint Race. He then passed 15 cars to finish 5th. But he was dropped to 10th for the Grand Prix after replacing an engine component. Once again he was the fastest on the day and after an intense battle with Max Verstappen took won the win — his last in F1. Over the course of the weekend, he passed 28 cars and set up the epic finale of the 2021 F1 season.

Lewis Hamilton looks back on his incredible weekend at Interlagos last year

Watch the latest episode of Through the Visor #BrazilGP #F1

— Formula 1 (@F1) November 8, 2022

3. McLaren vs. Alpine

The battle for fourth place in the Constructors’ Championship has been in flux all season. Alpine appears to have the better car but suffers from reliability issues. McLaren has a tremendously talented driver in Lando Norris, but his teammate Daniel Ricciardo has struggled most of the year. With two races left the two teams are separated by just seven points. The winner takes home bragging rights and millions more in prize money, while the loser has the consolation of extra wind tunnel test time for developing the 2023 car. All four drivers have been in the points at least once in the last two weeks. With extra points on the line in the Sprint Race, São Paulo could be the deciding round.

4. Haas’ 2nd seat

Will Haas announce Nico Hulkenberg before practice kicks off on Friday? The signs appear to have aligned to see the German driver return to the F1 grid. Mick Schumacher logged his 9th straight Grand Prix without points in Mexico City. Meanwhile, Formula E Champion Stoffel Vandoorne has been announced as Aston Martin’s Reserve Driver next year, along with F2 Champion Felipe Drugovich. Considering that is Hulkenberg’s role this season it appears a done deal he will partner with Kevin Magnussen next year, leaving the young Schumacher looking for a Reserve Driver role or another racing series.

5. Logan Sargeant Back On Track

The American Formula 2 driver will be climbing into the Williams car again in São Paulo. Sargeant will drive Alex Albon’s FW44 on Saturday during Free Practice 2 (10:25 am on ESPNews). He drove practice sessions for the team in Austin and Mexico City, but due to two red flag incidents in Mexico, he didn’t log the necessary 100km to earn another point toward his Super License for next season. Sargeant is also expected to drive in FP1 for Williams at the finale next weekend in Abu Dhabi and the Young Driver Test. Williams is going all out to get Sargeant as many points as possible to ensure he can join Albon on the F1 grid next season.

How To Watch (all times ET)

  • Practice 1 – Friday 11/11 – 10:25 am – ESPN2/ESPN Deportes/WatchESPN
  • Qualifying – Friday 11/11 – 1:30 pm – ESPN2/ESPN Deportes/WatchESPN (Note: Coverage begins at 1:50 pm on ESPN2 & 1:30 pm on the other channels)
  • Practice 2 – Saturday 11/12 – 10:25 am – ESPNEWS/ESPN Deportes/WatchESPN
  • Sprint Race – Saturday 11/12 – 2:00 pm – ESPNEWS/ESPN Deportes/WatchESPN (Note: Coverage begins at 2:23 pm on ESPNews & 1:30 pm on ESPN Deportes)
  • Grand Prix Sunday (Pre-race Show) – Sunday 11/13 – 11:30 am – ESPN2/ESPN Deportes/WatchESPN
  • Grand Prix Race – Sunday 11/13 – 12:55 pm – ABC/ESPN Deportes/WatchESPN

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