The 19th stage of the Formula 1 World Championship has started on the Interlagos track in Brazil. Fans will face a huge number of confrontations between pilots and teams – the decisive moment has come in the battle for the world title, for the Constructors ‘Cup and for sponsors’ money. “MK-Sport” tells what you should watch especially carefully.
New weekend format
In Brazil, for the third time this season, we will see the modified structure of the stage. F-1 bosses, in pursuit of entertainment, experiment with everything that can somehow be changed. In 2021, a different competition format is used at three stages.
A standard weekend includes two Friday training sessions, then the riders train again on Saturday, and then qualify. Well, the cherry on the cake is the Sunday race.
As in England and Italy, in Brazil the sessions look a little different: one training session on Friday, then qualification immediately. On Saturday there is one more training session, and then a short sprint race, in which the pilots start in accordance with the qualification results. The first three are given points for the sprint: 3, 2 and 1 point, respectively. Well, on Sunday, the main race according to the results of the Saturday sprint with standard prize points (from 25 to 1 top ten).
Based on the results of two stages with this format, the idea was generally recognized as quite successful. Firstly, Fridays are not so boring now, because the pilots have to give their best on this day. Secondly, the risk of error on Friday and Saturday is clearly higher than in the standard format. With an unfortunate coincidence of circumstances, Sunday may not have a chance to fight. Let’s see how it will be this time.
A new round of struggle for the title
Between Max Verstappen (“Red Bull”) and Lewis Hamilton (“Mercedes”) at the start of the stage 19 points difference. In this confrontation, various variations of the outcomes are still possible, but such a gap four stages before the end seems decent. In Brazil, the forces of the cars will be approximately equal. Qualifications will be a very important point. Whoever wins it will take the initiative into their own hands.
Winning at Interlagos is vital to both. Max, if successful, will create such a gap that in the remaining three races it will be enough to come to the finish line second – given the shape of the pilot and his car, this is not the most difficult task.
Lewis’s first place in the main race will bring him back into an active fight for the title. And there are three stages ahead on super-high-speed tracks, which, according to preliminary forecasts, will be much more suitable for cars of “silver arrows” than “bulls”. So both have a lot to worry about this weekend.
Let’s not forget about an important factor in the fight for the title – the reliability of the technique. So far, Red Bull has had no refusals. Their car as a whole looks reliable, which cannot be said about the brainchild of “Mercedes”. The main stumbling block in 2021 is engine reliability.
Before Brazil, the bulls boss Helmut Marko shared rumors that Hamilton would still have an engine change. True or not, no one knew for sure, but on Friday the information was confirmed: Hamilton replaced the engine and received a five-place penalty on the grid. Now the task of winning in Brazil will become much more difficult, but in the next races the engine on the Lewis car will be newer and more reliable.
Perez chasing Bottas
There is another intrigue in the confrontation between the two main teams of the 2021 season – the battle of number two for the final third place. A month ago it seemed impossible, but Sergio Perez’s three consecutive third places allowed him to close the gap from Valtteri Bottas to 20 points.
Sergio himself as a whole positively assessed the likelihood of competing for the top three: “Everything can change in one weekend. I believe that if we continue to work with the same dedication, then this is real. We will continue to attack and will try to make every weekend as perfect as possible. “
Constructors Cup Battle
From 2010 to 2013, Red Bull dominated the team competition. In those days, their car was the strongest. But everything changed with the transition to the new technical regulations in 2014. The Bulls were hopelessly behind, and Mercedes pulled ahead for seven years.
But in 2021, the Austrian team is back on top. In four stages at the end of the season, Red Bull is only one point behind a competitor. You need to understand that it is incredibly important for any team what place it will take in the standings. And the reason, as always, is trivial – money.
Prizes are awarded for each place in the table. The difference between first and second place is two or even three tens of millions of dollars. It is not surprising that the teams climb so much higher in the final protocol. So in the Constructors’ Cup, the cut is even worse than in the individual competition. It is very likely that we will not know the winner until the finish of the last race of the season in Abu Dhabi.
What are the rest?
Another interesting fight is the battle for third place between Ferrari and McLaren. Over the past couple of races, the Italians were finally able to get ahead and bring the lead to 13.5 points, but in Brazil everything can change again.
Long straight and super fast turns are perfect for a British car. It is to be expected that at least one orange car will be higher than the red one at the finish of the race. In this confrontation, the whole struggle is still ahead.
As in the fight for fifth place. Throughout the season, the French Alpin (formerly Renault), for which the two-time world champion Fernando Alonso stands , consistently came to the points, and her fifth place in the team competition was not questioned.
But the recent results of “Alpha Tauri”, and especially the fourth place of Pierre Gasly in Mexico, put the team on a par with the French competitors. Now both have 106 points. Alpin will try to keep the fifth line, where it finished last season, in order to prove to shareholders that no regression is taking place. And the sister team of “bulls” is closer than ever to the highest place in the Constructors’ Cup in its history. That’s really who will definitely give it the maximum.