2014 Brazilian Grand Prix Preview


Seventeen down, just two to go. The 2014 Formula 1 season is quickly coming to a close, with just two-and-a-half weeks to go until our champion is crowned under the lights in Abu Dhabi.

We know with certainty that the title will not be decided in Brazil this weekend by virtue of the controversial double points rule. Lewis Hamilton may lead the way by 24 points, but Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg is still an ever-present threat, particularly with the reliability of the W05’s coming into question over the past few races.

Were Abu Dhabi not a double points round, Hamilton would most probably win his second title in Brazil this weekend. Having won the past five races, the Briton would ordinarily have needed to outscore Rosberg by just a single point to be champion. Alas, he will have to bide his time, knowing that a DNF in the final race in Abu Dhabi could hand his German teammate the title.

Brazil has a rich heritage in Formula 1, but the Interlagos circuit has undergone a few changes for this year’s as part of its redevelopment programme. The pit entry has been altered slightly, and a new paddock complex is set to be in place for the 2015 race.

With rain forecast, the site of many a classic grand prix could yet provide us with another race that will play a pivotal role in deciding the destination of this year’s world championship.

2014 Brazilian Grand Prix – Talking Points

Lewis, Nico and double points

Having the championship be decided by double points has been the fear for many in Formula 1 this season, but there is a possibility it might just happen. The very fact that Lewis Hamilton cannot win the title as he should be able to in Brazil this weekend will rile many, but Rosberg is less bothered – after all, it works in his favor.

In reality, this weekend’s race in Brazil is unlikely to have a huge bearing on the title in terms of mathematics unless Rosberg retires. The German driver needs to keep the pressure on Lewis right to the final round, but certainly appears to have lost the mojo that put him in control of the championship back in July.

Sauber’s three-into-two contract debacle

Sauber sprung a surprise on the entire F1 paddock in Austin by confirming that Marcus Ericsson would be racing for the team next year, and then did it again by announcing Felipe Nasr as his teammate. This left all four of its current drivers – Adrian Sutil, Esteban Gutierrez, Giedo van der Garde and Sergey Sirotkin – out in the cold for 2015.

However, Sutil does still have a contract with the team, meaning that he will have to be paid off. He has said that firm talks do need to be held so both the team and the driver can know what direction they are heading in, but for the time being, things seem to be pretty awkward at Sauber.

Massa’s homecoming will be sweeter than ever

As the only Brazilian driver on the grid, Felipe Massa has had the nation’s hopes of success in F1 resting on his shoulders for some time. Since his win at Interlagos in 2008 (the same day he lost the title by a single point) though, he hasn’t been in the frame for a big result, playing second fiddle to Fernando Alonso at Ferrari.

This year though, that has all changed. With Williams, Massa has been resurgent, enjoying a very successful season that has yielded one pole position and one podium. His tally would be a great deal higher had it not been for some bad luck, but in Brazil this weekend he can set his sights on a big result that would send the crowd wild.

Is Fernando any closer to a decision?

In Austin last weekend, Fernando Alonso spoke of his great and ambitious plans for 2015 which appear to have nothing to do with Ferrari. However, his definition of “ambitious” may be a great deal to this writer’s given that he looks likely to move to McLaren for 2015.

Paddock speculation suggests that the team is now growing tired of negotiations dragging out, with Alonso considering a one-year deal to tide him until a seat at Mercedes might (but probably won’t) become available. The Spaniard might do well to cut his losses and accept a move to a team that should be fighting back at the front next year.

Brazil marks two years of hurt for JB and McLaren

As my MotorSportsTalk colleague Tony DiZinno wrote yesterday, this weekend’s race in Brazil marks two years since the last victory for both Jenson Button and McLaren. Since then, the team has struggled to fight at the front of the field, enjoying another so-so year in 2014 that leaves it fifth in the constructors’ championship.

Although the team does appear to be on the cusp of a revival, Button will know that it could come after his time as he nears the exit after five seasons at Woking, most likely to make way for Alonso. A big result in Brazil would be a big boost for the team ahead of the final race in Abu Dhabi.

Brazilian Grand Prix – Facts and Figures

Track: Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace (Interlagos)
Laps: 71
Corners: 15
Lap Record: Juan Pablo Montoya 1:11.473 (2004)
Tire Compounds: Soft (Option); Medium (Prime)
2013 Winner: Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull)
2013 Pole Position: Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull) 1:26.479
2013 Fastest Lap: Mark Webber (Red Bull) 1:15.436
DRS Zones: Main Straight (T15 to T1); T3 to T4

Brazilian Grand Prix – TV Times

Free Practice 1: NBC Sports Live Extra 11/7 7a ET
Free Practice 2: NBCSN 11/7 11a ET
Free Practice 3: NBC Sports Live Extra 11/8 8a ET
Qualifying: CNBC 11/8 11am ET
Race: CNBC 11/8 10:30am ET

For full broadcasting details for the Brazilian Grand Prix, click here.

Ryan Hunter-Reay hired as replacement for Conor Daly at Ed Carpenter Racing

Ryan Hunter-Reay Carpenter
Michael Allio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Ryan Hunter-Reay was named to replace Conor Daly in Ed Carpenter Racing’s No. 20 Dallara-Chevrolet, starting in the NTT IndyCar Series event next week at Road America.

Hunter-Reay is the 2012 series champion and 2014 Indianapolis 500 winner. He finished 11th for Dreyer & Reinbold last month in the 107th Indy 500, his first start since the 2021 season finale. He drove full time for Andretti Autosport from 2010-21.

“We need to improve our competitiveness and I wanted to add a fresh perspective from a driver like Ryan who has a massive amount of experience and success as well as a reputation as a team leader. I am excited to welcome Ryan to the team,” team owner Ed Carpenter said in a team release. “We have worked together in the past as teammates and he tested for ECR at Barber Motorsports Park in October 2021, where he made an immediate impact as we were able to qualify one of our cars on the pole following that test. I am confident that his experience and technical abilities will be an asset to ECR as we move forward toward our goals as a team.”

Hunter-Reay has 18 IndyCar victories, most recently in 2018. He also is a winner in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, having been a part of winning entries in the 2020 Twelve Hours of Sebring and 2018 Petit Le Mans. Last year, he was an endurance driver for Cadillac Racing while being on standby for Chip Ganassi Racing.

He replaces Daly, whose departure was announced a day earlier in what the driver and team said was a mutual decision.

“I was surprised when I got the call from Ed,” Hunter-Reay said in a team release. “He described how frustrated he was that his team has not been able to realize its potential despite their efforts, investments, as well as technical and personnel changes over the past few years and asked for my help. Ed and I are very close friends and have been for a long time. I’ve worked with the team in the past and they are a very talented group with high expectations and a committed partner in BITNILE.COM.

“This will certainly be a challenge for me as well. It’s a tough situation jumping in a car in the middle of the season without any testing in what I believe to be the most competitive series in the world. Certainly, part of my motivation in saying ‘yes’ to Ed is the great challenge ahead. The last time I turned right driving an NTT IndyCar Series car was in October of 2021 with this team at Barber. However, I remain very confident in both my driving and technical abilities and believe by working with the talented people at ECR and Team Chevy, while representing BITNILE.COM, we will make progress. I am going to do everything I can do to help the team achieve its long-term objectives.”

Said Milton “Todd” Ault, the chairman of sponsor BitNile.com: “It is great for BitNile.com to be aligned with an Indy 500 Winner and an NTT IndyCar Series champion. I have followed Ryan’s career for years and I am confident he will challenge the entire ECR team to perform at higher levels. I wish everyone luck at Road America.”