2015 Brazilian Grand Prix Preview

© Getty Images

Following one of the most vibrant events in Formula 1’s recent history in Mexico, the paddock now ventures to Sao Paulo for the Brazilian Grand Prix where the atmosphere promises to be just as intoxicating.

Lewis Hamilton suffered just his fifth defeat of the season to teammate Nico Rosberg in Mexico as the German driver showed the kind of form that may have allowed him to mount a serious bid for the drivers’ championship had it come about four months earlier.

As a result, we arrive in Brazil with the Mercedes drivers once again going toe-to-toe. The championship may already be decided, but Rosberg will know that some late victories in 2015 will do wonders for his mindset heading into the winter break.

Here is our full preview of the 2015 Brazilian Grand Prix.

2015 Brazilian Grand Prix – Talking Points

Hamilton looks to bounce back from Mexico defeat, Monaco crash

On Wednesday, Lewis Hamilton revealed that he would be arriving in Brazil one day later than planned after coming down with a fever and being involved in a minor road traffic accident in Monaco at the beginning of the week.

The Briton was unhurt and is okay to race in Brazil, but there will undoubtedly be questions about his fitness heading into the weekend. If it presents Rosberg with another opportunity to pounce and claim just his fifth win of the year, the German must grab it with both hands.

Another podium for Felipe?

Felipe Massa will be leading the home charge once again this weekend as he goes in search of a sixth podium finish in Brazil. The nature of the Interlagos circuit should suit Williams better than many of the recent circuits have, and if Ferrari can have another nightmarish race as it did in Mexico, Massa will be a red hot favorite to add to his trophy haul.

In other Brazilian news, Felipe Nasr will be making his first grand prix appearance on home soil this weekend. Since stepping up from GP2 to a full-time F1 seat with Sauber in 2015, Nasr has been quietly impressive, picking up 27 points so far this season, but the opportunity to race at home will surely be a new highpoint for him.

The notoriety of Interlagos

Interlagos has a reputation for the extraordinary. Just yesterday, many on Twitter were discussing the thrilling finale to the 2008 championship when Lewis Hamilton won the title at the final corner. Who can forget 2003 when Giancarlo Fisichella won for Jordan? Or 2012 when Sebastian Vettel fought back to edge Fernando Alonso for the title?

The Brazilian Grand Prix is rarely a dull affair, giving hope to those lower down the order. At at time when there are still many close fights in the constructors’ championship – Lotus and Toro Rosso are separated by just six points; Sauber and McLaren by nine – the penultimate race of the season could give those in need a golden opportunity to impress.

Rossi’s final race of the season

Alexander Rossi will start his fifth and final grand prix of the 2015 season for Manor on Sunday, having made an enormous impression since making his debut back in Singapore. The American driver flew the flag on home soil and has a perfect record against teammate Will Stevens so far, and will want to cap it off with another victory in Brazil.

This should go down as Rossi’s final race for now – all of the noises coming from the American and out of Manor hint at a deal for 2016 being very close, suggesting that this weekend’s race will not be the last we see of him. On the contrary: 2015 was just the beginning for Alexander Rossi.

Defining the future

Despite us now being at the penultimate race of the season, there are still a number of big questions that need to be answered before 2016. Red Bull’s engine saga continues to rumble on, with the latest suggestion being that it will continue with a rebranded Renault engine for next year. However, a deal remains unconfirmed, leaving question marks hanging the future of both Red Bull Racing and Toro Rosso.

Lotus’ future is also still unclear. Renault’s buy-out is still in the process of being finalized, but again, no announcement has been made. Manor’s direction is another question that needs to be answered following the resignation of a number of key staff over the lack of investment from team owner Steven Fitzpatrick.

With winter testing just over three months away now, we need answers. And quick.

2015 Brazilian Grand Prix – Facts and Figures

Track: Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace, Interlagos
Laps: 71
Corners: 15
Lap Record: Juan Pablo Montoya 1:11.473 (Williams, 2004)
Tire Compounds: Soft (Option); Medium (Prime)
2014 Winner: Nico Rosberg (Mercedes)
2014 Pole Position: Nico Rosberg (Mercedes) 1:10.023
2014 Fastest Lap: Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) 1:13.555
DRS Zone: Main Straight (T15 to T1); T3 to T4

2015 Brazilian Grand Prix – TV Times

Free Practice 1: NBC Sports Live Extra 7am ET 11/13
Free Practice 2: NBCSN 11am ET 11/13
Free Practice 3: NBC Sports Live Extra 8am ET 11/14
: CNBC 11am ET 11/14
Race: NBCSN 10:30am ET 11/15

Tom Blomqvist keeps eye on IndyCar during impressive rise: ‘ I would love to give it a go’


DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – In between two of his latest superstar-driver-in-waiting performances, Tom Blomqvist walked through the Daytona International Speedway garage in anonymity.

“Nobody knows who the (expletive) I am,” he said to a team member with a laugh (and without a trace of being miffed), evincing the cheeky humor of someone born in England, raised in New Zealand and also of Swedish descent.

The lack of recognition in the garage might have been because he was clad in a relatively nondescript shirt, hat and sunglasses instead of a colorful firesuit covered by sponsor logos. But he also was on the way to a Friday race eve media availability where his entrance was greeted by only one reporter (after a few minutes).

During a news conference a day earlier, he sat patiently on the dais while his Indy 500-winning teammates and car owner fielded nearly all the questions – even though Blomqvist had turned maybe the most impressive lap of the month to win the Rolex 24 at Daytona pole position in the debut of the Grand Touring Prototype category.

The Meyer Shank Racing driver still might lack the attention commensurate with his already world-class CV (which expanded Sunday with his second consecutive Rolex 24  victory for MSR), but Blomqvist, 29, clearly isn’t bothered by it.

He carries the quiet confidence of knowing his immense talent will ensure results that will make him impossible to ignore.

“To a degree, I guess, it’s definitely ramped up a lot for me,” Blomqvist told NBC Sports. “In America, I’m starting to get a lot more (attention). In the last year, I’ve quite often got a lot of maybe what you’d call the glory moments. It’s been fun. And within the paddock, there’s a lot of respect for me anyway. It’s been good.”

There have been several moments of acclaim since he joined MSR barely a year ago in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. In his first start for the team at last year’s Rolex 24, Blomqvist turned in a Herculean performance to position the No. 60 Acura for the victory (giving way to Helio Castroneves because he was too “cooked” to complete the last 74 minutes).

He was even better this year at Daytona.

He ripped off a monster “one and done” pole-winning lap to beat the clock in qualifying on the 12-turn, 3.56-mile road course. During the race, Blomqvist was as dominant in his first stint as his last in the ARX-06 while taking the checkered flag. He set the mark for the fastest time on Lap 6 that no one topped over the final 755 laps.

The 10 fastest laps in the race belonged to Blomqvist, carrying over his speed from the 2022 when he won the Petit Le Mans season finale to clinch the premier prototype championship at Michelin Road Atlanta.

A year earlier at the same track, he had burst onto the radar of car owner Mike Shank, who was intrigued by Blomqvist’s results as a BMW factory driver in the Formula E and DTM series. In 2014, Blomqvist also finished between second in F3, between champion Esteban Ocon (now with Alpine’s F1 team) and Max Verstappen (who has won the past two Formula One championships).

“He did a lot of high-level stuff, and then kind of fell out of favor, or I don’t know what happened, but he was a free agent,” Shank said. “I started looking at his numbers, and I’m like, ‘We should test this guy. So I take him to Road Atlanta in the fall of ’21, and he got in the car and just slayed it.”

Within minutes, he had called co-owner Jim Meyer.

“I’ve got our guy,” Shank said. “This is our guy. There’s no question about it.

Honda Performance Development president David Salters hugs Tom Blomqvist after the Rolex 24 at Daytona pole (Mike Levitt/LAT/IMSA).

“Now what’s happened, though, and I think if you look back at the Rolex here last year (and) what he did, he’s a gold nugget. He reminds me a little bit when (Robert) Wickens came into IndyCar out of DTM (as a rookie in 2018).

“He truly believes he’s the fastest guy out there, and he proved it (at the Rolex 24).”

Said David Salters, president for Honda Performance Development: “We love Tom. He’s the real deal, isn’t he? Immensely talented, super smart, and on it.

The great thing about our teams, the strength in depth is tremendous. But if you look through the sports car racing now, that’s the standard you have to have. Tom, brilliant, Filipe (Albuquerque), brilliant. Ricky (Taylor). You can go through that list. They’re all superstars. Tom is awesome. His lap in qualifying quite frankly was unbelievable.”

Having conquered one of the world’s greatest endurance races twice with Acura, Blomqvist could be ticketed for the world’s biggest race next – the Indy 500 — with HPD’s primary brand.

He tested a Dallara-Honda for MSR last October at Sebring International Raceway, and while he plans to focus solely on IMSA this season, he remains very intrigued by IndyCar.

And with Castroneves, 47, beginning a one-year deal with MSR’s IndyCar team, there could be an obvious opening in 2024.

“Obviously, it’s not in the cards this year,” Blomqvist told NBC Sports the day before the Rolex. “Yeah, I would love to give it a go. To be honest, I think that would be an amazing step for me in my career. I enjoy the sports car stuff so much. It’s been really good to me lately. I really enjoyed the style of racing.

“But I feel like IndyCar would be a step up for me and my career. It would be fantastic if I could get that opportunity. But yeah, I guess I have to keep pushing Mike or something to give me a shot. But obviously for now, the focus is here in the sports car stuff. It’s not really down to me at the end of the day. And I’ve got to do my job and then the people who pay the bills and make the decisions obviously have to decide if that’s something worth pursuing.

“But yeah, I’d love to give it a go, and I definitely would be up for it.”

Tom Blomqvist after winning the Rolex 24 at Daytona pole on the final qualifying lap (Mike Levitt/LAT/IMSA).

A transition from IMSA to IndyCar naturally would be easier than switching teams, but it also would be comfortable because Blomqvist already seems such a good fit at MSR.

It might have seemed an unusual pairing given his European-heavy background, but Blomqvist likes the Midwestern culture that’s been built at MSR. Based just outside Columbus, Ohio, the team’s shop has “no egos, and that just enables each and every one of to reach our potential.

“Obviously, with Honda, we obviously have some great resources, but we’re up against Porsche, BMW and some big heavy hitters in the motorsports world,” he said. “I wouldn’t say we’ve got a huge team compared to them, but we’ve obviously got a very capable team, and I think that’s what has been so impressive and really, really nice to see about the work that’s been done. No stone has been left unturned.”

Blomqvist still is living in Europe and planning to commute for the nine-race GTP schedule (which has a nearly two-month break after the Rolex 24 until the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring). But though he’s “got good friends in America, so I do have places to stay,” he seems open to being based more permanently near MSR in America.

“Let’s see what the future brings, and if that means me spending more time over here,” he said. “It’s a fantastic team. It’s a different environment to what I’m used to. It’s obviously now a hugely successful team, but it is a small team. It does feel like a very small family-operated team, which it is.

“I think Mike’s really just built this thing. It hasn’t happened overnight. Mike’s a great guy and put a lot of trust and faith in me, and I played a relatively good part in some of the success last year. I was able to reward him and give him my all every time I’m on track, and he respects that. But we are still a small team. In the grand scheme of things, we still are a really, really small team.”

Blomqvist said the BMW factory program would have two or three times the staffing of MSR – just on one of its two GTP cars.

“But it’s not the number of people that makes a difference, it’s the quality of people, and obviously Mike and HPD are a fantastic operation to go racing,” Blomqvist said. “We’re racers at heart.

“I’ve been part of some big outfits, and the European way of working is very, very different to how people go about racing in America. I’d say it’s more seat of your pants. A lot of emotion and kind of rides on that competitive spirt, competitive nature and on their personalities. It’s a lot more pure. It feels very pure. You want to win, so we go out and don’t cut corners on trying to win.”

Though it’s aligned with Liberty Media and has big-budget backing and support from Honda Performance Development, MSR also is much less corporate than most GTP teams.

A longtime and respected team owner who has built a sponsor portfolio, Shank also describes his maniacal dedication to success as “messed up,” and he’s known for dropping vulgarities into postrace interview with his blunt and self-deprecating sense of humor.

Meyer Shank Racing co-owner Mike Shank congratulates Tom Blomqvist on the Rolex 24 at Daytona pole position (Mike Levitt/LAT/IMSA).

With a more laid-back but sometimes just as biting demeanor, Blomqvist has become the team’s unquestioned leader behind the wheel

“I definitely feel a lot more immersed,” he said. “Within the team, I was a bit more of an unknown quantity the start of last year. Obviously after last season, the team trusts me a lot. And that gives me a lot of pleasure, pride and confidence. In this sport, confidence is a huge aspect of drivers’ psychology in a way. We’re in extremely high-pressure moments where my job is to perform under the pressure of these organizations and the brand as well.

“It’s just a good, healthy team to be a part of. It’s a high-pressure environment, but the team obviously have put a lot of faith in me, and I’ve been able to deliver for them on occasions.”

Rolex 24 starting lineup
Tom Blomqvist celebrates after winning the pole in the No. 60 Acura ARX-06 (Mike Levitt/LAT/IMSA).