Lewis Hamilton may already have clinched his third Formula 1 drivers’ championship, but there is still plenty to play for in the remaining two races of the 2015 season as he battles for supremacy with teammate Nico Rosberg.
Having struggled to match Hamilton for most of the year, Rosberg has shown signs of a revival in recent weeks, claiming five straight pole positions in the lead-up to Sunday’s Brazilian Grand Prix.
For the second year in a row, Rosberg will start from pole at Interlagos ahead of Hamilton as he goes in search of a fifth victory of the season.
By getting in some late blows in this year, Rosberg will be hoping to set himself up for a renewed title bid in 2016, placing pressure on both Mercedes drivers on Sunday.
Here’s what to watch for in today’s Brazilian Grand Prix, live on NBCSN and Live Extra from 10:30am ET on Sunday.
What To Watch For – 2015 Brazilian Grand Prix
The Rosberg Renaissance?
He may have lost the championship, but we’ve seen a different side to Nico Rosberg in recent weeks. Having put up little fight to his teammate for the title, the German appears to have rediscovered the form that made him so dangerous in 2014 when he ran Hamilton all the way to the final race of the season.
Recording back-to-back victories in Brazil would be a big statement, particularly at a race that Hamilton so dearly wants to win. This is a big weekend for Rosberg – the psychological battle for 2016 is already underway.
Hamilton’s ‘to do’ list
There isn’t much that Lewis Hamilton has not won in Formula 1, but the Brazilian Grand Prix is still on his ‘to do’ list. There have been near-misses in the past (2012 being his best chance), and it will forever be the site of his dramatic title victory back in 2008.
However, he is yet to emulate hero Ayrton Senna by winning at Interlagos. In a year that saw him match the legendary Brazilian’s title tally, Hamilton will be hungry to go one step further and finally check this off his hit list.
Seb’s waiting on a miracle
Sebastian Vettel will take up his usual starting slot of P3 for today’s Brazilian Grand Prix, but the Ferrari driver has not given up hope of winning for a fourth time in 2015. Vettel said after qualifying that he hopes Ferrari can “create a miracle” at Interlagos and capitalize on the unpredictable nature of the race.
Indeed, the Brazilian Grand Prix is notorious for drama and suspense, but unless rain strikes on Sunday, it is hard to see Ferrari mounting much of a challenge to Mercedes. In a race that sees a split between two and three stops, Ferrari should be able to take advantage of the SF15-T’s kinder tire treatment, but it’s unlikely to be enough to bother the Mercedes runners.
Felipe Massa and Felipe Nasr will be flying the flag for Brazil on Sunday at Interlagos, and both have a good chance of points in the race on Sunday starting from P8 and P13 respectively.
For Nasr, this marks his first home grand prix, and offers a good opportunity for him to add to his growing points haul in his rookie season. Sauber appears to be in better shape in Brazil, with Marcus Ericsson also working his way into Q2 on Sunday.
More misery for McLaren?
After #PlacesAlonsoWouldRatherBe took the internet by storm on Saturday, McLaren will be hoping to make the headlines of the right reasons on Sunday – as unlikely as it may be.
Having completed just one lap in Mexico and stopped in both practice and qualifying so far this weekend, Fernando Alonso will be keen to buck the trend and make some kind of progress from the back of the grid.
Teammate Jenson Button starts a few places further forward, but both know that it will most probably require a race ‘out of the norm’ to give them points.
More memes would be welcome, of course.
2015 BRAZILIAN GRAND PRIX – STARTING GRID
1. Nico Rosberg Mercedes
2. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes
3. Sebastian Vettel Ferrari
4. Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari
5. Nico Hulkenberg Force India
6. Daniil Kvyat Red Bull
7. Valtteri Bottas Williams*
8. Felipe Massa Williams
9. Max Verstappen Toro Rosso
10. Carlos Sainz Jr. Toro Rosso
11. Sergio Perez Force India
12. Marcus Ericsson Sauber
13. Felipe Nasr Sauber*
14. Romain Grosjean Lotus
15. Pastor Maldonado Lotus
16. Jenson Button McLaren
17. Alexander Rossi Manor
18. Will Stevens Manor
19. Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull*
20. Fernando Alonso McLaren
* grid penalty applied