Battle for third spot hots up ahead of penultimate round as F1 heads for Brazilian GP - GulfToday

Battle for third spot hots up ahead of penultimate round as F1 heads for Brazilian GP

Battle for third  spot hots up ahead of penultimate round as F1 heads   for Brazilian GP

Mercedes’ British driver Lewis Hamilton speaks during a press conference in Sao Paulo on Wednesday. Reuters

The battle for the third spot in the Formula One championship has heated up, with Mercedes drivers Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas already having locked the first places.

Three drivers Charles Leclerc, Max Verstappen and Sebastian Vettel are separated by just 19 points as the championship heads to the penultimate round at the Brazil Formula One Grand Prix this weekend.

With Mercedes drivers dominating the season and Hamilton already having secured his sixth world title at US Grand Prix, there still remains a lot to fight for the trio, who are chasing a respected third to finish the season on high.

There are also millions of dollars at stake for mid-table teams jostling for position in the constructors’ standings that determine prize money payouts.

Ferrari’s Leclerc is third in the drivers’ standings but facing a likely 10 place grid penalty at Interlagos as he seeks to defend a 14 point lead over Red Bull’s Verstappen, who is in turn five clear of Ferrari’s Vettel.

 “I think it’s still going to be hard,” said Verstappen when asked about closing the gap. We need a bit of luck as well for that, but I will give everything. Of course we had some really unlucky results but... they (Ferrari) should have been miles ahead of us over the whole year.

“It’s been a good season in that way, that we’re actually still in there. I’ll definitely try to get it (third),” added the 22-year-old.

Interlagos is an old-style circuit, with an exuberant local crowd likely to be giving Hamilton plenty of love, and Vettel is a three times winner there.

“I think overall it’s been a good hunting ground for us and hopefully it will be like that again this weekend,” said Germany’s four times world champion.

Hamilton and team mate Valtteri Bottas will be looking to carry momentum on to Abu Dhabi and into the winter break, with the Briton on 83 career wins and eager to close the gap on Michael Schumacher’s all-time record of 91.

Ferrari and Red Bull are also looking ahead, their second and third positions secure in the constructors’ standings.

Further down the pecking order, the fiercest battle is between Renault, Racing Point and Toro Rosso. Renault are fifth and 18 points clear of Racing Point, who are only one point ahead of seventh-placed Toro Rosso.

“The point we scored in America helped move us up to sixth place in the championship and mathematically we can still aim for fifth,” said Racing Point team boss Otmar Szafnauer.

“There’s lots at stake and lots to fight for, so we need to maximise the opportunities this weekend.” Eighth-placed Alfa Romeo are just seven clear of ninth-placed Haas.

The total distance at the Brazil Grand Prix is of 305.909kms with 71 laps of 4.309kms each.

Mercedes have won both titles for an unprecedented sixth season in a row. Hamilton secured his sixth drivers’ crown in Austin, Texas, on Nov. 3. The Briton is now one behind Ferrari great Michael Schumacher’s record seven.

Three of the current drivers have won in Brazil: Vettel (2010, 2013, 2017), Raikkonen (2007), Hamilton (2016, 2018).

Brazil has been on the calendar since 1973, starting at Interlagos before moving to Rio de Janeiro and then returning to Sao Paulo. The circuit is named after the late driver Jose Carlos Pace.

Hamilton clinched his first title in Brazil in 2008.

Sunday will be the 47th world championship grand prix in Brazil, and 37th at Interlagos. Michael Schumacher has the most wins at the Sao Paulo circuit, with four.


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