Raikkonen vs Bottas vs Verstappen for 3rd
Raikkonen (236), Bottas (227) and Verstappen (216) is how it stands before the Brazilian Grand Prix this weekend.
Following Raikkonen’s superb win in the US Grand Prix and a podium in Mexico, he’s overturned an 11-point deficit into a 9-point lead over his fellow Finn. On the basis of the last couple of races, it’s Kimi’s to lose as Ferrari have had better pace in the aforementioned events. Realistically, this is his final chance to finish in the top 3 of a championship.
A difficult last two races in the Americas thanks to massive tyre troubles leaves Bottas 4th in the standings. If Mercedes can find the pace they showed at Singapore, Russia and Japan, then Valtteri can challenge Kimi for 3rd. However, if they continue to have big problems with the tyres, then he could well end up losing out to Max. It’s a crucial couple of races for the ‘fast Finn’. He’ll be very disappointed to end up with a winless season if he fails to get a victory in either Brazil or Abu Dhabi.
It would seem unlikely that the Verstappen can challenge the Finns – but he’s the man that has the momentum at present with four podiums in the last five races. That said, the upcoming circuits feature plenty of long straights and that will very much favour the Finnish duo. Max won’t give up without a fight, though.
Best of the rest
As it stands, it’s Nico Hulkenberg’s ‘title’ to lose in the ‘Formula 1.5’ fight in this current time in F1.
A pair of P6 finishes in Austin and Mexico puts Hulkenberg back in the driving seat after scoring only a single point in the previous six events before the back-to-back races in the Americas.
He holds a 12-point lead over Sergio Perez ahead of the final two rounds and solid races should see him seal 7th in the standings.
Behind the German, it’s still extremely close. 12 points cover Perez in 8th and Carlos Sainz in 12th. A strong end to the season for one of Alonso, Ocon and Sainz could see them climb places and end up with a top ten position in the championship. It should be a really intriguing finale.
Mercedes vs Ferrari
You would have thought Mercedes had sewn up this championship by now. Yet, they haven’t quite done so at the moment.
Ferrari have outscored their fierce rivals by 33 points in the last two events to keep their slim hopes alive. They’ll need to score 13 more points than Mercedes in Brazil just to have any chance of bringing the fight to Abu Dhabi.
Realistically, only a miracle will stop the Brackley based team from claiming a fifth straight teams’ title thanks to their 55-point buffer over the Italian giants.
Best of the rest
It’s advantage Renault in the tussle for 4th in the teams’ standings with a couple of races to go. Strong races from Hulkenberg and Sainz at Austin as well as the German’s P6 in Mexico has put the French manufacturer 30 points clear of their nearest rivals Haas ahead of this weekend’s race.
Renault have outscored their rivals by 18 points across the last two events.
The American owned team will need two magical weekends and some big luck to pip Renault to P4 in the championship.
Don’t rule out Racing Point Force India snatching P6 from McLaren. They trail the Woking based team by 15 points, but there are enough points available and have the speed in their car to take that position.
Sauber vs Toro Rosso
To most F1 fans, this scrap for 8th won’t mean a lot – but it’s very important to both of these squads for the extra income that comes with finishing a place higher.
Ever since the second round of the season when Pierre Gasly collected 12 points in the Bahrain Grand Prix, Toro Rosso led Sauber in the standings. However, things changed 8 days ago in Mexico when Sauber scored a double points finish to jump the Italian team and they hold a narrow three-point lead before the Brazilian Grand Prix.
Sauber’s 18 points haul from the last five races vs the 3 for Toro Rosso has seen them complete a great turnaround from a difficult start to the season. A series of PU changes resulting in grid penalties for Hartley and Gasly hasn’t helped STR at recent events either.
The Swiss-based team are on a roll at the moment and will fancy their chances of holding on to P8 in the championship.