Brazil, the last sprint before the final fireworks

The 2023 season is becoming longer than its already extensive calendar suggests, and although there is very little left at stake, beyond seeing if Sergio Pérez maintains the runner-up position or it is confirmed that he will be unable to do so despite have the best car on the grid long. The work of the drivers involves not only adding points for their personal problems, but also developing different pieces thinking about 2024, a campaign that is just around the corner and that, despite the regulatory stability that will not allow great evolutions, it can still be squeezed further.

Despite all these factors that could make the penultimate race of the year just another official day at the office, this one is held on one of those routes that still stir butterflies in the stomachs of fans. The Autodromo José Carlos Pace in Interlagos, in Brazil, is one of those that has a special place in the retinas of fans and also drivers. Scene of some of the most exciting resolutions in the history of Formula 1, see 2007, 2008 or 2012 to name just a few of the current century, this weekend will also feature the ‘sprint’ format, which again allows the three days have some action to tell and don’t waste Friday in a bland soup without noodles with race paces, tests with tires that interest almost no one and irrelevant laps that don’t even serve the drivers.

For the last time this season there will be a classification on Friday, a sprint on Saturday and a race on Sunday in which one objective is set by all the drivers, except himself: that Verstappen does not win. The dominance that the Dutch driver is exercising, with his three-time championship confirmed a month ago, is such that many fans are beginning to look at him badly not so much because he is a perfect villain (which he can be, depending on the prism with which it is viewed). look at him) but because it puts one’s own entertainment at risk.

Alternatives to Verstappen, however, are few. The first should be his teammate Sergio Pérez, but he has been incapable throughout the season and will be no less so now in Mexico. Lewis Hamilton gave a great lesson in Mexico last Sunday, but he still seems to be one point behind. McLaren’s irregularity does not place them as great favorites either, while Ferrari, the only team so far that has broken Red Bull’s full dominance, does not seem to reach its full potential either. And, even if it were, you can expect the best and the worst from the Scuderia at any time.

Alonso needs a stroke of fortune

The Spanish options go through Carlos Sainz who in Mexico was one step away from the podium, but who has very good feelings for Interlagos. The memory of him here could not be more pleasant, since it was on this circuit where he achieved his first podium in Formula 1, although he did not celebrate it at the time because he experienced it later after the sanction to Lewis Hamilton. A lot has happened since then, and a much more mature Sainz has a double objective this weekend, which can be summarized in a single challenge: increase the gap with his teammate Charles Leclerc, whom he already has 17 points, and break the tie with Fernando Alonso , currently tied with 183 points. The Madrid native, thanks to his victory in Singapore, is 4th.

Alonso, who at times had the runners-up position practically tied, is at a critical moment. He has two retirements in the last two races and only 15 points since the podium in Zandvoort in August. The Spaniard’s collapse is such that his 5th position in the world championship is seriously in danger, stalked by Lando Norris, with 169 points, and Leclerc, with 166. He could even pass George Russell, who has 151.

His objective in Brazil cannot be other than to add points and, with a good stroke of luck, return to the podium. Rain can be your ally or your great enemy, since the always turbulent Rio climate can cause water to fall on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Another issue is that Aston Martin is capable of giving you a car to match, something that they seem to have forgotten in just a few months.

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