Questions Ahead Of Brazilian GP

Date published: November 11 2015 - Editor

A glimpse into the Red Bull future, STR rookies look to overtake Lotus, farewell Rossi and more as we look ahead to the Brazilian Grand Prix.

A Glimpse Into The Red Bull Future?
Red Bull are set to run the upgraded Renault engine in Brazil and it will give us a peek at what they will have at their disposal for the 2016 season, if reports are to be believed.

Renault’s latest spec engine was made available ahead of the United States GP, but Red Bull declined to use it as they felt the gains would not have been worth it once the grid penalties were taken into account.

With speculation rife that Renault will supply the Milton Keynes-based squad “unbranded” power units next year with Red Bull using their own ERS components as well as developing the internal combustion engine further, it could be a sign of things to come.

Daniel Ricciardo will get first dibs, which will see him drop 10 places down the grid, and it will only be decided on Saturday if Daniil Kvyat will also run it on the Sunday.

The Australian’s progress will be closely watched by all in the paddock.

Lesson Learned From Ferrari?
“This is a good lesson for all of us. It prepares ourselves and the character of the team,” team principal Maurizio Arrivabene said after the Mexican GP saw both Ferrari cars retire for the first time since Australia 2006.

Having taken grid penalties in Texas following upgrades to their engine, Ferrari were hoping for a much better showing and they definitely appeared to have moved a bit closer to Mercedes in practice, but they couldn’t show their true race pace on the Sunday as Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen both had a day to forget.

Fast forward a week and a bit and Vettel feels they are now good enough to target victories in Brazil and Abu Dhabi, saying: “There are two races to go, and two more wins we can potentially get, so this is our aim, even though it won’t be easy.”

Adding that the gap is “half a second or less, so we’ve been doing the right things”.

Much like Red Bull-Renault, Ferrari’s performance will be worth taking note of with the 2016 season in mind.

Can Hamilton Break His Brazilian Duck?
It’s hard to believe, but Lewis Hamilton has never won the Brazilian GP. In eight attempts, his best position was his second-place finish at last year’s race, which was won by Nico Rosberg, while he has appeared on the podium on one other occasion.

Of course he has fond memories of Sao Paulo as that’s where he won his first Drivers’ Championship in 2008 after some late drama, but it is the only ever-present race on the calendar since he made his debut in 2007 that he hasn’t won.

What About The Race Strategies?
We could be in for another race where those who come up with the strategies have to earn their money. Tyres, rain and the Safety Car will all make for an interesting Brazilian GP.

Pirelli has once again gone for the medium-soft tyre combination for the penultimate race and last year it led to a three-stop strategy for the top six finishers.

Throw in a Safety Car, which according to McLaren’s race preview has a 70 percent chance of appearing, and some rain and we could have Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes questioning each other again.

Pirelli expects two-three stops while the early weather forecasts says it will be hot and humid, which could lead to showers both on Saturday and Sunday.

Toro Rosso Rookies To Overtake Lotus?
Lotus are currently sixth in the standings, but they are only six points ahead of Toro Rosso and the Faenza-based squad appear to be finishing the season stronger thanks to Max Verstappen. The 18-year-old has been in the points in the last five races while Pastor Maldonado has been keeping Lotus ahead with three top-10 finishes in his last four outings.

Both Carlos Sainz and Romain Grosjean haven’t had the best of luck in recent months, but sixth place in the standings may well be determined by the two of them. In other words the one that manages to see his car home in both races could nick it.

Is This The Last We Will See Of Rossi In F1?
Alexander Rossi will make his fifth and final appearance for Manor at this weekend’s race with Roberto Merhi set to return to for the season finale in Abu Dhabi.

It is widely being reported that Manor will opt for a Will Stevens-Pascal Wehrlein driver line-up next year, leaving Rossi (and Merhi) on the sidelines, but the American has certainly done his future prospects no harm with his performances.

In the four races to date, he outqualified Stevens on two occasions and actually finished ahead of the Briton in all four races.

Hopefully we won’t have to wait another eight years to see an American on the grid.