We’re one week away from embarking on the last double-header and final two races of the 2022 Formula 1 season. There is no chase for championships or championship odds, as Red Bull has already had multiple opportunities to celebrate its dominance in 2022. Most teams are deep in preparing for the 2023 season, so there are no real upgrades to speak of that will impact the Saõ Paulo Grand Prix (formerly known as the Brazilian Grand Prix) and the final F1 Sprint race of the season.
I’ve decided to split this article into two pieces: part one focuses on everything Saõ Paulo Grand Prix in 2022, including two betting suggestions, aside from the obvious recommendation to pick car number 1 to finish P1. The second part reflects on the most impressive weekend performance in motorsports ever, which has to be the most outstanding performance in the Interlagos Circuit’s thirty-plus history in Formula 1.
Autódromo José Carlos Pace: Home of the Brazilian or Sao Paulõ Grand Prix
Autódromo José Carlos Pace, more commonly known as Interlagos, is one of the long-standing and fan-favorite circuits on the Formula 1 calendar. The Brazilian Formula 1 race underwent a rebranding in 2021, shifting from the Brazilian Grand Prix to the Sao Paulõ Grand Prix. Regardless of the official name of the Grand Prix, Interlagos is still the same circuit where Lewis Hamilton has won and lost a World Championship by one point (2007 and 2008).
Fifteen turns over 2.677 miles (4.309 km) comprise one lap around Interlagos, or the Autódromo Josê Carlos Pace. Barring weather restrictions, the Sao Paulõ Grand Prix is scheduled for 71 laps, while the final F1 Sprint Race is scheduled for twenty-four laps. We’ll get to last year’s winner, whose performance warrants his own section in our preview. Notably, the Saõ Paulo Grand Prix is at a similar altitude to Austria’s Red Bull Ring.
Why is altitude important to consider? It’s because of turbocharger performance and construction. Ferrari is believed to have a smaller turbocharger than Red Bull Power Trains (Honda) or Mercedes, which enables the turbocharger to speed up quicker, helping with exit corner speed.
However, much of the Ferrari power unit issues that have plagued the Ferrari-powered runners throughout the season can be attributed to the fragility of the Turbocharger. Unlike the Red Bull/Honda power unit that has excelled at altitude, we’ve heard the Ferrari turbochargers’ uncomfortable whine in management mode during the Mexico City Grand Prix, leaving both Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz well off the pace of the front-runners. At the same time, Carlos Sainz’s Austrian Grand Prix ended in a fire-filled power unit failure.
Saõ Paulo Grand Prix Prediction 1: Don’t take Ferrari to challenge for the win in either race. Taking either Ferrari driver to finish in the top 6 or to score points is the only bet we’d entertain on Ferrari this coming weekend.
Saõ Paulo Grand Prix Prediction 2: Aside from picking the number 1 car to win the Saõ Paulo Grand Prix and the F1 Spring Qualifying Race, we’ve got another lock for your betting picks. Trust us on this one: take Mercedes George Russell to finish in the top six. Russell has only landed in the top 6 in seventeen of the twenty races this season.
The 2021 Saõ Paulo Grand Prix or Lewis Hamilton’s Greatest Weekend in Formula 1
I understand how much territory you need to cover to assess the validity of that sub-heading, considering Lewis Hamilton is the most successful Formula 1 driver ever and is a seven-time World Champion -frankly, almost nine-time Champion. Hamilton is arguably the greatest Formula 1 driver of all time, and I argue that his career masterpiece was the 2021 Saõ Paulo Grand Prix weekend. If you only focus on the Grand Prix results, you are missing the bulk of the story.
In true Formula 1 fashion, it’s lights out, and away we go as we review Lewis Hamilton’s legendary 2021 Saõ Paulo Grand Prix weekend. And uncharacteristically, this story starts from the back of the grid for the man who holds the record for most pole positions.
First, we all know how contentious the battle for the 2021 World Drivers’ Championship was.
We’re not revisiting that hornet’s nest and invoking the ire of the Orange army or Sky Sports commentators – who, despite what they argue, demonstrate a significant (and expected) bias toward British drivers and against everything Red Bull on their broadcasts compared to the F1TV broadcast crew. This bias is evident despite historically landing Red Bull team principal Christian Horner for in-race media duties for years (including the 2021 edition of this Grand Prix) when the likes of Mercedes’ Toto Wolff hadn’t made many appearances at all.
Second, Mercedes had two secret weapons to deploy for the season’s last four races. The first was an ingenious technological trick to drop the W-12’s ride height once it hit a certain speed on the straights, making the W-12 a little faster on the straights.
More importantly, one DNF classification due to power unit reliability would be enough to end Hamilton’s pursuit of World Championship number eight. When testing the 2021 power units, one power unit had a little extra Mercedes magic purely by happenstance.
Dubbed the “spicy” engine, Mercedes opted to put that power unit into Hamilton’s W-12 at Interlagos. Hamilton put the spicy engine to good use through all three sessions, despite the five-place grid penalty for the new internal combustion engine and being disqualified from qualifying for his DRS opening not meeting the technical specifications. This sent Hamilton to the back of the grid for the Sprint Race, despite putting up a 1:07.934 in Qualifying 3, three-tenths faster than Max Verstappen’s pole position for the Sprint Race.
2021 Saõ Paulo Sprint
From his starting position of 20th, it was clear from lights out that Hamilton was on rare form with an incredible start. As the laps of the sprint race counted down, Hamilton gave us a preview of what was to come on Sunday, finishing the Sprint Race in P5, only 20.872 seconds behind race winner Valtteri Bottas. The real preview for Sunday was in the alternate lines around the circuit that Hamilton used to facilitate his dissection of the field.
These different lines were off the beaten path but gave Hamilton the positioning and traction through the corners to quickly dispatch the field. In the 2021 Saõ Paulo Sprint, Lewis Hamilton passed fifteen cars in twenty-four laps on the way to a P5 Sprint Race finish. Hamilton’s five-place engine penalty was implemented for the Grand Prix moving Hamiton back to a P10 start.
2021 Saõ Paulo Grand Prix
This is where Lewis Hamilton’s alternative lines were in full effect as Hamilton destroyed the field until he got to Max Verstappen. Verstappen knew his lead wasn’t going to last and battled with Hamilton over a few laps doing everything he could to keep the W-12 behind him. Max famously even attempted to drive Hamilton as far off the track as possible as both drivers battled for P1.
Why would Verstappen try to drive Hamilton out of the circuit and into the neighboring community? Because Lewis Hamilton was inevitable and unstoppable at Interlagos. Verstappen and Red Bull’s only chance to keep Hamilton beyond him was to drive him into the neighborhood and as far from the circuit as possible.
Lewis Hamilton won the 2021 Saõ Paulo Grand Prix, passing Max Verstappen and finishing 10.496 seconds ahead of Verstappen. That means over 95 laps at Interlagos, Lewis Hamilton passed every driver on the grid at least once, passing all but four drivers at least twice, and finishing at least a lap ahead of fourteen cars during the grid in the Grand Prix.
And he did it starting from the back of the grid during the Sprit race and mired in the mid-field mess for the Grand Prix. Knowing what we know and re-reviewing the 2021 Saõ Paulo Grand Prix makes Hamilton’s weekend even more special than the results could suggest.
Up Next: The 2022 Saõ Paulo Grand Prix
The second-to-last race on the 2022 Formula 1 calendar is up next, and clearly, it’s the Saõ Paulo Grand Prix, which takes place from November 11-13. There is action on all three days of the weekend: Qualifying is on Friday, the Sprint Race is on Saturday, and the Grand Prix is on Sunday. Unfortunately for Sky Sports stalwarts “Crofty” (David Croft) and Ted Kravitz, there is no Mercedes magic or spicy engine to help Lewis Hamilton overcome Max Verstappen and Red Bull, whose win at Interlagos in 2022 seems as inevitable as Hamilton’s in 2021.
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