Drivers’ Champion Sebastian Vettel will be hoping to end the 2013 Formula One season in fine style with victory at this weekend’s Brazilian Grand Prix (Race: Sunday, 16:00 GMT, live on BBC / Sky Sports F1).
Vettel was a comfortable victor in the United States last weekend, defending his pole position into turn one and controlling the race from the front for his 12th win of a dominant season. Another victory this weekend would see him equal Alberto Ascari’s long-standing record of nine consecutive victories.
Lotus’ Romain Grosjean continued his strong late season form in second, ahead of Vettel’s Red Bull teammate Mark Webber, who will race his final Grand Prix this weekend. Mercedes are strongly placed to finish second in the Constructors’ Championship following a double points finish from Lewis Hamilton (4th) and Nico Rosberg (9th).
There were impressive drives to top six finishes from Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez, while Valtteri Bottas scored the first points of his Formula One career with an eighth place finish for Williams.
The Interlagos circuit on the outskirts of Sao Paulo has been home to the Brazilian Grand Prix since 1990. It is a medium-to-high downforce track that requires good traction and a balanced set up. The lap is the quickest of any circuit on the calendar, with the lap record clocked at under one minute 12 seconds.
Rain showers are a regular occurrence in Sao Paulo at this time of year and last year’s race was run in variable conditions, as memorably was the 2008 title-decider. Current forecasts suggest rain is a very real possibility on both Saturday and Sunday.
Red Bull have qualified at the head of the grid in each of the last seven races, but the fact that there have been five different drivers and cars on pole position in the last five Brazilian Grand Prix makes it clear that this is a circuit where such patterns are rarely respected.
In normal conditions, the Red Bull is the class of the field, but with rain highly possible the odds on offer for either Vettel or Webber to qualify on pole position are not particularly attractive.
Looking further down the field, Adrian Sutil could be one to watch out for. The German driver has endured a tough time in qualifying since the summer break, failing to make the top 10 in any of the last eight races, but has performed well at Interlagos in the past, particularly in the changeable conditions of 2009, when he qualified third.
Sutil seems confident that his Force India will be suited to the circuit and in wet conditions he has an outside chance of pulling off a surprise and reaching the final session of qualifying.
With rain currently forecast for Sunday, and the potential for a wet qualifying session to have mixed up the usual order, there is some value to be found in betting against Vettel to get the record-equalling victory he so desires.
Even if the race is run in generally dry conditions, he is sure to face a strong challenge from his teammate Webber, who will be determined to end his Formula One career on a high. Webber won in Interlagos in 2009 and 2011 and has finished ahead of Vettel in the three of their four races at the circuit as teammates. With this in mind, backing the field against Vettel looks a solid proposition.
Nico Hulkenberg returned to point-scoring form in the United States after a couple of barren races and seems well placed to finish strongly again this weekend in what is likely to be his final race for the Sauber team.
Hulkenberg has raced at Interlagos on two previous occasions, qualifying on pole position and finishing eighth for Williams in 2010 before qualifying seventh and finishing fifth for Force India, the team he seems likely rejoin for 2014, last year. He was particularly impressive in variable conditions during last year’s race, leading for around 40 laps.
Hulkenberg has secured four top six finishes for Sauber in the last seven races and at a circuit he excels at can be fancied to again finish in the top six on Sunday.
Jenson Button won last year’s race for McLaren and has finished in the top five in each of the last four Brazilian Grands Prix. He often runs well in changeable conditions and looks good value to finish ahead the other three drivers Paddy Power bookmaker have placed in Group C of their driver groupings market.
Button has been grouped with Valtteri Bottas, Esteban Gutierrez and Paul Di Resta. He and Di Resta would be tied on eight wins each if this group had been in place throughout the season, but Button’s good record at Interlagos and strong wet-weather skills should seen him come out on top on Sunday.
Brazilian Grand Prix Betting Tips Verdict
- Bet on Adrian Sutil to reach qualifying session three @ best odds of 8/1 with Ladbrokes.
- Back The Field in the Favourite v The Field market @ 9/4 with William Hill.
- Bet on Nico Hulkenberg to finish in the top six @ best odds of 6/5 with Bet365.
- Back Jenson Button to win Group C @ 5/6 with Paddy Power.