The Undercut: Brazilian Grand Prix – Ferrari ready to spoil the Mercedes party?
The staff back at Mercedes Brackley HQ will be watching this one intently…
The drivers' F1 title is of course now nicely wrapped up once again for Lewis Hamilton, but there is still a lot to play for at the Brazilian Grand Prix, with the Constructors Championship yet to be decided.
For most of us, who wins the constructors' title is of little interest. I mean who really cares about it?
The sports pages in the newspapers will always give a decent write up of the drivers' title but other than a few expensive, full page, self-congratulatory adverts that Mercedes no doubt have already drawn up, that will be about it.
That is of course unless you work for the Mercedes F1 team, as if they do the deed this weekend, or at the final race in Abu Dhabi, everybody back at the factory, from designer, to cook to cleaner is in line for a bonus, said to be worth about £10,000 each.
Well, it might be if you give back that win nabbed off poor old Valtteri in Russia…
When you multiply that by the around 850 people who work there, you can be sure the good shopkeepers of Brackley will also be hoping Merc put another one over on Ferrari.
With Mercedes 55 points ahead and a total of 86 to play for, you have to say that bonus time looks a good bet. But Sebastian Vettel is pretty handy around Interlagos, while Lewis Hamilton has yet to win a race in a season after he has clinched the title.
Wait a minute, when did Stoffel Vandoorne join Caterham?
Then of course there is the weather, or to be more meteorologically precise, the wet stuff, which when it does fall here, does so with a proper dumping, and with track drainage notoriously bad, chaos can and often does ensue, so nothing is guaranteed.
One other group of people interested in the constructor standings will be the teams' accountants.
The difference that just one place in the final reckonings can make may run into millions of dollar's worth of prize and travel money for next season.
Apart from our top two already discussed and Red Bull safely in third, most of the other teams also know where they are likely to end up.
Renault in fourth are thirty points ahead of Haas which should do them, while the American squad are twenty two points ahead of McLaren, so it will take a minor miracle for the Woking team to overhaul them.
The further down the table you go, the closer it gets, so there will be some nervous bean counters at Force India, Sauber and Toro Rosso.
This is probably the fastest Sergey will go all weekend.
The only team at the poor end of the table no longer in any doubt of where they will end up is Williams in tenth and last place.
They are twenty six points away from ninth. All they need to do is more than treble what they have scored since March to avoid the ignominy of being the worst team in F1.
Away from Brazil, the news has been a little quiet this week.
Renault had a little dig at Max Verstappen in their Brazil preview, Haas complained a lot about something and Marcus Ericsson said he felt the timing of his leaving of Sauber, just as they are becoming half decent, was hard.
Somebody needs to explain the whole pay-driver thing to him. ..
While they are rubbish and short of cash, they love you. Once they get good and are fighting sponsors off with a stick, it’s the exit door for you old son.
Disappointed Swedes aside, the big story of the week has been the announcement of the Vietnam Grand Prix. Though as we had all that fuss over the Miami Grand Prix, which now seems to have disappeared off the agenda, I think we’ll hold the excitement until they actually start knocking up a track in Hanoi.
An initial look at the track layout of two very long bits and a few squiggly sections around a rather drab looking part of Hanoi doesn’t inspire much confidence.
The Hanoi track layout. Bits of it inspired by Monaco (yes, really).
Folk on Twitter were rather dismissive on the whole, in fact the only people who seemed pleased were the many overjoyed media types, happy at having another exotic location to visit in the name of work.
The owners of F1, Liberty Media, came up with something about this being good for the sport, good for (their) business and of this part of the world being the future of F1.
Well, maybe they are right, but we’ll wait and see if it actually happens and if the Vietnamese have done the maths, otherwise we’ll just have another Korea or India type scenario where they bail out the minute they find that ticket sales to the locals barely scratch the top of the bill.
Of course, as we’ve come to expect, the announcement of the race was followed a short time later by Liberty commercial chief, Sean Bratches, giving a veiled threat to Silverstone about it maybe not keeping the British Grand Prix.
And you thought it was tiresome when Bernie used to do this every five minutes.
He helpfully pointed out that as the race had been held at other places in the UK in it’s history, that in order to keep a British Grand Prix, it may be held somewhere else.
F1 cars might struggle with Aintree these days.
Thanks for the history lesson, Sean but I wonder just where you had in mind that could do a better job and cope with the numbers like Silverstone does?
Brands Hatch maybe? Castle Combe or how about the fabled Circuit of Wales? Heck, we could even go back to having it at Aintree.
This eagerness to have races in destinations with no real F1 heritage or interest is all well and good – we like new places – but some sort of loyalty to the likes of Silverstone, Monza and Interlagos, which are all hanging on to their races by the skin of their teeth, wouldn’t go amiss.
Silverstone staged the first F1 race in 1950 and here it is, decades on, still in the sport.
Will the Vietnam Grand Prix still be around in 68 years?
Somehow Mr Bratches, I doubt that very much indeed…