Venue: Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace
Max Verstappen is expected to secure a record-extending 15th win in a Formula One season in our Brazilian Grand Prix predictions.
The 25-year-old Dutchman broke the record previously held by Michael Schumacher and Sebastian Vettel in Mexico, albeit aided by a longer campaign.
Schumacher won 13 races out of 18 in 2004 and Vettel 13 of 19 in 2013, with Verstappen matching the latter by winning the United States Grand Prix recently before moving out on his own.
With Sao Paulo and Abu Dhabi still to come, the Red Bull ace can get up to 16 wins this term and set a daunting benchmark for others to aim at in the future.
Verstappen is on course for only the fourth three-figure winning margin in F1 history, currently 136 points clear of team-mate and nearest challenger Sergio Perez.
He crossed the line 15.1 seconds ahead of Lewis Hamilton in Mexico and beamed: “It has been an incredible year so far. We are enjoying it and we will try to go for more wins.”
There was a feeling that Hamilton could have finished much closer but for questionable tyre choices from Mercedes.
However, it was ultimately another convincing victory for Verstappen, with Red Bull second string Perez another 18 seconds back in third.
“Another great race,” added Verstappen. “We knew that that first stint was going to be the crucial one for us to keep that soft tyre alive long enough, which seemed to work.
“I did struggle a bit towards the end, but luckily the gap was big enough to extend a few laps and once we put on the medium tyres, everything was working quite well.”
It is notable that Verstappen has achieved his success with far fewer pole positions than either Vettel or Schumacher, who had nine and eight respectively.
When the Dutchman claimed first place on the grid in Mexico, it was only his sixth of the campaign.
Even so, Charles Leclerc can take some heart from Brazil being one of three races this year to run the F1 Sprint format.
Verstappen dominated under this system at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix in April but Leclerc came out on top after a hard-fought battle in Austria.
Hamilton is 5/1 to strike for the first time in 2022 after becoming an honorary citizen of Brazil following a ceremony in Brasilia on Monday.
The seven-time world champion has always hailed Brazilian great Ayrton Senna as a boyhood hero.
Following his victory here 12 months ago, the Englishman completed an additional lap while holding the Brazil flag – mimicking Senna at his home race in 1991.
“When I was five years old, I saw Ayrton race for the first time and that was the moment when I knew I wanted to be world champion,” Hamilton said.
“Many people said it was impossible, but fortunately, the fact that I’m here today is proof that persistence and hope can make everything possible.”
Past Brazilian GP winners
2021 Hamilton (Mercedes)
2019 Verstappen (Red Bull)
2018 Hamilton (Mercedes)
2017 Vettel (Ferrari)
2016 Hamilton (Mercedes)
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