A second ‘home’ race for Hamilton

After becoming an honorary citizen of Brazil, Lewis Hamilton may view this weekend’s F1 Sao Paulo Grand Prix as his second home race.

His close association with the Brazilian crowd and three-time F1 champion Ayrton Senna has won many fans over, particularly given Brazil’s lack of a local driver since Felipe Massa’s retirement at the end of 2017.

Hamilton - and Mercedes - are still without a win in F1 2022, although they’ve had opportunities to do so or at least fight with Max Verstappen.

In Austin and Mexico, Hamilton finished a superb second place behind Verstappen but had it not been for different tyre choices by Mercedes, it could have been on both occasions.

Mercedes have turned a corner in recent races, although their draggy W13 car isn’t likely to perform as well as it did in Mexico, where running high downforce was necessary.

Hamilton will be even more fired up this weekend as he looks to perform in front of the Brazilian fans, looking for that first win of the season to protect his remarkable F1 record of winning in every season he has participated in since 2007.

Will the sprint finally deliver?

F1’s sprint format makes a return this weekend in Sao Paulo.

This means conventional qualifying is moved to Friday in place of second practice, while a 100km sprint race takes place on Saturday afternoon.

One less practice session is great news given how dull FP2 has been recently due to Pirelli’s F1 2023 tyre tests.

So far, the F1 sprint hasn’t added to the weekend in terms of actual action on a Saturday, meaning it hasn’t won over a lot of fans.

However, having three days of meaningful action is a positive, combined with an unpredictable weather forecast, we could be set for a thrilling weekend at Interlagos.

What’s left to play for at Interlagos?

Even though both F1 championships are wrapped up, there’s still a lot to play for up and down the rest of the field.

Sergio Perez and Charles Leclerc are separated by just five points in the drivers’ standings with two rounds to go in the battle to be runner-up to Verstappen.

There are just 19 points between George Russell, Hamilton and Carlos Sainz in the race for fourth.

Looking at the constructors’ championship, Mercedes are 40 points off Ferrari for second in the constructors’ championship.

Unless Ferrari endure a miserable final two rounds, the runner up spot should be theirs.

Alpine are only seven points ahead of McLaren for fourth, while Alfa Romeo have a four-point advantage over Aston Martin.

Haas and AlphaTauri are separated by just one point ahead of this weekend’s Sao Paulo GP.

Gasly is on the brink of F1 history 

Pierre Gasly is on the brink of making F1 history after moving onto 10 penalty points following the Mexico City Grand Prix.

The AlphaTauri driver is now just two points away from receiving a one-race suspension - something that has never happened since the FIA introduced superlicence points in 2014.

Gasly will have to wait until May for any of his existing penalty points to be removed, meaning he will have to be on his best behaviour for the final two races of this year and the first part of F1 2023 with Alpine.

To ensure he has a clean slate ahead of his new venture with Alpine, would it be wise for Gasly to deliberately pick up two more points and a subsequent race ban during his final days with AlphaTauri?

Smart on paper, but the embarrassment of being the first-ever driver to receive a race ban isn’t exactly an accolade to be proud of.

Chaotic weather ahead?

Rain threatens all three days of running in Sao Paulo.

Over the years, Interlagos has hosted some of the best F1 grands prix, partially down to its unpredictable weather.

In 2008, in changeable conditions, Hamilton dramatically claimed his first F1 drivers’ title on the final lap at Massa’s expense.

Four years later, Sebastian Vettel did enough to secure his third title in a dramatic finale.

In 2016, Verstappen showcased his generational talent with a stunning wet weather drive to third.

The Sao Paulo (or Brazilian) Grand Prix usually always delivers.