Will Perez bounce back as Hamilton hunts him down?

After a nightmare on home soil last time out with his heartbreaking first-lap retirement, Perez desperately needs to respond strongly in Brazil. 

Perez appeared to finally be returning to form in Mexico City and had done almost everything right up until Turn 1 on race day. 

After getting closer to Red Bull teammate Max Verstappen than he has for a long time, qualifying within a couple of tenths of the Dutchman to take fifth on the grid, Perez got a brilliant start that saw him challenge for the lead.

Had he not tangled with Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc with a risky move, Perez would have been in good shape to score a much-needed podium that would have helped ease the mounting pressure on him. 

But a self-inflicted mistake has ultimately left the Mexican’s future facing ongoing scrutiny, despite Red Bull reiterating their “intention” to keep Perez for 2024. 

Adding to Perez’s frustration will be the impressive performance of Daniel Ricciardo, who is making a late bid to rival Perez for his seat. 

Even though Red Bull have made it clear that Perez won’t be dropped for failing to finish second in the championship, a strong result in Brazil will aid his cause on both counts. 

Prior to last weekend, Perez looked to have P2 all but sewn up (albeit largely thanks to Lewis Hamilton’s DSQ rather than his own performance). But after Perez’s non-score in Mexico, coupled with another second place finish for Hamilton, it is well and truly game on, with just 20 points separating the pair with three grands prix - and a sprint race - to go. 

Can Mercedes repeat Brazil victory? 

Mercedes return to the scene of their only victory from last season, when George Russell converted an initial sprint race win into his maiden grand prix triumph. 

Given their competitive gains in recent weeks and back-to-back P2 finishes (on the road, at least) since the introduction of a new floor, Mercedes will be hoping to be fighting at the front-end of the grid once again at a track that should suit their W14. 

Hamilton in particular is enjoying a purple patch of form and will have the backing of the Interlagos crowd, who have adopted the Briton - an honorary citizen of Brazil - as one of their own. Could this be the race where the seven-time world champion finally ends his win drought? 

It will not be straightforward with Red Bull going into the weekend as clear favourites, while the likes of Ferrari and McLaren should also be in contention. But the Sao Paulo Grand Prix may just be Mercedes’ best bet of getting a win before the end of the season. 

Ricciardo to continue his revival?

Ricciardo turned in a statement performance in Mexico on the most convincing weekend of his F1 comeback yet. 

The Australian impressively out-qualified Perez’s Red Bull for a headline-grabbing fourth in qualifying, which he turned into AlphaTauri’s best result of the season with a superb run to P7. 

On a weekend Perez ultimately faltered, Ricciardo will have done his chances of earning a future Red Bull seat no harm, giving the senior team something to think about. 

Providing Ricciardo can continue that momentum across the remaining races, his case to take Perez’s seat will be harder for Red Bull to ignore, especially if the latter does not turn things around. 

Can Aston Martin arrest slide?

The Aston Martin team just cannot seem to catch a break at the moment. 

After a remarkable transformation over the winter to start the season as Red Bull’s nearest challengers, Aston Martin have suffered a speculator fall from grace as the year has gone on. 

The Silverstone-based squad have gone from regular podium challengers to struggling just to score points at recent rounds. Aston Martin’s last top-five finish came at Zandvoort, where Fernando Alonso claimed a brilliant second place. 

Since then, Aston Martin’s season has gone off track, with a woeful weekend in Mexico City compounded by a double DNF. 

Aston Martin’s recent poor form has seen them slip down to fifth place in the constructors’ championship. 

Now 20 points behind a resurgent McLaren, Aston Martin are in need of a response in Brazil to avoid ending the season on a whimper. 

One eye on the weather…

Unpredictable weather often plays a factor at the Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace, and that could be the case again this weekend. 

Storms are threatening to impact the weekend, with Friday’s forecast looking the bleakest.

If thundery showers do indeed hit on Friday, when qualifying takes place due to it being a sprint weekend, could we get a mixed up grid for Sunday’s main grand prix? 

The weather could add another level of intrigue to an already harder-to-predict weekend than normal.