Formula 1: Sao Paulo Grand Prix Preview, Predictions, and How To Watch

31 Esteban Ocon, BTW Alpine F1 Team, A522, action 04 Lando Norris, McLaren F1 Team, MCL36M, action during the F1 Grand Prix of Mexico at Circuito Hermanos Rodriguez from October 27th to 30rd, 2022 in Ciudad de Mexico, Mexico.

The F1 Sprint returns at the Sao Paulo Grand Prix this weekend. Will Max Verstappen pull off the sweep or can someone else secure a win?

Same story, different day. That was the case last time out for Formula 1 in Mexico City. Max Verstappen yet again claimed victory and set the record for the most wins in a season in F1 history with 14.

Now Verstappen sets his sight on Interlagos. He’s won there once before and will look to bounce back from his loss there in 2021 to Lewis Hamilton. There’s no reason to think he can’t, either. He’s amidst a three-race win streak, and Red Bull hasn’t lost since July. Red Bull’s car is absolutely dominated this season and Max is in the best form of his career. The main question surrounding the final two races is if Max can extend his record and cement this season as one of the all-time greatest.

This week he’ll have a shot to win two races. The F1 Sprint returns for the first time since Austria, which just so happens to be the last race that Red Bull didn’t win. As a result, the schedule shifts around a bit this weekend which you can see below. Let’s also have a quick refresher on the Sprint rules ahead of this weekend.

F1 Sprint Rules

The F1 Sprint is a quick, 100 km race that takes place the day before the actual Grand Prix. It is intended to help shake up the field for Sunday and provide some more excitement for fans as it replaces one of the weekend’s practice sessions. Drivers will have the normal qualifying session on Friday which sets the grid for the Sprint, with the Sprint race setting the grid for Sunday. This weekend’s Sprint will be 24 laps long.

Points are awarded on a sliding scale to the top eight finishers in the Sprint. The scale is a simple 8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 from first place to eighth place.

There has also been an amendment this year in terms of deciding who is awarded pole position on a Sprint weekend. Last year, when they were introduced, pole position was awarded to whoever won the Sprint race. This year pole goes to the fastest qualifier on Friday, as it typically is on a race weekend.

If you don’t recall, take a look here at highlights from last year’s Interlagos Sprint race, in which Lewis Hamilton made up 15 spots in 24 laps after starting at the back of the grid. Hopefully, we are in store for another exciting Sprint race like last year.

The Circuit

The Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace is a 4.3 km (2.67 miles) long circuit in Sao Paulo, Brazil. More commonly known as Interlagos, the Circuit first hosted an F1 Grand Prix in 1973. It was on and off the calendar until 1990, and since then has hosted an F1 Grand Prix every season except in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The name of the race was changed from the Brazilian Grand Prix to the Sao Paulo Grand Prix in 2021. Michael Schumacher holds the most wins at the circuit with four. Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel each have three, with Hamilton winning in 2021. The race lap record belongs to Valtteri Bottas, who set a mark of 1:10.540 in 2018.

A Lap of Interlagos

Drivers begin down the long front straight and into the Senna “S” that makes up Turns 1 and 2. It is a left-right downhill section that is a great overtaking spot during races. Drivers then take the swooping left-handed Turn 3 into another straight which contains the first DRS zone. Turn 4 is a 90-degree left that begins sector two followed by the flat-out Turn 5 that takes drivers back uphill.

Turns 6 and 7 are two fast right-handers that take drivers into the slow and winding section of the track. This section is a series of slow corners with elevation changes that are typically single file for drivers during races. This section ends with Turn 12 which spits drivers back out onto the main straight where the second DRS zone is. There are three more turns that are a part of the main straight, making 15 total, but they are all easily flat-out in modern F1 cars.

Sunday’s race will be 71 laps long.


Championship Standings

Things are wrapped up in both championships but there are still some battles down the order to pay attention to, especially in the Constructors’ standings. The battle for fourth is only separated by seven points. Alfa Romeo and Aston Martin are just four points apart, while just a single point is between Haas and AlphaTauri for 8th.

Driver Standings

  1. Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing – 416 points
  2. Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing – 280 points
  3. Charles Leclerc, Ferrari – 275 points
  4. George Russell, Mercedes – 231 points
  5. Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes – 216 points
  6. Carlos Sainz Jr., Ferrari – 212 points
  7. Lando Norris, McLaren – 111 points
  8. Esteban Ocon, Alpine – 82 points
  9. Fernando Alonso, Alpine – 71 points
  10. Valtteri Bottas, Alfa Romeo – 47 points

Constructor Standings

  1. Red Bull Racing – 696 points
  2. Ferrari – 487 points
  3. Mercedes – 447 points
  4. Alpine – 153 points
  5. McLaren – 146 points
  6. Alfa Romeo – 53 points
  7. Aston Martin – 49 points
  8. Haas – 36 points
  9. AlphaTauri – 35 points
  10. Wiliams – 8 points

Race Predictions

If you’re a Mercedes or Ferrari fan looking for some hope this weekend, you’ll have to find it somewhere else. The Silver Arrows have been trending upward in the second half of the year, and Ferrari still has a competitive car, especially on Saturdays, but no one can touch Max Verstappen right now. He’s won three straight and it seems like an eternity since Red Bull has lost. I’ll take Max to get win number 15 this weekend.

  1. Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing
  2. Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes
  3. Charles Leclerc, Ferrari

How To Watch (United States TV Schedule, All Times EST)

Remember that this weekend features a different schedule due to it being a Sprint weekend. Take a close look at the schedule to make sure you don’t miss any of the action.

  • Practice 1: Friday, November 11 – 10:25 a.m. – ESPN2
  • Qualifying: Friday, November 11 – 1:55 p.m. – ESPN2
  • Practice 2: Saturday, November 12 – 10:25 a.m. – ESPNews
  • Sprint Race: Saturday, November 12 – 2:25 p.m. – ESPNews
  • Sao Paulo Grand Prix: Sunday, November 13 – 12:55 p.m. – ABC
Feature Image Credit: Gongora/NurPhoto via Getty Images