Mercedes plans to use the last two races of the Formula One season to test new ideas and part for next year now that the Silver Arrows have secured 2017’s driver and constructor championships so one is looking away from them in Brazil.
Lewis Hamilton has been celebrating his fourth Formula One title in typical Hamilton style and, while he is making all the right noises leading into Sunday’s Interlagos race, one is unwilling to take short odds about him posting his 10th victory this season. After all, Brazil has not been the happiest of hunting grounds for Hamilton, with the British driver only breaking his Interlagos duck 12 months ago.
Hamilton’s Mercedes colleague, Valtteri Bottas, does not make any appeal, either. The form of Bottas has tailed off since the middle of the Formula One season and he has not won any of the last nine races since taking out the Austrian Grand Prix. Bottas has qualified faster than his teammate in each of his four Brazilian Grand Prix appearances but never has the Finn finished higher than fifth at Interlagos.
Ferrari has not won an edition of the Brazilian Grand Prix since 2008 and the tifosi have had little about which to cheer in recent weeks, either. Sebastian Vettel has not won a race since prevailing in the Hungarian Grand Prix seven starts ago and Kimi Raikkonen has forgotten what it is like to take the chequered flag first. And, like Mercedes, one is concerned about Ferrari’s Brazilian Grand Prix motivation.
With one not keen on backing either Mercedes or Ferrari, by default Red Bull is the team in which one wants to support in the Brazilian Grand Prix. And, with Daniel Ricciardo expecting to incur a grid penalty, that leaves the wonder kid, Max Verstappen, as one’s Brazilian Grand Prix pick at odds of +550 with Bet365 and BetVictor.
Ricciardo says that a Brazilian Grand Prix penalty is likely because Red Bull is odds-on to install a new MGU-H unit so as to maximise the probability of the Australian’s car getting to the finish line. Ricciardo has failed to get to the end of each of the last two races, recording successive DNFs for the first time since 2013 when he was a Toro Rosso driver.
Red Bull has backed in Verstappen for the long term and the 20-year-old Dutchman has been Formula One’s star performer in the last four rounds, posting two firsts, one second and one fourth to earn even more points than Hamilton over the same period. Verstappen has had two cracks at the Brazilian Grand Prix in his fledgling career – he out qualified Toro Rosso colleague Carlos Sainz in 2015 and snuck into the points by placing ninth, while he climbed onto the podium last year, finishing third for Red Bull behind Mercedes duo Hamilton and dethroned Formula One champion Nico Rosberg.
Verstappen represents the Brazilian Grand Prix value bet given the legitimate doubts about Mercedes and Ferrari, the mechanical issues facing Ricciardo and the youngster’s hot form. Verstappen was responsible for the fastest lap of the 2016 Brazilian Grand Prix so he has demonstrated that he can speed around the Interlagos circuit and one can only imagine how much confidence he has derived from Red Bull making it clear that he is the driver future of its operation.
Max Veersstappen to win the Brazil Grand Prix
Sunday 12th November, 16:00 GMT