Brazilian Grand Prix Betting: What drama can historic Interlagos bring?

Lewis Hamilton
Lewis Hamilton would be forgiven for feeling less than 100 per cent this week

The title is over but there is still plenty to fight for, and James Gray is just glad to be back in Brazil...

"Hamilton could win some races with his eyes closed and has a great track record in Brazil"

The future of the Brazilian Grand Prix seems to be constantly under a shadow, with the latest contract extension only taking the race up to 2022 and regular threats made to pull it from the calendar.

If F1 were to pull out of Brazil, it would be a universally mourned move, not just because the track at Interlagos so often throws up fascinating racing, but also because the country has such rich motor sport history. Brazil is the country of Ayrton Senna and Nelson Piquet, of Rubens Barichello and Felipe Massa, and currently represents the only F1 event on the continent of South America.

Even if Brazil retains a race beyond its current contract, the deal with Sao Paulo's Interlagos circuit expires after next season and the intention is to move to a custom-built facility. Again, it would be a great tragedy to abandon the track between the lakes, as its name literally means, but perhaps we can stomach it to keep F1 in Brazil.

The Hamilton hangover

You could forgive Lewis Hamilton if he turned up to Interlagos wearing enormous sunglasses, clutching a matcha latte and a packet of paracetamol. After all, he finally sealed his sixth world title two weeks ago and was perfectly entitled to party his way to one mighty hangover.

However, it sometimes feels like Hamilton could win races with his eyes closed and there is little doubting how much he would enjoy turning a 6/4 favourite's tag into another win in Brazil.

"Every time I am here, I feel [Senna's] presence," Hamilton said this week, who will wear a special helmet in tribute to the three-time world champion who was killed during the San Marino Grand Prix 25 years ago.

Hamilton has a good track record at Senna's old stomping ground too; he dramatically sealed the 2008 world title here, pipping Massa in the last few hundred metres in a feat that Brazilian fans may only just have forgiven him for, and has only once in the last five years failed to finish on one of the top two steps of the podium.

Who will the track favour?

Interlagos is a track like no other, with a route defined by the water it circumnavigates and a short lap that is made or broken by the long, sweeping home straight.

It has been a Mercedes happy hunting ground, with four wins in five attempts and three 1-2s in there. However, that has so often been founded on their engine dominance which has been broken by the impressive, if flawed, Ferrari team this year.

It points to a threat from the Prancing Horse, although unreliability has already hurt them: Charles Leclerc will start well down the field due to a grid penalty for changing his engine, which sprung an oil leak in Texas.

As for Red Bull, Max Verstappen told us a couple of weeks ago than none of the tracks in the closing stages of the season would suit his car.

He promptly finished a strong third in Texas and kept Mercedes honest all the way to the end, further proving that we should carry a kilo of salt to every F1 press conference. That said, logic dictates that Red Bull, for all their improvement this season, will not be fast in Brazil

In all likelihood, Ferrari will enjoy the relatively low number of corners - officially there are 15 but at least three of those are glorified kinks that will be taken flat-out - and it once again becomes a matter of whether they can keep it together on raceday. Their pre-practice price of 7/2 suggests not many believe they will.

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Rain prayers may fall on deaf ears

Verstappen is a 5/2 shot for victory but he will be practising his rain dance on Saturday night with good memories of his brilliant drive in the wet of 2016 in Brazil and that price could shorten if it starts getting moist.

It was that performance that put Verstappen's name well and truly on the map as a driver who had the raw talent to win a world title one day, and while we're still waiting for that particular achievement, his skills in the rain remain unparalleled.

Plenty further down the grid, where places in the Constructors' Championship are still well and truly up for grabs, will be hoping for the chaos that race-day rain can bring: Racing Point and Toro Rosso are separated by just one point in the battle for fifth while McLaren may believe that their 38-point lead over the works Renault team may not be enough to hang on for fourth.

However, the forecast is set fair for Sunday and anyone hoping for a replay of the epics of 2008, 2012 or 2016, will have to rely on the racers rather than the rain.

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