It’s not just about Lewis Hamilton against Felipe Massa and McLaren against Ferrari in the drivers’ and constructors’ championship this weekend.
Pride is at stake up and down the two championship tables. Here are five other battles to keep an eye on in Brazil.
Kimi Raikkonen vs Robert Kubica
Robert Kubica: 75
Kimi Raikkonen: 69
Kimi Raikkonen, last year’s world champion, needs to save face here. He’s fallen to fourth in the championship with Robert Kubica separating him from the championship protagonists.
The two points Raikkonen gave away at Shanghai haven’t helped, but whatever happens he won’t be able to emulate his title win of last year, or the runners-up spot he secured in 2003 and 2005.
Who will win? Kubica
Fernando Alonso vs Heikki Kovalainen
Fernando Alonso 53
Heikki Kovalainen 51
It’s the battle of the ex-McLaren man and the driver who’s made a career out of replacing him. Misfortune accounts for a large part of the reason why Kovalainen finds himself behind a Renault pilot in the drivers’ championship, but we shouldn’t underestimate the excellent job Alonso has done in winning two races with the un-fancied R28.
Whether he can stay ahead of Kovalainen at Brazil largely depends on what kind of race Kovalainen has. The MP4/23 is probably the car to beat at the moment, and although Kovalainen hasn’t been getting as much out of it as Lewis Hamilton has, you’d have to expect he can finish ahead of Alonso this weekend.
Who will win? Kovalainen
Jarno Trulli vs Sebastian Vettel
Jarno Trulli 30
Sebastian Vettel 30
Alonso is un-catchable in the battle to be ‘best of the rest’ non-Ferrari / McLaren / BMW driver. But regular points scorers Trulli and Vettel are tied on 30 points heading into the final race (Vettel ahead by dint of his Monza victory) and eighth overall would be a welcome result for either driver’s team.
Who will win? Vettel
Red Bull vs Toro Rosso
Toro Rosso 34
Red Bull 29
This is the fight between a constructor and its customer: Red Bull and Toro Rosso use the same chassis (but differ sometimes in their development of it) but different engines.
The long uphill haul from Juncao to S do Senna at Interlagos surely makes the Ferrari-powered Toro Rosso the favoured choice over the Renault-engined Red Bull. That said, Renault has found some gains from its engine recently (see John Beamer’s technical round-up from Shanghai).
Red Bull face a challenge to take five points off their stable mates – and remember Toro Rosso’s advantage would be even greater had it not been for Sebastien Bourdais’ controversial penalty at Fuji.
Who will win? Toro Rosso
Giancarlo Fisichella 0
Adrian Sutil 0
Giancarlo Fisichella and Adrian Sutil have one race left to ensure Force India’s maiden F1 season doesn’t end point-less.
Who will win? Unless we get one of those notorious Interlagos downpours, I can see Force India ending the year with a big fat zero.