Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel lock horns on the front row: Brazilian Grand Prix talking points

The penultimate race of the Formula One season has plenty of subplots to consider, despite Hamilton already wrapping up the drivers' title

Formula One F1 - Brazilian Grand Prix - Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace, Interlagos, Sao Paulo, Brazil - November 10, 2018  Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel who qualified in second position shakes hands with Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton who qualified in pole position  REUTERS/Paulo Whitaker
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The penultimate round of the Formula One season, the Brazilian Grand Prix, takes place on Sunday, with the action starting at 9.10pm UAE time.

World champion Lewis Hamilton starts on pole in his Mercedes-GP ahead of Sebastian Vettel’s Ferrari. Here are some things to watch for ahead of the race.

Hamilton v Vettel

Given they are the dominant pair in 2018, it's a surprising statistic that the Brazilian Grand Prix is the first time since Belgium in August that Hamilton and Vettel share the front row.

Vettel was perhaps fortunate to avoid a grid penalty for damaging a weighbridge during qualifying, but nevertheless will start second behind Hamilton.

It should be a fun first corner. Already crowned world champion, Hamilton will fancy his chances of controlling the race and claiming a 10th win of the year, if he can lead at the end of the first lap.

Vettel will want a repeat of last year, when he passed a Mercedes-GP at the start, in that case Valtteri Bottas on his way to victory.

With overtaking likely to be difficult, despite the long start-finish straight, the opening seconds of the race will likely be vital.


Read more:

Lewis Hamilton beats Sebastian Vettel to Brazilian GP pole

Brazil and Abu Dhabi give Lewis Hamilton chance to end the one anomaly of his F1 career


Ferrari’s constructors’ hope

Ferrari's Finnish driver Kimi Raikkonen powers his car during the qualifying session of the F1 Brazil Grand Prix, at the Interlagos racetrack in Sao Paulo, Brazil on November 10, 2018. / AFP / Mauro Pimentel
Kimi Raikkonen qualified fourth in Brazil and needs a podium finish to keep Ferrari's constructors' title hopes alive. AFP

Ferrari need to outscore Mercedes by 13 points to keep their constructors’ championship hopes alive heading to the season-concluding Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on November 25.

If Vettel can win the race and if teammate Kimi Raikkonen is also on the podium, then the Mercedes v Ferrari duel goes down to Abu Dhabi.

But Vettel must beat Hamilton, and Raikkonen, who starts fourth, must find a way of finishing ahead of the second Mercedes of Bottas.

It should make for an entertaining strategic afternoon as Ferrari seek to stay in the hunt for their first title since 2008.

Ricciardo’s charge

SAO PAULO, BRAZIL - NOVEMBER 10:  Daniel Ricciardo of Australia and Red Bull Racing prepares to drive in the garage during qualifying for the Formula One Grand Prix of Brazil at Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace on November 10, 2018 in Sao Paulo, Brazil.  (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
Daniel Ricciardo has two races left as a Red Bull Racing driver. Getty

It has been a miserable second half of the season for Daniel Ricciardo as mechanical problems and bad luck have hurt his hopes time and again.

It is hard to believe he has not been on the podium since he won the Monaco Grand Prix in May. The Red Bull Racing driver starts 11th on Sunday. He was sixth quickest, but had a five-place penalty for a change to part of his engine.

The Australian will make for entertaining viewing during the opening laps because he should quickly get back up to the top six, but barring retirements for his rivals, he is unlikely to do better than sixth.