Formula 1 Brazilian Grand Prix Predictions: Final Win for Mark Webber and More
The Brazilian Grand Prix this Sunday marks the end of the 2013 Formula 1 season.
Interlagos has seen numerous champions crowned in the past, but this year's title race was over long ago. Second place is also decided, but the battle for third between Lewis Hamilton and Mark Webber is still very much alive.
In the constructors' standings, Mercedes, Ferrari and Lotus are fighting over second, third and fourth.
Elsewhere, Valtteri Bottas needs three points to claim the "title" of top rookie, while Marussia and Caterham enter the final stage of their (somewhat depressing) season-long battle to not finish last.
Rain is forecast, which makes predicting the outcome extra tough. But if you're a long-time reader of these articles, you'll know my accuracy can't really get any worse...
All forecasters say there's a good chance of rain affecting Saturday's session, which could make it into something of a lottery.
But it won't be a fair lottery. Some teams and drivers will have more tickets than others.
Mercedes used a wet qualifying session in Spa to bump their starting positions up considerably from where they would have been in the dry. Lewis Hamilton took pole at Spa; in the dry, he probably wouldn't have been higher than seventh.
So partly from a wish to see a bit of variety and someone other than a Red Bull on pole, I'll go for Hamilton to claim the top spot in qualifying.
More Points for Williams
Williams decided to remove the Coanda exhaust system from their car in Abu Dhabi. They did this hoping to do a bit of testing for 2014 (when the system won't be available).
A rather unexpected side effect was that their car was suddenly far better than it was before. The Coanda, hugely beneficial if done well, had seemingly been done horribly by the Grove outfit.
The improvement in pace was even more marked in Austin, as Valtteri Bottas qualified ninth after running near the top of the sheets in the practice sessions.
He finished the race eighth and—most impressively—set the third fastest lap, only six tenths slower than Sebastian Vettel's best.
Bottas (or his teammate, Pastor Maldonado) should find a way into the points this weekend too.
Ferrari Will Beat Mercedes
Only eight points separate Mercedes and Ferrari as they battle for second place in the constructors' championship. Ferrari need to score 16 more (or if they win the race, 15 more) points than their rivals to claim the place.
With rain forecast, both have at least one driver who excels on a wet track.
Mercedes will almost certainly qualify better, but the circuit will probably suit the red cars a tiny bit more come race day.
And let's not forget that Ferrari's Felipe Massa (who has won twice at Interlagos) will be highly motivated to do well in his final home race for the Italian team.
It'll be close, but I'll go for Ferrari to score more points.
A Flying Pig Will Visit Lotus
The rotund but graceful porker will perform a controlled descent, place his trotters down next to Romain Grosjean's spare front wing and offer up a stately oink to startled passers-by.
Mansoor Ijaz, figurehead and apparent leader of the mystical Quantum Motorsports, will hop off, present Gerard Lopez with a nice big cheque and finally the much-spoken-of "imminent" deal will be done.
Then Elvis will land in a flying saucer and lead the mechanics in a celebratory sing-song.
Also known as the Esteban Gutierrez and Valtteri Bottas Show.
Sauber should perform well here as the bumpy surface rewards good traction, which they definitely have. With no wet weather, shunts or penalties, Gutierrez will have the car to win this private battle.
But if it rains and we get a beautifully chaotic end to this most dreary of half-seasons, I have more confidence in Bottas to come home in front.
Rain isn't going to stop the Red Bull being the best car, and both Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber have plenty of ability in the wet.
One is trying to equal Alberto Ascari's nine wins in a row record, the other is competing in his final F1 race before heading off to sportscars.
There would be no better end to the season than Webber taking one last win, and regardless of the weather he'll be there or thereabouts.
So I'll go with the Australian to end his career in style.