Sao Paulo GP: Mercedes hope to 'break the pattern' vs Red Bull as Interlagos offers Sprint chance
Can Mercedes bounce back against Red Bull at Interlagos? Title momentum shifting towards Red Bull and Max Verstappen ahead of Sao Paulo GP, which sees return of F1 Sprint; watch the whole weekend live only on Sky Sports F1
By Matt Morlidge
Last Updated: 11/11/21 6:04am
Toto Wolff says Mercedes have some "catching up to do" and hopes the team can "break the pattern" at an Interlagos track he expects to suit Red Bull again for this weekend's Sao Paulo GP - although believes the third and final F1 Sprint of the season presents a vital opportunity.
Mercedes head into the final four rounds of an epic 2021 season on the back foot after seeing their constructors' advantage cut to just one point by Red Bull, while Lewis Hamilton has slipped 19 points behind Max Verstappen, who was dominant in Mexico at the weekend.
That has raised the stakes for Brazil; a 10th win of the season for Verstappen would mean he could afford to finish second in the three remaining races and still clinch a maiden title.
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Verstappen said after Sunday's race that he "doesn't believe in momentum" and that the two teams will be much closer in Brazil, but Wolff fears that the iconic Interlagos track will favour Red Bull again.
"I hope we can break the pattern because it was a Red Bull track," Wolff told Sky F1. "But we're going to give it all we can and try to fight back."
Sky Sports F1's live Sao Paulo GP schedule with Sprint twist
|Date and show||On Air||Session start|
|The Sao Paulo GP||3.30pm||5pm|
In the last four GPs in Brazil, Verstappen and Hamilton have won two apiece - although there is an added twist this weekend with the return of the Sprint. The short Saturday race will set the grid for Sunday's Grand Prix.
"It's not been our strongest track in recent seasons and has tended to suit Red Bull more, but this year has proved anything can happen," said Wolff. "It's the last Sprint race weekend, too, which opens up more opportunity."
The Sprint format not only brought added action and excitement to its previous weekends in Silverstone and Monza, but drama for the title rivals. Verstappen and Hamilton had their two big 2021 crashes on the Sundays following the Sprint.
Hamilton said he and Mercedes would "be in trouble" if Red Bull kept up their Mexico form, but he, his team boss and Verstappen all expect the title fight to go down to the wire.
"It's going to be really tight and exciting to the end," stated Verstappen.
Wolff added: "We'll be throwing everything we've got at the Brazilian Grand Prix and the races beyond.
Four to go: How it stands in the title chases
|1) Max Verstappen||312.5|
|2) Lewis Hamilton||293.5|
|2) Red Bull||477.5|
The races remaining in F1 2021 - live on Sky Sports
|November 14||Sao Paulo GP|
|November 21||Qatar GP|
|December 5||Saudi Arabian GP|
|December 12||Abu Dhabi GP|
"We're privileged to still be in the fight so late in the season and expect these titles to go right down to the wire, with both teams fighting hard to the very last lap.
"We've got some catching up to do and know it'll be an intense battle, but we'll continue to push hard and keep our eyes firmly set on the end goal."
Sky F1 pundits on Mercedes vs Red Bull in Brazil
"The corners are very different around Sao Paulo [to Mexico], more positive than negative.
"But also, you need a really strong engine to pull you up that hill out of the last corner... and Mercedes does still have that on Red Bull. It's more of a normal track."
"Red Bull definitely had a big advantage around Mexico and you just can't afford to give any advantage. So if it's an altitude thing, maybe Red Bull have got a couple of tenths more in Sao Paulo."
Sky Sports F1's Sao Paulo GP schedule
7.30pm: The F1 Show Live
8.30pm: Drivers' Press Conference
3pm: Practice One Live (session starts 3.30pm)
6pm: Qualifying Build-Up Live
7pm: SAO PAULO GP QUALIFYING LIVE*
2.30pm: Practice Two Live (session starts 3pm)
6.30pm: F1 Sprint Build-Up Live
7.30pm: SAO PAULO GP SPRINT LIVE*
9pm: Ted's Sprint Notebook Live
3.30pm: Grand Prix Sunday Live
5pm: THE SAO PAULO GRAND PRIX LIVE**
7pm: Chequered Flag Live*
8pm: Ted's Notebook Live
*simulcast on Sky Sports Main Event
**simulcast on Sky Sports Main Event from 5.30pm