It’s been one of the talking points of the Formula 1 2022 season, but can Lewis Hamilton maintain his record of winning at least one race in every F1 season he’s competed in at the Brazilian Grand Prix?
Starting Sunday’s race on the front row alongside teammate George Russell, it appears to represent an excellent chance for the seven-time world champion to end a drought that extends back to the same venue last year.
It would be fitting should Hamilton cross the line first having been granted honorary Brazilian citizenship, but how likely is it in the W13 that has struggled for performance during a troubled 2022 campaign for the Brackley-based outfit?
If the Sprint Race is anything to go by, Mercedes might be favourites, having displayed blistering pace to finish first and third and pass the Max Verstappen and Red Bull package that has been the star of 2022.
It will be far from straightforward, however, as Verstappen is unlikely to be as off the pace during the race, while Russell will be on a mission to clinch his first win following his stunning Sprint Race victory.
Perhaps one thing in Hamilton‘s favour is his form at lights out. He is one of the sport’s most consistent starters and showed he has no issue getting his elbows out against his teammate at the Mexican GP.
The 37-year-old will line up on the inside so if he gets a better launch, he could well make a move into Turn 1 or set himself up to out-drag Russell down to Turn 4.
That benefit will continue throughout the opening few laps and Hamilton will be well aware that that is likely to represent his best chance of passing his teammate to set himself up to take the top step of the podium at one of his favourite stops on the calendar.
Following Saturday’s sprint, he said the goal was for he and Russell to work together to seal a one-two, but you can bet he’ll be out to assert his intra-team dominance.
“I’m so, so happy to be here. It’s been an incredible week, a difficult day yesterday but what a crowd we’ve had today, starting from eighth, making my way through slowly,” he told Sky F1.
“Congrats to George, this just goes to everyone back to the factory, everyone here working on the ground working so hard this year.
“This is an amazing result, for us to be on the front row tomorrow is incredible so from there we should be able to work as a team and hold off the guys behind.”
If he can’t make it stick at the start, Hamilton will have to draw on his prowess round the Interlagos layout. Luckily, that well of reserves is deep.
Just last year, the Brit turned in a comeback performance for the ages, recovering from last at the start of the Sprint Race and 10th in the Grand Prix to clinch victory from Verstappen.
He has had the better of his teammate since the summer break and has experience on his side, so should it turn into a Mercedes head-to-head, you’d be brave to bet against Hamilton taking the chequered flag.
He added: “We are going to try as hard as we can. If we can have some good degradation tomorrow, hopefully some good weather we can have a good fight on our hands. A win here for Brazil would be incredible.”