Last Updated Nov 08, 2022, 7:34 AM

Fittipaldi backs Verstappen and Hamilton in special Brazilian GP

(Getty Images)

The Brazilian Grand Prix celebrates its 50th anniversary this weekend and we had F1 icon Emerson Fittipaldi talk about the race weekend. He gives his view on which drivers could benefit in the rain, Lewis Hamilton's chances and why it will be a special grand prix.

How excited are you about the 50th anniversary of the Brazilian Grand Prix and what are your expectations from the race?

"To me, it is a very special GP because its the 50 year anniversary of the Brazilian GP and it's been 50 years since my world championship. It will be a very special Brazilian Grand Prix. It will be very special to commemorate and celebrate it."

"So, it is a very important weekend for Brazilian motorsport and for the country."

"Interlagos, is between lakes. We have a lot of lakes close by and the mountains from the beach are 1000m high. That means there's always a quick weather change. Not just rain but temperature as well. The temperature can change from 25 degrees to 15 degrees after a bout of cold rain."

"That means a lot of things can change the result of the race. Very vulnerable weather."

"As you know, if the sprint race is on dry, you can qualify on dry tires and then when those cars are on dry during the race, if it rains, they won't work well. The rain can throw up a lot of surprises."

Which drivers do you think are at an advantage in the rain in Interlagos?

"For sure, Max. In my opinion, he is the fastest in the rain. Lewis (Hamilton) will always go fast in the rain."

"Then we have the young lion, Lando Norris. He's very good in the rain."

"The rain could be a big advantage for these drivers."

Lewis Hamilton, will of course, become an honorary Brazilian citizen. Last year he had an amazing victory in Brazil and he was celebrated as a Brazilian hero. Why do Brazilian fans love him so much?

"I think Lewis from the beginning always declared that he was the biggest Ayrton Senna fan and last year he took the Brazilian flag. He touched a lot of Brazilian hearts with that."

"He also went to to see Ayrton's cemetery during his first or second time in Brazil. He paid tribute to Ayrton. I think all of that makes the Brazilian people like him a lot."

Can we expect Hamilton winning for the first time this season in Interlagos?

"Yes. Mercedes has been improving for the last few grands prix. He's been having solid results for the last few races. He has a good chance in Brazil for sure."

"It could be the first win of the year for Mercedes."

"He also has a chance to win in Abu Dhabi, if not win in Brazil."

What can we expect from Ferrari at Interlagos?

"LeClerc is a very good driver for sure. I don't think he's outstanding in the wet."

"I think Carlos is starving to finish a race well. Try to win and do well. LeClerc as well."

"The whole Ferrari team, they're very strong contenders but most of the races this year, they have struggled to deliver on expectations. This is due to different circumstances - some under their control and some beyond their control."

"The last two races are the best chance they have to finish the season with a better image for next year. They are extremely fast and have won races and should have won even more and due to different circumstances, it didn't happen the way they expected, the public and racing fans, the tifosi."

"The last two races, Ferrari have the chance to do well. Especially the Abu Dhabi race as the middle-east is an important market for Ferrari's street cars and they need to win to build up this image again."

"Both Carlos and LeClerc will be driving very, very hard in the last two races to bring the results for Ferrari."

"The last two races create the image for the next year. It's the memory of the people, they always remember the last two races of the year. Important to do well in the last two races for any team."

This could be three-time Brazilian GP winner Sebastian Vettel’s last drive at Interlagos. How much do you think Brazilian fans will miss him and of course, the F1 community?

"I think he's always a very good ambassador for F1. His attitude inside and outside the car, he's built up a lot of credibility in the motor racing world with the fans."

"He has a lot of fans in Brazil and all over the world. It'll be great to see him perform for the last time in Brazil."

Vettel has not ruled out a come-back. Is it hard to shake off the racing bug?

"I think, if you look at Vettel's records, he's always there. He loves racing since he started karting at a very young age, with his brother. I'm sure he's going to miss racing a lot."

"And it can happen with him like what happened to Fernando Alonso. You know it's possible that after one-two years he's bored and he still has the age to come back and compete."

"With the right mindset, he can do well. No doubt about it if he can come back. I think he's going to miss F1 a lot. He loves the sport."

Looking at how Mercedes have performed recently, think they’ll be challenging Red Bull next season? Who do you expect to be Mercedes’ lead driver next season? Still Lewis Hamilton or George Russell could take over?

"The way they are building up, coming up, yes. They are getting closer and closer and closer."

"If you compare at the beginning of the year, where they were, and where they are now, it is a big improvement."

"With all due respect, Lewis Hamilton, still delivers on raceday. George Russell, is a young and talented driver, he can be very good in qualifying but when you come to the end of the racing results, Lewis does better."

What should be the main learnings for Ferrari, Charles LeClerc and Carlos Sainz after this season? How do they go forward from here?

"I think the logistics for races, the strategic work for races (need to be improved)."

"In my opinion, they have a very powerful engine and a very good handling car. They have built a competitive machine, in my opinion."

"They have to look at this year where and why did they make mistakes and improve. I think they have to have a big reunion after the season and analyze what was right and what was wrong."

"For sure, Ferrari is a very, very strong team. They will come back to that level. The people have the passion in Maranello."

"Ferrari is part of F1 and F1 is part of Ferrari."

"I'm sure they'll come back very strongly. They have to analyze where they're missing and come back very strong."

"They are strong this year and it's the circumstances - sometimes it didn't work."

Do you agree with Alonso? He said Verstappen’s titles are more meaningful than Hamilton’s titles as he had to compete with more drivers than just his teammate.

"Very difficult to analyse but the point that Fernando (Alonso) mentioned has merit because now it is extremely competitive. Much more than when Lewis was winning the championships, that was against his teammate."

"Now, you have Max who is against a lot of different people. If you think about it, yes, Fernando is correct."

"The level, the gap among the top five cars in any qualifying this year is very close. Much closer than when Lewis and Nico or Lewis and Bottas were there. They were quite superior to the field. Now the field is very close. I like it now."

Daniel Ricciardo could become a reserve driver for Red Bull or Mercedes. Do you think that would be good for him or should he take a year off and focus on coming back full-time?

"It's so difficult to answer. It's a personal decision, what to do."

"I like Ricciardo a lot. When his mindset is back, he's going to be very strong again. He is a very talented driver. I always have a lot of respect for him."

"I don't know what happened but his mindset has to come back to where it was before and he'll be very strong. He is a strong driver, great ambassador for the sport, great guy. He'll be back stronger for sure."

"In my opinion, he should have one year off and then come back. One year to analyze himself and then he can come back strong. He is a strong driver."

Kevin Magnussen and Nico Hulkenberg could become teammates. Would that be a good pairing for Haas despite their history?

"Both are very experienced and talented drivers. Hulkenberg is very fast and very experienced."

"It could be a very good team for Haas for sure."

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