SAO PAULO (Reuters) – Triple world champion Lewis Hamilton has never won the Brazilian Grand Prix and Mercedes team mate Nico Rosberg intends to keep it that way for another year.
“With all due respect to his ambitions, I want to win there as well,” said the German, last year’s winner at Interlagos from pole position after he had lapped fastest in every practice session.
With Hamilton feeling sufficiently unwell to delay his flight to Brazil by a day on doctors’ orders, Rosberg will fancy his chances of a Latin American double after his recent triumph in Mexico.
With both titles decided, Hamilton having wrapped up his third Formula One championship in Texas last month after Mercedes retained the constructors’ crown in Russia, Sunday’s race is all about the winner on the day.
Hamilton has now tried eight times to win in Sao Paulo, his best result coming last year when he was runner-up, and has only twice finished on the podium.
But he did clinch his first title there in 2008, when he finished fifth with a pass at the end of the last lap, and the race has a special place in his heart as home to his late boyhood idol Ayrton Senna.
“It was a dream of mine to race in Sao Paulo when I was younger and I always feel his presence when I’m there,” the Briton said this week.
“It’s amazing to think that it took Ayrton eight attempts to win this race and it’s one of the few I haven’t yet won myself,” he added.
“If I can change that this weekend it would be a salute to him and another highlight to add to this amazing year, so I’ll be going all out to make that happen.”
Rosberg will again be the man to beat, the German chasing his fifth successive pole position to again deny Hamilton a career 50th, even if his team mate has no pressure on him.
The German said he was “pumped” after Mexico, where he completed his first career hat-trick of pole, fastest lap and victory.
“Last year was a good battle with Lewis, when I came out on top. Standing on the top step after a hard-earned win, following in the footsteps of so many great drivers who have won there and with the passionate Brazilian crowd cheering on — that was a great feeling,” he said.
“I’d love to experience that again, so the aim is to put on another good show for the fans and to carry my form from Mexico into this race.”
Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, who won in Brazil in 2013 and 2010, can still deny Rosberg second place in the championship and will be determined to finish strongly after both he and team mate Kimi Raikkonen retired in Mexico.
That failure ended a record run of 183 races with at least one Ferrari among the finishers.
Brazil will have two drivers in the race, with former winner Felipe Massa hoping to get back on the podium with Williams and Felipe Nasr making his home debut with Sauber.
(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Toby Davis)