Max Verstappen has scored more points in the last four races than anyone else, and this weekend we return to the venue where last year he turned in one of his most impressive F1 performances to date. Emerging from the pits in 14th place with 16 laps to go, he scythed his way through the field to claim third position by the time the chequered flag came out, finding grip on the wet track surface where others were sliding and slithering about. Earlier in the race he had needed every ounce of his skill, and a certain element of luck, to avoid hitting the barrier on the pit straight, but avoid it he did and the incident didn't slow him down one iota.
This weekend he comes off the back of a masterful drive in the dry in Mexico, and while Hamilton and Vettel were unable to challenge him due to their own contretemps, there's no question that Verstappen is now a potential race winner wherever we go. He passed Hamilton in a clean fight in Malaysia, he hounded the Mercedes in the closing stages of Japan and his recovery from 16th on the grid to 3rd before the penalty in Austin further emphasised the sheer pace of both the Red Bull and the Flying Dutchman. If it stays dry at Interlagos this weekend, the Renault power unit may not deliver the sheer grunt necessary for the long hill that climbs from the last of the infield corners and sweeps past the grandstands on the start finish line, but if any of the rain that's forecast happens to fall during qualifying then you would fancy Max's chances of starting from the front row, and from there anything is possible.
Red Bull have a good record in Brazil, having won three in a row and then again in 2013 having been beaten at the race in between by McLaren in that whacky title deciding race of 2012 when Vettel was facing the wrong way on Lap 1 and yet still recovered sufficiently to win the championship. That McLaren victory was the last I commentated on, and I fervently hope it doesn't remain that way for too much longer. Fernando Alonso seems convinced that Renault power will help McLaren reach the front again in 2018, but there isn't much hope for them in their final Brazilian GP with Honda; bear in mind that two years ago he ended up in a deckchair in Free Practice, while last year he was let loose with a TV camera in a similar session after yet another glitch with the power unit.
Alonso never won this race when he was with Ferrari, in fact he's never won here at all, although he did wrap up both of his driver's titles here. The last Ferrari win 'Between the Lakes' was in 2008 when Felipe Massa commanded the race but lost the championship and that was another Constructor winning sequence that came to an end after three in a row. Since then Ferrari have enjoyed five podium finishes, but no sign of adding to their total tally of eight victories in São Paulo which ties for the record with McLaren. In theory, this track should suit the 2017 car, with the twisty infield section combined with that long flat-out drag race up the hill but morale is low in the camp and you wonder if they can re-energise this faltered campaign in time to hit the ground running again next year.
As ever the team to beat is Mercedes. Not only have they won the last three races here but they have done it with 1-2 finishes from an all-Mercedes front row. But analysis of the statistics shows that of the dominant teams in various eras, none have been able to win four in a row on this characterful and unpredictable circuit and if momentum is anything to go by, you'd have to say that Max is the man once again to upset the form guide. Come rain or shine, his star is in the ascendant.