Perez to steal Brazil limelight

  • By: Tom Millward
  • Last Updated: November 22 2012, 14:31 GMT

The title-deciding Brazilian GP could be gatecrashed by Sergio Perez if the weather forecast holds true says our expert Tom Millard.

Sergio Perez can lay down a marker for next season

"We are in the best possible position," claimed championship leader Sebastian Vettel after the United States Grand Prix, and it's difficult to disagree with him.

Despite losing out in a tense duel in Austin with Lewis Hamilton, Vettel heads to the title decider in Sao Paulo with a 13-point cushion over Fernando Alonso, meaning a top-four finish will guarantee him the championship regardless of the Spaniard's result.

His boss, Christian Horner, has vowed Red Bull will "just take it normally", suggesting they won't fall into the trap Ferrari found themselves in two years ago, when a conservative approach saw overwhelming favourite Alonso pipped by Vettel following a curious strategy call from the pit wall.

Vettel should close the deal comfortably but his odds of 1/4 reflect the likelihood that there may yet be a twist in the tale of this epic season.

As usual in Interlagos the forecasts indicate that rain is likely at some point in the weekend, with latest reports pointing provocatively to Sunday afternoon as the most likely period for a storm.

Alonso won the rain-hit Malaysian Grand Prix at the start of the year and also excelled in soggy conditions in qualifying at both Silverstone and Hockenheim, so the double champion would arguably start favourite for the race win if the heavens opened.

But if Saturday stays dry his qualifying deficit to the Red Bulls and McLarens of a second per lap would mean that he would likely have to fight his way past Vettel and hope for trouble to befall the German.

Vettel is a deserved odds-on favourite for pole position and while we'll resist backing him this week, it seems inconceivable that the standings leader won't be a handful of places ahead of his rival as the grid forms on Sunday afternoon.

At this point it's difficult to lay out a case in any market given the uncertainty surrounding the weather but we can flag up a couple of bets that will look tasty if Mother Nature decides to spice things up come race day.

Our old friend Sergio Perez has faded into anonymity since his transfer to McLaren was announced a couple of months ago but he hasn't suddenly lost his talent.

The Mexican has been involved in too many scrapes this season and even future boss Martin Whitmarsh conceded he has plenty of work to do in the off-season to polish off his rough edges.

His talent, however, is beyond doubt and a repeat of the conditions we witnessed in the aforementioned race in Malaysia could once again bring the best out of the youngster.

Perez could and should have won that race but he'll be better off for the experience and he remains one to watch in a Sauber which seems able to get heat into its tyres more effectively than any other car.

He's 150/1 in sportingbet's win-only book which is a baffling price considering the pace he has shown in the wet so far in his career.

The 16/1 on him to stand on the podium for the fourth time this season also looks too long given the ease of overtaking at Interlagos - don't worry if he's in the lower half of the grid come Sunday.

Also take the 50/1 each-way on Felipe Massa to take what would be a popular victory in front of his home crowd.

Massa took three consecutive poles at this track between 2006 and 2008 and would have won all three races if he hadn't moved aside to allow Kimi Raikkonen to take the title in '07.

His performances since have been patchy but he could find himself at the sharp end again if the weather intervenes.

Massa's season has improved as his car has become more driveable and the F2012's biggest remaining weakness, the aerodynamic instability created when its DRS device snaps shut, won't be an issue if the race is declared wet.

The obvious problem with this bet is that the Brazilian will never be allowed to win the race if Alonso is in the vicinity, but team orders might not come into it.

And imagine a situation where Vettel has retired from the race and Alonso leads Massa as the laps count down, knowing a third place would secure him the title.

Would the Spaniard repay his number two for the sacrifices he has made over the last three seasons by moving aside to allow Massa to take the acclaim?

Probably not, but it would be interesting to find out.

  • Friday's practice sessions are scheduled for 1200 and 1600; Saturday's is at 1300 with qualifying at 1600. Sunday's race starts at 1600 (all times GMT).

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