F1 Brazilian Grand Prix 2014: Rain could play deciding role as Lewis Hamilton chases title

Nico Rosberg finished Friday's practice on top as Brazil prepares to stage the penultimate round of the 2014 season

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The Independent Online

After all the great racing, breakdowns and mind games which have characterised the title race between Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg, rain could become a deciding factor in the penultimate grand prix, in Brazil on Sunday.

The two contenders made the most of favourable conditions on Friday but their laps may prove academic as thunderstorms are forecast for today’s qualifying, and showers all through race day.

Hamilton has a 24-point lead over Rosberg and a sixth straight win here at Interlagos would put the Briton on the brink of ending a a six-year wait for a second world title. His Mercedes team-mate Rosberg generally had the upper hand yesterday by a couple of tenths of a second, ahead of a race he really needs to win, but Hamilton appeared to be on a quicker lap when he decided to come into the pits.

Fernando Alonso could have done with the rain a day sooner: his Ferrari stopped with technical problems in the afternoon and temporarily brought out the red flag after bursting into flames, which were quickly extinguished by a marshal.

Lewis Hamilton climbs into his Mercedes cockpit

Meanwhile, back in the UK, despite huge efforts since the Russian Grand Prix in October and a 2015 entry that is believed to have been filed last week, the Marussia F1 Team, the trading company of Manor Grand Prix Racing, who were already in administration, ceased business yesterday.

Joint administrator Geoff Rowley revealed that the team had closed its doors in Banbury and the staff of over 200 have been made redundant. CEO Graeme Lowdon was in Austin last week talking with potential backers, but could not come up with the necessary funding in time.

Fernando Alonso locks up heavily as he turns into the first corner

“Whilst the team made significant progress during its relatively short period of operation, operating an F1 team requires significant ongoing investment,” Rowley said. “The group was put into administration last month following a shortfall in ongoing funding. Sadly no solution could be achieved to allow for the business to continue in its current form.”

The similarly beleaguered Caterham team, which also missed the grands prix in America and Brazil, entered a new race yesterday – to raise the £2.35m it needs by next Friday in order to compete in the double points finale in Abu Dhabi on 23 November.

Administrator and interim team principal Finbarr O’Connell said: “We are working non-stop to get the Caterham F1 team back racing, initially in Abu Dhabi, but hopefully that will be just a stepping stone to get it back racing on a permanent basis, under new ownership. We want to get as many sponsors and fans as possible involved this week.” They have launched #RefuelCaterhamF1 on the crowdcube website.

F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone is to sit down this weekend with “rebel” teams Lotus, Force India and Sauber in an attempt to thrash out a deal to ensure they do not go out of business too.