An action-packed Brazilian GP sees Lewis Hamilton take yet another win, followed by the unlucky Max Verstappen and Kimi Raikkonen in P3.
Photography: Scuderia Ferrari
A very balanced weekend at Interlagos ends up being mostly decided by luck: all the top teams showed competitiveness during Friday and Saturday runs, and seemed ready to strenously fight for the win today. It surely wasn’t a boring race, but sensor issues for Sebastian Vettel and a fortuitous collision between Max Verstappen and Esteban Ocon gifted Mercedes an unexpected win, and the Constructors’ Championship.
Sebastian Vettel encounters issues at fire-up during the formation lap, thankfully being able to rejoin the starting grid in P2. When lights go out, solid team work by the Silver Arrows allows Valtteri Bottas to overtake the German in red, while Kimi temporarily keeps his position. Starting P11, Daniel Ricciardo starts a monstruous overtaking streak which brings him very close to the pack ahead in only two laps. Carlos Sainz and Nico Hulkenberg, in the meantime, performance an amazing same-colour battle (with Hulkenberg eventually retiring from the race). The Ferrari cars are slightly penalised by their harder compound and fall victim of Verstappen’s overtaking, while Bottas, now in P3 (Lap 10), is slowing down the pack.
Suffering from heavy blistering on their Supersoft tyres, both Mercedes pit for Mediums and opt for a one-stop strategy. Red Bull, showing better wear management, is able to postpone their stop and even swap the tyres for Softs for their second, long stint. Ferrari, initially opting for a one-stop strategy, pits both drivers between Lap 28 and 32 for Mediums.
The collision, Vettel’s issues
During Lap 44, Max Verstappen, then leader of the race, encounters the lapped car of Esteban Ocon. The Force India driver unfortunately ignores blue flags and ends up causing a collision, for which he’s awarded a 10 second stop-and-go penalty. Verstappen’s car is not heavily damaged and he can continue the race, however he has already lost the lead to Lewis Hamilton, who was previously trailing more than 4 seconds behind me.
In the meantime, Sebastian Vettel’s performance seems inexplicably dull, until news start coming out from Ferrari’s pitwall. Car number 5 has sensor issues which prevent race engineers to see and collect real-time data: for obvious safety reasons, Sebastian is therefore asked not to push the car and to keep his racing to a conservative manner, ending up in P6.
Kimi’s well-defended podium is not enough to give the Prancing Horse hope for the Constructors’ Championship, which definitely ends today with Mercedes’s fifth consecutive win. Off to the last race of the season in Abu Dhabi, and then to a hopefully better 2019.