Hamilton wins in Brazil but Verstappen steals the show

The best and the worst aspects of Formula One were on display for the Brazilian Grand Prix as incessant stalling combined with a wet weather warrior performance from Max Verstappen.

Lewis Hamilton won for the first time in Brazil with a domineering, incident-free display that reduces the gap to 12-points and takes the title fight with Nico Rosberg to the wire for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix later on. Hamilton may have had the Senna helmet, but the Brazilian fans were cheering a young Max Verstappen for his ingenuity in the wet. He made a ridiculous amount of overtakes throughout the race and in many ways, saved the show this weekend.

The Story of the Race:

Romain Grosjean crashed on his way to the grid, capping a terrible weekend for the Frenchman after showing promise in Qualifying with 7th. The race was massively delayed by an ongoing downpour of rain and the safety car led the field for 7 laps before the conditions were considered to be safe enough to race.

Hamilton got away well with Rosberg trailing. Max Verstappen pulled a great move down the inside of Kimi Raikkonen for 3rd. Kevin Magnussen and Jenson Button were the first to switch from the full wets to the intermediates.

Sebastian Vettel had an off on lap 11 after aquaplaning and then boxed for Inters, emerging in a lowly 18th. Hamilton continued to pull away up-front and had a gap of 3 seconds by lap 13. On lap 14, Marcus Ericsson’s Sauber crashed on the risky Inters and the damaged blue chassis rolled to a halt at the pit entry. Max Verstappen entered the pits as the safety car was deployed, so gained a massive chunk of time over the rest of the grid and emerged from the pits in 4th.

The race resumed on lap 19 after the marshal’s had cleared up the Sauber debris. By lap 20, Kimi Raikkonen dangerously spun out on the restart and narrowly avoided multiple incidents as his Ferrari pirouetted across the start/finish straight. The race was red-flagged by lap 21.

The break allowed the stewards to review a few of the racing incidents and Daniel Ricciardo was given a 5-second time penalty for entering the pits whilst the pit lane was closed. Felipe Massa was given a 5-second time penalty for overtaking Esteban Gutierrez before the white line on the opening racing lap of the race.

The race resumed for a few laps before a second red flag was called despite Lewis Hamilton and other drivers declaring the track was fine. Those in the Grand Stands of the circuit booed heavily and weren’t happy with the decision.

There was so much stalling at this point that I watched a montage of wet races on Youtube that took place in  extreme conditions in other racing series. Here is some racing for you, on account of the racing you are owed as a Formula 1 fan for the first 30-laps of the Brazilian Grand Prix:

 

The race eventually resumed on lap 31 and when it did, the moaning and booing was replaced with the drivers pulling brave moves in the wet. Max Verstappen pulled another incredible move on Nico Rosberg for 2nd around the outside of turn-3.

On lap 44, the Dutchman boxed for Inters whilst the front-runners stayed out on the full-wets. Rosberg found himself in 2nd with a gap of 18s. Perez was running well in 3rd with Carlos Sainz in 4th.

On lap 48, Felipe Massa crashed out, his Williams in a similar position to Marcus Ericsson’s in that the pit-lane was again blocked, disallowing the Mercedes drivers up-front from gaining a free pit-stop. Hamilton’s gap at the front was negated by the following safety car as the grid closed up again.

Verstappen ditched his Inters and conditions worsened again and lost all the hard work he’d managed earlier on. He emerged 16th. The safety car returned to the pits on lap 55 and all cars got away apart from Alonso, who spun out and emerged behind Button in 17th.

Verstappen continued to climb the order as the race went on, pulling a brave move around the outside of Daniel Ricciardo and then Daniil Kvyat a few corners later.

At the front, Hamilton built up a 6-second gap over Nico Rosberg by lap 63, but it’s hard not to continue following Verstappen’s race as he was the big mover. The Dutchman pulled a subliminal move on Vettel and found himself chasing for a podium against Perez on lap 69. By lap 70, the Dutch driver found yet another non-existent racing line and took Perez on the outside for the podium.

At the checkered flag, Hamilton took his first win at Interlagos with Rosberg a steady 2nd. Max Verstappen finished 3rd and put in a performance that was arguably his best so far. Sergio Perez will be disappointed with the podium loss, but his 4th and Hulkenberg’s 7th see’s Force India leading Williams by 27-points in the fight for 4th.

Vettel finished 5th, with Carlos Sainz putting in another solid shift for Toro Rosso with 6th. Ricciardo had a quiet race and managed 8th and Felipe Nasr finally scored some crucial points for Sauber with 9th at home. The Brazilian’s incredible stint on his wet tyres ensures that the Swiss team are 9th in the constructors, ahead of Manor. Fernando Alonso rounded out the top ten and secured a point for McLaren.

The race confirms that Lewis Hamilton or Nico Rosberg will leave the Abu Dhabi race weekend as the 2016 World Champion. Max Verstappen confirmed his abilities and had a very calculated, mature race. He will be a force to be reckoned with next season.