Sebastian Vettel beat Valtteri Bottas to win the F1 2017 Brazilian Grand Prix on Sunday for Ferrari, while Mercedes pilot Lewis Hamilton recovered and came through the pack at Interlagos to secure P4, just 0.8secs off Kimi Raikkonen in third.
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Vettel took the lead at the start, passing the Mercedes of pole sitter Valtteri Bottas into Turn 1.
The German was then able to control the race from the front, and while Bottas almost made the undercut work after stopping a lap earlier than Vettel on lap 27, the Ferrari emerged just ahead and was then unchallenged to the chequered flag – although Vettel was never more than 2-3 seconds ahead of Bottas, and Hamilton was only 5.4secs back at the end.
It was Vettel’s fifth win of the season and his first since Hungary, prior to the summer break.
“Initially I had a very good getaway [at the start], but then I had a bit of wheelspin and thought I had missed my chance,” Vettel said. “I think Valtteri was struggling even more off the line though and so I had a chance to squeeze down the inside. I think I surprised him a bit, which was obviously very crucial.
“After that, after the safety car, for the remaining 65 laps we were flat-out. I was really trying to give everything to pull a little bit of a gap and we won the race from there.”
“It has been a tough day and a tough race,” Vettel continued. “I just spoke to Valtteri and I think the pace was more or less the same: It was really difficult and there was no room for mistakes. Pretty difficult to control the tyres during the whole race too.
“I am really happy [to win], especially for all the guys in the team back home in Maranello. They have been working so hard.
“It has been a tough couple of weeks for us, but it is nice to get it today and have both cars up here.
“It is a great release.”
“We started from pole and the only goal was to win the race today,” Bottas added. “It is very disappointing [to end up second]. We lost it at the start and after that it was very close between us. I was trying to put pressure on Sebastian but it didn’t lead to anything more.”
Behind, Raikkonen was pressed by Hamilton at the close of the 71 lap race, but the Briton was unable to get by.
“I must admit I had a little bit of a tricky balance on the first set of tyres,” Raikkonen stated. “It improved during the end of that first run and then the second set was very good. The car handled very well and I could catch up with the guys [ahead].
“But it is impossible to get passed if you have this close speed with two cars. Lewis got close and also I got close to Sebastian and Valtteri, but I wasn’t too worried [about Lewis]. I had a pretty good run out of the last corner, so it was okay,” added the Ferrari #2.
An early safety car period aided Hamilton’s initial charge and he was up to 13th by lap 5. Hamilton was then able to pick his way through the field, easily overhauling Red Bull’s Max Verstappen for fourth on lap 59. Raikkonen, however, would deny him that rostrum.
Next up, Verstappen claimed fifth with the sister Red Bull of Daniel Ricciardo in sixth. The Aussie, like Hamilton, also had to fight his way back through the pack. He was spun round in Turn 3 at the start, tagged by McLaren’s Stoffel Vandoorne, who in turn had been hit by Haas F1 man Kevin Magnussen. Vandoorne and Magnussen both retired, and while the incident was investigated post-race no action was taken.
Esteban Ocon and Romain Grosjean also collided on the opening lap, with the former having to park his Force India. Grosjean was able to continue – but was hit with a 10-sec penalty after he was judged at fault. The Frenchman finished 15th for Haas.
Meanwhile, Williams driver Felipe Massa ended up ‘best of the rest’ in his penultimate race, much to the delight of the home crowd. Massa just fended off McLaren-Honda’s Fernando Alonso, who in turn was just ahead of Sergio Perez’s Force India.
An @F1 gentleman, but first and foremost, a rapid racer…
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Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg claimed the final point in P10, with the sister car of Carlos Sainz 11th followed by Toro Rosso’s Pierre Gasly, and Sauber duo Marcus Ericsson and Pascal Wehrlein in positions 12 through to 14.
Lance Stroll ended the race in 16th, a late stop necessitated after the front-left tyre on his Williams delaminated with two laps to go.
In terms of retirements, in addition to Vandoorne, Magnussen and Ocon, Brendon Hartley also failed to finish, forced to park his Toro Rosso on lap 41 due to a technical issue.
Race Result available – HERE.
Picture credit: Ferrari