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Redemption for Verstappen in a ‘crazy’ race around Interlagos

Max Verstappen won the Brazilian Grand Prix to give Honda powered cars their first one-two since the day Ayrton Senna clinched his third world title, as both Ferrari drivers collided.

It was a masterful drive from Verstappen to take victory from pole, as him and Hamilton went wheel-to-wheel in a terrific battle for the lead.

But that was only the start of it, the Ferrari drivers collided in the run-in to turn four to cause damage on both cars which left the two furious with each other.

It was victory number eight for Verstappen’s career. Photograph: Getty Images

A safety car was then signalled for the second time in the race, as more drama unravelled.

As a result of the safety car, Hamilton pitted for a third time which dropped him into fourth from the restart as all three front-runners were Honda powered.

Hamilton quickly overtook Gasly for third place, with Alex Albon next in his sight for second, but the two collided.

The world champion saw a gap and tried to overtake, but clipped Albon’s right rear wheel to send him the wrong way to see the strong possibility of a maiden career podium vanish for the rookie.

Instead, it was a maiden career podium for Pierre Gasly – the man who was replaced by Albon at Red Bull in the summer break.

But in the midst of all this drama, Verstappen and Red Bull’s strategy department had the perfect race to give him his eighth career victory.

Elation for Verstappen but heartache for Albon

Red Bull were on course for the perfect race following the second safety car.

Verstappen was in first and Albon in second, as both had not put a ‘foot-wrong’ the entire race.

However, a collision with Hamilton ended Albon’s chance of his first career podium.

Lewis Hamilton apologised immediately after for the incident, but received a five second penalty. Photograph: Getty Images

He left a gap on the inside of turn 11 which Hamilton saw as his opportunity to re-gain second place, but that window quickly closed causing the pair to come together.

Whilst Hamilton had slightly damaged his front-wing end plate, Albon was the one to suffer the biggest consequence as he rapidly diminished to last place from second.

Although shortly after the race, Hamilton was given a five second penalty which dropped him into seventh place which promoted Carlos Sainz into third place, despite starting last – another maiden career podium.

But, it wasn’t the first time Hamilton had been battling with a Red Bull driver in the race.

As Verstappen started on pole with Hamilton third, for the Mercedes driver to stand a good chance of winning the race then it was crucial he quickly overtook Vettel – who started second.

And he did exactly that.

Between turn one and two on the opening lap, Hamilton had his man to have only Verstappen ahead, as Mercedes pitted first on lap 20 to decide the strategy for both drivers in the race.

Mercedes opted to keep their driver on the soft to cause Red Bull to do the same a lap later, thus meaning both were on an intentional two-stop strategy.

But whilst it was a sub-two second stop for Verstappen, he still left the pit lane behind Hamilton as Williams released Robert Kubica in an unsafe manner to almost collide with the Red Bull – Kubica then received a five-second penalty.

However this was not to knock Verstappen down, as he overtook a defenceless Hamilton a lap later on the inside of turn one to re-gain track position.

This looked to be it as both teams made no mistake on their second pit-stop, but then Hamilton’s team-mate Valtteri Bottas, retired on lap 53.

A safety car was signalled for the first time in the race, as Mercedes then decided to do the opposite to Red Bull.

Verstappen pitted as a result of the safety car which meant Hamilton stayed out.

And the freshness of Verstappen’s tyres proved crucial, as once again he overtook Hamilton on the outside of turn one to all but end the fight for first – it was a scenario which witnessed his team-mate, Albon, overtake Vettel for third straight after in the same manner.

What happened at Ferrari?

At the restart of the first safety car, Albon brilliantly overtook Vettel on the outside of turn one, to leave the Ferrari cars fourth and fifth.

Vettel attempted to re-gain third from Albon, but failed, which then left the opportunity for Leclerc to pressurise his team-mate.

With five laps to go, Leclerc attempted his move in turn one and was successful yet Vettel came straight back at him.

In the straight up to turn four, Vettel had DRS to pull alongside Leclerc yet he seemingly thought he was clear of his team-mate as he then pulled to the left.

But he wasn’t, such turn then resulted in the pair colliding and both cars damaged.

“What the hell” screamed Leclerc over team-radio with Vettel questioning “what was he doing”.

It was reminiscent of Turkey 2010 between Vettel and Mark Webber, as questions will once again surface as to if Ferrari can afford to have two ‘number one’ drivers.


By Edward Hardy

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