Max Verstappen won the FORMULA 1 HEINEKEN GRANDE PRÊMIO DO BRASIL 2019 having started from pole. But his victory did not come as easily as that simple sentence might sound, at the end of a race that can truly be described as crazy and was without doubt the most exciting Grand Prix of the season.
For the Aston Martin Red Bull Racing driver this was the third win of the year and for a while it looked as though it might have been a Red Bull one-two. It was not, although it was a one-two for Honda because in an incredible final lap, Pierre Gasly finished second for Red Bull Toro Rosso Honda. Joining them on the podium at the end of the 71 laps of Interlagos was Lewis Hamilton for Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport, however, after the race, the Englishman was given a 5 second penalty for causing a collision with Alex Albon, thus delivering the most unexpected podium of the season, as Carlos Sainz stepped up to third place for McLaren.
Verstappen never really looked under threat, having started from pole, and a well executed strategy and brilliant work from his pit crew with tyre changes taking less than two seconds all helped him to control the race. But it was no stroll in the park and with Hamilton attempting the undercut, the Dutchman had to pass the six times world champion on track, not just once, but twice!
As for Gasly, he inherited second place when Hamilton and Albon collided on the penultimate lap, robbing the Thai rookie of his first F1 podium. The French driver kept his cool, placing his Toro Rosso in just the right part of the track coming out of the final corner to win the drag race to the line.
At the start, Verstappen kept the lead and Hamilton got ahead of Sebastian Vettel going into Turn 1 to go second. The Mercedes man was the first to pit on lap 20 of 71, attempting the undercut and committing to a two stop strategy as he again fitted Soft tyres. Red Bull covered the move, bringing Max in on the next lap. The Dutchman nearly got pushed into the pit wall by Robert Kubica in the ROKiT Williams and the delay ensured that Hamilton took the lead. However, the Mercedes man was also delayed, as he was caught behind the Scuderia Ferrari Mission Winnow of Charles Leclerc. That allowed Verstappen to catch up and eventually pass Hamilton going into the Senna S first corner.
The pit stop dance for the leaders resumed on lap 43, when Hamilton again came in trying for an undercut and again Verstappen covered the move next time round to keep the lead. With 18 laps remaining, fifth place Bottas retired his Mercedes with a mechanical failure and that brought out the Safety Car. Verstappen pitted for fresh rubber, but Hamilton chose to keep the lead and stayed out on older tyres. Hamilton backed up the field, hoping to prevent Verstappen getting by, but again the Dutchman retook the lead in the bottom of the Senna S. This was incredibly exciting but there was plenty more to come.
Alex Albon produced an aggressive move to pass Vettel and go third and began to challenge Hamilton for second, but instead the Red Bull man had to defend from a returning Vettel. With five laps remaining, Leclerc passed Vettel at the first corner, but the German fought back and they were side by side on the run down to Descida de Lago. The two Ferraris collided and both had to retire, Leclerc with suspension damage, Vettel with a puncture.
That triggered a safety car under which Hamilton dived into the pits yet again, dropping him to fourth behind Albon and Gasly. The Mercedes and the Red Bull collided forcing Albon into a spin, which allowed Gasly past into an amazing second, although it looked more like a dead heat. Hamilton admitted his mistake, which resulted in Carlos Sainz’s promotion to the podium.
For the Woking team today’s result marks an extraordinary achievement, considering that Sainz, who sealed the first podium of his career, started at the very back of the grid after the technical problem that effectively prevented him from taking part in yesterday’s qualifying. The team’s haul of points was also added to by Lando Norris with an excellent eighth place. This was the first time since the 2014 Australian Grand Prix that a McLaren driver had finished in the top three: that time in fact it was two of them – Kevin Magnussen and Jenson Button – who finished behind the winner Nico Rosberg.
Behind Sainz came the two Alfa Romeo drivers, with Kimi Raikkonen fifth and Antonio Giovinazzi sixth. This was the best result of the season for the Hinwil team – while for their Italian driver fifth place marked the best finish of his career.
Completing the top ten were Sergio Perez, taking his sixth straight points finish, and Daniil Kvyat. The Russian, who saw his points disappear due to penalties after the chequered flag both in Mexico City and Austin, this time didn’t have any unpleasant surprises!
There was so much on track action this afternoon – to the joy of the spectators who filled out the grandstands as ever (an attendance of 150,307 over the weekend) – it felt like a grand finale to the year. But that is yet to come, when racing resumes in a fortnight for the 21st and last time in the FORMULA 1 ETIHAD AIRWAYS ABU DHABI GRAND PRIX 2019.
Brazilian Grand Prix Facts & Figures
|1st||Max Verstappen||Aston Martin Red Bull Racing||71||126.96.36.1998|
|2nd||Pierre Gasly||Red Bull Toro Rosso Honda||71||+6.077|
|3rd||Carlos Sainz||McLaren F1 Team||71||+8.896|
|4th||Kimi Raikkonen||Alfa Romeo Racing||71||+9.452|
|5th||Antonio Giovinazzi||Alfa Romeo Racing||71||+10.201|
|6th||Daniel Ricciardo||Renault F1 Team||71||+10.541|
|7th||Lewis Hamilton*||Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport||71||+11.139|
|8th||Lando Norris||McLaren F1 Team||71||+11.204|
|9th||Sergio Perez||SportPesa Racing Point F1 Team||71||+11.529|
|10th||Daniil Kvyat||Red Bull Toro Rosso Honda||71||+11.931|
|11th||Kevin Magnussen||Haas F1 Team||71||+12.732|
|12th||George Russell||ROKiT Williams Racing||71||+13.599|
|13th||Romain Grosjean||Haas F1 Team||71||+14.247|
|14th||Alexander Albon||Aston Martin Red Bull Racing||71||+14.927|
|15th||Nico Hulkenberg**||Renault F1 Team||71||+18.059|
|16th||Robert Kubica||ROKiT Williams Racing||70||+1 lap|
|17th||Sebastian Vettel||Scuderia Ferrari Mission Winnow||65||DNF|
|18th||Charles Leclerc||Scuderia Ferrari Mission Winnow||65||DNF|
|19th||Lance Stroll||SportPesa Racing Point F1 Team||65||DNF|
|NC||Valtteri Bottas||Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport||51||DNF|
Fastest lap: Valtteri Bottas (1.10.698 on lap 43)
*5 second time penalty – Causing a collision.
**5 second time penalty – Overtaking under safety car conditions.
|Drivers’ Championship||Constructors’ Championship|
|1||L. Hamilton||387||Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport||701|
|2||V. Bottas||314||Scuderia Ferrari Mission Winnow||479|
|3||M. Verstappen||260||Aston Martin Red Bull Racing||391|
|4||C. Leclerc||249||McLaren F1 Team||140|
|5||S. Vettel||230||Renault F1 Team||91|
|6||P. Gasly||95||Red Bull Toro Rosso Honda||83|
|7||C. Sainz||95||SportPesa Racing Point F1 Team||67|
|8||A. Albon||84||Alfa Romeo Racing||57|
|9||D. Ricciardo||54||Haas F1 Team||28|
|10||S. Perez||46||ROKiT Williams Racing||1|
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