AND FERRARIS COLLIDE
Max Verstappen claimed his third win of the season with a perfectly judged drive to victory in an incident-packed Brazilian Grand Prix in which Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc took each other out. Their collision sparking a dramatic finale that saw that saw Lewis Hamilton drop from third at the flag to seventh place after a collision with Red Bull’s Alex Albon while Pierre Gasly held on to second place to score his first F1 podium finsh.
When the lights went out at the start, Verstappen got away well and settled into P1 into the first corner. Behind him Sebastian Vettel, starting from P2, came under immediate pressure from fast-starting Lewis Hamilton, who swept past through the Senna S to take P2. Behind them Bottas took up residence in P4 ahead of the second Red Bull of Alex Albon.
The major moves in the early phase of the race were made by Charles Leclerc. The Ferrari driver started from P14 after a PU-related 10-place grid drop before the start, but with 10 laps he was up to P6 behind Albon having stormed through the midfield.
Hamilton then sparked the first round of pit stops when he took on a new set of soft tyres on lap 20. Red Bull reacted by bringing in leader Verstappen at the end of the following lap for the same compound. Hamilton’s undercut attempt was helped when Williams unsafely released Robert Kubica into Verstappen’s path as the Dutchman made his way to the pit exit.
The delay allowed Hamilton to fly past, but when the champion got lodged behind Leclerc in the second sector, Verstappen closed the gap. First he passed the much slower Leclerc and then with a good tow and DRS opewn he powered past Hamilton through the Senna S.
Leclerc, who had started on medium tyres, was the last of the front runners to make a pit stop, on lap 29, and when the order shook out, Verstappen once again led, three seconds ahead of Hamilton, with Vettel a further nine seconds back in third place. Bottas who had taken hard tyres during his pit stop was fourth with Albon still fifth.
Bottas has taken on hard tyres in his stop and struggled to get them working. On lap 41 Mercedes took the decision to pit the Finn for medium compound Pirellis. He rejoined in P6 behind Leclerc and Albon.
Two laps later Hamilton made his second stop, taking on medium tyres. Once again Red Bull responded and after a clean 1.9s stop, the Dutchman was released ahead of Hamilton.
Vettel now led the race, but as Verstapen closed in, Ferrari pitted the German on lap 49. The Ferrari driver took soft tyres and he rejoined in P3 behind Verstappen and Hamilton.
The race then took a twist on lap 52. Bottas suddenly slowed, and with smoke pouring from back of his car, pulled over at the side of the track.
The Safety Car was deployed and Verstappen pitted for soft tyres as did Leclerc. Hamilton, though, stayed out. The order behind the safety car was now Hamilton followed by Verstappen, with Vettel third ahead of Albon.
When the action resumed at the end of lap 59, the Red Bulls went on the attack. Verstappen passed Hamilton to retake the lead, while Albon snuck past Vettel in the Senna S to take third place.
Vettel then began to come under pressure from team-mate Leclerc, and on lap 65 the race took another dramatic turn. Leclerc passed his team-mate through the Senna S but Vettel fought back and as the pair drew alongside each other on the Reta Oposto there was contact. Leclerc’s front right tyre punctured and then exploded, sending the Ferrari driver skidding off track in a shower of sparks as his front wing collapsed. Vettel also sustained a puncture and soon pulled over to retire. Out came the safety car once again.
This time it was Hamilton’s turn to pit and after taken on new softs he rejoined in fourth place, behind Toro Rosso’s Pierre Gasly with Versatappen now leading a Red Bull one-two as Albon rose to P2.
When the SC left the circuit at the end of lap 69, Verstappen powered away in P1. Hamilton passed Gasly and tried to attack Albon into Turn 1 but the rookie resisted.
Hamilton continued to probe and then, when Alex took a wide line into Turn 8 the champion went for the gap. Albon, though was already closing the door and he was hit by the champion and sent into a spin that dropped him to P15. Hamilton recovered but Gasly was through to P2.
Ahead, Max was now out on his own in P1 and after 71 incredibly dramatic laps he crossed the line to take his eighth career win. Behind him Gasly incredibly kept Hamilton at bay to claim P2, with just six hundredths of a second separating the pair. Hamilton, though, was placed under investigation over the collision with Alboin and later received a five-second time penalty that dropped him to seventh place.
The penalty meant that Carlos Sainz took third for McLaren, with Kimi Räikkönen and Antonio Giovinazzi fourth and fifth respectively for Alfa Romeo. Daniel Ricciardo was sixth for Renault ahead Hamilton and the second McLaren of Lando Norris. Sergio Pérez finished ninth and the final point on offer went to the second Toro Rosso of Daniil Kvyat.
2019 FIA Formula One Brazilian Grand Prix – Race
1 Max Verstappen Red Bull/Honda 71 1:33'14.678
2 Pierre Gasly Toro Rosso/Honda 71 1:33'20.755 6.077
3 Carlos Sainz McLaren/Renault 71 1:33'23.574 8.896
4 Kimi Räikkönen Alfa Romeo/Ferrari 71 1:33'24.130 9.452
5 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo/Ferrari 71 1:33'24.879 10.201
6 Daniel Ricciardo Renault 71 1:33'25.219 10.541
7 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 71 1:33'25.817 11.139
8 Lando Norris McLaren/Renault 71 1:33'25.882 11.204
9 Sergio Pérez Racing Point/Mercedes 71 1:33'26.207 11.529
10 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso/Honda 71 1:33'26.609 11.931
11 Kevin Magnussen Haas/Ferrari 71 1:33'27.410 12.732
12 George Russell Williams/Mercedes 71 1:33'28.277 13.599
13 Romain Grosjean Haas/Ferrari 71 1:33'28.925 14.247
14 Alexander Albon Red Bull/Honda 71 1:33'29.605 14.927
15 Nico Hülkenberg Renault 71 1:33'32.737 18.059
16 Robert Kubica Williams/Mercedes 70 1:33'32.670 1 Lap
17 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 65 1:23'25.347 Collision
18 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 65 1:23'25.801 Collision
19 Lance Stroll Racing Point/Mercedes 65 1:23'44.211
(5) Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 51 1:03'20.179 Power Unit