Brazilian Grand Prix: Hamilton wins, Verstappen denied

Lewis Hamilton won an action and drama packed Brazilian Grand Prix on an afternoon in which Max Verstappen was cruelly denied when he was rammed by Esteban Ocon, but recovered to claim second place ahead of Kimi Raikkonen.

The result was enough for Mercedes to claim the 2018 Formula 1 World Championship title to make it ten in five years.

Hamilton was gifted the lead when, with victory in sight, Verstappen came upon Esteban Ocon to lap him into Turn 1, but for some reason the Force India (a lap down) hung in there and rammed the side of the Red Bull as they powered through the Senna-S.

This caused the Red Bull to spin, allowing the #44 Mercedes to flash past before recovering and chasing gamely, but second place was his reward when victory seemed so close for the driver who again delivered a stellar performance. Ocon was given a penalty for his shenanigans.

Although Verstappen pushed hard in the final laps, in the end Hamilton had it in control and crossed the line 1.5 seconds ahead of the blue car when the chequered flag waved to end the race at Autodromo Carlos Pace.

Hamilton said of his afternoon and 72nd grand prix victory, These guys have worked so hard over the past six years, it’s been an incredible journey. This is what we’ve worked for every single day. I’ve always said it’s such an honour to drive for them.”

“We were a sitting duck at one stage. We were having problems with the engine. I just want to thank everyone. The team give me the tools and I do the best I can,” added the World Champion.

Verstappen was livid, in the cockpit during the slow down lap he said, “I hope I can’t find him now in the paddock because that guy has a fucking problem. What a [expletive].

He was not done, after he removed his helmet the Red Bull driver added, “We did everything today. He [Ocon] was such an idiot he gets taken out while he’s being lapped. I think the race was better than expected for us today. The car worked well. The strategy worked well. I’m happy with second, but we should have won today.”

Raikkonen, who finished third, summed up, “Yeah it was good, not easy but there was some battling so it was fun. My tyre [strategy] was good but it was difficult to pass and it took too long, I don’t know.”

Daniel Ricciardo in the Red Bull delivered another typical gutsy performance, with trademark overtakes to claim fourth place, ahead of Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas in a distant fifth followed by Sebastian Vettel sixth in the Ferrari.

Bottas and Vettel struggled relative to their teammates, with Vettel making what appeared to be an extra unscheduled stop late in the race.

The top six were all very close through the race with some jaw-dropping moments, Ricciardo’s overtake on Bottas a special moment in a race packed with big ones, in contrast with Raikkonen’s laborious efforts to get by the #77 Mercedes.

Charles Leclerc delivered another high-quality performance for Sauber, running as high as fourth at one stage and finished seventh, Best of the Rest on the day, ahead of fellow Ferrari powered Haas pair Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen taking double points with eighth and ninth.

The final point went to Sergio Perez in the Force India, the Mexican bringing it home in tenth after a relatively lonely race.

FIA Blow-By-Blow Report

At the race start, Hamilton held his advantage from pole position to take the lead but a poor getaway by fellow front-row starter Vettel allowed Bottas, starting third, to get past the German through the opening two corners.

Verstappen, starting from fifth, was already beginning to work his way forward. He closed on Kimi Räikkönen and at the start of lap three he went past the Finn around the outside into Turn 1. Vettel was the Dutchman’s next target and at the start of the next lap he again used DRS to close but this time he opted for a dive down the inside to claim P3.

Behind him, team-mate Ricciardo was also gaining places, and after passing Magnussen on lap one he quickly began to pick off the cars ahead, rising to P6 on lap seven, ahead of Leclerc.

On lap 10 Verstappen made another move, this time choosing the inside of Turn 1 to dive past Bottas and claim second place. Race leader Hamilton was now just 1.7s ahead.

Bottas was the first of the leaders to pit, the Mercedes man heading in for medium tyres at the end of lap 18. Hamilton then ceded the lead to Verstappen at the end of lap 19, with the Briton also stopping for medium compound rubber.

Hamilton emerged in P6 behind Leclerc but by lap 25 he was past the Monegasque and closing on fourth-placed Daniel, who was just under six seconds ahead.

Vettel then pitted at the end of lap 27 and the German also opted for medium tyres before rejoining in ninth place. Freed from behind the Ferrari, Daniel moved up to third and set the fastest lap of the race to that point, a 1:12.919. And when Räikkönen pitted the Australian was promoted to second place behind his team-mate.

The Red Bulls began to pull out a lead from those who has already pitted but Verstappen was unable to build a big enough margin before his own stop, and when he rejoined on lap 35 he was in third place, 3.0s behind Hamilton.

Verstappen was armed with newer rubber and greater pace than the champion, however, and as the pair arrowed towards the start-finish line to begin lap 39 he eased past Hamilton.

The Dutchman’s lead wouldn’t last long, however. At the start of lap 44, he went to lap Ocon, making a move down the inside of the Force India. Despite being lapped, Ocon protected his position and tried to deny the pass.

Verstappen turned in to take the second corner and the pair collided. Verstappen was sent into a spin and sustained serious floor damage in the incident, while Hamilton was allowed to sweep past into the lead. Ocon was later handed a 10-second stop/go penalty for causing the collision.

Ricciardo, meanwhile, was having his own close calls, twice banging wheels with Vettel as he tried to get past the Ferrari. At the second attempt the Australian won out and he climbed fifth place behind Bottas.

Both Red Bulls began to close on the cars ahead, with Verstappen edging to within two seconds of Hamilton and Ricciardo getting inside DRS range of Räikkönen but neither could make a move stick in the closing stages and after 71 laps Hamilton crossed the line to take the second Brazilian Grand Prix win of his career, ahead of Max, with Räikkönen third ahead of Ricciardo.

Bottas was left with fifth place ahead of Vettel, while Leclerc finished in a best-of-the-rest seventh place. Grosjean took eighth place for Haas ahead of team-mate Magnussen and the final point on offer went to Pérez.