Race Report: Verstappen wins Brazilian Grand Prix

5

When you come to Brazil for the FIA Formula 1 Brazilian Grand Prix, you enter an eclectic mix of racing fan passion and the sobering memory of one of the greatest drivers ever in Ayrton Senna. Like Ferrari and Italy, Senna and Brazil are one. They are symbiotic and despite no Brazilian drivers on the current F1 grid, the fans in Sao Paulo carry their history, the memory of Senna and their feverish love of motorsport with them.

Red Bull and Honda sent a serious message on Saturday with pole position for Max Verstappen and the good money was on Max converting that to a win but few had pinned the second place for a Honda-powered Toro Rosso in the shape of Pierre Gasly. There was a possibility of three Honda-powered cars on the podium but a clash with Lewis Hamilton left Alex Albon spinning toward the back of the grid while Lewis’s Mercedes secured third.

Win

A big win for Red Bull who commanded the weekend with pole position, passing Lewis twice on track and nearly managing to secure a 1, 2 win had it not been for Lewis Hamilton’s clash with Red Bull’s Alex Albon. Max Verstappen looked sublime all weekend long and getting two Honda-powered cars not eh podium at Senna’s home is very fitting.

A big win for Toro Rosso who took advantage of the Ferrari attrition and enjoyed a 2nd place finish for Pierre Gasly. Pierre has been doing a great job since being demoted to Red Bull’s junior team and his podium finish is the first for the team since Sebastian Vettel gave them a win in 2008. Surprisingly, the Honda shove in Gasly’s car managed to beat Hamilton’s Mercedes in a drag race up the hill on the final lap.

A big win for Carlos Sainz who, after 101 races, scored his first podium. Sure, attrition played a large part but you have to be there to take advantage of it and given the fact that Carlos started at the back of the grid and had himself in a position to claim 3rd is a huge achievement.

A win for both Alfa Romeo’s who finished 5th and 6th and while Ferrari dual-DNF’d, they actually did manage to get two Ferrari engines in the points. A great result for both Kimi Raikkonen and Antonio Giovinazzi who drove terrific races for serious points. That’s a big deal as they are only 14 points behind Racing Point for 7th in the Constructor’s Championship.

A win for Daniel Ricciardo to 7th and while he was handed a 5s penalty during the race, he managed to make a run of it into the points.

Fail

A fail for Ferrari who suffered a double DNF when Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc came together cutting each others tires and ending their races with both drivers standing on the side of the track pointing their fingers at the other. Mattia Binotto was sensible, as was Charles Leclerc, who said the team needed to asses the situation and remain calm until they could fully understand the data and issues. Sebastian was curt and tight-lipped about the incident as well. Regardless, the team were heading for a podium and as it turns out, may have had two cars on the podium but that’s all speculation. Both drivers were summoned to the race stewards but no penalties were given.

A fail for both Lando Norris, Daniil Kvyat and Nico Hulkenberg who were outshone by their teammates and in Norris’s case, his teammate started from the back of the grid. In Daniil case, his teammate secured a fantastic podium while the Russian languished in 10th. For Nico, he was well out of the points while his teammate was up in 7th. In fairness, there were differing strategies so the term “fail” may be a little heavy handed. Nico was also given a penalty for an illegal pass.

WTH

The mysterious tire performance window which seemed to magically descend upon the Haas F1 team on Saturday, disappeared in the back allies of Sao Paulo come race day with both drivers struggling for pace and finishing out of the points after having made it into Q3 during qualifying.

A Williams just 25s out of the points? Are you kidding? George Russell proving he deserves a better car and Robert Kubica struggling to make a grand comeback.

KEY MOMENTS

  • Verstappen was one of only two points-scoring drivers to make three pit stops, gambling on one more stop during the penultimate safety car.
  • There were three completely different strategies in the top four, with a wide variety of tactics all the way down the field. While Verstappen and Hamilton made three stops, McLaren’s Carlos Sainz was fourth at the flag (before any stewards’ decisions) with one stop from last on the grid, and Gasly finished runner-up with two stops.
  • The two safety cars at the end of the grand prix turned it into a race of opportunism, with several dramatic incidents occurring as cars tried to take advantage of the changing situation.
  • Before then, a soft-medium-soft strategy had been favoured by most of the frontrunners, which offered both speed and flexibility in the warm conditions.
  • With the higher temperatures today, degradation was slightly increased for some drivers and all three compounds were used during the race, but there were still some long initial stints seen on the soft compound.

Race Results

POSDRIVERCARLAPSGAP
1Max VerstappenRed Bull/Honda711h33m14.678s
2Pierre GaslyToro Rosso/Honda716.077s
3Carlos Sainz Jr.McLaren/Renault718.896s
4Kimi RaikkonenAlfa Romeo/Ferrari719.452s
5Antonio GiovinazziAlfa Romeo/Ferrari7110.201s
6Daniel RicciardoRenault7110.541s
7Lewis HamiltonMercedes7111.139s
8Lando NorrisMcLaren/Renault7111.204s
9Sergio PerezRacing Point/Mercedes7111.529s
10Daniil KvyatToro Rosso/Honda7111.931s
11Kevin MagnussenHaas/Ferrari7112.732s
12George RussellWilliams/Mercedes7113.599s
13Romain GrosjeanHaas/Ferrari7114.247s
14Alexander AlbonRed Bull/Honda7114.927s
15Nico HulkenbergRenault7118.059s
16Robert KubicaWilliams/Mercedes701 Lap
17Sebastian VettelFerrari65Collision
18Charles LeclercFerrari65Collision
19Lance StrollRacing Point/Mercedes65Accident damage
Valtteri BottasMercedes51Power Unit

Driver’s Championship

POSDRIVERPOINTS
1Lewis Hamilton387
2Valtteri Bottas314
3Max Verstappen260
4Charles Leclerc249
5Sebastian Vettel230
6Pierre Gasly95
7Carlos Sainz Jr.95
8Alexander Albon84
9Daniel Ricciardo54
10Sergio Perez46
11Lando Norris45
12Kimi Raikkonen43
13Nico Hulkenberg37
14Daniil Kvyat35
15Lance Stroll21
16Kevin Magnussen20
17Antonio Giovinazzi14
18Romain Grosjean8
19Robert Kubica1
20George Russell0

Constructor’s Championship

POSCONSTRUCTORPOINTS
1Mercedes701
2Ferrari479
3Red Bull/Honda391
4McLaren/Renault140
5Renault91
6Toro Rosso/Honda83
7Racing Point/Mercedes67
8Alfa Romeo/Ferrari57
9Haas/Ferrari28
10Williams/Mercedes1
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Ralph Beentjes

“Pierre has been doing a great job since being demoted to Red Bull’s junior team and his podium finish is the first for the team since Sebastian Vettel gave them a win in 2008.”

Actually, it’s Toro Rosso’s first podium since Germany earlier this year. Kvyat got 3rd place in that, also insane, race. Verstappen seems to only win bangers.

Also, doesn’t Sainz deserve a spot at the Win-section? He started 20th and ultimately got on the podium in a McLaren. Has anyone checked up on Alonso yet?

Xean45

What a boring race!!!

… Oh, sorry. I watched the French GP before this one.

What a crazy Brazilian GP race! True to it’s name, I don’t have any hair left.

The Captain

I’m a little concerned that the FIA just learned that all the excitement and talking points from this race all came from a …. competition caution.