Verstappen wins thrilling and incident-packed Brazilian Grand Prix
Max Verstappen won a thrilling Brazilian Grand Prix which also saw Pierre Gasly clinch his first ever podium finish and the two Ferraris knock each other out of the race.
With the drivers’ and constructors’ championships already decided this was a chance for a number of drivers and teams to lay down an early marker ahead of 2020 and that’s what Verstappen and Red Bull did as the Dutchman claimed his third victory of the season.
It looked like being a one-two for Red Bull with Alex Albon in second up until the second last lap. However, Lewis Hamilton collided with the rookie driver in an incident that could still be looked at by the race stewards.
This was after Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel went wheel-to-wheel, giving each other punctures to ensure that neither finished the race. This was just another episode in what has been a season of strife between the two Ferrari drivers, but this was Verstappen’s weekend at Interlagos.
DRIVER OF THE DAY - Pierre Gasly (Toro Rosso)
It’s been a testing year for Gasly. The young driver suffered the indignity of being replaced as Red Bull’s second driver, returning to Toro Rosso after failing to handle the pressure of racing for the Big Team. This was an excellent race performance from Gasly, though, who has recovered his form, taking second place instead of Albon to provide another layer of narrative.
WHERE THE RACE WAS WON
55/71 - Mass pit stops! So many drivers are making the most of the safety car to switch onto fresh tyres. Verstappen is in, Leclerc is in, Grosjean is in... did Mercedes bring Hamilton in? No, they didn’t!
54/71 - Full safety car! This could make things interesting. The pack will now tighten up and this could produce a real finale until the end of the race. This is what Hamilton needed to catch Verstappen.
61/71 - VERSTAPPEN IS THROUGH ON THE RESTART! That was magnificent from the Dutchman! He made the move on Hamilton into Turn 1! Albon also got ahead of the two Ferraris and is up into P3! Wow!
67/71 - FERRARI DISASTER! The two Ferraris have collided and both have picked up punctures! Double DNFs! Wow! Who was at fault there? Leclerc was trying to go down the inside, but it all went so wrong!
70/71 - ALBON SPINS! Hamilton dives down the inside of the rookie Red Bull driver, they touch and Albon spins! That's a disaster for Albon! His race has been destroyed! Hamilton is up to P3, but will the stewards look at that?
VERSTAPPEN WINS THE BRAZILIAN GP! The Red Bull driver crosses the line and claims the race victory! Gasly and Hamilton go to the line, but it's the Toro Rosso who claims second place! Hamilton gets a podium finish, but what will the stewards say about his clash with Albon?
PIT EXCHANGE OF THE DAY
“The safety car needs to speed up, man. Jeez!” Hamilton complained over the team radio. This illustrated the mood of a race that was defined by incidents and the time spent behind the safety car, and the laps immediately after the safety car came in. In the end, the safety car didn’t do a lot for the world champion. He was right to be worried.
It was the overtake that ultimately won Verstappen the race. Ten laps from the end, the Dutchman took Hamilton on the outside into Turn One after the safety car came in. It was a gutsy, bold move from a driver who many expect to put up more of a sustained challenge to Hamilton in 2020. This race, and this overtake, might prove to be the precursor to that.