BrazilianGP Review: Robbery in Brazil for Verstappen

The title has been decided, but that doesn’t mean the season is over just yet. The 20th round of 2018 was ready to bring some spectacle, with the Brazilian Grand Prix at the Autódromo José Carlos Pace.

Once again qualifying took place under difficult circumstances. Interlagos is (in)famous for its unpredictable weather conditions, and this year was no exception. This resulted in Lewis Hamilton taking Mercedes’ 100th pole position and his luck didn’t stop there. Sebastian Vettel secured second place, although both drivers were at risk of losing their positions. Hamilton seemed like he wasn’t awake at times as he blocked Sergey Sirotkin during his outlap and hindered Kimi Räikkönen on his flying lap, but it didn’t end up in a penalty, a strange decision by the FIA.

Lewis Hamilton. Photo curtesy of Pirelli

 

Vettel’s incident was even stranger. Vettel was called in for inspection and had to go onto the weigh bridge. In his haste, he drove onto the weigh bridge itself, and drove off it with his engine turned on, therefore destroying the weigh bridge. This resulted in a reprimand and a $25,000 fine.

Honourable mention goes to Charles Leclerc. During Q2 he was out of the top 10. Reporting to his team that it was raining too heavily, he put in a superb lap which saw him continue to Q3. There Sauber surprisingly locked the fourth row, but Daniel Ricciardo would drop five places due to a grid penalty.

On race day it seemed like it would stay dry but there was still  a threat of a potential thunderstorm. Vettel locked his brakes into turn one, giving Valtteri Bottas second place immediately. Meanwhile, both Renault drivers were battling each other, they even had a slight touch but survived.

In lap four it was a very bold move from Max Verstappen who dive-bombed Vettel, giving him third place. However, the Ferrari’s were on the soft tyres while the other two top teams were on the supersofts. Ricciardo quickly found his way back to the top six and was now charging the slower Ferrari’s ahead. His teammate took second place though, overtaking Bottas into the first corner. The Finn was really struggling, with Räikkönen, Vettel and Ricciardo knocking on his door.

Lap 16 saw the first pit stop, Fernando Alonso came in but his rear right tyre wasn’t fitted correctly. Quick reactions by the Spaniard meant that pit crew could still fix it. Bottas came in for his pit stop in lap nineteen, meaning that the Ferrari’s now had free air to continue on their softs. One lap later Hamilton came in, also opting for the medium tyres.

Marcus Ericsson, who had a great starting position, spun at high speed and returned to the pits. Not for a regular pit stop, but a retirement – the first of the race. A few laps later though Vettel overtook his teammate for sixth, but it didn’t last long as they were surprisingly told to switch places.

Photo curtesy of Getty Images/Red Bull Content Pool.

 

Disaster struck for Verstappen as Esteban Ocon tried to overtake the Red Bull, but took the inside and touched Verstappen. He spun, but could continue the race (after he showed the Frenchman the middle finger of course). Eventually the stewards decided that Ocon caused the collision, handing him a stop/go penalty for crashing into the race leader.

Ricciardo and Vettel had locked horns but the Australian wouldn’t give up that easily and kept his fifth place. A few laps later Ricciardo passed Bottas for fourth place. With 17 laps to go, Vettel took his second pit stop and opted for the supersofts. This dropped him back to seventh place behind his future teammate Leclerc.

However, it would be the victory for the 2018 World Champion. Mercedes, after winning the Drivers’ Championship with Hamilton, now also have the 2018 Constructors Championship. Verstappen took second place (arguably he should have placed higher) and Räikkönen completed the podium, keeping Ricciardo at bay.

Verstappen, responding to Horner’s disbelieve: “Yeah I know what to say, I really hope I won’t see him in the pits…” with a lot of censoring needed. And as it would have it, the two did meet with Verstappen pushing Ocon three times in a widely broadcast standoff.

After some drama, it is time to look towards the last race of the season. The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix could result in some drivers taking big risks for the win. It will be Alonso’s final race in F1; he’ll be hoping to step away from F1 with a good result. In short, it should be a good one.

Brazilian Grand Prix Preview, Obrigado Felipe

GP BRASILE F1/2016 – INTERLAGOS (BRASILE) 12/11/2016
© FOTO STUDIO COLOMBO PER PIRELLI MEDIA (© COPYRIGHT FREE)

In Mexico, Lewis Hamilton celebrated his fourth title in his Formula 1 career, a title which Lewis had to fight hard with the four time world champion, Sebastian Vettel, especially before the summer break. Hamilton showed a “winner” character and managed to overcome all his difficulties, both psychological and driving, but at the end Lewis became the first British driver who has ever won four world titles in Formula One.

Next stop, is Brazil, with only two races to go, until the season’s chequered flag, teams are travelling to Sao Paulo, for one of the best races in the Formula 1 calendar. Red Bull will try to win another race and be considering their current form, they have many chances to achieve that. The Bulls, are fast and compatible, both Verstappen and Ricciardo, will fight for a place on the podium and of course not in any place, but the highest one.

GP BRASILE F1/2016 – INTERLAGOS (BRASILE) 12/11/2016
© FOTO STUDIO COLOMBO PER PIRELLI MEDIA (© COPYRIGHT FREE)

Ferrari is facing their own problems, Asia was a difficult chapter for the team, which cost them the chance to fight for the drivers’ and constructors’ championship, they didn’t have many chances for the second one, only if Raikkonen was able to move faster and improve his results.

In Brazil, the Scuderia has to fight for the best possible result, personally I don’t believe that Ferrari will win the race, Red Bull is faster and more reliable from the Scuderia Ferrari, at the moment, Verstappen is getting better and better, and I assume that he wants to close this season with two more victories.

AUTÓDROMO JOSÉ CARLOS PACE

Laps: 71

Circuit Length: 4.309 km

Total Length: 305.909 km

Lap Record: 1:11.473 (Juan Pablo Montoya – 2004)

Supersoft, soft and medium tyres are available for the drivers in Brazil, a circuit which the brake demand is low there are fifteen corners, 44 gear changes per lap and the average lap speed which the drivers will reach is about 220 km/h.

Three current drivers on the gird have won the Brazilian Grand Prix at Interlagos, Lewis Hamilton and Kimi Raikkonen has won one time, whilst Sebastian Vettel has two victories in Interlagos. It is mentionable that only three drivers have exceeded the two victories in the Brazilian Grand Prix history. Alain Prost won six times, Michael Schumacher four times and Carlos Reutemann three.

“It’s very special for me and one of my favourite places and races on the calendar. Sao Paulo is a crazy city and there’s something I really like about it. The food, the people, it’s all really engaging and a highly unique experience.

 

Nico Hulkenberg – “The track itself has so much history especially when you cast your mind to all the stories and championships won there. You can feel the history and the emotions that belong to racing and I really like that. It’s a reason why I usually perform quite well there. The circuit is short and can be quite tricky to get right. It’s anti-clockwise, very bumpy and extremely tough on the neck! It’s all about confidence, especially the in-field middle sector.I have special memories around Interlagos! My only Formula 1 pole position to date came in my rookie season, which was awesome. I put a perfect lap together at the right time in changing conditions and poled it by over a second; that’s a real standout moment in my entire racing career. In 2012, I led for a large part of the race and was unlucky not to get a podium. I have a decent record there and I will be pushing to make sure I continue that.”

Toto Wolff admitted that Mercedes will test new parts for the 2018 season in the two remaining races in Brazil and Abu Dhabi.

“The final two Grands Prix thus present the first two test opportunities ahead of the new season, trialling new and interesting concepts that the competitive landscape on track simply didn’t allow for earlier in the year. [We] will be running a series of experiments over the final two Fridays – with the option for race day, too, if the team feels that the risk connected with any idea is manageable and there is valuable learning for 2018 and beyond.”

GP BRASILE F1/2016 – INTERLAGOS (BRASILE) 10/11/2016
© FOTO STUDIO COLOMBO PER PIRELLI MEDIA (© COPYRIGHT FREE)

Felipe Massa announced that he will retire, for the second time in the last two years, after the end of the 2017 season and that will make the Brazilian Grand Prix a very emotional race, full of Brazilians who will be cheering for Felipe.

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