Hamilton victorious in wet Brazilian Grand Prix as Verstappen stars

Lewis Hamilton was victorious in a chaotic rain-affected Brazilian Grand Prix to take the Formula 1 championship battle to a title decider in Abi Dhabi.

The reigning world champion crossed the line 11.4 seconds ahead of his Mercedes team-mate and title rival Nico Rosberg and reduced the points gap to 12 with 25 available.

Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen pulled off a sensational display – making up 13 positions in 16 laps to snatch third at Interlagos in a race that included two red flags and required the safety car on five occasions.

Heavy rain delayed the start by ten minutes, with the conditions so treacherous that Romain Grosjean, who was due to start seventh, crashed on the way to the grid.

FIA race director Charlie Whiting elected to start the race behind the safety car, which stayed out for seven laps.

Hamilton pulled out a big lead over Rosberg immediately at the start proper, with Verstappen passing Kimi Raikkonen into the Senna S to snatch third.

Several drivers switched to intermediates but conditions remained tricky, as fifth-placed Sebastian Vettel proved by touching the white line at Juncao and spinning.

The safety car was called back out when Marcus Ericsson aquaplaned into the wall after touching the kerb on the inside of the final corner.

At the next restart on lap 20 of 71, Raikkonen aquaplaned on the main straight and slammed into the wall, prompting an almost immediate red flag.

After a 35-minute delay, the race restarted behind the safety car only to be red-flagged again eight slow laps later as the conditions failed to improve, leading to boos from the race crowd.

It finally got back under way following a 27-minute stoppage and this time ran to the finish.

As it resumed, Verstappen pulled off a sensational pass around the outside of Rosberg at Turn 3 to take second.

The youngster also held a high-speed half-spin at the final corner without even losing a place to Rosberg. That was an epic save from Verstappen.

But soon afterwards Red Bull chose to switch to intermediates, first with Daniel Ricciardo and then with Verstappen.

It proved the wrong call – Rosberg demonstrating how bad the weather still was as he had a half-spin out of Juncao without losing second place – and when the safety car came out again following a crash for Felipe Massa, Red Bull chose to bring its drivers back in for wets.

Massa was in tears as he walked back to the pits, a Brazilian flag draped around his shoulders, in what will be his final home race.

The safety car came in for the last time with 15 laps to go, setting up a frantic finish as Verstappen fought his way up the field and the race finished just inside the two-hour limit.

A series of outside-line passes brought Verstappen from P16 to the podium, while Hamilton pulled clear of Rosberg up front to seal a third-straight win.

Sergio Perez finished fourth, followed by the recovering Vettel, who felt Verstappen pushed him off the track in the closing stages, and Carlos Sainz.

Nico Hulkenberg was seventh, ahead of Ricciardo and Felipe Nasr, who scored Sauber’s first points of the season and moved the team ahead of Manor into tenth in the constructors’ championship. Manor ran in the points with Esteban Ocon for much of the afternoon but he eventually slipped to P12.

Fernando Alonso completed the top ten having been another spinner out of Juncao.

So the longest race of the season. Just over three hours with plenty of stoppage for safety reasons. The championship will go down to the wire between Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg.

The reigning champion has to win while Rosberg just needs to finish on the podium to land the title. All to play for at Abu Dhabi.

Brazilian Grand Prix, race results after 71 laps:
1    Lewis Hamilton    Mercedes    3h01m01.335s
2    Nico Rosberg    Mercedes    11.455s
3    Max Verstappen    Red Bull-Renault    21.481s
4    Sergio Perez    Force India-Mercedes    25.346s
5    Sebastian Vettel    Ferrari    26.334s
6    Carlos Sainz    Toro Rosso-Ferrari    29.160s
7    Nico Hulkenberg    Force India-Mercedes    –
8    Daniel Ricciardo    Red Bull-Renault    –
9    Felipe Nasr    Sauber-Ferrari    –
10    Fernando Alonso    McLaren-Honda    –
11    Valtteri Bottas    Williams-Mercedes    –
12    Esteban Ocon    Manor-Mercedes    –
13    Daniil Kvyat    Toro Rosso-Ferrari    –
14    Kevin Magnussen    Renault    –
15    Pascal Wehrlein    Manor-Mercedes    –
16    Jenson Button    McLaren-Honda    –
–    Esteban Gutierrez    Haas-Ferrari    –
–    Felipe Massa    Williams-Mercedes    –
–    Jolyon Palmer    Renault    –
–    Kimi Raikkonen    Ferrari    –
–    Marcus Ericsson    Sauber-Ferrari    –
–    Romain Grosjean    Haas-Ferrari    –

Drivers’ standings:
1    Nico Rosberg    367
2    Lewis Hamilton    355
3    Daniel Ricciardo    246
4    Sebastian Vettel    197
5    Max Verstappen    192
6    Kimi Raikkonen    178
7    Sergio Perez    97
8    Valtteri Bottas    85
9    Nico Hulkenberg    66
10    Fernando Alonso    53
11    Felipe Massa    51
12    Carlos Sainz    46
13    Romain Grosjean    29
14    Daniil Kvyat    25
15    Jenson Button    21
16    Kevin Magnussen    7
17    Felipe Nasr    2
18    Jolyon Palmer    1
19    Pascal Wehrlein    1
20    Stoffel Vandoorne    1
21    Esteban Gutierrez    0
22    Marcus Ericsson    0
23    Esteban Ocon    0
24    Rio Haryanto    0

Constructors’ standings:
1    Mercedes    722
2    Red Bull-Renault    446
3    Ferrari    375
4    Force India-Mercedes    163
5    Williams-Mercedes    136
6    McLaren-Honda    75
7    Toro Rosso-Ferrari    63
8    Haas-Ferrari    29
9    Renault    8
10    Sauber-Ferrari    2
11    Manor-Mercedes    1

Next race: Abu Dhabi. November 25-27.

2 thoughts to “Hamilton victorious in wet Brazilian Grand Prix as Verstappen stars”

  1. Brazilian Grand Prix race review as reported by Formula1.com.

    After two red-flag stoppages and several safety-car periods, it was Lewis Hamilton who rode out the Sao Paulo storm to win Sunday’s Formula 1 Grande Premio do Brasil 2016 from Mercedes team mate Nico Rosberg, thus taking their championship battle down to the wire in Abu Dhabi in two weeks’ time. The other star was Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, whose stunning late-race charge hauled him onto the Interlagos podium in the dying laps.

    Evidence of the poor conditions came early as Romain Grosjean spun his Haas into retirement en route to the grid. After a ten-minute delay to the start, the first seven laps were run under the safety car and when it pulled in at the start of Lap 8 it was Verstappen who made an immediate impression, diving down the inside of Raikkonen at Turn 1 to seize third place, as polesitter Hamilton led from Rosberg.

    Vettel also found himself going backwards on lap 11 when he spun and continued at the final turn. Marcus Ericsson was less fortunate two laps later, aquaplaning his Sauber into the wall in the same spot and coming to rest across the pit entry, forcing race control to close it and deploy the safety car.

    Verstappen squeezed past the stricken Swede and into the pits just as the closure was announced, but team mate Ricciardo came in a lap later, seemingly unaware of the directive, and was handed a five-second time penalty for his indiscretion.

    Racing resumed on lap 20, but only for a matter of seconds thanks to Raikkonen immediately losing control on the pit straight and slamming his Ferrari into the wall. Mercifully he was unhurt – and no-one else collected him, though it was a close call for Verstappen and Manor’s Esteban Ocon, and Hulkenberg did actually pick up some of the scarlet car’s debris in his front wing.

    Unsurprisingly the race was immediately red-flagged, prompting a 35-minute delay before the action resumed behind the safety car, with full wet tyres declared mandatory by race control. Jolyon Palmer failed to make the restart, having made contact with Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat and damaged his Renault just prior to the stoppage.

    For seven laps the field followed the safety car before race control decided the conditions had deteriorated enough to bring out the red flags once more. Another 27-minute delay followed before Bernd Maylander led them out of the pits once more. Three laps later he peeled off and they were racing for real.

    Instantly Verstappen was on the attack again, pulling off a stunning move on Rosberg around the outside of Turn 3 to move into second. He nearly threw it away six laps later with a huge slide in the final corner, but somehow he saved it and fended off Rosberg into Turn 1.

    The Dutchman got within a second of Hamilton, before the world champion responded and upped his pace to pull clear. By that time it was becoming clear that intermediate tyres were possible, even if they weren’t any quicker than full wets and the Red Bull switched early to the green-marked rubber.

    Lap 49 saw Felipe Massa’s last home race end in heartbreak as he crashed out at the final turn, again bringing out the safety car – and again causing the pit lane to be closed due to the position of the wrecked Williams. Racing resumed on lap 56, by which time both Red Bulls had dropped back having had to pit both cars to go back on to full wets.

    It meant it was Perez leading the chase of the two Mercedes, but it soon became clear that Verstappen was the man to watch as he scythed his way through the field from 14th place, making his decisive podium move on Perez on lap 70 of 72.

    The result means Rosberg’s championship lead heading into the final round is 12 points over Hamilton – if he finishes third in Abu Dhabi he is champion, even if his team mate wins.

  2. Brazilian Grand Prix winner Lewis Hamilton believes some of the interruptions to Sunday’s Formula 1 race were “pointless”, but understands the FIA’s desire to prioritise safety.

    The wet Interlagos F1 race took just over three hours to complete, with the start delayed, the safety car appearing five times, and red flags flying twice following several crashes in wet conditions.

    Though Hamilton said some of the decisions made obvious sense, he was perplexed by others – particularly the second red flag after a long safety car period.

    “It’s understandable with the first red flag because people were going off,” said Hamilton.

    “The second one, after we went back out, the track was [ready for] inters but the safety car stayed out for ages.

    “The track was the same throughout pretty much. It was pointless to have the safety car come out, we could have kept going.

    “But safety comes first and they felt that was the case.

    “Fortunately everyone is safe so it was the right decision.”

    Championship leader Nico Rosberg, who finished second, felt officials had to judge a “fine line” as rain levels fluctuated.

    “It was on the limit, but in the end they got it right,” he said. “They did a good job judging it.”

    Both Mercedes drivers and third-placed Max Verstappen believe wet races will be smoother in 2017, when the cars gain downforce under new rules and with Pirelli working to improve its rain tyres.

    “It’s down to the tyres not coping well with the aquaplaning,” explained Rosberg.

    “We know that and have been working on that now for next year. We’re hopeful to make progress.”

    Verstappen said the level of aquaplaning seen at Interlagos was due to “a combination of having more horsepower, more torque and less downforce.

    “Next year that will be solved,” he said. “It will be much easier to drive the cars in the wet because of having more downforce on the car.”

    Hamilton added that in terms of actual rain levels this year’s Interlagos race had been fairly mild.

    “It was probably one of the easier ones, it was a very easy race generally,” he said.

    “I didn’t have any spins, any moments and it was straightforward.

    “Silverstone 2008 was way harder than this.”

    Williams’s Valtteri Bottas was among many midfield drivers who criticised the repeated interruptions over team radio.

    “I was all the time asking the reason for the stoppage and for the red flags because I was ready to go,” he said after finishing 11th.

    “It is wet conditions and that means it’s more difficult and it’s poor visibility etc – that’s normal.

    “But for me it was completely safe out there all through the race, so I didn’t really see why we were stopping so much.”

    Source: Autosport.com

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