Vettel victorious in Brazil

Sebastian Vettel achieved his fifth victory of the season after a masterclass drive for Ferrari at the Brazilian Grand Prix, to defeat Valtteri Bottas.

Vettel passed pole-sitter Bottas on the inside into Turn 1 and had the speed to fend off an attack from his Mercedes rival to secure Ferrari’s first victory since the Hungarian Grand Prix in July.

Bottas crossed the line second, 2.7 seconds adrift, with Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen holding off a charging Lewis Hamilton, who had started from the pitlane, to finish third for the third race in succession.

Vettel made a great start from second on the grid and though Bottas gave him a squeeze into Turn 1, the Ferrari driver made the move stick.

Further down the field, Kevin Magnussen squeezed Stoffel Vandoorne towards Daniel Ricciardo exiting Turn 2.

Ricciardo was spun round, dropping him to the back of the field, but he continued while Vandoorne and Magnussen retired immediately.

That incident sparked a safety car and was not the only clash on the opening lap – Esteban Ocon suffered the first retirement of his Formula 1 career after being tagged by Romain Grosjean, who lost control of his Haas at Turn 5.

Grosjean continued, but was handed a 10-second time penalty for causing the collision, and ultimately finished P15.

At the restart, Vettel retained the lead from Bottas, Raikkonen and Max Verstappen, with Felipe Massa delighting his home crowd with a pass around the outside of Fernando Alonso into Turn 1 for fifth.

Hamilton, running on soft tyres, made good progress through the field and was up into the points by lap nine, passing Pierre Gasly for P10.

Bottas was the first to pit for softs, with Vettel pitting a lap later and rejoining just ahead of the Mercedes driver, managing to hold him off into Turn 4.

As those who started the race on the super-softs pitted, Hamilton inherited the lead and pushed on until lap 43, when he pitted, rejoining P15 – 19 seconds behind Vettel.

The four-time world champion was the fastest driver on the track, catching and passing Verstappen around the outside on the run to Turn 4 with 12 laps to go.

He then rapidly caught Raikkonen but a lock-up into Turn 1 dropped him back and he could not attack the Ferrari before the race’s end.

Verstappen, who struggled with his tyres in the closing stages leading to a late stop for super-softs, was fifth ahead of Red Bull team-mate Ricciardo.

Massa held off Alonso to take seventh in his final Brazilian Grand Prix and penultimate race of his Formula 1 career.

Sergio Perez took ninth, crossing the line right behind Alonso, with Nico Hulkenberg scoring Renault’s first point since Singapore with P10.

So a fantastic result for Sebastian Vettel and Ferrari following a couple of difficult races. Losing the championship was a big blow to rival Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes. But this Brazilian Grand Prix victory should boost morale in fighting for title glory next year.

Brazilian Grand Prix race results, after 71 laps:
1    Sebastian Vettel    Ferrari    1h31m26.260s
2    Valtteri Bottas    Mercedes    2.762s
3    Kimi Raikkonen    Ferrari    4.600s
4    Lewis Hamilton    Mercedes    5.468s
5    Max Verstappen    Red Bull-Renault    32.940s
6    Daniel Ricciardo    Red Bull-Renault    48.691s
7    Felipe Massa    Williams-Mercedes    1m08.882s
8    Fernando Alonso    McLaren-Honda    1m09.363s
9    Sergio Perez    Force India-Mercedes    1m09.500s
10    Nico Hulkenberg    Renault    1 Lap
11    Carlos Sainz    Renault    1 Lap
12    Pierre Gasly    Toro Rosso-Renault    1 Lap
13    Marcus Ericsson    Sauber-Ferrari    1 Lap
14    Pascal Wehrlein    Sauber-Ferrari    1 Lap
15    Romain Grosjean    Haas-Ferrari    2 Laps
16    Lance Stroll    Williams-Mercedes    2 Laps
–    Brendon Hartley    Toro Rosso-Renault    Retirement
–    Stoffel Vandoorne    McLaren-Honda    Collision
–    Kevin Magnussen    Haas-Ferrari    Collision
–    Esteban Ocon    Force India-Mercedes    Collision

Drivers’ standings:
1    Lewis Hamilton    345
2    Sebastian Vettel    302
3    Valtteri Bottas    280
4    Daniel Ricciardo    200
5    Kimi Raikkonen    193
6    Max Verstappen    158
7    Sergio Perez    94
8    Esteban Ocon    83
9    Carlos Sainz    54
10    Felipe Massa    42
11    Lance Stroll    40
12    Nico Hulkenberg    35
13    Romain Grosjean    28
14    Kevin Magnussen    19
15    Fernando Alonso    15
16    Stoffel Vandoorne    13
17    Jolyon Palmer    8
18    Pascal Wehrlein    5
19    Daniil Kvyat    5
20    Marcus Ericsson    0
21    Pierre Gasly    0
22    Antonio Giovinazzi    0
23    Brendon Hartley    0

Constructors’ standings:
1    Mercedes    625
2    Ferrari    495
3    Red Bull-Renault    358
4    Force India-Mercedes    177
5    Williams-Mercedes    82
6    Toro Rosso-Renault    53
7    Renault    49
8    Haas-Ferrari    47
9    McLaren-Honda    28
10    Sauber-Ferrari    5

Bottes scores Brazilian Grand Prix pole position

Valtteri Bottas scored an important pole position for Mercedes as his team-mate Lewis Hamilton crashed out in qualifying.

New champion Lewis Hamilton was one of the favourites for pole after leading Friday practice sessions, but Hamilton crashed heavily at the high-speed Ferradura right-hander on his first flying lap in Q1.

Hamilton lost the rear of the car suddenly mid-corner and slammed hard into the barriers rear first.

He apologised to his team on the radio before emerging unscathed, but took no further part in the session.

Hamilton’s first Q1 exit since the 2016 Belgian Grand Prix cleared the way for Bottas to battle the Ferraris for top spot.

Bottas was fastest in Q1, but trailed Sebastian Vettel in Q2 and after the first runs in Q3.

Vettel failed to improve on his final run in Q3, but Bottas found 0.120 seconds to beat Vettel to pole by just 0.038 seconds, with a best lap of one minute, 08.322 seconds.

Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen was third quickest, just under two tenths slower than Vettel, while Max Verstappen’s Red Bull was the only other car to lap below one minute, 09 seconds in fourth.

Daniel Ricciardo’s Red Bull was fifth, but he faces a 10-place grid penalty for an MGU-H change ahead of practice.

Sergio Perez’s Force India completed the top six, ahead of Fernando Alonso’s McLaren-Honda, the Renaults of Nico Hulkenberg and Carlos Sainz Jr, and the Williams of Felipe Massa, who almost crashed after gesticulating at Sainz in Q3.

Esteban Ocon failed to make Q3 for the first time since  Singapore Grand Prix, missing the cut by less than a tenth to Sainz.

Romain Grosjean broke into the one minute, 09 seconds for the first time this weekend and briefly occupied a provisional Q3 spot, but fell to P12 as others improved at the end of Q2.

Stoffel Vandoorne’s McLaren-Honda and Grosjean’s Haas team-mate Kevin Magnussen ended up P13 and P14 respectively, both paying the price for failing to break through the one minute, 10 seconds barrier.

Toro Rosso’s Brendon Hartley was P15, but he used Q2 to practice his start procedures rather than set a time, knowing he faces a 10-place grid penalty for an MGU-H change ahead of practice.

Hartley managed to drag himself narrowly into Q2 at the expense of Sauber’s Pascal Wehrlein and Toro Rosso team-mate Pierre Gasly, who all lapped in one minute, 10.6 seconds in Q1.

Wehrlein was left feeling disappointed to miss the cut by just 0.053 seconds. Gasly, who faces a 10-place grid penalty for an MGU-H change ahead of practice, missed it by 0.061 seconds.

Hamilton’s crash gave Williams extra time to finish preparing Lance Stroll’s car after changing its engine and gearbox ahead of the session, but Stroll could only manage P18, less than a tenth slower than Gasly.

Stroll will take a five-place grid penalty for that gearbox swap.

Marcus Ericsson was another tenth further back in the second Sauber, beating only Hamilton’s Mercedes, which failed to set a time.

So a brilliant qualifying result for Valtteri Bottas. His third pole position this season when the pressure was on after his team-mate crashed out. The Mercedes driver delivered the result and the fight is on for the runner-up position in the championship.

Qualifying positions, Brazilian Grand Prix:
1    Valtteri Bottas    Mercedes    1m08.322s
2    Sebastian Vettel    Ferrari    0.038s
3    Kimi Raikkonen    Ferrari    0.216s
4    Max Verstappen    Red Bull-Renault    0.603s
5    Sergio Perez    Force India-Mercedes    1.276s
6    Fernando Alonso    McLaren-Honda    1.295s
7    Nico Hulkenberg    Renault    1.381s
8    Carlos Sainz    Renault    1.483s
9    Felipe Massa    Williams-Mercedes    1.519s
10    Esteban Ocon    Force India-Mercedes    1.508s
11    Romain Grosjean    Haas-Ferrari    1.557s
12    Stoffel Vandoorne    McLaren-Honda    1.794s
13    Kevin Magnussen    Haas-Ferrari    1.832s
14    Pascal Wehrlein    Sauber-Ferrari    2.356s
15    Daniel Ricciardo    Red Bull-Renault    1.008s
16    Marcus Ericsson    Sauber-Ferrari    2.553s
17    Lance Stroll    Williams-Mercedes    2.454s
18    Brendon Hartley    Toro Rosso-Renault    –
19    Pierre Gasly    Toro Rosso-Renault    2.364s
20    Lewis Hamilton    Mercedes