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
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
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