Alfa Romeo partners with Sauber

Sauber have unveiled their new-look 2018 Formula 1 racer thanks to an exciting tie-up with Alfa Romeo.

The C37 features a new colour scheme as part of a close partnership with Ferrari this season, with team boss Fred Vasseur concluded a title sponsorship deal with Alfa Romeo for 2018.

The logos of the Italian car manufacturer, a sister brand of Ferrari, prominently feature on the engine cover.

The car itself adopts a new aerodynamic philosophy, which technical director Joerg Zander hopes can deliver a step forward in performance.

“The 2018 challenger is the result of the hard work that everyone in the factory has put in over the last few months,” he said.

“Speaking about the C37, the car philosophy is much different to that of the C36. The aerodynamic concept has changed significantly and the C37 has several new features in comparison to its predecessor.

“We are positive that the new concept offers us more opportunities and will help us to make improvements during the course of the season.”

The new Sauber is fitted with Ferrari’s current power unit, with the team having run a year-old version throughout 2017.

Speaking earlier this year, driver Marcus Ericsson reckoned there was no reason why the team could not challenge strongly in the midfield thanks to progress on the engine and aero front.

“We’re up against Haas and Toro Rosso,” he said. “I think next season will be very unpredictable in some races.

“It could go very well and at points we could also challenge Renault and Force India. But there will be other races where there will be problems and we will be further down.

“The goal is simply to get into the group of teams that are in the midfield – but it is clear that there will be a very open battle grand prix after grand prix.

“I want to be in the best shape possible to find the satisfaction that was missing in 2017.”

Great to have Alfa Romeo back in Formula 1 and it’s refreshing to see a new look for Sauber. Best of luck to Charles Leclerc too, as the Formula 2 champion steps up into his first season of Grand Prix racing.

Special test livery with the 2018-spec Red Bull

Red Bull Racing has become the latest Formula 1 team to unveil its new car ahead of the upcoming 2018 season.

The new racer, the RB14, will be driven by Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo, who combined for three race wins with its predecessor last year.

Fitted with the mandatory halo cockpit protection device, the RB14 has been unveiled with a striking and beautiful blue camouflage-style livery instead of the familiar red and dark blue concept the team had used for the past two seasons.

However, Red Bull has made it clear the livery is “special edition”, and that the paint job that will be used in race trim will only break cover at pre-season testing in Catalunya.

British car manufacturer Aston Martin has prominent branding on the camo livery, and the RB14’s rear wing in particular. The marque will serve as Red Bull’s title sponsor this season, having decided to step up its involvement with the outfit.

The RB14 will be powered a Renault V6 turbo hybrid, which will remain branded as TAG Heuer for a third straight season.

Hopefully this 2018-spec racer will be very competitive and can challenge the might of Mercedes and Ferrari for the championship. Best of luck to Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo for the upcoming season.

Williams reveals the FW41

Williams Martini Racing has become the second Formula 1 outfit to officially reveal its 2018 car at an event in London.

The FW41 is the first race car designed by chief technical officer Paddy Lowe and head of aerodynamics Dirk de Beer.

The Mercedes-powered design looks significantly different to its predecessor, as Williams followed through on its plan to change the team’s aerodynamic philosophy.

Williams was a regular podium contender at the start of the V6 engine era and finished third in the constructors’ championship in 2014 and 2015, but has since dropped down the competitive order.

It finished fifth for second year in succession in 2017 with 83 points, 55 fewer than in 2016 and 104 points adrift of Force India in fourth.

Lance Stroll and rookie Sergey Sirotkin, who replaces Felipe Massa, will form the team’s driver line-up this season, with Robert Kubica fulfilling the role of reserve and development driver.

Still not keen on that halo safety device. Blame the FIA in pushing this feature through… Anyway, best of luck to Williams in the upcoming Formula 1 world championship.

Haas unveils 2018-spec racer

Haas has become the first Formula 1 team to reveal images of its 2018 racer, with computer renderings of the VF-18.

The American outfit sprung a surprise by revealing the car ahead of the other competitors, like Williams and Red Bull Racing, with a post on the popular social media site.

The Ferrari-powered car is an evolution of last year’s VF-17, with the most visible differences being the removal of the shark fin engine cover and the addition of the halo.

The team says a lot of the focus on changes to the car have been on overcoming aerodynamic and handling weaknesses that hindered its progress throughout the 2017 season.

In particular, the team wants to create a more stable platform to ensure that its form does not vary to the extremes like it has in the past.

One area where a lot of effort has gone in to, for example, has been weight reduction in a bid to help it use more ballast to help with the set-up.

Team owner Gene Haas said: “We eliminated a lot of the variables where we knew we were weak. We’ve focused on what it’s going to take to get our car to be consistent and close that gap to the top teams.”

Gunther Steiner, team principal, acknowledged that there was little radically new on the car, beyond the changes forced by the shark fin and halo regulation changes.

“The biggest part of the car’s evolution was the addition of the halo,” he said. “It took quite a bit of study by the aerodynamicists, but the designers had to work hard to modify the chassis so the halo could survive the mandated loads.

“The total minimum weight of the car increased because of the halo, and there’s a higher centre of gravity simply because of the halo’s position. But, everyone is in the same boat.

“The regulations stayed pretty stable between 2017 and 2018, so the VF-18 is an evolution of our car from last year. It’s less about reinvention and more about refinement. You see elements we had from last year on the car this year.”

Steiner believes that Haas can make good progress in the constructors’ championship if it learns to extract more from its car on weekends.

“Our 2017 car was actually pretty good, but we didn’t always get the best out of it, and that’s what we aimed to change in 2018,” he explained.

“We got the car as light as possible to carry more ballast. We were able to do a better job of putting the weight where we wanted it.”

The Haas VF-18 has retained the corporate grey, red and black colours of the company, edging back towards the colour scheme it had in its maiden 2016 campaign.

Congratulations to Haas Formula 1 for showcasing their new race car ahead of the other teams. Hopefully the VF-18 is competitive in the upcoming season.

Alonso to race in the WEC and Le Mans 24 Hours with Toyota

Double Formula 1 world champion Fernando Alonso will have the unique opportunity to compete at the famous 24-hour Le Mans race and other selected World Endurance Championship rounds this year, his McLaren team confirmed.

Alonso is chasing his dream of winning motorsport’s ‘Triple Crown’ – the Monaco Grand Prix, Indianapolis 500 and Le Mans 24 Hours. He has won the Formula 1 street race twice.

Following his debut sportscar appearance at Daytona last weekend, a deal has now been reached for Alonso to race for Toyota in as many WEC events as possible.

However, McLaren and Alonso have agreed that his priority remains Formula 1 – so he will miss the Japanese race at Fuji on October 21 because it clashes with the United States Grand Prix.

Fernando Alonso commented that he was delighted at the opportunity to take part in sportscar racing alongside his Formula 1 ambitions.

“I’ve never been shy about my aim of winning motorsport’s ‘Triple Crown’ – the Monaco Grand Prix, the Indy 500, and the 24 Hours of Le Mans. We tried for Indy last year, came close, but just missed out,” he said.

“This year, I have the chance thanks to McLaren to race for the win at Le Mans. It is a big challenge – much can go wrong – but I am ready, prepared and looking forward to the fight.

“My deal to race in WEC was only made possible through the good understanding and strong relationship I have with McLaren, and I’m very happy that they listened and understood what this means to me.

“In no way will this challenge take away from my main target of Formula 1 with McLaren. In 2018, my aim is to be competitive at every grand prix, and I feel sure that we are closer to achieving that.”

McLaren executive director Zak Brown said his team had no problem in giving Alonso permission to race elsewhere, because it felt a boost to his motivation would be beneficial to its Grand Prix hopes.

“It’s no secret that Fernando has wanted to contest the Le Mans 24 Hours. And I think everybody within our organisation appreciates that a motivated, hungry and happy world-class driver such as Fernando is a formidable asset for any team in F1,” said Brown.

“Last year, we came to the joint decision to go racing with Fernando at the Indy 500 rather than at the Monaco Grand Prix. But we’ve always said that we would consider each opportunity on a case-by-case basis, and we both know that, in 2018, our core priority is success in Formula 1.

“Like Fernando, at McLaren we’re racers at heart, and our team is built on a brave heritage of competing and succeeding in different forms of the sport. Equally important is the confidence that nothing detracts from our number one goal of Formula 1.

“After proper evaluation, we are satisfied that this campaign does not do that, and that McLaren’s best interests prevail.”

This is exciting times for the motorsport fans as the most complete Formula 1 driver – in terms of experience and skills – is racing at the most famous 24-hour event. Best of luck to Fernando Alonso and I hope he can emulate Nico Huldenberg by winning Le Mans.

Bottas signs off Formula 1 season with victory at Abu Dhabi

Valtteri Bottas held off his Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton to win the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix at Yas Marina.

Bottas retained the lead from pole at the start and though he lost it briefly when he pitted first, he resisted the pressure from Hamilton to secure his third win of the season.

World champion Hamilton crossed the line 3.8 seconds adrift, with Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel completing the podium in third.

Once Bottas got through Turn 1 in the lead, he quickly opened up a one-second lead over his team-mate before gradually building it up to two seconds before the stops.

He was the first of the Mercedes drivers to pit, swapping the ultra-softs for super-softs and rejoining in second place.

Hamilton stayed out for three further laps, clocking the fastest lap in the process, but couldn’t make up enough ground and rejoined behind Bottas.

The world champion attacked his team-mate, briefly getting within DRS range, but locked up at Turn 17, running off track before rejoining.

Hamilton kept up the pressure and even got within 0.5 seconds after Bottas had a lock-up of his own, but his team-mate responded by putting the hammer down and pulling away.

The result was Mercedes’ third one-two of the season. The perfect sign off to a successful, winning season.

Vettel had a quiet race in a lonely third place ahead of Ferrari team-mate Kimi Raikkonen.

Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo was on course to finish fourth, but pulled off track and retired the car with a hydraulic problem shortly before the halfway point.

His team-mate Max Verstappen finished fifth, just 0.8 seconds behind Raikkonen with Nico Hulkenberg sixth to secure sixth place in the constructors’ championship for Renault.

Hulkenberg escaped with a five-second time penalty for leaving the track and gaining an advantage when battling Sergio Perez on the first lap.

By the time Hulkenberg took the penalty at his pitstop, he had comfortably built enough of an advantage to negate it.

His team-mate Carlos Sainz Jr retired for the fourth time in six races after the team did not attach the front-left tyre properly at his pitstop.

But for the incident, Sainz had been on course to leapfrog Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa into ninth place by running long before pitting.

Perez finished seventh, 6.8s clear of Force India team-mate Esteban Ocon.

Alonso signed off the McLaren-Honda partnership with ninth place, securing the team’s third consecutive points finish.

Massa completed his 269th and final Grand Prix in the points in 10th and celebrated with a few doughnuts after the chequered flag.

He had been ahead of Alonso in the first stint but the McLaren passed the later-stopping Williams on its out-lap.

Romain Grosjean was involved in the race’s most entertaining battle, squabbling with Lance Stroll over P13 in the first stint and eventually coming out on top after multiple passes and repasses.

The Haas driver finished P11, ahead of Stoffel Vandoorne, with Kevin Magnussen recovering from a first lap spin that dropped him to the back of the field to finish P13.

Stroll ended up making three pitstops on a day everyone else stopped once and fell to last.

And so ends Formula 1 2017. Well done to Valtteri Bottas in winning the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. That victory will boost his confidence over the winter break, ready to mount a challenge for next season.

Congratulations to Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes on winning the titles. Better luck next time Sebastian Vettel and Ferrari. Fingers crossed next season the racing will be exciting and competitive.

Abu Dhabi Grand Prix race results:
1    Valtteri Bottas    Mercedes    55    1h34m14.063s
2    Lewis Hamilton    Mercedes    55    3.899s
3    Sebastian Vettel    Ferrari    55    19.330s
4    Kimi Raikkonen    Ferrari    55    45.386s
5    Max Verstappen    Red Bull-Renault    55    46.269s
6    Nico Hulkenberg    Renault    55    1m25.713s
7    Sergio Perez    Force India-Mercedes    55    1m32.062s
8    Esteban Ocon    Force India-Mercedes    55    1m38.911s
9    Fernando Alonso    McLaren-Honda    54    1 Lap
10    Felipe Massa    Williams-Mercedes    54    1 Lap
11    Romain Grosjean    Haas-Ferrari    54    1 Lap
12    Stoffel Vandoorne    McLaren-Honda    54    1 Lap
13    Kevin Magnussen    Haas-Ferrari    54    1 Lap
14    Pascal Wehrlein    Sauber-Ferrari    54    1 Lap
15    Brendon Hartley    Toro Rosso-Renault    54    1 Lap
16    Pierre Gasly    Toro Rosso-Renault    54    1 Lap
17    Marcus Ericsson    Sauber-Ferrari    54    1 Lap
18    Lance Stroll    Williams-Mercedes    54    1 Lap
–    Carlos Sainz    Renault    31    Wheel
–    Daniel Ricciardo    Red Bull-Renault    20    Hydraulics

Final drivers’ standings:
1    Lewis Hamilton    363
2    Sebastian Vettel    317
3    Valtteri Bottas    305
4    Kimi Raikkonen    205
5    Daniel Ricciardo    200
6    Max Verstappen    168
7    Sergio Perez    100
8    Esteban Ocon    87
9    Carlos Sainz    54
10    Nico Hulkenberg    43
11    Felipe Massa    43
12    Lance Stroll    40
13    Romain Grosjean    28
14    Kevin Magnussen    19
15    Fernando Alonso    17
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

Final constructors’ standings:
1    Mercedes    668
2    Ferrari    522
3    Red Bull-Renault    368
4    Force India-Mercedes    187
5    Williams-Mercedes    83
6    Renault    57
7    Toro Rosso-Renault    53
8    Haas-Ferrari    47
9    McLaren-Honda    30
10    Sauber-Ferrari    5

Bottas grabs Abu Dhabi Grand Prix pole from Hamilton

Valtteri Bottas scored his fourth career pole position, beating his Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton to the top spot at the Yas Marina circuit.

It seems Hamilton was the favourite for the top spot after leading the way throughout free practice, and was fastest in Q2 as well, but Bottas was fractionally quicker than Hamilton in Q1 and got back ahead during the first runs in Q3, taking provisional pole with a one minute, 36.231 seconds lap.

That proved enough for top spot when neither Mercedes driver found time on their second runs, Hamilton falling short by 0.172 seconds.

Sebastian Vettel was third fastest in the best of the Ferraris, improving to a one minute, 36.777 seconds best on his final Q3 run but ending up almost four tenths down on the Mercedes pair.

Team-mate Kimi Raikkonen was provisionally fourth quickest until a last-gasp effort from Daniel Ricciardo’s Red Bull displaced Raikkonen from the second row by just 0.026 seconds.

Max Verstappen rounded out the top six, 0.353 seconds down on Raikkonen.

Nico Hulkenberg’s Renault was best of the rest in seventh, less than a tenth clear of Sergio Perez, who in turn was only 0.023 seconds clear of team-mate Esteban Ocon.

Ocon was compromised by battling for track position with Bottas on their final Q3 out-lap.

Felipe Massa’s Williams completed the top ten, 0.153s further back after only completing one run in Q3.

Massa was one of only six drivers to find time on his second run in Q2, which proved enough to bump his old Ferrari colleague Fernando Alonso out of the top ten by 0.071 seconds.

Carlos Sainz Jr was another of those to find time after a “poor out-lap” ruined his first run. He got his Renault up to P12 ahead of the second McLaren-Honda of Stoffel Vandoorne, despite suffering a problem with his engine at the last corner.

Kevin Magnussen was P14 for Haas, almost half a second adrift of Vandoorne but well clear of Lance Stroll, who could not lap faster than one minute, 39.6 seconds however hard he tried.

Stroll at least made Q2 for the eighth time this season, his passage from Q1 coming at the expense of Romain Grosjean, whose Haas missed the cut by just 0.013 seconds as Stroll pulled the first of those one minute, 39.6 seconds laps out of the bag at the end.

“Oh God that was everything!” said Stroll over the radio upon learning he’d made the top 15.

Pierre Gasly put the best of the Toro Rossos P17, two tenths slower than Grosjean and two tenths clear of Sauber pair Pascal Wehrlein and Marcus Ericsson, who were separated by just six hundredths of a second.

Brendon Hartley qualified slowest of all by some distance in the Toro Rosso. Porsche’s World Endurance champion delivered a “scruffy” first lap, improved on his second run, but finished the session nearly half a second down on Ericsson.

Qualifying last negates Hartley’s grid penalty for taking a ninth MGU-H on his Renault engine ahead of practice.

So a fantastic way to sign off Mercedes’ qualifying result this season. 15 poles and another front row slot. It’s going to be a fascinating race at Yas Marina with the fight for the runner up spot between Bottas and Vettel.

Qualifying positions, Yas Marina:

1    Valtteri Bottas    Mercedes    1m36.231s
2    Lewis Hamilton    Mercedes    1m36.403s
3    Sebastian Vettel    Ferrari    1m36.777s
4    Daniel Ricciardo    Red Bull-Renault    1m36.959s
5    Kimi Raikkonen    Ferrari    1m36.985s
6    Max Verstappen    Red Bull-Renault    1m37.328s
7    Nico Hulkenberg    Renault    1m38.282s
8    Sergio Perez    Force India-Mercedes    1m38.374s
9    Esteban Ocon    Force India-Mercedes    1m38.397s
10    Felipe Massa    Williams-Mercedes    1m38.550s
11    Fernando Alonso    McLaren-Honda    1m38.636s
12    Carlos Sainz    Renault    1m38.725s
13    Stoffel Vandoorne    McLaren-Honda    1m38.808s
14    Kevin Magnussen    Haas-Ferrari    1m39.298s
15    Lance Stroll    Williams-Mercedes    1m39.646s
16    Romain Grosjean    Haas-Ferrari    1m39.516s
17    Pierre Gasly    Toro Rosso-Renault    1m39.724s
18    Pascal Wehrlein    Sauber-Ferrari    1m39.930s
19    Marcus Ericsson    Sauber-Ferrari    1m39.994s
20    Brendon Hartley    Toro Rosso-Renault    1m40.471s

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

Verstappen wins Mexican Grand Prix as Hamilton takes title

Max Verstappen took race victory in a dramatic Mexican Grand Prix as Lewis Hamilton survived a collision with title rival Sebastian Vettel to score his fourth world championship.

The Red Bull driver boldly passed pole-sitter Vettel into Turn 1 at the start, escaping contact with the Ferrari driver to continue and dominate the race at Mexico City.

But behind him, Vettel had suffered minor front wing damage, and Hamilton got ahead of the Ferrari through Turn 2. Vettel then tagged the right-rear tyre of Hamilton on the exit of Turn 3, further damaging his own wing and giving Hamilton a puncture.

That forced both drivers to limp back to the pits, leaving Verstappen clear to defeat Valtteri Bottas by 19.6 seconds to take his third Formula 1 win.

Though Vettel recovered to fourth position to cut Hamilton’s championship lead to 56 points, there are only 50 remaining in the final two races, meaning Hamilton won the championship despite only battling back to ninth.

While Hamilton struggled to close back up to the pack, Vettel made quick progress through the field, recovering up to seventh before the race was neutralised by the virtual safety car when Brendon Hartley’s retired with an engine problem.

Race leader Verstappen took the opportunity to pit from the lead, with Bottas and Kimi Raikkonen, who had climbed up to third following early stops from Esteban Ocon and Sergio Perez and Hulkenberg’s retirement with an engine issue.

The trio rejoined in the same positions, with Vettel and Hamilton also pitting for fresh Pirelli and taking ultra-softs and super-softs respectively with a little over half of the race to go.

The championship rivals restarted their recovery drives, with Vettel passing Kevin Magnussen to take seventh, while Hamilton passed Romain Grosjean, Pascal Wehrlein, Pierre Gasly and Marcus Ericsson to run P12.

Vettel lunged down the inside of Perez to take sixth at Turn 4 and made short work of Stroll into Turn 1 to snatch fifth, before setting off in pursuit of Ocon.

The Ferrari driver caught the Force India quickly and used DRS to blast past Ocon into Turn 1 for fourth place, with team-mate Raikkonen a further 24 seconds up the road with 14 laps to go.

When he heard the size of the gap, Vettel replied “Mamma mia, that’s a little bit too much” and he ultimately crossed the line fourth.

Hamilton, who came out on top in a brilliant battle with Fernando Alonso late on to take ninth, joins Vettel and Alain Prost on four world titles, with only Michael Schumacher and Juan Manuel Fangio ahead on the all-time list with seven and five respectively.

Ocon equalled his best-ever Formula 1 result with fifth, ahead of Stroll, Perez and Magnussen.

Daniel Ricciardo recovered from starting P16 – following grid penalties for engine component changes, to run seventh early on, but his race lasted just five laps as he suffered yet more problems with his Renault engine.

Marcus Ericsson spent the early part of the race just inside the points, but retired in the closing stages after reporting a brake-by-wire failure and retiring the car.

Renault suffered a double retirement, with Carlos Sainz Jr stopping late on after reporting his car was pulling on the straights.

So a fantastic result for Red Bull and Mercedes. Max Verstappen winning his third race of the season while Lewis Hamilton achieved a dream result of four championship titles.

As for Sebastian Vettel. Brave fight back but alas, it was too much. Hopefully Ferrari can strike back with better reliability and no big mistakes next year.

Many congratulations to Lewis Hamilton. Now the most successful British Formula 1 driver with four titles.

Mexican Grand Prix race results, 71 laps:
1    Max Verstappen    Red Bull-Renault    71    1h36m26.550s
2    Valtteri Bottas    Mercedes    71    19.678s
3    Kimi Raikkonen    Ferrari    71    54.007s
4    Sebastian Vettel    Ferrari    71    1m10.078s
5    Esteban Ocon    Force India-Mercedes    70    1 Lap
6    Lance Stroll    Williams-Mercedes    70    1 Lap
7    Sergio Perez    Force India-Mercedes    70    1 Lap
8    Kevin Magnussen    Haas-Ferrari    70    1 Lap
9    Lewis Hamilton    Mercedes    70    1 Lap
10    Fernando Alonso    McLaren-Honda    70    1 Lap
11    Felipe Massa    Williams-Mercedes    70    1 Lap
12    Stoffel Vandoorne    McLaren-Honda    70    1 Lap
13    Pierre Gasly    Toro Rosso-Renault    70    1 Lap
14    Pascal Wehrlein    Sauber-Ferrari    69    2 Laps
15    Romain Grosjean    Haas-Ferrari    69    2 Laps
–    Carlos Sainz    Renault    59    Retirement
–    Marcus Ericsson    Sauber-Ferrari    55    Power Unit
–    Brendon Hartley    Toro Rosso-Renault    30    Power Unit
–    Nico Hulkenberg    Renault    24    Retirement
–    Daniel Ricciardo    Red Bull-Renault    5    Retirement

Drivers’ standings:
1    Lewis Hamilton    333
2    Sebastian Vettel    277
3    Valtteri Bottas    262
4    Daniel Ricciardo    192
5    Kimi Raikkonen    178
6    Max Verstappen    148
7    Sergio Perez    92
8    Esteban Ocon    83
9    Carlos Sainz    54
10    Lance Stroll    40
11    Felipe Massa    36
12    Nico Hulkenberg    34
13    Romain Grosjean    28
14    Kevin Magnussen    19
15    Stoffel Vandoorne    13
16    Fernando Alonso    11
17    Jolyon Palmer    8
18    Pascal Wehrlein    5
19    Daniil Kvyat    5
20    Marcus Ericsson    0
21    Antonio Giovinazzi    0
22    Pierre Gasly    0
23    Brendon Hartley    0

Constructors’ standings:
1    Mercedes    595
2    Ferrari    455
3    Red Bull-Renault    340
4    Force India-Mercedes    175
5    Williams-Mercedes    76
6    Toro Rosso-Renault    53
7    Renault    48
8    Haas-Ferrari    47
9    McLaren-Honda    24
10    Sauber-Ferrari    5