Red Bull’s Max Verstappen wins amidst the chaos of the Brazilian Grand Prix ahead of incredible first time podium finishes for Pierre Gasly and Carlos Sainz.
Max Verstappen started on pole after a fantastic Saturday qualifying run, followed by Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel and Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton. Verstappen had a fantastic start to the race, comfortably holding onto first with Lewis Hamilton jumping Vettel and sliding into P2.
What followed was a constant back and forth battle between Hamilton and Verstappen. Hamilton in second, attempted the undercut by pitting first allowing him to take the lead.
Red Bull responded by pitting Verstappen immediately after and fought back with a world-record setting pit stop of 1.82 second. Despite being held up in the pitlane by William’s Robert Kubica, Verstappen entered the track and quickly overtook Hamilton and regained the lead.
As the titanic battle between the Red Bull and Mercedes unfolded, Lap 52 saw Hamilton’s teammate Valterri Bottas suffer an engine failure and retire from the race, prompting a full safety car.
Behind the safety car, Verstappen went back to the pits for a fresh set of soft tires, relinquishing the lead back to Hamilton. This was short lived as the safety car restart began on Lap 60 and Verstappen flew right past Hamilton into turn 1 to take back the lead.
The now closely packed grid had all drivers battling for position with the two Ferraris of Vettel and Leclerc in a close battle for P4. This battle was cut short as the Ferraris collided into each other on Lap 66 prompting a second safety car and sending the race in chaos.
With the grid packed behind the safety car Hamilton dipped into the pits for fresh tires putting himself into P4 behind Verstappen, Albon and Gasly with only three laps to go.
As the grid was released it was a mad dash to the finish and unfortunately Red Bull’s Alex Albon was caught in the middle of it as Hamilton tagged him on Lap 70 spinning the Thai driver off the track and down to P14.
As the race came to a close Verstappen sailed smoothly past the checkered flag securing his third win of the season. Behind him, Toro Rosso driver Pierre Gasly was fighting for his life as he drag raced Lewis Hamilton down the start/finish straight and crossed the line milliseconds before him to secure P2, the French driver’s first podium finish of his career.
In the midfield battle saw an absolutely incredible performance from McLaren’s Carlos Sainz. The Spanish driver started from the back of the grid in P20 and battled his way through the pack for an incredible P4.
The results only got better as Hamilton was handed a 5 second time penalty for his collision with Albon, promoting Sainz to P3 giving his first podium finish of his career and McLaren’s first podium finish since 2014.
Alfa Romeo had another excellent performance with Raikkonen and Giovinazzi finishing in P4 and P5, the best result of the season for the team.
Formula 1 heads to Abu Dhabi for the last race of the season from Nov. 29th to Dec. 1st. Although it will be hard to live up to the absolute thriller of a race this weekend, the final race of the season is sure to see some intense action as drivers battle for their last chance to score points and secure their standings this season.