Red Bull’s Max Verstappen got redemption at Interlagos after claiming his third victory of 2019 from pole position in a thrilling Brazilian Grand Prix. The race was characterised by fierce battles up and down the field, a clash between the Ferrari’s, two Safety Cars and unexpected podium finishers.
Toro Rosso’s Pierre Gasly took second, just inches ahead of Lewis Hamilton on the finish line, the Frenchman taking his first ever F1 podium days after being confirmed by the Faenza outfit for next year.
Lewis Hamilton lost his podium place after being handed a post-race 5-seconds penalty for taking out the sister Red Bull driven by Alexander Albon on the penultimate lap. McLaren’s Carlos Sainz who started last on the grid, inherits third place from the newly-crowned six-time champion Hamilton demoted to 7th in the classification.
Alfa Romeo secured their best finish this season with Kimi Raikkonen fourth followed by teammate Antonio Giovinazzi in fifth. Daniel Ricciardo recovered from an early contact with Kevin Magnussen and a five-second penalty to finish sixth. Lando Norris crossed the line in P8, Sergio Perez finish ninth for Racing Point with Daniil Kvyat completing the top ten.
The early phase indicated a straight fight between Verstappen and Hamilton who overtook second-placed Vettel into the first corner for P2. The lead Red Bull the Mercedes kept each other honest by trading fast lap times and staying within an average gap of two-seconds.
Verstappen lost his net lead momentarily to Hamilton in the first round of pit-stops after being held up behind the unsafely released Robert Kubica through the pit exit. He breezed past the Silver Arrow too reclaim the top spot at his first opportunity on the main straight.
The second stops came with little fuss and no change in the lead. But a litany of incidents would turn the race on its head in the final third. Valtteri Bottas’ pursuit of Charles Leclerc or P4 was halted when his Mercedes engine went up in smoke, triggering the first of two Safety Cars.
Hamilton stayed out on his mediums to inherit the lead as Verstappen pitted for fresh softs. Vettel in third, Albon and Leclerc were all on the red-walled rubber.
Verstappen wasted no time at the restart in clearing Hamilton into for the lead and streaked into a distance. His teammate Albon also battled past Vettel in a perfect move round the outside at Turn 1.
Then came the moment for the two Ferrari’s on Lap 66 when Leclerc overtook Vettel into Turn 1 but the German now had DRS at Turn 4. Vettel pushed his car through a narrow gap on the outside before steering into his teammate, puncturing and eliminated both cars.
Hamilton pitted behind the second Safety Car, dropping down to fourth behind Gasly. He quickly dispatched the Toro Rosso and sought after Albon in second place.
Albon who was on course for his first podium left a gap at Turn 10 which Hamilton dived in to overtake but resulted in a tangle, sending the Thai down to P15 and Gasly up in second place.
As Verstappen comfortably raced to take the chequered flag, Hamilton with his broken front wing end plate, came side-by-side with Gasly in a move reminiscent of 2008 where he passed Timo Glock to win his first championship. On this occasion, the Frenchman kept his foot firmly on the peddle to nick second place on the line.