On Saturday, we saw Lewis Hamilton taking Pole Position for the Brazilian Grand Prix ahead of Nico Rosberg and Kimi Raikkonen.
Before the start of the Brazilian GP, Haas driver Romain Grosjean will not be starting the race after going off the circuit on his reconssiance lap on the back straight. With discussions of whether the race will start under the Safety Car or will go ahead as planned. But thanks to Grosjean’s accident, the race will now start under the Safety Car.
The wet weather Brazilian GP is underway under the Safety car. By Lap 8, we are racing. Hamilton leads Rosberg at the front of the grid as Kevin Magnussen pits for intermediate tyres. At the moment Max Verstappen is catching Rosberg for second place as many drivers including Jenson Button by Lap 9 pitting for intermediate tyres.
Lap 10 sees Hamilton leading Rosberg by 2.7 seconds. On Lap 11, Vettel on the back straight spun his Ferrari 180 degrees due to aquaplaning and losing the rear of the car as a result. Luckily enough he did not make contact with anything or anyone and was able to get into the pits to change his tyres.
Three laps later, Marcus Ericsson has officially retired from the race after making contact with the wall on the back straight and has blocked the pit lane entry just as Verstappen enters the pit lane. But Ricciardo has also entered the pit lane when the stewards have literally just announced that the pit lane is closed and could be in trouble. Ericcson’s accident has now brought out the Safety Car while the Sauber is safely recovered.
By Lap 19, we were back racing again. But not long after this, Kimi Raikkonen then immediately crashed entering the main straight after having a wobble at the rear of his car that he couldn’t catch. He then ended up slamming into the pitwall and was lucky not to avoid being collected by another car in these poor conditions.
The race was then yet again red flagged to allow the circuit to be cleaned up. Hamilton still leads the race ahead of Rosberg, Verstappen, Hulkenberg, Perez, Sainz Jr, Nasr, Ricciardo, Ocon and Wehrlein. Nico Hulkenberg then took the opportunity to change his front wing which had Ferrari debris stuck in it as Mercedes set about changing the suspension components on Rosberg’s car to cope with the poor conditions.
The stewards then decided that Ricciardo and Massa would receive five second time penalties for entering the pit lane while closed (Ricciardo) and for overtaking Esteban Gutierrez before the Safety Car line start at the race start (Massa).
After an delay to the race being restarted, it was then restarted under the Safety Car on Lap 23. A few laps later, the race was red flagged again. This was then greeted by the Brazilian fans with a lot of booing and they made their voices heard. But with Hamilton and Bottas also expressing themselves on their respective team radios wanting to get back to racing, many were wondering if the race would run to 53 racing laps to get full points or if half points were to be considered instead.
But the race restarted on Lap 29 under the Safety Car. But on Lap 32, Verstappen in a brilliant move overtook Rosberg on the outside of Turn 3 that was simply stunning, I have no words and set about catching Hamilton for the lead of the race.
In the next few laps, Vettel is pushing himself up the grid as he tries to make ground after his spin earlier on in the race. The battle for thirteenth place between Magnussen and Hulkenberg continues; with Hulkenberg being able to pass him for position.
By Lap 42, Hamilton still leads Verstappen by 8.1 seconds as Nasr, Alonso and Vettel battle each other for sixth place on the circuit.
The Safety Car then reappeared on Lap 49 due to an crash on Lap 48. In his final home race, Felipe Massa lost the rear of the car and ended up running wide and hit the wall. As a result of this, Massa blocked the entrance to the pit lane and therefore the race was neutralised while his car and debris were cleared.
As this was happening, Maasa walked down the closed pitlane to cheers and applause from his home crowd. Draped in a Brazilian flag, he cried as he was greeted by a guard of honour in the pitlane from several of the other teams; including Mercedes and Ferrari. It is a sure sign that Felipe will be truly missed by the fans and the paddock starting next season and I did have tears in my eyes watching that.
The race then once again resumed on Lap 50 under the Safety Car with Hamilton just ahead of Rosberg and Perez. Red Bull decided to back out of their intermediate strategy and this then dropped their driver down the grid as a result of this; but with Ricciardo now ahead of his team mate Verstappen until he was passed on Lap 59.
In the closing laps of the race, there was flurry of overtaking as Verstappen came up through the grid and passed everyone to fourth place as Ricciardo managed to pass Ocon and Nasr for eighth place. But with three seconds to close in three laps to catch Perez for third, he managed beautifully to do so.
But Hamilton leads Rosberg on the final lap of the race by 11.4 seconds and wins the Brazilian GP which is his first win at the circuit, the 52nd win of his career. This result means that Hamilton has taken the championship to the final race in Abu Dhabi and is now 12 points behind his team mate. But a podium will secure Rosberg as champion.
Rosberg is a credible second 11.4 seconds behind Hamilton, Verstappen finished in a brilliant third place 21.4 seconds behind Hamilton, Perez was a credible fourth 25.3 seconds behind Hamilton and Vettel finished fifth 26.4 seconds behind Hamilton.
Sainz Jr was sixth 29.1 seconds behind Hamilton, Hulkenberg was a brilliant seventh 29.8 seconds behind Hamilton, Ricciardo was eighth 30.4 seconds behind Hamilton, Nasr was ninth 42.2 seconds lap behind Hamilton and Alonso was tenth 44.4 seconds behind Hamilton.
Nico Rosberg leads the Driver’s Championship with 367 points, Lewis Hamilton is in second place with 355 points, Daniel Ricciardo in third place with 246 points, Sebastian Vettel is in fourth place with 197 points, Max Verstappen is in fifth place with 192 points, Kimi Raikkonen is in sixth place with 178 points, Sergio Perez is in seventh place with 97 points, Valtteri Bottas is in eighth place with 85 points, Nico Hulkenberg is in ninth place with 66 points and Fernando Alonso is in tenth place with 53 points.
Mercedes are the Constructors Champions with 722 points, Red Bull is in second place with 446 points, Ferrari is in third place with 375 points, Force India is in fourth place with 163 points, Williams is in fifth place with 136 points, McLaren is in sixth place with 75 points, Toro Rosso is in seventh place with 63 points, Haas is in eighth place with 29 points, Renault is in ninth place with 8 points, Sauber is tenth with 2 points and Manor is in eleventh with 1 point.
I feel that McLaren have had an disappointing weekend with Button as they just did not have the pace and performance they wanted in Brazil. But they managed to score a point with Alonso in ninth place.
This is the best the team could have hoped for and I am not happy with their performance this weekend. But McLaren have shown that despite their best efforts that the McLaren team have a lot of work to do in order to try and extract performance from their car but they are making small gains that are paying off for them in the last few races and they need to use this as inspiration for Abu Dhabi in two weeks time.
Nasr and Ricciardo had some battles to finish in ninth and eighth places on Sunday. They both battled with each other for most of the race and they both deserved to get a point for their efforts on Sunday. And with Nasr scoring his first and Sauber’s first points of the season, this has now surpasses Manor in the Constructors Championship.
Hulkenberg had a bit of an action packed yet defensive race to finish seventh, but he scored more points for the Force India team who seem to be extracting a little bit more pace and performance out of their package. But there is still a lot of work to be done but the fact that Hulkenberg scored points again shows that he can deliver on the track.
Sainz Jr did a good job to get sixth place and had a battle to get there. He drove a solid race despite and he did a great job to secure some much needed points for his team after a good performance this weekend and it is clear that the car was working well for them as a result. This will only help him prepare for the final race of the season.
Vettel did a good job to get fifth place. He drove a solid race despite what’s happened after the race and he did a great job to secure some much needed points for his team after a good performance this weekend and it is clear that the car was working well for them as a result. This will only help him prepare for the final race of the season.
Perez had a credible race to finish in fourth. It is a result that Perez needed after a tough few races and he should be happy; especially gaining the position during the race. He drove superbly but in a race where many expected him to finish and to maintain the momentum he has so far, he has managed to gain some points for the team and put himself in good stead for the 2017 season.
Verstappen deserves a mention and has to be my driver of the day. He drove a solid race to third place and battled his way through to get these points. Just a damage limitation performance and the Mercedes team and showing that he cannot be discounted on putting in the best performance on the track, even when the odds are against him.
Rosberg drove a solid race to finish second today. He may not have had the race he wanted; and didn’t have a chance to try and get past but he did a great job to secure a podium yesterday. And once again, luck helped him achieve this but he was in the position to keep his lead in the championship.
All that is left to say about this race is that Hamilton deserved to win at Brazil and he needed to in order to show that he cannot be discounted as a driver. His driving was brilliant and controlled throughout the race and now is in a better position to win the title. All credit to Lewis for doing a superb job this weekend and winning his first race in Brazil.
With the Abu Dhai GP in a weeks time, if this season will be Rosberg’s at last or can Hamilton stop him winning the title? But what is for certain is that Formula One is building up rather nicely to the final race of the 2016 season.