Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton has won a stop-start Brazilian Grand Prix today, to take the championship battle with his team mate Nico Rosberg down to the wire in Abu Dhabi, to be crowned the 2016 drivers’ champion.
With weather that even ducks would claim was too wet to be out in, two Red Flag periods and five separate Safety Car deployments, whoever won the Brazilian Grand Prix would have to show some serious determination and deliver a perfect wet weather performance. The Drama even started before the race began, with Romain Grosjean crashing out on his way to the grid, and effectively not starting the race. However, Hamilton looked cool and calm from the second the lights went out with a safety car start. He led from the first lap and never looked in danger of losing that lead, or his first ever win in Brazil at any point during the race.
“This is the race I have been dreaming of winning since I was very, very young,” said Hamilton. “These experiences feel surreal and it won’t kick in until later. It’s a hard, hard grand prix to win and today was one of the most difficult in terms of rain and aquaplaning.”
Rosberg was able to come home 2nd today for another Mercedes 1-2. Though it was more as a result of a bad strategy call by Red Bull that gifted him 2nd after losing the place initially to Max Verstappen on a restart. However, 2nd was all Rosberg needed to get, as he will still clinch the title in the season-concluding Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in two weeks’ time if he finishes on the podium.
“I can live with second,” Rosberg acknowledged on the podium. “It worked out fine.”
Verstappen fought back through the field valiantly to 3rd today after having to make making two extra pit-stops compared to the Mercedes. Red Bull mistakenly gambled on intermediate tyres in the hope that conditions would improve, but when they didn’t they had to bring both drivers in, costing Verstappen the chance to retain 2nd place. After falling out of the top 10 with just 12 laps left, the Dutchman then produced a series of stunning overtakes to finish back on the podium
“That was one of the best drives I’ve seen in Formula 1,” said Red Bull boss Christian Horner. “His recovery was amazing.”
Just outside of the podium finishes in 4th place was Sergio Perez after another stunning drive by the Mexican in his Force India. His result today means realistically; Force India have secured fourth place in constructors after a non-points finish for Williams today. While Sebastian Vettel came home 5th in the sole Ferrari, after Kimi Raikkonen crashed his on the main straight just after a safety car period ended. Vettel wasn’t without his own scares during the race as he too suffered with aquaplaning and spins, as did most of the grid. It was a well deserved 6th place for the Toro Rosso of Carlos Sainz as he did his best to hold of the charging field on his old tyres. The second Force India of Nico Hulkenberg managed 7th today after he unfortunately picked up a puncture when he’d been running as high as 4th. Pitting behind the safety car cost him dearly and he fell out of the points, and potential podium contention too. Daniel Ricciardo was able the finish 8th after also suffering at the hands of Red Bull’s strategy call today. He was also hit with a five second penalty during the race for entering the pits when it was closed, as the marshals tried to recover the stricken Sauber of Marcus Ericson.
Although his team mate ended up in the wall, Felipe Nasr gave his home crowd and the Sauber team something to cheer about when he finished the race finished in 9th after a winning a race-long battle with Esteban Ocon. It’s a result which means the Swiss outfit have climbed above Manor in the Constructors’ Championship. For both teams, the financial repercussions could be enormous. Fernando Alonso closed out the points finishers in 10th for McLaren, after yet another determined drive from the Spaniard today.
Overall despite the stop start nature of the race, Brazil was easily one of the more entertaining races this season. The wet weather forces people to be careful, and at an old-school track like Interlagos it does separate out the men from the boys. Verstappen was in a class of his own today with his overtakes. And in terms of the championship some decisive moves were made today. Bethonie Waring, our BTCC and Junior Formulae Correspondent gave a great summery on her thoughts on the race today. “I spent half the time bored out of my mind. But the other half reminded me why I love F1. I wouldn’t have changed the steward’s decisions today. So many people complained, but I’d rather we didn’t have another dead driver.” I’m inclined to agree with her. It was a case of feast and famine today. The Red Flag stoppages did lead to many questioning race control and Charlie’s decision, myself included in that. But as Bethonie pointed out this is a safety thing as well. The conditions were atrocious at points, as demonstrated from Raikkonen’s crash mere seconds after the safety car went in. It’s time like this we do need to respect the decisions of the stewards. It’s easy enough for us at home to criticise the decision, but the FIA made what they thought were the right calls for the time. Ultimately they have 22 lives they must think of when they make these calls. And airing on the side of caution was probably the smartest thing to do today.
I’ll leave you now with my moment of the weekend. And there was only one thing this could ever be. It was always going to be an difficult race for Felipe Massa, being his last home Grand Prix in Brail. But after crashing out we were treated to an emotional scene that shows just how loved he is by the paddock. Walking down the pits with a Brazilian flag draped around him into the arms of his wife and son. While Mercedes, Ferrari and Williams gave him a guard of honour. Congratulating him as he went by their respective garages. The whole thing reminded you that while they spend weekends at each other’s throats fighting over points and tarmac, that the F1 paddock is a family, and Felipe a well-loved member of it. So Obrigado Felipe, there was not a dry eye among the OM staff.
— NicoleNinaF1 (@NicoleNinaF1) November 13, 2016
Brazilian GP race result
1. Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, 3:01.01.335
2. Nico Rosberg, Mercedes, + 11.455
3. Max Verstappen, Red Bull, + 21.481
4. Sergio Perez, Force India, + 25.346
5. Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, + 26.334
6. Carlos Sainz, Toro Rosso, + 29.160
7. Nico Hulkenberg, Force India, + 29.827
8. Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull, + 30.486
9. Felipe Nasr, Sauber, + 42.620
10. Fernando Alonso, McLaren, + 44.432
11. Valtteri Bottas, Williams, + 45.292
12. Esteban Ocon, Manor, + 45.809
13. Daniil Kvyat, Toro Rosso, + 51.192
14. Kevin Magnussen, Renault, + 51.155
15. Pascal Wehrlein, Manor, + 1:00.498
16. Jenson Button, McLaren, + 1:21.994
17. Esteban Gutierrez, Haas, DNF
18. Felipe Massa, Williams DNF
19. Jolyon Palmer, Renault, DNF
20. Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, DNF
21. Marcus Ericsson, Sauber, DNF
22. Romain Grosjean, Haas, DNS
Feature Image Credit: Mercedes AMG Petronas Press Release