VETTEL WINS, BOTTAS LOSES, HAMILTON FLIES
Vettel ends Ferrari win-drought as Hamilton seeks redemption
1st SEBASTIAN VETTEL Ferrari
2nd VALTTERI BOTTAS Mercedes
3rd KIMI RAIKKONEN Ferrari
When newly crowned world champion Lewis Hamilton crashed out on his first flying lap of Q3, a third-ever pole by Valtteri Bottas saved the day for Mercedes. But not on race-day: too much wheel-spin at the start saw Vettel seize the lead at turn 1 and condemn Bottas to trail the rampant Ferrari for 71 laps, finishing 2.7s behind. On lap 27 Mercedes attempted an undercut with an early pit-call for Bottas, almost jumping Vettel as the Ferrari rejoined the following lap. But all this paled beside Hamilton’s stunning recovery drive. Wanting to “redeem myself” after his Q3 error, Hamilton started from the pit-lane in a rebuilt car fitted with a fresh power unit. He finished P4, a mere 5.4s behind winner Vettel, 2.7s behind pole-sitter Bottas. Indeed, he only just failed to snatch P3 from Räikkönen before his tyres finally gave up, a lap 67 lock-up ending his attack. Making eight passes to reach P5 by lap 21, his off-set strategy brought Lewis the lead on lap 30 as the leaders pitted, holding P1 for 13 laps before his own stop. Rejoining P5 on super-softs, he closed down the 10.7s to Verstappen, passing on lap 59, then the 4.8s to Kimi. Last time out winners Red Bull were nowhere, Verstappen rooting his tyres as he tried to hang on to the leaders, Ricciardo nudged into a spin on lap 1 to finish a remote P6. Fittingly, best of the rest was Massa in his final, final home race, Filipe delighted to have pipped former team-mate Fernando Alonso for P7.
For the Scuderia, a first win since July glimpsed ‘what might have been’. For Mercedes, a race both drivers should and could have won. After Mexico, Renault opted for reliability over power, partly explaining Red Bull’s poor form. Renault and Toro Rosso rowed over ‘engine’ penalties. As did the manufacturer teams with Liberty over their ‘engine’ proposals for 2021. Yet again, F1 folk had to endure armed robbery at São Paulo.
The Championship Chase
Hamilton 345, Vettel 302, Bottas 280, Ricciardo 200, Räikkönen 193
Mercedes 625, Ferrari 495, Red Bull 358, Force India 177, Williams 82
Formula 1 All the Races