VERSTAPPEN STARS, HAMILTON WINS, MERCEDES CHAMPS
Mad Max censured for post-race fracas with Ocon
1st LEWIS HAMILTON Mercedes
2nd MAX VERSTAPPEN Red Bull
3rd KIMI RÄIKKÖNEN Ferrari
At the Senna S on lap 44, Verstappen clashed with backmarker Ocon to deprive him of back-to-back victories. Spun around by the impact, on resuming the circuit his 2.7s lead over Hamilton had become a 5.7s deficit. With 27 laps remaining and a tyre advantage, Max closed the gap little by little to 1.5s with four to go, but from then to the flag Lewis held him just beyond DRS range. It was a gripping, tense struggle with neither car at its best, the hunter with floor damage from the Ocon incident, the hunted nursing worn tyres and a sick engine that had been ready to expire mid-race. Qualifying suggested a Mercedes/Ferrari battle but Red Bull had focussed on race set-up and Verstappen absolutely flew. Within four laps he was past both Ferraris, overtaking Bottas for P2 on lap 10. On lap 19 he assumed the lead when pole-sitter Hamilton made his stop, astonishingly delaying another 16 laps until his own. Within three laps of rejoining he had wiped out Hamilton’s 2.5s lead, sailing past on lap 39. But a mere five laps later Ocon attempted to un-lap himself! The top four finished just 5s apart, Ricciardo almost snatching the final podium spot from Räikkönen. Starting a penalised P11, Ricciardo’s progress affirmed both the RB14’s kindness to tyres and its incredible performance around the twists of sector 2. Leclerc finished a best of the rest P7, only made possible by his astonishing late Q2 lap during tricky mixed conditions.
Ocon was rightly penalised, but their previous F3 antagonism suggested to some that Verstappen should have been more circumspect. Post-race, an angry Verstappen repeatedly shoved Ocon in the chest, duly punished by the FIA. Vettel too was reprimanded for yet another red-mist moment, this time at the weighbridge during Q2. Vettel’s problematic P6 behind Bottas was more than enough for Mercedes to lift a fifth successive title.
The Championship Chase
Hamilton 383, Vettel 302, Räikkönen 251, Bottas 237, Verstappen 234
Mercedes 620, Ferrari 553, Red Bull 392, Renault 114, Haas 90
Formula 1 All the Races