What. A. Race. After Hamilton and Mercedes wrapped up the Driver’s and Constructor’s Championships within the last three races, expectations for the last two races of the 2019 season were not as high as normal. That has all changed now however with Red Bull and Honda’s Resurgence against Mercedes, two safety’s cars adding some spice to the race and the time bomb at Ferrari finally going off in spectacular style.
This Grand Prix was Verstappen's first win from Pole.
Coming into the race, it was Max Verstappen’s to lose. He achieved his second ever pole position in Qualifying – no Mexico doesn’t count officially – and proceeded to put in a stellar performance throughout the race. He defended hard against Hamilton throughout as the two battled against each other both on track and in the pit stop strategies. In the end however, Max was unbeatable and earned himself the accolade of driver of the day as well as another Grand Prix win and his seventy fifth points scoring finish.
Alex Albon had a phenomenal race…until the penultimate lap. The rookie driver started in fifth place and fought fearlessly against everyone he came up against including the likes of both Vettel and Bottas. But just when he seemed on track for his best performance and first podium in F1, Albon was involved in an incident with Hamilton that saw him spun off the track and fall back to fourteenth place. Albon can take comfort in the fact that this race was one of – if not the – best race of the season for him and his recent re-signing to Red Bull for 2020 is well deserved.
Gasly claimed Toro Rosso's second podium of the season - the team's best finish since Vettel won at Monza in 2008
One man’s loss is another man’s gain however and it is very ironic that the man who ended up capitalizing on Albon’s loss was the driver he replaced at Red Bull: Pierre Gasly. The Toro Rosso driver managed to be in the right place at the right time and beat Hamilton to second place by less than a tenth of a second in a photo finish across the line. It’s the French driver’s first F1 podium and Toro Rosso’s second podium of the season. He was understandably ecstatic over the team radio following the race and showed that he feels much more at home in a Toro Rosso than in a Red Bull. His teammate Daniil Kvyat finished in tenth place, getting the team a valuable extra point for their constructor’s battle with Renault over fifth place.
Mercedes were quite simply off the pace, neither car could match the pace that Red Bull Honda were showing all weekend and that didn’t change when it came to the race. Hamilton tried everything to move his way up the steps of the podium but in the end, he could only manage to cross the line in third. There were many close battles on track between him and Verstappen as well as a number of other drivers following the two safety cars. Following the race, he took full responsibility for the incident with Albon but it’s not surprising that the six-time World Champion would go for an overtake like that when there’s an opportunity to pull it off. Hamilton also went on to receive a five second time penalty from the stewards demoting him to seventh place on the grid.
Valtteri Bottas had a solid race as he battled hard against Charles Leclerc in the second third of the race. But an oil issue with the car caused Bottas to lose power and forced him to retire from the race, triggering the endgame for the rest of the cars on the grid.
Smooth Operator intensified as he slid into Third Place.
McLaren had an outstanding race – and one they won’t forget anytime soon due to the steward’s decision following the race. Carlos Sainz missed out on qualifying due to issues with the car so began the Grand Prix from the back of the grid. But the smooth operator weaved his way up through the field throughout the race and finished the Grand Prix in a remarkable fourth place. But the good news for the Spanish driver didn’t end there. Following Hamilton’s demotion for colliding with Albon, Sainz was promoted to third place on the grid. Not only is that his first podium finish in F1, but it’s also McLaren’s first podium result since the double podium finish achieved by Jenson Button and Kevin Magnusson back at Melbourne in 2014. Lando Norris finished in eighth place in what was another good race for the twenty-year-old. McLaren were also able to secure fourth place in the Constructor's Championship - a massive achievement for the team given their performances in the Hybrid Era.
The Iceman proved he's still as cool as ever.
Alfa Romeo had a great race as well with both cars finishing well inside the top ten. With the results altered after the race, Kimi Raikkonen was classified in fourth place – only one place down from where he finished in the Ferrari last year – with Giovinazzi just behind him in fifth place. Kimi proved at several points during the race that he’s still as good a driver as ever by performing some great overtakes, most notably going into the first corners. It also put an end to his seven race streak of non scoring races - the longest gap in his career to date. Giovinazzi kept his head down and managed to bring home a great number of points for both him and the team in his best result of the season.
Renault had a mixed bag in Brazil. Early contact with Magnusson gave Ricciardo a five second time penalty which he served during the course of the race – as well as sustaining front wing damage that put him at the back of the pack for the early stages. In the end however, the Australian finished in a decent sixth place. It wasn’t such a great result in the end for Hulkenberg who only managed to finish in fifteenth place. It’s a shame for the German driver as it looks increasingly unlikely that he will be on the grid in 2020 and this is surely not the way he wants to leave the sport. Renault now are unable to take fourth place back from McLaren and are under threat from Toro Rosso of losing fifth place in Abu Dhabi - not something any of the team will be happy about.
Racing Point had a better race than usual for the most part. Both drivers were performing relatively well throughout the race with Sergio Perez able to grab a couple of points at the end of the race by finishing in ninth. It was not such a good story for Stroll however as he ran over some of Vettel’s debris following his collision with Leclerc. This caused his wishbone to break on the front right-hand side of his car and he retired from the race with a handful of laps remaining.
Brilliant in qualifying, back to business as usual in the race.
Haas had an amazing qualifying session on Saturday as both drivers made it into the top ten. But neither driver could retain their positions come race day with the end results being partly down to several of the late race retirements. Magnusson finished in eleventh place whilst Grosjean suffered some mechanical issues, putting him down in thirteenth place. Magnusson also didn’t have much luck earlier on in the race after a collision with Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo forced him off the track at turn four.
Williams managed to recover from a bad start to the weekend by bringing both cars home at the end of the race. George Russell finished in twelfth place ahead of Kubica in sixteenth place. Both drivers also managed to have some on track battles with each other which proved entertaining to watch at times. It’s been a long year for the team, but their overall reliability is one of the team’s few saving graces.
Ferrari found an inventive way of ruining another of their races in the 2019 season.
Ferrari. Ferrari. Ferrari. Once again, they’re leaving a Grand Prix with a lot of issues to sort out. It was looking like a relatively strong race for the Prancing Horses – despite not being in a position to effectively challenge Mercedes and Red Bull for a good end result
But it turned out that Ferrari’s worst enemy in this Grand Prix was themselves.
Following the first safety car, Vettel and Leclerc were battling hard. Leclerc made a great move overtaking Vettel and then coming out of the Senna S’s, Vettel launched a counter-attack on Leclerc that ultimately didn’t work out quite the way either driver wanted it to. Contact between the two - in an unfortunate homage to Turkey 2010 - caused Leclerc’s front right tyre to come off and he missed turn four, crashing out instead. Vettel didn’t last much longer as he suffered from a tyre puncture that saw him retire from the race a few corners later. It was a disastrous end to the race for them and sees no love lost between the two drivers in what was already becoming a strained relationship. It will be interesting to see how this develops both into the final race of the season and into 2020.
The Brazilian Grand Prix was a classic race from start to finish and one of the best of this season. Not only was it Honda's first one-two finish since the day Senna took his final F1 title in 1991, it was also the first time Honda scored a one-two finish with two different teams since Monza 1987. If there was any doubt that the final two races of the season would be quiet affairs, this Grand Prix threw those doubts out of the window. along with the kitchen sink. If the final race of the season next time out in Abu Dhabi can be anything like this, then we're in for a fantastic end to a great season of Formula 1.