The Undercut: The last word on the Brazilian Grand Prix
At last! After 105 days, Ferrari and Sebastian Vettel remember they are supposed to win F1 races, as opposed to throwing them away.
That makes it three Brazilian wins for Seb and eleven for Ferrari, who are though still one short here of McLaren, who’s last victory was at Interlagos a mind numbing 1,813 days ago.
Even Kimi Raikkonen has woken up, he is now on his first run of three podiums in a row since he managed the feat at Lotus way back in 2013 - but of course it is all too little too late. They can however, despite their general demeanour and Sergio Marchionne’s constant grumpiness, be a bit happy surely?
Hard now to imagine that in 2016 they won nothing. Not a salami. If they continue with this upward trajectory they might even finish a bit closer to Mercedes next year and may even win a title, as long as they don’t have another epic meltdown as they did this season.
Talking of McLaren, they had a bit of a mixed race to say the least. Stoffel Vandoorne was the filling in a Kevin Magnussen and Daniel Ricciardo sandwich, with him subsequently out within seconds of the start. His teammate had a bit of a better time of it as Fernando Alonso finished a fighting seventh just behind the soon-to-retire Felipe Massa.
Over the radio, Fernando and his engineer could not hide their glee at the end, with the realisation that they only have one more race to put up with Honda. “We deserved those points, next year will be fun,” he said. Oh boy, do we hope he is right on that score.
Talking of duff engines, there was an amusing stand up row, with lots of French finger jabbing as Sky F1 captured Renault boss, Cyril Abiteboul having a stern word with Red Bull’s Helmut Marko.
The cause of this tiff was down to a bizarre press release, following a few days of bickering, from Toro Rosso, in which they suggested that their proximity to Renault in the championship might not be unrelated to the engine issues they have suffered from.
Realising that (A) this could be defamatory and therefore legally rather dodgy and (B) that Toro Rosso could probably do with their Renault engines for Abu Dhabi, Helmut issued a grovelling apology of sorts, basically praising Renault to the skies.
Helmut Marko as peacemaker! The world has gone mad. I bet he’ll be having some strong words behind closed doors with Scuderia Toro Rosso boss Franz Tost…
This could of course provide some entertainment at Abu Dhabi, which let’s face it, usually needs some, as the Regie are just four points behind the Italian squad with Haas only another two points further back. More engine issues for STR in Abu Dhabi could prove very costly indeed.
Driver of the Day was of course, one Lewis Hamilton. Unlike Vettel, Lewis saves his cock ups for when it doesn’t matter, so after sticking his Merc in the barriers in qualifying, he had to start from the pitlane. Ending up fourth, having lead at one point was, love him or loathe him, frankly incredible stuff. One wag said that if he’d started from pole he would have won the next Grand Prix already.
Elsewhere, Valtteri Bottas threw away the win Hamilton’s shunt had seemly gifted him by losing the lead to Sebastian at turn one and he duly followed him all the way home to second. Not a bad race for him but it just showed the gulf between him and his teammate. Bottas reckons he’ll give Lewis a harder time next year. Yeah, right.
Meanwhile - and it had to happen sooner or later - Esteban Ocon, after 27 consecutive finishes, failed to see the flag after an out-of-control Romain Grosjean clobbered into him on the first lap. At least that should be the end of him being referred to as Mr Oconsistency, the dullest F1 nickname of all time. Grosjean got a 10 second penalty and a couple of points on his licence for his troubles. He was NOT best pleased.
All in all not a good weekend for angry Frenchmen.
So, one more to go in Ab Drab in a fortnight. Unless he changes his mind again, this will be the last time we’ll see Felipe Massa in an F1 race. 2018 is therefore looking very likely to be the first season since 1969 without a Brazilian on the grid. It will be interesting to see what that does to Interlagos ticket sales.
Brazilian Grand Prix LIVE video Q&A
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