Vettel took the flag but there was only one real winner of the Brazilian GP
The Brazilian Grand Prix was one that no-one wanted to end. Finally, we had the big six in the top six and a battle royal between Ferrari and Mercedes at the front - even if it never quite got to be the full-on fight we were hoping for.
Better still there was a right old battle going on for ‘best of the rest’ with Felipe Massa, roared on by his adoring crowd, hanging on to the place against a never-say-die Fernando Alonso and a recovering Sergio Perez in the surviving Force India.
Yet again we saw the two sides of the old ‘you can’t win a race at the first corner’ conundrum as Sebastian Vettel did exactly that - while Kevin Magnussen proved ‘but you can lose it’!
It did seem a bit clumsy on K-Mag’s side as he seemed unable to leave Stoffel Vandoorne any room as the challenge of feeding 20 very wide cars into an opening Esse bend was once again failed by 20 of the world’s best drivers.
Mind you, you ‘can’t/can win the race’ at the sixth corner either as Grosjean and Ocon proved, but this was surely a classic racing incident, even if the stewards somehow felt otherwise. Romain had led Esteban through turns 4 and 5 but on the following straight the Force India crept up the outside of the Haas and just got half a wheel ahead before the turn-in point for the fast right-handed turn 6.
Both were committed to the corner and Ocon left the Haas room but Grosjean simply didn’t have the grip needed to keep a tighter line and slid out into the Force India taking them both off the road. If there was ever a classic racing incident that was it.
Of course, the early deployment of a Safety Car helped Lewis comeback from his pit lane start but it was still a mighty drive greatly assisted by the elephant in the room that is DRS and greatly handicapped by the other elephant of being unable to close in on a car almost as fast due to the dreaded ‘dirty air’.
With loss of front end aero seemingly affecting the Mercedes more than most, Raikkonen’s Ferrari remained frustratingly out of reach. But I suppose Mercedes are only designed to be running out front in clean air...
The great problem with DRS, if we are to have it at all, is how much of it to give and perhaps at Interlagos there was too much as Lewis swept past the lower order with consummate ease. Even Daniel Riccardo was able to make several of his trademark late braking moves as the long DRS zone gave his underpowered Renault at least a chance to draw level, while the dogged Alonso was able to use it just to hang on to the back of Massa’s Williams.
I’m also beginning to get the impression that drivers are starting to lose their desire to defend when they check their mirrors and see another car closing in on them going about 20mph faster. Too many defenders seemed to just sit on the outside and give in to the inevitable which is very much against the basic instinct of anyone who has ever raced a car.
My real regret about the Brazilian Grand Prix though was that I wasn’t there as a spectator.
Those of you who read my British Grand Prix report might remember how I enjoyed it as an old-fashioned spectator, watching the whole field go past on every lap, and the overriding frustration of Brazil was that, while we concentrated on the excitement of Lewis homing in on Kimi, we had no view of the brilliant battle for the real winner of the Brazilian Grand Prix… Felipe Massa, once again having his last home race with his adoring fans giving the man who most deserved to be the 2008 World Champion a great send off. Nice one Felipe!