Max Verstappen claimed his 17th win in 20 Formula 1 races this year by also dominating the Brazilian GP – although Lando Norris came closer than anyone this year to the Dutchman. Alonso the winner of the great battle with Perez for 3rd place.
Max Verstappen dominated the Brazilian GP initially fending off the attacks of Lando Norris in the McLaren MCL60. However, throughout the 71-lap race the Englishman managed to stay close to the Dutchman and move at the pace of the Red Bull RB19 – in a GP where all the frontrunners started on the soft tyre, put on the medium tire at the first pit stop and then soften it again in the second one.
The podium, behind Verstappen and Norris, was closed by the amazing Fernando Alonso, after a thrilling battle with RBR’s Sergio Perez. Perez was chasing the Spaniard for two thirds of the race, and managed to get within a second with 14 laps to go.
A few laps later Czeko went into the Aston’s DRS, and managed to pass Fernando on the brakes at the first corner on the penultimate lap. But the Spaniard hadn’t had his last word, and fought back at Perez to surprisingly pass him on the straight ahead of Turn 4. The two crossed the finish line, finally, just 53 milliseconds apart!
The Interlagos match started very episodically. To be precise, from the formation round. There an engine problem in Charles Leclerc’s Ferrari locked the rear wheels, causing the Monegasque to end up in the barriers and retire before even making it to the starting line.
Then, when the red lights went out, Verstappen went clear from pole position, and behind him Norris and Hamilton passed the two Aston Martins of Stroll and Alonso. However, at the same time there was an accident behind them between Hulkenberg, Magnussen and Albon.
Hulkenberg was sandwiched between the Haas and Williams drivers, causing him to touch Magnussen, who in turn passed Albon. In the collision the latter two ended up on the escape route with damaged cars, also breaking the rear wing of Piastri’s McLaren in the process – while the rear left tire of the Williams ended up breaking the rear wing of Ricciardo’s Alpha Tauri.
There was a stoppage of about half an hour to clear the track of debris and repair the barriers. The restart would be static, and Piastre, Ricciardo would start from the exit of the pits due to repairs to their cars.
At the restart everything was clear and Verstappen, Norris, Hamilton, Alonso, Stroll held the top five positions. The front two soon began to pull away from Alonso, opening a gap of around 8 seconds. It was clear that this was going to be a two pit stop race, with the soft-medium-soft rubber being used in each stint.
For a moment Norris made his attack on Verstappen, but then he too was forced to control his pace to manage his tyres. The first pit-stops were opened by Mercedes, who had a nightmare race wearing all of their tire types. The leaders entered together on lap 27, while earlier Perez managed to pass Russell and Hamilton to move up to 4th.
At the first pit-stop Alonso had a difference of 8” from Cheko and so he was a little late to make his first pit-stop so that he would have fresher rubber for the continuation. In the middle stint Norris kept his gap to Verstappen to 5′ as the two continued their tire maintenance race and were moving at a similar pace.
The standoff between the two leaders began with Verstappen on lap 56. Norris stayed on track, possibly with the intention of making just one pit stop, but on the fresh soft rubber he had saved for last Max was around 2.5” faster on the lap. So, two laps later, the Englishman from McLaren came in for his second pit-stop.
In the meantime, Perez tried to undercut Alonso and when the Spaniard responded, their gap dropped significantly. It was initially at 3.5” and was soon reduced to a second. Until Perez in the final 12 laps entered the Aston Martin’s DRS zone. The two of them were unerring, and their battle culminated in two passes – first by Perez and finally by Alonso – in the final two laps.
Mercedes’ rapid decline in performance in the middle stint on the medium tire was such that Hamilton was also passed by Saint, Gasly and Tsunoda – although on the soft tire in the third stint the Englishman reclaimed 8th place from the Japanese. Russell was behind Lewis throughout the race, faster at times, but played the team game before being forced to retire just before the end with a mechanical problem.
In front of everyone – in 5th place – was Lance Stroll, who, like Aston Martin, needed today’s good result to reverse the bad atmosphere that had developed in Silverstone with the failures of the last months. Rounding out the top ten were Tsunota and Ocon, while the two Alfa Romeos retired with mechanical problems.
After the Brazilian GP, the 21st and penultimate Formula 1 race of the year will be held in Las Vegas, the return of the sport after decades in the gambling city of Nevada, USA. The match will be held on Saturday night there, that is in the early hours of the morning in Greece, on the three days of November 17-19.