Formula 1 Brazilian Grand Prix 2019

F1 Brazilian Grand Prix 2019

We come to the penultimate race of the 2019 Formula 1 season, the Brazilian Grand Prix, which, in my opinion, should be the final race, not Abu Dhabi, but I digress. Anyway, Brazil never fails to entertain with a safety car interrupted race and plenty of on-track action, overtakes, crashes and drama.

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen avenged his demotion from the Mexican Grand Prix pole, a few weeks back, for not slowing enough under waved yellow flags in qualifying after Bottas crashed, by claiming pole for the Brazilian Grand Prix, making great use of starting at the front, to be clear into the Senna S, while world champion elect Lewis Hamilton found Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel driving around the outside of him through turn 1 into turn 2, demoting the Briton to third, meanwhile Charles Leclerc steadily made his way through the grid from 14th, after an engine change penalty, to run in 10th place by the start of lap 3.

Other than Leclerc making more progress through the field, moving into 6th place by lap 11, where his progress stalled as all he had in front were Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull, nothing much happened during the rest of the first third of the race, barring a coming together between Daniel Ricciardo and Kevin Magnussen, for which Ricciardo was deemed to be at fault and was penalized with a +5 second penalty.

Hamilton pitted for a second set of soft tires on lap 21, in response, Red Bull pitted Verstappen the next lap, also opting to stay on the soft tire, but Verstappen was balked by the unsafe release of Williams’ Robert Kubica as he was about to exit the pitlane, causing the Dutchman to take avoiding action, costing him a place to Hamilton on track. Being balked seemed to fire up Verstappen more, chasing down and passing Hamilton into turn 1 on lap 23, after both drivers dispatched Leclerc who was yet to pit.

Leaders, Hamilton and Verstappen stopped for a second time on lap 44 and lap 45 respectively, this time, Verstappen got a clean stop, no issues, and just 1.9-seconds stationery, to come back out ahead of Hamilton to retain the effective lead with both drivers now running the medium tire.

Now comes the masterstroke from Red Bull, who pulled Verstappen in for a third pitstop, to switch back to the soft tire on lap 55 after the race director elected to put out the safety car to recover Valtteri Bottas’ stricken car from the side of the road after a seeming engine issue. This stop obviously put Verstappen back behind Hamilton on track, albeit on newer, faster tires, while Hamilton stayed out on track.

Ferrari also elected to pit Leclerc during this safety car period, moving the Monegasque driver off the hard tire and onto the faster soft tire, slotting back into 5th place after Bottas’ retirement. Much to Vettel’s chagrin, Ferrari did not pit the German, keeping him out on five lap older soft tires, which directly led to Ferrari’s race unraveling on lap 66. Leclerc passed Vettel into turn 1 for 4th place, only for Vettel to battle back in the run down to turn 4, going wheel to wheel, when the German jinked left a little, and the slightest of contact caused a suspension failure for Leclerc and a puncture, causing major floor damage for Vettel, which in my opinion was 100% Vettel’s fault, he moved left, while Leclerc held his line.

Going back six laps to the restart, despite Hamilton’s best efforts to stop Verstappen from using his newer tires in the run down to turn 1, the Dutch driver was having none of it, driving around the outside of the Briton to retake the lead. While Verstappen’s Red Bull stablemate, Alex Albon passed Vettel for 3rd place at the same corner. Mercedes did pit Hamilton during the second safety car period to clear the debris from the Ferrari’s coming together, which promoted Albon into 2nd for a Red Bull 1-2, and Gasly to 3rd.

This seemed like an odd decision by Mercedes with just four laps remaining, giving away a sure-fire second place, with no guarantee that the safety car would come in before the chequered flag was waved. However, the safety car did come in with 2 laps remaining, and Hamilton did dispatch Gasly into turn 1 to move back onto the podium, and later tried a clumsy move up the inside of turn 9, tipping Albon into a spin, dropping the Thai-British driver to the back of the field, while Hamilton continued in 3rd place, after being passed by Toro Rosso’s Pierre Gasly. Hamilton tried to pass Gasly on the final lap, but the Frenchman managed to hold off the Briton by a car length to hold onto second place.

Although Hamilton did cross the line in 3rd place and stood on the podium, he was later handed a five-second time penalty, which because of the late safety car, dropped the 2019 world champion down to 7th place. This means that McLaren and Carlos Sainz were promoted up onto the podium, their first podium since the 2014 Australian Grand Prix. Yes, I know that it’s a net 7th place, after Hamilton’s penalty, the Ferrari’s coming together and Bottas’ engine expiring, but it’s sure good to see McLaren back on the podium, after five years in the wilderness, it’s just a shame that Carlos didn’t get to stand on the podium.

It was a great day for Alfa Romeo, finishing in a season-best 4th and 5th, followed by Daniel Ricciardo in 6th place, despite his coming together with K-Mag, a 5-second time penalty and dropping to the back of the field due to a front wing replacement early on. The rest of the top 10 are the usual suspects, Lando Norris, Sergio Perez, and Danill Kvyat round out the top 10 behind Hamilton in 7th place.

Brazilian Grand Prix 2019 Results

1. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) 1:33:14.678
2. Pierre Gasly (Toro Rosso) +6.077s
3. Carlos Sainz (McLaren) +8.896s
4. Kimi Räikkönen (Alfa Romeo) +9.452s
5. Antonio Giovinazzi (Alfa Romeo) +10.201s
6. Daniel Ricciardo (Renault) +10.541s
7. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) +11.139s
8. Lando Norris (McLaren) +11.204s
9. Sergio Perez (Racing Point) +11.529s
10. Daniil Kvyat (Toro Rosso) +11.931s

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