Round 20 of 21 in the F1 series took place in Sao Paulo, Brazil at the iconic Interlagos track. Throughout the weekend, fans and drivers remembered and paid tribute to Aryton Senna for it has been 25 years since the Brazillian driver tragically passed away due to a crash in Italy. Lewis Hamilton carried a special helmet design that honoured the late 3-time champion. It’s fitting that the race that ensued was as fantastic as Senna’s career.
LAP 1: Max Verstappen scored his 3rd pole position of the year and took the top spot when the lights went out. Behind him, Lewis Hamilton made the pass on Sebastian Vettel.
LAP 5: Charles Leclerc overtook Romain Grosjean for 9th place after the Ferrari driver started P14 due to a grid penalty. Leclerc’s team had to make an engine change during practice on Friday and as per FIA rules, a car is only allowed 3 engines in a 21-race season. The engine change pushed Leclerc to 4 engines so the team received a 10-place grid penalty.
LAP 9: Daniel Ricciardo dove to the inside of Kevin Magnussen in Turn 4 to make the pass for 13th. The two drivers made contact at the apex causing Magnussen to spin into the run-off area, and resulted in front wing damage for Ricciardo which forced him to pit off-strategy. The FIA initially deemed the collision a ‘racing incident’ but quickly rescinded their decision and said the accident was under investigation.
LAP 15: The FIA announced that Ricciardo would recieve a 5-second time penalty for spinning Magnussen and causing a crash.
LAP 21: Lewis Hamilton pitted early for fresh soft tires, committing to the 2-stop strategy in an attempt to undercut Verstappen.
LAP 22: The Red Bull team responded and brought Verstappen into the pits, also for soft tires. Verstappen had a great 1.9-second pit stop but had to slam on the brakes for Robert Kubica who came out of his pit in front of Verstappen. Hamilton was scored ahead of Verstappen but not for long because Hamilton failed to block the Dutchman on the next lap, and Verstappen retook the lead safely with the help of DRS. The battle didn’t stop there as the pair swapped the lead twice more before Verstappen finally broke away to a 2.1 second lead.
LAP 31: Kubica was handed a 5-second time penalty for the incident on pit road where he held up Verstappen.
LAP 42: Ricciardo and the Renault team decided to pit once again to not only put on a set of soft tires, but also to serve his 5 second penalty early, which would help him at the end of the race.
LAP 44: Hamilton pitted once more for a set of medium tires, once again trying to undercut Verstappen. Red Bull reacted the following lap, calling Verstappen in for medium tires as well, however, Verstappen still came out ahead of Hamilton.
LAP 52: Hamilton’s teammate, Valtteri Bottas, who was pushing hard to chase down Charles Leclerc for 5th, had an engine issue that resulted in a considerable smoke billowing from his W10 power unit.
SAFETY CAR – LAP 54: The safety car was deployed for Bottas who succumbed to the engine trouble and pulled off to the side of the track in Turn 4. Verstappen pitted for soft tires in an effort to get better lap times. Mercedes opted for Hamilton to stay out, thinking track position was better than tires.
LAP 60: On the restart, tires proved to be key as Verstappen immediately overtook Hamilton into turn 1. Hamilton tried to fight, but couldn’t keep up on his older, slower tires. Behind them, Verstappen’s teammate, Alex Albon, passed Kimi Raikkonen for the 4th spot.
SAFETY CAR – LAP 67: After being passed in Turn 1, Sebastian Vettel used the DRS to fight back at his teammate, Charles Leclerc, for 4th place. Leclerc held his line, but Vettel drifted to the left, clipping Leclerc’s right front tire with his left rear. The contact resulted in instant tire failures on both Ferrari cars as both were forced to retire from the race, each blaming the other for the incident.
LAP 70: Race leader Verstappen waited until the last second to accelerate coming to the restart with 2 laps to go, giving him an advantage and allowing him to pull away. Behind him, Alex Albon claimed 2nd place.
CHECKERED FLAG – LAP 71: Coming to the checkered flag, Albon went wide in Turn 6 as Hamilton dove to the inside. The two made contact that sent Albon spinning into the grass. Pierre Gasly managed to sneak past both Albon and Hamilton to take second. Albon fell to 15th position and Hamilton settled for 3rd with slight front-wing damage. Verstappen crossed the line to win his 3rd race of the season, in one of the wildest, best races of the year.
POST RACE: Lewis Hamilton was handed a 5-palce grid penalty for the late race contact with Alex Albon. This gave Carlos Sainz his first podium finish of his career and his team, McLaren, their first podium since 2014.
- Max Verstappen
- Pierre Gasly
- Carlos Sainz
- Kimi Raikkonen
- Antonio Giovinazzi
- Daniel Ricciardo
- Lewis Hamilton
- Lando Norris
- Sergio Perez
- Daniil Kvyat
- Kevin Magnussen
- George Russell
- Romain Grosjean
- Alex Albon
- Nico Hulkenberg
- Robert Kubica
- Sebastian Vettel
- Charles Leclerc
- Lance Stroll
- Valtteri Bottas