Max Verstappen was denied an almost certain Brazilian Grand Prix victory when he was taken out of the lead in a collision with Racing Point Force India’s Esteban Ocon. The dramatic incident gifted Lewis Hamilton a second career Brazilian Grand Prix victory that helped Mercedes to a fifth consecutive FIA Formula 1 Constructors’ title.
Verstappen had stormed through from fifth on the grid to put pressure on polesitter and early race leader Hamilton and the Red Bull driver eventually seized the lead from the recently crowned champion on lap 39.
On lap 44, however, Verstappen went to lap 14th-placed Ocon, making a move down the inside of the French driver’s car in Turn 1. Ocon took a wide line but appeared to fight to hold his position, and when Verstappen turned in for the second corner the pair collided.
Verstappen was pitched into a spin, and as the Dutchman recovered, Hamilton swept past to reclaim the lead. Despite significant floor damage, Verstappen fought back in the closing stages, but he was unable to reel in the Briton and Hamilton took his 10th victory of the season. That, allied to a fifth place finish for Valtteri Bottas, handed Mercedes an unassailable lead over Ferrari in the Constructors’ Championship.
At the race start, Hamilton held his advantage from pole position to take the lead but a poor getaway by fellow front-row starter Vettel allowed Bottas, starting third, to get past the German through the opening two corners.
Verstappen, starting from fifth, was already beginning to work his way forward. He closed on Kimi Räikkönen and at the start of lap three he went past the Finn around the outside into Turn 1. Vettel was the Dutchman’s next target and at the start of the next lap he again used DRS to close but this time he opted for a dive down the inside to claim P3.
Behind him, team-mate Daniel Ricciardo was also gaining places, and after passing Haas’ Kevin Magnussen on lap one he quickly began to pick off the cars ahead, rising to P6 on lap seven, ahead of Sauber’s Charles Leclerc.
On lap 10 Verstappen made another move, this time choosing the inside of Turn 1 to dive past Bottas and claim second place. Race leader Hamilton was now just 1.7s ahead.
Bottas was the first of the leaders to pit, the Mercedes man heading in for medium tyres at the end of lap 18. Hamilton then ceded the lead to Verstappen at the end of lap 19, with the Briton also stopping for medium compound rubber. Hamilton emerged in P6 behind Charles Leclerc but by lap 25 he was past the Monegasque and closing on fourth-placed Daniel, who was just under six seconds ahead.
Vettel then pitted at the end of lap 27 and the German also opted for medium tyres before rejoining in ninth place. Freed from behind the Ferrari, Daniel moved up to third and set the fastest lap of the race to that point, a 1:12.919. And when Räikkönen pitted the Australian was promoted to second place behind his team-mate.
The Red Bulls began to pull out a lead from those who has already pitted but Verstappen was unable to build a big enough margin before his own stop, and when he rejoined on lap 35 he was in third place, 3.0s behind Hamilton. Verstappen was armed with newer rubber and greater pace than the champion, however, and as the pair arrowed towards the start-finish line to begin lap 39 he eased past Hamilton.
The Dutchman’s lead wouldn’t last long, however. At the start of lap 44, he went to lap Ocon, making a move down the inside of the Force India. Despite being lapped, Ocon protected his position and tried to deny the pass. Verstappen turned in to take the second corner and the pair collided. Verstappen was sent into a spin and sustained serious floor damage in the incident, while Hamilton was allowed to sweep past into the lead. Ocon was later handed a 10-second stop/go penalty for causing the collision.
Ricciardo, meanwhile, was having his own close calls, twice banging wheels with Vettel as he tried to get past the Ferrari. At the second attempt the Australian won out and he climbed fifth place behind Bottas.
Both Red Bulls began to close on the cars ahead, with Verstappen edging to within two seconds of Hamilton and Ricciardo getting inside DRS range of Räikkönen but neither could make a move stick in the closing stages and after 71 laps Hamilton crossed the line to take the second Brazilian Grand Prix win of his career, ahead of Max, with Räikkönen third ahead of Daniel.
Bottas was left with fifth place ahead of Vettel, while Leclerc finished in a best-of-the-rest seventh place. Grosjean took eighth place for Haas ahead of team-mate Kevin Magnussen and the final point on offer went to Racing Point Force India’s Sergio Pérez.
2018 Formula 1 Brazilian Grand Prix – Race
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes –
2 Max Verstappen Red Bull Racing 1.469
3 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 4.764
4 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull Racing 5.193
5 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 22.943
6 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 26.997
7 Charles Leclerc Sauber 44.199
8 Romain Grosjean Haas 51.230
9 Kevin Magnussen Haas 52.857
10 Sergio Perez Force India 1 L
11 Brendon Hartley Toro Rosso 1 L
12 Carlos Sainz Renault 1 L
13 Pierre Gasly Toro Rosso 1 L
14 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren 1 L
15 Esteban Ocon Force India 1 L
16 Sergey Sirotkin Williams 2 L
17 Fernando Alonso McLaren 2 L
18 Lance Stroll Williams 2 L
Nico Hulkenberg Renault
Marcus Ericsson Sauber