Brazil had it all. Daring overtakes. Teammates colliding. Risky strategy calls. And to top it off, we got a Toro Rosso AND a McLaren on the podium.
It truly was one of the best and most mad-cap races of the past few seasons. It wasn’t without controversy and its ramifications will be felt long after the season’s end.
Max Verstappen may have taken victory on the track but let’s find out who else impressed in Interlagos.
Lewis Hamilton – 7th
After taking Sebastian Vettel at the start, the six-time world champion was engaged in a thrilling duel with Verstappen for much of the race. Ultimately the Brit couldn’t fend off his Dutch rival but he had still put in a decent performance.
That was until an ill-fated call to pit for fresh tyres dropped him behind Alex Albon. Hamilton’s attempted a bold overtake but instead sent the Red Bull spinning and earned himself a penalty that dropped him off the podium. Hamilton apologised straight away for the incident which was a lot more 50/50 than some might admit.
Valtteri Bottas - DNF
It’s tempting to give Bottas a high mark. After all, it was his retirement that triggered the safety car that flipped the race upside down. But it was another poor performance from the Finn. He lacked the killer instinct to overtake Charles Leclerc and ended up labouring behind the Ferrari until his engine finally overheated.
Charles Leclerc – DNF
A 10-place grid penalty meant Leclerc started a lowly 14th. But the young star started well, expertly duelling with Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo, before catching up to the leaders. But after pulling off an exceptional move on his teammate, the Ferrari’s collided. The tiniest touch from Vettel as he tried to get the place back, broke Leclerc’s suspension and took him out of the race.
Sebastian Vettel – DNF
He may have won four world titles, but Vettel still hasn’t mastered the art of overtaking a teammate. Vettel had quietly been getting on with his race when the incident happened. Leclerc had overtaken him fairly and as they headed down the straight, he gave him enough room to pull alongside. What happened next was inexcusable. Vettel, for no reason, decided to move to the right, hitting Leclerc and knocking both of them out of the race. Much like the Mark Webber incident in Turkey back in 2010, Vettel was completely at fault. But unlike then, he won’t be protected from blame by his team who surely now will see him as their No.2 driver.
Max Verstappen – 1st
Undoubtedly one of his finest drives to date, Verstappen had the raw speed to see off Hamilton and pulled off some wonderful passing moves on his way to a third win of the season. P3 in the championship nearly secured, he showed that he can race firmly but fairly this weekend, with his overtakes on Hamilton into the first corner, a sight to behold. Pure perfection from start to finish.
Alex Abon – 14th
So close and yet so far for Albon in Brazil. While not as quick as his teammate, he stayed with the leading pack throughout, eventually benefiting from the late chaos to move into P2. But contact with Hamilton denied him a first podium, with the man he replaced, Pierre Gasly, of all people, profiting. Nevertheless, another great drive shows why Red Bull have put their faith in the Thai driver for 2020.
Carlos Sainz Jnr. – 3rd
Last to the podium. Give this man a medal (or more accurately a trophy). Sainz has undoubtedly been one of the best drivers of the 2019 season and this race was a testament to his ability. His move on Sergio Perez in the opening laps was breath-taking. Relief for McLaren as well, who earned their first podium since Kevin Magnussen and Jenson Button at the 2014 Australian GP. The only dampener was that Sainz didn’t actually get to celebrate on the podium.
Lando Norris – 8th
Compared to his teammate, Norris was quite disappointing but nevertheless he drove well to pick up more points in what has been a very good season for the rookie.
Daniel Ricciardo – 6th
P11 to P6 for the Aussie was a great result but his mark is lessened thanks to a collision with Magnussen. Ricciardo should have done better to avoid running into the Haas but he recovered well, even with a time penalty.
Nico Hulkenberg – 15th
Nine years ago, Hulkenberg took pole at Brazil in his rookie season. It’s a shame then, to see his F1 career coming to an end with a pitiful 15th place finish. Penalised for overtaking Magnussen before the safety car had finished, epitomises the German’s poor form this year.
Pierre Gasly – 2nd
After his humiliating demotion from Red Bull during the season, Gasly probably thought his F1 career was over before it had barely begun. The Frenchman has however looked far more comfortable at his former team Toro Rosso and despite an inferior car he still remains sixth in the championship. He looked set to finish best of the rest in Brazil but came through to take a remarkable second holding over Hamilton on the final straight at the end of a sensational race.
Daniil Kvyat – 10th
The Russian picked up a solidary point in Brazil, which while good was heavily overshadowed by his teammate’s achievements. He’ll have next year to try and prove his credentials but it’s not looking promising.
Sergio Perez – 9th
Another solid points finish, Perez drove the wheels off his Racing Point, as he has all season. Though but for the carnage ahead, the Racing Point was well off the pace this weekend and will be hoping for improvements for the final race of the season.
Lance Stroll – DNF
Amongst all the commotion with the safety car, Stroll retired with mechanical issues. A bit of a nothing race for the Canadian.
Kimi Raikkonen – 4th
Unnoticed by almost everyone the Alfas avoided trouble to pick an incredible 22 points. Raikkonen fans were praying for a Sainz penalty to get their man on the podium but there was no such luck.
Antonio Giovinazzi – 5th
The Italian rookie hasn’t had the best of years but he came good on Sunday and P5 more than trebled his points tally for the season.
Kevin Magnussen – 11th
His race was ruined after Riccardo hit him. Could he have got into the points? Tough to say but it was a better race for the Dane and the American team overall.
Romain Grosjean – 13th
After starting well, Grosjean got stuck just outside the points with engine trouble preventing him from challenging those ahead
George Russell – 12th
So close to a first ever points finish, Russell has a lot of talent for a rookie but in that dog of a car he just can’t quite show it.
Robert Kubica – 16th
How do you finish a lap down after two safety cars? Kubica was not only slow but he nearly took out Verstappen after an unsafe release from his pit-stop.