Verstappen Wins in Brazil, Perez Extends lead over Hamilton
Max Verstappen won the the Sao Paulo Grand Prix marking his 17th win of the year. The race got started with a dramatic incident on the formation lap by Charles Leclerc after he lost his hydraulics which sent his Ferrari into a spin into the wall. Leclerc was able to drive the car off of the track to prevent a delayed start. Upon the start Alex Albon and Kevin Magnussen came into contact before turn one. Both cars were not able to continue and a red flag came out to clear the cars. Daniel Ricciardo and Oscar Piastri also suffered damage in the incident but were able to continue the race.
On the restart all of the cars got away cleanly and held on track until the first pit stops started to come. Hamilton came in after being passed by Sergio Perez for a set of medium tires which triggered a pit stops down the pecking order. On between lap 23 and 24 Zhou Guan Yu suffered from a mechanical failure which marked the 4th car to retire from the race.
Sergio Perez Continued His Charge
Sergio Perez got away from the Mercedes which is exactly what the Red Bull driver needed to keep his drivers championship second place fight alive. After the first pits stops it didn’t take Perez long to catch Lewis Hamilton who had pitted before. He passed with ease and built a 2 second lead within the next 2 laps; eliminating any benefit from DRS that Hamilton might have gained to hang on. Hamilton’s teammate was verbally frustrated on the radio questioning the teams decision to no let him pass his teammate before the pit window opened which cost Russell the opportunity to get into clean air in the chase for 3 place. The fight between Hamilton and Russell allowed Perez to get past both cars with minimal tire degradation deeming Perez the winner in the three car scuffle at this point in the race.
Verstappen Holds After First Pit Stops
Verstappen checked out at the front of the pack from the beginning of the race extending his soft tire stent to 27 laps. Because Norris behind also pitted on the same lap it was a free pit stop for Verstappen as he came in for mediums and came back out in the lead having built up a 28+ second lead over third place sitter Fernando Alonso.
By Lap 40 the fifth retirement occurred. This time it was Valtteri Bottas who suffered a mechanical failure. The retirement meant a double DNF for Alpha Romeo. No one expected to be down to 15 cars at this point in the race. However the retirements did clear up some track real estate which only help Verstappen as he didn’t need to navigate as many back markers. On lap 58 George Russell also retired from the race. Mercedes cited an oil cooling issue that would’ve resulted in a catastrophic failure of the power unit.
Perez and Alonso Battle it out to the End
Fernando Alonso was able to hold off a 15 lap siege by Sergio Perez. Perez used DRS for the majority of the end of the race but couldn’t quite get below the 4 tenths differential he needed to be able to make the pass. Alonso put on a masterclass in defense leaving no opening for Perez to utilize. However the opportunity finally came with 1 lap to go in the race where Perez out braked Alonso into turn 1. Perez got by and held the drive out of turn 4 to stay ahead. However, Alonso wasn’t done and fought back on the final lap of the race passing Perez. Third place came down to a drag race to the finish line that Alonso edged out a 0.053 lead and took third in the race. Alonso finished behind Lando Norris who held P2 for the majority of the race.
Hamilton Loses out in Brazil
Lewis Hamilton couldn’t muster the pace to make a challenge for the podium in Brazil. Hamilton was verbally displeased with the decision to go on to the soft tire instead of the hard which may have given him an advantage to drive at full pace. He finished P8 which did not help his case in the race for second place in the championship. Hamilton finished behind Perez in the Grand Prix and the Sprint race so Perez will leave the weekend with a 32 point lead over Hamilton. With two races to go Perez can potentially clinch second place in the next race in Las Vegas depending on the events in two weeks. For now Hamilton will need to reassess as his second place hopes are dwindling.
Full Race Results Below
|1||Max Verstappen||RED BULL RACING HONDA RBPT||71||1:26:07.136|
|2||Lando Norris||MCLAREN MERCEDES||71||+8.277s|
|3||Fernando Alonso||ASTON MARTIN ARAMCO MERCEDES||71||+34.155s|
|4||Sergio Perez||RED BULL RACING HONDA RBPT||71||+34.208s|
|5||Lance Stroll||ASTON MARTIN ARAMCO MERCEDES||71||+40.845s|
|7||Pierre Gasly||ALPINE RENAULT||71||+56.093s|
|9||Yuki Tsunoda||ALPHATAURI HONDA RBPT||71||+69.880s|
|10||Esteban Ocon||ALPINE RENAULT||70||+1 lap|
|11||Logan Sargeant||WILLIAMS MERCEDES||70||+1 lap|
|12||Nico Hulkenberg||HAAS FERRARI||70||+1 lap|
|13||Daniel Ricciardo||ALPHATAURI HONDA RBPT||70||+1 lap|
|14||Oscar Piastri||MCLAREN MERCEDES||69||+2 laps|
|NC||Valtteri Bottas||ALFA ROMEO FERRARI||39||DNF|
|NC||Zhou Guanyu||ALFA ROMEO FERRARI||22||DNF|
|NC||Kevin Magnussen||HAAS FERRARI||0||DNF|
|NC||Alexander Albon||WILLIAMS MERCEDES||0||DNF|