Hamilton keeps title hopes alive after maiden win in Brazil
Decision who will be crowned as the 2016 Formula 1 champion has been postponed for the last race of the season in Abu Dhabi. The Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton won the Brazilian Grand Prix and shortened a gap to his teammate Nico Rosberg to 12 points. This was the 9th win of the season for the British driver and, interestingly, his first triumph at Interlagos circuit.
Weather conditions were pretty bad and heavy rain delayed the start of the race for 10 minutes. The race began under the safety car but without Romain Grosjean.The Haas F1 Team driver crashed during the preparation lap and badly damaged his car, so he was forced to retire what was a really bad luck as he had to start from P7.
The safety car went in on the lap seven and proper racing finally started. Poor visibility and a lot of water on the track wasn’t problem for Verstappen who immediately took the 3rd place from Kimi Raikkonen. Interestingly, many drivers surprisingly decided to switch to intermediate tires. Vettel wasn’t one of them but the four-time champion had a spun and dropped from the 5th to the 19th place.
After a couple of laps safety car again was deployed after Marcus Ericsson slid out of the track and crashed. Sauber’s driver car stopped on the pit-lane entrance what was a pretty dangerous and Daniel Ricciardo almost hit the wreck. Interestingly, the Red Bull’s driver went into the pit when it was closed, so he was penalized with five seconds penalty.
A seconds after the safety car went in, the race was red-flagged after Raikkonen lost control of his car on the start-finish straight. The Finn hit the barriers, crashed his Ferrari and the race was stopped on lap 21. The drivers left their cars and they could only to wait for the decision of the race direction.
Twenty minutes later the race was restarted but after just seven laps behind the safety car, it was stopped again as the weather and track conditions became even worse. After another pause, the race was again restarted and again Verstappen was the man of the moment as he overtook Rosberg with an excellent maneuver at Turn 3.
After the half of the race, Hamilton was on the top, followed by Verstappen and Rosberg who missed a great opportunity to fight back after the Dutch teenager made a mistake. Behind them were Sergio Perez, Daniel Ricciardo, and Carlos Sainz Jr, while Sebastian Vettel managed to recover and he moved up to the 7th position. The interesting fact was that Manor’s driver Esteban Ocon was in the points, as well Sauber’s Felipe Nasr.
The safety car was deployed again after Felipe Massa crashed at the final corner. This was the last race for the retiring Brazilian at his home track and there was a lot of emotional scenes when Massa went to the garage.
In a meantime, Red Bull made a wrong decision calling their drivers to make a switch to the intermediates so both Ricciardo and Verstappen dropped a lot, but in the last 10 laps or so, Max was flying around the track and soon battled with Perez for the podium place. In the penultimate lap, the Red Bull driver again showed his potential in full splendor and overtook Perez to finish 3rd, behind Lewis Hamilton who in the most of the race was in the world of his own, and Nico Rosberg who still heads the overall standings.