2019 Brazilian Grand Prix Blog
Wow! What a race we enjoyed this weekend.
In the build-up, people had been saying the 2019 Formula 1 season is done and dusted, so it wasn’t worth watching, and then Interlagos gave us the best race of the season so far. The Brazilian GP had everything: highs and lows, crashes and overtakes, contrasting strategies and different race tactics. It was a highly unpredictable race and the final 20 laps were verging on chaos. But it was brilliant to watch and highlighted everything that’s great about our sport.
Max Verstappen, the eventual race winner, summed it up perfectly: “What a race! Loved it.” His former teammate, Pierre Gasly, was even more excited, saying: “This is just incredible! My first podium in Formula 1”. That was after Gasly finished inches ahead of Lewis Hamilton in a drag race to the chequered flag. Hamilton’s Mercedes was damaged, allowing the normally much slower Toro Rosso to just cling on for second place.
Toto Wolff decided not to make the trip to Autódromo José Carlos Pace this year and without their team principal the Silver Arrows endured a tough afternoon. Their car seemed to be struggling with the altitude (800m above sea level) and Valtteri Bottas retired with an engine problem on lap 53, bringing out the first safety car.
In response to this Red Bull immediately pitted Verstappen for fresh tyres, whilst Mercedes choose to leave Hamilton out to give him track position at the restart. It proved to be the wrong call as Max swept past him around the outside of turn 1 immediately after the restart on lap 60. That should have been that in terms of the battle for the lead, so what made the conclusion of the race so dramatic? You guessed it… Ferrari.
The Scuderia had been racing in fourth and fifth spot but were closely bunched due to the pack being held up by Lewis Hamilton going slow on older tyres. Leclerc got the better of his teammate at the start of lap 66 when he dived to the inside of Vettel at turn 1. It was a fair move but provoked an instant reaction as the German had DRS and so could repass his teammate on the run up to turn 4. Unfortunately in doing so Vettel’s left rear tyre clipped Leclerc’s front right. The incident looked innocuous, and nine times out of ten both cars would have been fine, but in typically unlucky style Ferrari found that Leclerc’s suspension was broken and had ripped the tyre off its rim. And that Vettel had a right-rear puncture too. Both cars retired from the race.
After the race Vettel was asked who was at fault and said: “It doesn’t matter now. We both didn’t finish the race, which is bad for us as a team.” Team principal Mattia Binotto simply described the crash as “silly”. Binotto was diplomatic as ever but Vettel & Leclerc have both been summoned to Maronello this week to review what went on. Incidentally, the stewards looked at the replays and ruled it was a racing incident. One thing is for sure, we haven’t heard the last of this.
Back to action on track and for some reason Mercedes decided to pit Lewis Hamilton for fresh tyres during the second safety car period. A decision which James Allison afterwards called “plain dumb”. The race restarted with 2 laps to go and Hamilton was in fourth place behind the two Red Bulls and Pierre Gasly. Lewis passed the Toro Rosso with ease but was too ambitious with his move on Alex Albon, sending Albon into a spin and damaging his front wing in the process.
Hamilton’s mistake was uncharacteristically clumsy for the six times world champion and it was a huge shame for Albon because the 23-year-old was on for his first podium finish in F1. Instead the Red Bull limped home in 14th place, leaving Hamilton and the Toro Rosso of Gasly in a sprint to the line. It should be noted the stewards gave Hamilton a 5-second penalty after the race which demoted him to seventh spot, promoting McLaren’s Carlos Sainz to third place.
Red Bull, and their junior team Toro Rosso, were the big winners of the weekend but Honda should be the most pleased of all. The race result gave the constructor their first 1-2 finish in a Grand Prix since Ayrton Senna clinched his final world title at the 1991 Japanese Grand Prix. A fantastic effort, very well done to all involved.
We’re looking forward to Abu Dhabi in two weeks’ time. Yas Island is always great fun and we hope you will be able to join us there.
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