The most recent F1 race left race fans on the edge of their seats as Nick van der Meulen reports in his F1 Review Brazil 2019
The 2019 Brazilian Grand Prix was destined to be a snore-fest, but then Valtteri Bottas’s Mercedes engine expired and he pulled to the closest marshaling station. Race Direction decided to spice things up by introducing a safety car, where a virtual safety car surely would have sufficed. The safety car stayed out for ages…and then the havoc began.
Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) took the lead from Max Verstappen (Red Bull-Honda) when the safety car came out and opted not to stop when the team called him in. He slowed everyone down (too much, from this fan’s perspective) and tried to get the drop at the restart. It was not enough and Verstappen sailed past him on the outside of T1 to retake a lead he would not relinquish. Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari), on the other hand, had his hands full keeping Alexander Albon (Red Bull-Honda) and teammate Charles Leclerc at bay.
While he managed to keep his Ferrari teammate behind him, Albon took a leaf out of Verstappen’s book and sailed around the hapless German to slot into a podium position. While Albon wasn’t getting away from Vettel, the German couldn’t attack for position either and had to fend off Leclerc shortly afterwards. Leclerc got the better of him into Turn 1 and put his machine in the middle of the track in the DRS area on the run to Turn 4 to ensure he maintained position ahead of Vettel.
Seb, Seb, Seb…
The four-time world champion attempted to blast around the outside of the Monegasque, but drifted as he passed him, clipping his team mate’s right front wheel, breaking his suspension and sending him into retirement. What looked like a possible strong points haul for Ferrari ended in a double DNF when Vettel pulled off the circuit shortly afterward with a shredded left rear wheel, bringing out the safety car again. It will be interesting to see how Ferrari management will handle this debacle…although Mattia Binotto has already said both drivers need to take responsibility for the incident (!).
Verstappen romped to a fine victory after dominating proceedings for much of the weekend, taking pole position and only conceding the lead when he stopped for tyres. It looked good for a Red Bull 1-2 after the final restart, as Hamilton finally did pit for tyres, but Hamilton performed an ambitious passing move on Albon, resulting in the Thai being spun out of contention. While Hamilton tried to recover, Pierre Gasly (Toro Rosso-Honda) slipped through into second place and stoically defended his position to the chequered flag to claim his first F1 podium.
Sainz in third
Hamilton admitted fault with regard to his lunge at Albon and the race stewards agreed, handing the world champion a five-second post-race penalty, dropping him down the order to seventh place. This elevated Carlos Sainz (McLaren-Renault) to third position, after having to start last due to a technical issue in qualifying. The Spaniard drove a storming race, keeping F1 veteran Kimi Raikkonen (Alfa Romeo) at bay to the chequered flag, and was finally rewarded with his maiden podium in F1. Alfa Romeo raked in their highest points score this season, with Antonio GIovinazzi finishing just behind his Finnish teammate in fifth place.
Daniel Ricciardo (Renault) finished a fine sixth, after being penalized five seconds early in the race for making contact with Kevin Magnussen (Haas-Ferrari) when staging an overtake (although it has to be said that Magnussen could have avoided it by conceding the place, as the Australian was well on his inside). Lando Norris made it a double McLaren points haul, finishing eighth, while Sergio Perez (Racing Point-Mercedes) and Daniil Kyvat (Toro Rosso-Honda) rounded off the top ten finishers.
There were a number of investigations post-race, other than the Hamilton-Albon incident: it appears that a number of drivers/cars had DRS activated in a yellow sector on lap 53, when Bottas parked his vehicle. It remains to be seen whether further penalties will be meted out…
Honda has stepped up to the plate with regard to their powerplant, as the Red Bulls had great speed, as did Gasly’s Toro Rosso, who managed to keep Hamilton behind him in the dash to the finish line. The top three teams are still well clear of their rivals, but the gap between them seems to have tightened up a bit. Too bad we are only experiencing this at the end of the season. The development race for 2020 will certainly be an interesting one.
You can watch an official F1 review Brazil 2019 in this video.