Mercedes AMG F1 claimed their fifth constructors championship at Interlagos after Ferrari failed to outscore the German team, just two weeks after Lewis Hamilton claimed his fifth world title at the Mexican Grand Prix. While, Red Bull’s Max Verstappen was denied a certain victory by Mercedes junior, and Force India driver, Esteban Ocon, tipping him into a spin, while attempting to unlap himself.
It started going wrong for Ferrari from the very start with Sebastian Vettel, not being able to initially engage first gear off the line on the installation lap, then lost out to Valtteri Bottas off the race start going into turn 1, dropping back to third place. Then, Ferrari teammate, Kimi Raikkonen briefly lost out to Max Verstappen through the Senna S, but regained fourth place going into turn 4, Descida do Lago.
The next few laps were the Red Bull show, Verstappen, overtook Raikkonen for fourth place around the outside of turn 1 on lap 3, then down the inside of Vettel, again, at turn 1 for third place on lap 4. Red Bull stablemate, Daniel Ricciardo was not to be outdone, making up five places to sixth in just five laps, negating his five-place grid penalty for replacing a seized turbocharger after his retirement in Mexico.
Verstappen, on lap 10, continued his rise up the field with a pass on Bottas down the inside of turn 1 to move into 2nd place. And when Hamilton pitted for tires on lap 20, Verstappen stayed out for 16 more laps, when he pitted for soft tires, whereas Hamilton was on the slower medium tire. And that tire advantage paid off, with Verstappen breezing past Hamilton on the main straight for the lead on lap 40.
On lap 44, which coincidentally is Hamilton’s car number, a Mercedes junior driver, Esteban Ocon, attempted to unlap himself through the Senna S and collided with Verstappen, resulting in both drivers spinning, while Hamilton slipped between them for the lead. Verstappen did get to within 1.5 seconds of Hamilton by the chequered flag but was being hampered by a damaged floor from the collision.
For the record, I’m not claiming conspiracy, more poking fun at the theorists that do.
Daniel Ricciardo in the sister Red Bull came close to claiming a podium finish, as close as 1/2 second near the end of the Grand Prix, but his Renault R.E.18 power unit couldn’t quite keep up with the Ferrari 062 EVO power unit in the back of Raikkonen’s Ferrari in the full throttle run from Juncao to the Senna S.
Post-race, Verstappen, physically attacked Ocon, pushing the Frenchman a number of times, in a heated exchange. I certainly don’t condone physical violence, but it’s certainly understandable, as I believe that Ocon was at fault, he was a backmarker, and not fighting for position. The FIA agreed, handing Ocon a 10-second stop/go penalty, the most severe in race penalty, and that should have been the end of it.
The FIA punished Verstappen with two days of public service, whatever that may be, for ‘shoving or hitting Ocon forcibly several times in the chest’, which you have to believe is correct, drivers cannot get into a physical confrontation with another driver without penalty, Verstappen is lucky it’s not a criminal charge.
With Mercedes wrapping up the constructors championship in Brazil and the drivers title sealed two weeks ago, the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in two weeks really holds very little interest apart from the shiny lights of Yas Marina, unless something spectacular, like Fernando Alonso winning his final F1 race (in this term) for McLaren, this will more than likely be my final write-up of the year in regard to Grand Prix.
Brazilian Grand Prix 2018 Results
|1. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) 1:27:09.066
2. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) +1.469
3. Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari) +4.764
4. Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull) +5.193
5. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) +22.943
|6. Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) +26.997
7. Charle Leclerc (Sauber) +44.199
8. Romain Grosjean (HAAS) +51.230
9. Kevin Magnussen (HAAS) +52.857
10. Sergio Perez (Force India) +1 LAP