Max Verstappen earned a redemptive victory during a brilliant Brazilian Grand Prix to provide Formula 1 a glimpse of what there is to look forward to in the future.

The Dutchman dominated qualifying and converted pole position into his and Red Bull’s third victory of the season after twice overtaking world champion Lewis Hamilton for the lead at Interlagos, while tensions reached a crescendo at Ferrari in dramatic style. 

Here are some of the main talking points from the Brazilian Grand Prix…

Max v Lewis just what F1 needs 

The duel between Verstappen and Hamilton for the lead in Brazil was breathless as the pair went wheel-to-wheel on multiple occasions in a thrilling scrap that the former ultimately came out on top of. 

Hamilton had already disposed of Sebastian Vettel’s Ferrari with a sublime around-the-outside overtake into Turn 1 at the start and had kept within touching distance of Verstappen in the opening stint before Mercedes attempted an undercut strategy. 

It proved successful as Hamilton emerged narrowly ahead of Verstappen on track, but the Red Bull driver almost immediately reclaimed the lead with a brilliant dive down the inside at Turn 1. 

Mercedes opted to favour track position during a Safety Car triggered by Valtteri Bottas’ stoppage for an engine failure, while Verstappen dived into the pits to fit fresh Soft tyres. 

At the restart, he swept around the outside of Hamilton - who was on ageing Mediums - and muscled his way into the lead through the Senna Esses. Hamilton attempted to fight back into Turn 4 as the pair once again went side-by-side but had to back out to avoid potential contact. 

The edge-of-your-seat battle provided a taste of what we could have to look forward to in the coming years, as Red Bull continues to make competitive strides with new engine suppliers Honda.

The Japanese manufacturer’s power unit performance along Interlagos’ straights was particularly impressive throughout the weekend, and appeared stronger than its rivals Ferrari and the long-time benchmark in the V6 era, Mercedes. 

Here’s to more plenty more fights between Verstappen and Hamilton in the future…

Fireworks at Ferrari 

After 20 races of growing tension between Ferrari’s drivers, Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc finally came to blows in spectacular fashion at Interlagos. 

Scrapping over fourth place - and with third spot in the championship up for grabs - Vettel and Leclerc came together and took each other out of the race, leaving Ferrari without points from a grand prix for the first time this season. 

Leclerc had just mugged Vettel into Turn 1 on Lap 66 of Sunday’s 71-lap race in Sao Paulo when Vettel attempted to fight back using DRS along the back straight and tun to Turn 4. 

But the German appeared to move left towards Leclerc and contact was made, resulting in a front right puncture for Leclerc and a rear-left puncture for Vettel. Both drivers were out on the spot. 

In many ways an on-track collision between the duo was inevitable given the bubbling fractions within Ferrari throughout 2019 due to how it has handled its team orders policy at multiple races. 

The warning signs had already come at the start of the year with Leclerc rebuffing team principal Mattia Binotto’s comments that Vettel would have priority in any “50-50 decisions” as the more experienced driver. 

Leclerc ignored team orders in Bahrain as he demonstrated he had the pace to match and beat Vettel, before his form became even stronger after the French Grand Prix in June. 

Another flashpoint came in Sochi as Vettel failed to stick to a pre-race agreement to let polesitter Leclerc back into the lead after the first lap in a race that ultimately swung the way of its chief rival Mercedes. 

Amid their intense scrap to secure intra-team honours for 2019, the situation came to a head in Brazil with their first crash as teammates. 

Both drivers remained coy when asked who was to blame for the incident, while Binotto described the clash as a “silly action”. 

Ferrari has summoned Vettel and Leclerc to its Maranello headquarters to review the incident and deal with the matter internally behind closed doors ahead of the season finale in Abu Dhabi on December 1. 

Gasly earns redemption 

After claiming a stunning second-place finish for Toro Rosso at Interlagos, Pierre Gasly labelled Sunday’s Brazilian Grand Prix as the “best day of my life”. 

Continuing his strong form since his mid-season demotion from Red Bull back to the Toro Rosso fold, Gasly was one of the standout performers in qualifying on his way to setting the seventh-fastest time, which turned into a sixth-place starting spot when Leclerc’s 10-place grid drop for an engine penalty was applied. 

The Frenchman impressed throughout the race and looked destined to finish sixth, only for a flurry of late drama to unfold. Ferrari’s latest self-capitulation saw him promoted to fourth at the restart following a late Safety Car, before he gained two further positions when Hamilton and Albon collided on the penultimate lap. 

Hamilton recovered from the tangle to sit right on Gasly’s gearbox on the final lap, but the latter held on to win out in a nail-biting drag to the finish line to seal second spot by less than a tenth of a second. His relief was evident with his emotional and euphoric post-race outburst over team radio. 

Gasly’s shock result not only acted as some long-awaited joy following a tough campaign, but it provided Toro Rosso with its second podium of the year, having gone a decade since its last rostrum appearance. 

The Faenza squad has also collected the most points it has ever scored in a single season before and has leapfrogged Racing Point into sixth place in the constructors’ and just eight points behind Renault heading to Abu Dhabi. 

Stellar Sainz ends McLaren’s wait 

Carlos Sainz turned in what he described as the best drive of his career with a sensational recovery from the back of the grid to claim his first-ever podium in F1 in Sao Paulo.

A sudden loss of power in his McLaren MCL34 during qualifying prevented the Spaniard from setting a time in Q1 and left him facing an uphill battle to even score points from 20th on the Interlagos grid. 

On a one-stop strategy, Sainz powered his way through the field in a remarkable display and took advantage of the late chaos to claim fourth place on the road. 

He inherited third place on the podium after Hamilton picked up a five-second post-race time penalty for tangling with Albon on the penultimate lap, handing Sainz his maiden top-three finish after 101 grand prix starts. 

Having missed the initial podium ceremony, Sainz and his McLaren team celebrated the Woking squad’s first rostrum appearance in five years on the podium over two hours after the race.

McLaren has now clinched the much-sought-after fourth spot in the constructors’ standings over rivals Renault with a race to spare, while Sainz - who has undoubtedly been one of the drivers of the season - holds seventh place in the championship, level with Gasly, who currently sits ‘best of the rest’ on 95 points. 

 

Comments

Loading Comments...