Brazil GP 2017: Sensational victory for Sebastian, P3 for Kimi!

The second last round brought the Formula 1 circus to Sao Paulo, Brazil. There was huge drama already in the very beginning of the qualifying session. The newly crowned world champion Hamilton lost control of his Silver Arrow already on his first flyer and crashed out in Turn 6! What an unexpected turn, which also brought out the red flags. Hamilton being out of the qualifying, teammate Bottas really stepped up and raised his level. The decisive final segment was absolutely hair-raising. Sebastian proved his top form by taking provisional pole by 0.082s to Bottas. Ferrari’s pace seemed competitive, as Kimi was third after the first runs. There had been some light drizzle in Q2, but the rain intensified a little before the last runs in Q3. However, the rain didn’t have an effect on the track conditions. Unfortunately, Sebastian didn’t manage to improve his lap time on his decisive last flyer. According to his own words, he "chickened out" in the braking into Turn 1, where he lost the crucial time. Bottas, on the other hand, drove a phenomenal lap and snatched pole from Sebastian by 0.038s! Kimi completed the splendid result for the red team, qualifying third, only two tenths down on his teammate. Red Bull turned out unable to match the pace of the top two teams; Verstappen qualified 4th and Ricciardo 5th. The Australian, however, was dropped down to P15 due to a grid penalty for an unscheduled engine change. 

The start was absolutely electrifying. Sebastian took a phenomenal start from P2 and snatched the lead! What a sensational move from the passionate German! Bottas was second and his fellow countryman Kimi third. Once again there was first-lap drama. Red Bull’s Ricciardo spun in Turn 2 and dropped down to the back of the pack. Haas’ Magnussen and McLaren’s Vandoorne collided, which ended the race for both of them. Haas teammate Grosjean collided with Force India’s Ocon, which led into Ocon’s first retirement in his F1 career so far. Safety car was deployed, as there was so much debris on the track. Further down the pack, Hamilton had had a stunning opening lap. Having started to the race from the pit lane, the Briton had made it 14th already. 

The re-start took place on lap 6. Sebastian held on to his lead, with the Finns Bottas and Räikkönen right behind him. Hamilton was utterly on flames, and the Briton kept storming through the field. On lap 21 the Briton jumped 5th already, having made a classy overtaking move on home hero Massa, who was driving his last home Grand Prix. Now the hot question was: Would it be possible for Hamilton to make it on the podium? There were 10 seconds separating the Briton from Verstappen´s P4 and 17 seconds from the lead. 

The top four pitted around lap 30 for a fresh set of yellow-marked soft Pirellis. Since Hamilton had started to the race on the more durable rubber, the Briton had a longer first stint. He didn’t pit until on lap 44, for a fresh set of supersoft tyres. Hamilton re-joined the track in P5 and he was absolutely flying on his supersoft Pirellis. Red Bull’s Ricciardo had a similar tyre strategy to Hamilton, and the Australian pitted on the very same lap but dropped down to P8. 

Max Verstappen is known to be a difficult driver to overtake, but at Interlagos the flying Dutchman turned out to be toothless against Hamilton’s storming attack. Verstappen was struggling heavily on his out-worn tyres, and after a short fight Hamilton made his move and snatched P4 from the Red Bull ace. With ten laps to go, Verstappen insisted to pit for the second time, which didn´t cost him any positions. 

Kimi was only five seconds ahead of Hamilton in P3. The Briton smelled Kimi’s blood and began his chase. With six laps to go, Hamilton had closed the gap to the Iceman and was allowed to attack with DRS. However, Kimi kept his head cool as ice and determinedly blocked Hamilton’s every attempt to try a move. Kimi’s defensive driving was absolutely brilliant! Sebastian drove to the chequered flag as the race winner, taking his 51st career victory! The Finns Bottas and Räikkönen completed the podium. It was so great to see both red-suited drivers on the podium again! Thanks to Kimi’s impressive driving, Hamilton was left out of podium in P4. Verstappen finished 5th and teammate Ricciardo 6th. Home hero Massa made a stunning impression on his home crowd by finishing 7th for Williams, having made an overtaking move on McLaren’s Alonso on the final lap. 

The season finale in Abu Dhabi will take place already next week. All the best for the red team for the last round of the season!

With passion for racing red, 
Iina Huhmarniemi

Nov 17, 2017