Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton took the win in Formula 1 Brazil Grand Prix from Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen and Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen in a dramatic race.
The start was good from the pole-sitter Hamilton to lead at Interlagos but Mercedes teammate Bottas did better to leapfrog Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel for second with Kimi Raikkonen fending off Red Bull’s Verstappen for fourth.
But the Finn couldn’t hold on for long as Verstappen passed him for fourth and soon found a way past Vettel as well on the supersoft tyres to the Ferrari’s soft compound. A lock-up from Vettel allowed Raikkonen to pass his teammate for fourth.
While Hamilton led Bottas, it was Verstappen ahead of Raikkonen and Vettel with the other Red Bull of Daniel Ricciardo joining the fray in sixth. Sauber’s Charles Leclerc was the best of the rest after teammate Marcus Ericsson had a collision with Haas’ Romain Grosjean.
The Frenchman kept track position but the Swede lost out to Toro Rosso’s Pierre Gasly and soon to Haas’ Kevin Magnussen as well. Outside the Top 10, the two Renault drivers Nico Hulkenberg and Carlos Sainz having a duel of their own which included a small contact.
Sainz though came out in front of the tussle with his teammate in 13th. At the front though, Hamilton led the way but Verstappen passed Bottas for second with the Finn under pressure from Raikkonen, Vettel and Ricciardo.
The Mercedes drivers decided to pit early for the medium compound with Bottas getting the chance first on Lap 19 and Hamilton following suit on Lap 20. It gave Verstappen the lead of the race from Raikkonen, Vettel and Ricciardo.
The best of the rest fight settled down with Leclerc ahead of Grosjean and Magnussen while the final point was taken by Racing Point Force India’s Sergio Perez from Gasly. At the same time, Ericsson retired due to a spin from the damage on Lap 1.
Few laps later, Hulkenberg was forced to retire as well due to an engine issue. At the front, the Ferrari drivers pitted with Vettel doing it on Lap 28 and Raikkonen on Lap 32 – the former’s pit stop time was counted at 1.9s only.
The Finn lost a place to Vettel in the pits but the team switched them later on while they were battling with Bottas for the final podium position. Red Bull went in deep in the race with Verstappen only pitting on Lap 36.
The Dutchman lost the lead to Hamilton in the pits but Verstappen regained it on track on Lap 40. It looked good for the Red Bull driver but a collision with Racing Point Force India’s Esteban Ocon halted his progress.
The Frenchman was trying to unlap himself in the opening few corners and went for the inside line in the right hander but he touched Verstappen which led him into a spin as Hamilton passed him then to retake the lead.
The Dutchmann dropped back by nearly six seconds with Ocon then handed a 10 second stop and go penalty for the incident. In the melee, Raikkonen also passed Bottas for third with Ricciardo then chasing the Finn after getting past Vettel early on.
Verstappen caught up with Hamilton in the latter stages but the British driver had enough to keep the lead and win for the 10th time this year – it was also Hamilton’s first win since being crowned the 2018 champion.
A furious Verstappen was second with Raikkonen holding off Ricciardo for third by just the 0.429s. It was a welcome fourth place for Ricciardo after a torrid run of races. The Top 6 was finished by Bottas and Vettel – the duo opting for two stops in the end.
A win and a fifth place was enough for Mercedes to clinch the constructors’ championship for 2018 – the team’s fifth consecutive title with 620 points to Ferrari’s 553 with still a race to go in the season.
Behind the leading pack, it was Leclerc again in seventh as best of the rest from the Haas duo Grosjean and Magnussen while Perez rounded out the Top 10 points positions. It was feisty outside the Top 10 as well.
The two Toro Rosso’s were together with Gasly ahead of Brendon Hartley but the Kiwi’s longer first stint helped him gain more time and be right on his teammate’s tail in the end stages of the race with Sainz behind them.
Toro Rosso asked Gasly to let Hartley go but the Frenchman did not adhere until the penultimate lap which helped Hartley to be 11th while Gasly lost to Sainz as well on the final lap to drop to 13th.
McLaren’s Stoffel Vandoorne had a fighting race against his teammate and the Williams drivers to be 14th with Ocon ending up in 15th from Alonso, Sergey Sirotkin and Lanc Stroll while Hulkenberg and Ericsson were the only retirements.