Toro Rosso’s Pierre Gasly was chuffed to finish ahead of Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton in the drag fight to finish the F1 Brazil GP.
As the F1 Brazil GP got underway at Interlagos, Gasly was looking set for a best-of-the-rest finish in the books, after starting a strong sixth due to the penalty to Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc. He maintained track position throughout the grand prix.
But with each retirement at the front, the Frenchman found himself a position higher. Following the retirement of Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas and then a dual DNF for Ferrari drivers, Gasly found himself third at the second safety car re-start.
He was fourth initially but Hamilton decided to pit for fresh rubber. The British racer came out behind but Gasly immediately lost the place at the re-start. Hamilton and Red Bull Racing’s Alexander Albon then clashed later in the penultimate lap.
This helped the Toro Rosso driver to move up to second, a position which he saw through to the end by the skin of his teeth as Hamilton was only 0.062s behind in a drag race like finish. He was ecstatic as his emotions were heightened after winning it from Hamilton.
“It’s just the best day of my life, so many emotions and I’m thinking about all the people who helped me through my career, to put me in F1,” started Gasly. “When I was P4, I saw Lewis with some new tyres and I knew he was going to try something.
“He tried and they then collided and when I saw we could go through this and I was second, I was like, ‘ok this is looking really good’. I still had Lewis behind me, until the last centimeter before the line, I was really trying and I could see his front wing.
“You’ve got the World Champion behind you, pushing you to the limit. I tried to defend the best way I could, and coming out of the last corner, just flat out and hoping that the engine can give you every single horsepower it can get.
“I was pressing the overtake button, trying to get low inside the cockpit and I could see his front wing and I was like: ‘please don’t pass me on the line’ because I’m going to be so pissed off if it happens. I really wanted to keep that second place.
“I must say Honda have been improving so much over the last few months and without this progress it would never have been possible to hold that second place to a Mercedes.” The podium came at a time when Gasly was announced to remain at Toro Rosso for 2020.
He lost his Red Bull seat to Albon already in 2019 and will stay back with the junior team, with whom he has come back handsomely. The Frenchman is back to sixth in the drivers’ championship with 95 points – same as McLaren’s Carlos Sainz.
At the same time, Hamilton was happy to see a youngster fightback and finish on the podium. The British racer said he tried his best to get past Gasly in the drag finish but didn’t have enough. He was also carrying damage from the Albon hit.
“It’s really awesome to see Gasly here, especially through the experience and journey he’s gone through from being in one team then to the next,” said Hamilton. “To come through is really awesome. We had a close battle right to towards the end.
“I was ‘snucking’ down, but he did a fantastic job. He put the car in the right place in every section of the track, was very fair and didn’t make any mistakes. So, hat off to him. The Honda’s obviously made some big steps [this year].
“It’s great to see another manufacturer as strong as they are now.” Even though Hamilton apologised, the British still got the penalty which dropped him to seventh as Sainz made it two first-timers on the F1 podium – although he didn’t get to celebrate early.
Here’s how the F1 Brazil GP panned out
Here’s what happened to Lewis Hamilton and Ferrari drivers
Carlos Sainz gets promoted to podium after being cleared of DRS issue
Ferrari drivers and Mattia Binotto react to the incident
The story was written by Duncan Leahy and edited by Darshan Chokhani