Leave Race Control alone, they know what they’re doing…
Interlagos played host to a marathon of a race that tested the patience of fans both in the grandstands and at home.
The race start was delayed by ten minutes after Romain Grosjean crashed on his way to the grid. The cars were finally sent out behind the safety car for the first seven of seventy-one laps.
As soon as lap eight some drivers were making the switch from extreme wets to intermediate tyres, including the king of these conditions, Jenson Button.
Marcus Ericsson became the first casualty of the race and spun out, blocking the entrance to the pit lane. The race was eventually restarted for almost twenty seconds, as Kimi Raikkonen had a heart-in-the-mouth spin and ended up facing the wrong way down the main straight and was close to collecting several cars behind him.
The race was red flagged.
After a sizeable delay the cars were sent out behind the safety car for eight laps before the second red flag was waved. This sparked a great deal of protest both from the fans in the stands, who started booing and gesticulating, and on social media.
The drivers were also unimpressed, as many believed conditions were manageable enough to go racing. Fans appeared to stream out of the grandstands and the rain continued to fall.
However in hindsight it’s clear race control made the right call. The race was able to continue without any further delays, though there was a final safety car for Felipe Massa. Visibility wasn’t ideal and several drivers performed some pirouettes, but ultimately the safety of the drivers was paramount and gifted us a dramatic – but safe – finish to the race.
The Brazilian GP was always going to be an emotional affair for Felipe Massa.
In a cruel twist of fate, Massa spun in the final corner and was spat out at the pit lane entry much like Marcus Ericsson.
The Williams driver then began to walk back to the pits, shrouded in the Brazilian flag as he bid farewell to his countrymen in the stands. As he reached the pitlane he was greeted by a guard of honour of teams, colleagues and family members. A bittersweet farewell, but one than allowed Formula One to bid farewell to a legend in a fitting way.
Sauber’s strategy clinches points – and millions of dollars
Sauber have had a season to forget. The underfunded team has languished at the back of the grid for most of the season and both drivers started at the back of the field.
Yet a sublime strategy from the team that saw them stay out on extreme wets as others pitted for inters awarded them track position over the rest of the grid, and Felipe Nasr was able to hold his position and cross the line in ninth.
Those two points mean Sauber leapfrog Manor in the Championship standings with only one more race to go: a much-needed boost for the team going into 2017.
Though sadly Manor had both cars running in the points for most of the race, and lose both tenth place in the Championship and several millions of dollars in prize money.
Verstappen outshone the rest of the field, but Hulkenberg and Sainz deserve some of the glory
Red Bull made a mess of their strategy and were lucky to have drivers with the talent to make up the ground to hide it.
Ricciardo and Verstappen both pitted for inters after the second red flag, only for the rain to intensify and it become apparent they had made a grave mistake.
Both cars dove back into the pits for extreme wets, and fell down the order like a stone in a lake.
But the afternoon wasn’t over for them yet: Ricciardo started to slice his way through but it was his teammate Verstappen who braved some hairy moves and found grip where no one else could to pick off the field one by one. He came out of the pits in 11th and finished the race in third.
However lost in this is the performances of Nico Hulkenberg, his teammate Sergio Perez, and Carlos Sainz.
Hulkenberg was sitting in fourth after the first red flag and had a fair shot at his first podium: the German at Interlagos in these conditions is a match made in racing heaven. However Hulkenberg had to pit after the restart after picking up a puncture, and had to fight his way back up the order – which he did with aplomb, though was overshadowed by Verstappen’s superior attempt.
Perez was mugged of a podium finish by Verstappen with only two laps to go, and Sainz of a career-best fourth place by the Dutchman and then Sebastian Vettel.
The title rolls on to Abu Dhabi
Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg held on for dear life and survived a gruelling Brazilian GP to finish 1-2. Rosberg only needs to finish third even if Hamilton wins – but it’s not over until the chequered flag falls.
Brazilian GP 2016 results
- Lewis Hamilton MERCEDES
- Nico Rosberg MERCEDES
- Max Verstappen RED BULL
- Sergio Perez FORCE INDIA
- Sebastian Vettel FERRARI
- Carlos Sainz Jr TORO ROSSO
- Nico Hulkenberg FORCE INDIA
- Daniel Ricciardo RED BULL
- Felipe Nasr SAUBER
- Fernando Alonso MCLAREN
- Valtteri Bottas WILLIAMS
- Esteban Ocon MANOR
- Danill Kvyat TORO ROSSO
- Kevin Magnussen RENAULT
- Pascal Wehrlein MANOR
- Jenson Button MCLAREN
DNF: Felipe Massa WILLIAMS; Esteban Guttierez HAAS; Jolyon Palmer RENAULT; Kimi Raikkonen FERRARI; Marcus Ericsson SAUBER
DNS: Romain Grosjean HAAS
The Abu Dhabi GP takes place on 27th November