An utterly spectacular Brazilian Grand Prix ended with Max Verstappen taking victory after a controlled race from pole position. Behind him, Pierre Gasly made it to the podium in a crazy end of the race that involved two safety cars.
The race kicked off with an unusually clean start, with no bumping anywhere across the field. For Verstappen, this was an easy affair as he had the best start and basically had nobody to take into account going into the first corner.
Behind him, Hamilton passed Vettel for second place around the outside of Turn 1, followed by Bottas, Albon, Gasly, Grosjean, Raikkonen and Magnussen keeping their position.
Lando Norris dropped down two places and Ricciardo three. They both saw Giovinazzi and Leclerc pass by, with the latter two changing positions themselves when Leclerc it past the Alfa Romeo on the second lap.
Carlos Sainz made a careful start from the back, but moved up into 16th by lap 4.
Race conditions were considerably different than on Friday or Saturday, with clear skies and 20°C making for a completely different 49°C track temperature.
On lap 8, Ricciardo tried to move past Magnussen at Turn 4, but their coming together saw the Dane spin off the track and rejoin in 19th. Renault's Aussie meanwhile had to pit for a new front wing and new soft tyres, resulting in a drop to 20th position. Ricciardo was later also handed a 5s time penalty for causing the collision.
On lap 20, despite Pirelli's one-top prediction, Hamilton pitted and took on new softs. Verstappen and Red Bull reacted the next lap, but lost first place, probably due to some time loss where Kubica exited from his pitstop just ahead of Verstappen.
However, Hamilton had some trouble passing Leclerc, and when he finally did, Verstappen slipped through as well. This enabled DRS for the Dutchman, which he used perfectly to get past Hamilton yet again at the end of the straight. Albon then also helped Verstappen a bit by doing his best to keep Hamilton behind, making for 2.5s gap between the Red Bull and Hamilton on lap 24.
Meanwhile, Vettel and Bottas pitted, with Bottas interestingly taking on hard tyres, clearly going for a single stopper. Vettel took on mediums for his second stint. Leclerc also pitted to take on hard tyres.
By lap 31, everybody had made a stop. Verstappen slowly extended his lead to Hamilton while Vettel went fastest to reduce his own deficit to Hamilton to 9s. Bottas, Albon and Leclerc followed next. Gasly held on to 7th, followed by Raikkonen, Giovinazzi and Perez. Ricciardo at the time had moved back up to 11th, just 1.5s off a points-scoring position.
On lap 42, Bottas's single stopper plan is in the garbage can, as the Finn pitted to change to mediums. It means he fell behind Albon and Leclerc, into 6th place, but only 3.5s behind the Ferrari driver. Bottas however immediately recorded the fastest lap, and went 2.5s quicker than Leclerc's 1:13.2. Once in DRS range of Leclerc, it still proved difficult for Bottas to make a pass, with several attempts failing, despite getting to within touching distance to Leclerc's Ferrari.
Hamilton pitted the next lap, and Verstappen another lap later, with both changing to mediums. The gap between Verstappen and Hamilton was just 1.5s after their stops.
Vettel stayed out, but his 7s advantage on Verstappen and Hamilton quickly disappeared as Verstappen and Hamilton lapped 1.5s quicker than the Ferrari.
When the German was about to be passed, he was pitted, exchanging his mediums to softs for the remaining 21 laps.
On lap 52, Bottas's Mercedes started to smoke somewhat, but it was only until half a lap later that the Finn reported a loss of power, triggering him to park it at Turn 4. He did so closely to a marshall post, but when the recovery truck was put into action, the safety car was brought out.
Verstappen, Leclerc and both Williams used the opportunity to pit, meaning that Hamilton came back into the lead, followed by Verstappen, Vettel, Albon, Leclerc, Gasly, Grosjean, Sainz, Raikkonen and Giovinazzi.
On lap 59, the race got going again, and despite an unsually late return to the throttle from leader Hamilton, he still got passed through Turn 1 by Verstappen. He called himself earlier a "sitting duck", and it proved to be true for the Mercedes driver.
The other Red Bull of Albon also gained a position, while Grosjean lost 5 in the restart. This brought Sainz into 7th, and Ricciardo into the points as he also managed to get past Perez.
As Verstappen powered away from the pack, Hamilton came under fire from Albon, but when he failed to make that pass, it was Vettel and Leclerc who were attempting to move up the pecking order.
On lap 65, it was Leclerc who went for a pass on Vettel, and made it work, but trouble was upon them on the back straight. As Leclerc moved to the left to defind the inside of the corner, Vettel shot past on the right hand side, with DRS fully open. However, the German then went to the left again, leaving Leclerc somewhat surprised, and making for a collission that created two punctures, and two retirements.
The damage left out on track meant Stroll also had to retire after that with a broken suspension, and the safety car was brought out again. This time, Mercedes opted to switch Hamilton to softs, getting him back on track in fourth, behind Verstappen, Albon and Gasly.
With two laps remaining, the race was restarted. Hamilton immediately got past Gasly. At Turn 10, Hamilton tried to make it past Albon too, but it lead to a collision that saw Albon spin, dropping him down to 15th.
Hamilton went on to take Gasly, and they finished side by side, but it was Gasly who finished second, making for a great result for Honda.
|1||33||Max Verstappen||Red Bull Racing Honda||71||1:33:14.678||25|
|2||10||Pierre Gasly||Scuderia Toro Rosso Honda||71||+6.077s||18|
|3||55||Carlos Sainz||McLaren Renault||71||+8.896s||15|
|4||7||Kimi Räikkönen||Alfa Romeo Racing Ferrari||71||+9.452s||12|
|5||99||Antonio Giovinazzi||Alfa Romeo Racing Ferrari||71||+10.201s||10|
|7||44||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes AMG||71||+11.139s||6|
|8||4||Lando Norris||McLaren Renault||71||+11.204s||4|
|9||11||Sergio Perez||Racing Point BWT Mercedes||71||+11.529s||2|
|10||26||Daniil Kvyat||Scuderia Toro Rosso Honda||71||+11.931s||1|
|11||20||Kevin Magnussen||Haas Ferrari||71||+12.732s||0|
|13||63||George Russell||Williams Mercedes||71||+13.599s||0|
|14||8||Romain Grosjean||Haas Ferrari||71||+14.247s||0|
|15||23||Alexander Albon||Red Bull Racing Honda||71||+14.927s||0|
|16||88||Robert Kubica||Williams Mercedes||70||+1 lap||0|
|19||18||Lance Stroll||Racing Point BWT Mercedes||65||DNF||0|
|NC||77||Valtteri Bottas||Mercedes AMG||51||DNF||0|
Good things come to those who wait... ⏳🤩— McLaren (@McLarenF1) November 17, 2019
2072 days 📅
118 races 😤
1 group of loyal fans 🙌
We might have missed out on the podium but... WE’RE BACK IN THE TOP 3! 🏆🥳#FansLikeNoOther #FearlesslyForward pic.twitter.com/zXrrMVK2mF