A quick turnaround at the start and a tense battle for the lead earned Lewis Hamilton victory in the Brazilian Grand Prix. Max Verstappen was aggressive and eventually finished second, ahead of Mercedes' Bottas.
As the lights went out, Verstappen immediately punched for the lead and took it round the outside of Turn 1. Bottas, eager to defend then made it worse by overshooting Turn 4, handing second place to Sergio Perez.
Perez had by then overtaken Sainz who was battling hard with Norris on the right-hand side of the track. While claiming he got squeezed, reality is he squeezed Norris into the wall, resulting in a puncture for the young McLaren driver. Leclerc benefited from this fight to move up into fourth, ahead of his team mate.
By the end of the first lap, Hamilton had moved up into 6th, ahead of Vettel, Gasly, Ricciardo, Ocon and Alonso.
When Tsunoda then divebombed Stroll, and was then cut across by the same Canadian, the AlphaTauri front wing was left out on track, resulting in a safety car on lap 5 to clear the debris.
The race was restarted on lap 9 but despite Verstappen's very late decision to step on the throttle again, neither Red Bull was challenged, therefore maintaining first and second place. Hamilton locked up his front left but solidly kept third while Bottas only just managed to fend off Leclerc for fourth.
At the back, Mick Schumacher was challenged by Raikkonen, resulting in both men touching on the exit of Turn 1, and Schumacher getting his front wing broken. The Haas driver left debris all over the track while driving around to the pits, resulting in a Virtual Safety Car period to clear the new bits of debris.
Two laps later, the race was on again, with Hamilton chasing Perez until making a pass at the end of the straight, entering lap 19. Perez returned to second on the back straight, but the next lap, the passing manoeuvre was better, enabling Hamilton to maintain second and rapidly charge away from the Red Bull as Bottas came up from behind to challenge the Mexican.
On lap 25, Hamilton was first to pit, taking on hards one lap before Verstappen did. What followed were several quickest laps from Hamilton and Verstappen but over those next laps, Hamilton gradually reduced the gap to and up at around 1.5 seconds to notice that getting closer than that was an entirely different matter.
Bottas meanwhile got up into third via the stops, after which the Finn suddenly found some pace after struggling to keep up on the medium tyres. Bottas maintained identical pace to the two cars 4s ahead of him.
In 5th and 6th followed the Ferraris, opting for a second stint on mediums while every other top 10 drivers had changed to hards.
On lap 39, Verstappen was pitted and changed to a new set of hards, bringing Hamilton in the lead on lap 40 until he too pitted to follow the same strategy. Perez and Bottas pitted in the laps in between without changing positions.
Hamilton edged very close on lap 48 and got ahead on the run to Turn 4 while being on the outside. There, Verstappen braked later, and in his efforts to keep Hamilton behind ran wide and completely missed the corner, forcing Hamilton to do the same. The incident was soon "noted" by the stewards, but without investigation.
On lap 55, Hamilton was again close enough to make a challenge, forcing Verstappen to defend in Turn 1 and then be Vulnerable on the back straight. Verstappen attempted to defend by weaving but this time Hamilton cut across and ahead before going into Turn 4, leaving Verstappen no possibility to attempt the push he did before.
As Hamilton sailed past and ran away to take victory, Verstappen was given the black and white flag for weaving, something he jokingly dismissed on the radio with "Yeah, say hi".
Two laps from the end, Red Bull pitted Perez, allowing him to have to go at fastest lap and get the fastest lap and associated point away from Hamilton. The Mexican did it with a very quick second sector.
After the finish, Hamilton celebrated by taking a Brazilian flag from a marshall when stopping briefly on track, leaving Verstappen to say "Yeah, I did everything, but they were really too quick. Heh".
|2||33||Max Verstappen||Red Bull Racing Honda||71||+10.496s||18|
|4||11||Sergio Perez||Red Bull Racing Honda||71||+39.940s||13|
|7||10||Pierre Gasly||Alphatauri Honda||70||+1 lap||6|
|8||31||Esteban Ocon||Alpine Renault||70||+1 lap||4|
|9||14||Fernando Alonso||Alpine Renault||70||+1 lap||2|
|10||4||Lando Norris||Mclaren Mercedes||70||+1 lap||1|
|11||5||Sebastian Vettel||Aston Martin Mercedes||70||+1 lap||0|
|12||7||Kimi Räikkönen||Alfa Romeo Racing Ferrari||70||+1 lap||0|
|13||63||George Russell||Williams Mercedes||70||+1 lap||0|
|14||99||Antonio Giovinazzi||Alfa Romeo Racing Ferrari||70||+1 lap||0|
|15||22||Yuki Tsunoda||Alphatauri Honda||70||+1 lap||0|
|16||6||Nicholas Latifi||Williams Mercedes||70||+1 lap||0|
|17||9||Nikita Mazepin||Haas Ferrari||69||+2 laps||0|
|18||47||Mick Schumacher||Haas Ferrari||69||+2 laps||0|
|NC||3||Daniel Ricciardo||Mclaren Mercedes||49||DNF||0|
|NC||18||Lance Stroll||Aston Martin Mercedes||47||DNF||0|