DPA/Sao Paulo, Brazil
Red Bull’s Max Verstappen captured a Brazilian Grand Prix which erupted into life after two late safety car phases, a collision between Ferrari teammates Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc, and an unlikely second place for Toro Rosso’s Pierre Gasly.
Gasly held off a charging world champion Lewis Hamilton but the Mercedes driver was under investigation after he levered Red Bull’s Alexander Albon off the track in a dramatic closing stage.
Verstappen, who led from pole, took the chequered flag at the 4.309km Interlagos track for his third win of the season and eighth of his career.
But the race will be memorable for Ferrari’s late mishap as Vettel and Leclerc came together and both had to retire with wheel damage, blaming each other over team radio.
“Lewis was very quick so I had to keep pushing and all the time,” Verstappen said.
“He pitted early so we had to be on top of our pit stops we had a good move on him. I could control the race with the tyres I had. It was unbelievable. it was a lot of fun out there and great to win the race.”
It had been a largely tactical race until Valtteri Bottas had to retire his Mercedes with engine damage with some 17 laps remaining.
Verstappen pitted again for fresher tyres while Hamilton stayed out in front. When the safety car finally came in Hamilton was unable to hold off Verstappen, while Albon was able to force his way past Vettel.
Then with five laps remaining the Ferraris collided as Vettel went past Leclerc, their wheels touching in race-ending damage for both cars, leading to the safety car coming back out.
Hamilton jumped into the pits for fresher tyres, coming out fourth behind Verstappen, Albon and Gasly with two laps remaining when the race resumed.
He got past Gasly but he came together with Albon in trying to force his way past, ending the Red Bull driver’s podium chances and suffering wing damage in the process.
Hamilton attacked Gasly but was unable to get past to finish third, but was under investigation by stewards.
“Massive apologies to Albon – the gap was there but it was completely my fault,” Hamilton said.
Gasly said: “This is my first podium in F1 and for sure I will never forget it, it’s such a special moment – so emotional.
“Toro Rosso have given me such a fantastic car since I’ve come back. It’s an amazing day.”
Carlos Sainz in a Mclaren was fourth and could have hopes of a podium place if Hamilton is sanctioned.
The remaining top 10 places were taken by Alfa Romeo duo Kimi Raikkonen and Antonio Giovinazzi, Daniel Ricciardo in a Renault, Lando Norris in a McLaren, Sergio Perez in a Racing Point and Daniil Kvyat in a Toro Rosso.
Verstappen’s victory was the first for Red Bull in Brazil since Vettel triumphed with the team in 2013 and ended four straight 2019 wins by Mercedes as the season now goes into the final race, in Abu Dhabi on December 1.
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