F1 – BRAZILIAN GP – RACE

Olá, MiniFans! Interlagos hosts the 20th round of the 2019 FIA Formula One World Championship, the first race after Lewis Hamilton managed to obtain his sixth title. The Autodromo José Carlos Pace takes inspiration from a few tracks and always offers great entertainment for fans all over the world. It also used to be the grand finale to the season but fear not: One more race awaits after Brazil.

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The race day presented itself hotter, challenging the teams on their tyre choice and strategy, as the clear one-stopper wasn’t as set on stone as it had been. Sainz went against the current that had set among the drivers starting out of position and chose the softs. The start wasn’t too crowded, and the foreseeable happened: The drivers out of position started climbing up the ladder and Vettel lost his second position to Hamilton. Both Renaults, however, dropped significantly due to a bad start.

A touch between Magnussen and Ricciardo prompted the Australian to stop, as his front wing had been compromised. The incident was noted and the stewards gave a five second penalty to the Renault driver. Meanwhile, in just ten laps, Leclerc had managed to reach the back of the pack made up of the rest of the top six cars. After the pit window for the two stops was opened, Mercedes launched a successful attack with Hamilton and fitted him with soft tyres, somehow helped by Kubica exiting the pits right in front of Verstappen thanks to an unsafe release. Both, on new tyres, managed to go past Leclerc in a matter of a handful of corners and it started a fight of overtaking between them. It didn’t last long due to Hamilton’s battery apparently being dead and giving him problems for a couple of laps.

Ferrari opted to try for a one stop strategy, pitting Vettel for medium tyres, as did Bottas for hards just a few of laps after that. Hamilton’s laments were soon heard on his radio about not having chosen the right tyre as Leclerc made a bet on the hards. The race settled for a while as both Mercedes drivers and Verstappen complained about the wind spinning, affecting the cars’ balance.

The second wave of pit stops was jump started by Bottas and Hamilton followed, trying an unsuccessful undercut on Verstappen thanks to a great job by Red Bull’s mechanics. Vettel’s one stop strategy fell through as well and changed his tyres a lap before Albon did. A surprising Safety Car caused by Bottas’ car failing and needing to be towed off the grass shook the grid and elicited varied responses. Verstappen and Leclerc stopped for softs while Hamilton didn’t, and many didn’t take advantage of the “free” stops.

The restart had Hamilton slowing down the pack almost to the point of stopping, but it wasn’t enough to stop Verstappen from overtaking Hamilton on the outside once they crossed the finish line, while Albon did the same to Vettel in a very similar manoeuvre. The German driver would eventually end up fighting it out with Leclerc, which ended in them touching each other and retiring the cars with punctures. This promoted Albon and Gasly up, while Hamilton stopped for softs in one last attempt at a race win.

The last two laps, finally free from the safety car, were absolute mayhem as Hamilton ploughed through the Honda powered cars and touched Albon, effectively taking him out of the run for victory and launching an investigation. Verstappen took his very deserved win, Gasly scored his first ever podium with a Toro Rosso after having been demoted and Hamilton took a third step on the podium with the prospect of a possible penalty that would give Sainz (who, let me remind you, started dead last in the 20th position of the grid) his first podium as well hanging over his head, as it was announced that it would be investigated after the race.

Huge congratulations to Pierre Gasly for his first career podium and obrigado for another year of great racing, Brazil!