Max takes race win amid chaos in Brazil

Sesha Subramanian repots on a Brazilian grand prix, that lived up to its reputation of one of the most exciting races of the year, with crashes, safety cars and drama aplenty.

Sesha Subramanian
25th November 2019
Image: instagram @skysportsf1, Max Verstappen celebrates victory
A stunning second place finish for Toro Rosso's Pierre Gasly, an agonising end for Alex Albon, midfield drama, the two Ferraris crashing each other out, two safety cars and Carlos Sainz's recovery from 20th to 3rd - the Brazilian Grand Prix may not have decided the championship this year but it lived up to its reputation of delivering exciting races.

Max Verstappen started on pole position, Sebastian Vettel was in second and Hamilton 3rd. Charles Leclerc qualified fourth but took a 10-place grid penalty for changing engine components, pushing Valteri Bottas into 4th and Alex Albon into 5th. Pierre Gasly also had a strong qualifying, starting 6th.

The race began at frenetic pace as Charles Leclerc quickly climbed up to sixth. The first incident of note was when Renault's Daniel Ricciardo and Haas' Kevin Magnussen crashed at Turn 4 with the Australian late on his brakes as he made a move on the inside of the Dane. The Australian received a 5-second penalty but both drivers continued.

Verstappen continued to show the strong speed he had shown all through the weekend and quickly pulled away from the pack as Hamilton charged past Vettel to take second. Hamilton tried to undercut Verstappen by pitting on lap 21 and moving to soft tyres but the Dutchman covered it by pitting the next lap. Hamilton however took the race lead as Verstappen got held up by Williams' Robert Kubica being released early from the pitlane. Max then decided enough was enough and overtook both Charles Leclerc and Hamilton to secure the lead after the first round of pit stops.

The first safety car of the race was deployed on lap 52 after Valteri Bottas had strained the engine chasing Leclerc, forcing him to retire with a smoking car. Verstappen pitted under the safety car and switched to soft tyres, emerging second behind Hamilton who had stayed out.

On the safety car restart, Verstappen immediately passed Hamilton on turn 1 while his teammate Alex Albon passed Sebastian Vettel right behind the pair. Six laps later all hell broke loose and this time, the two Ferraris were in the thick of it.

Leclerc passed Vettel down turn 1 for fourth position but the German came back immediately on the straight following turn 3. Vettel tried passing him on the outside and ended up tagging his teammate's front wing - causing a front right puncture for Leclerc and a rear left puncture for himself. A second safety car was brought out with both drivers fuming at each other.

At the restart with 2 laps to go, Alex Albon left too inviting a gap down the inside at Turn 8, leading Lewis Hamilton to divebomb him there. The move did not end well for either of them as Albon tried to shut the door while Lewis was too far committed to pull out of it - leading the world champion to spin Albon around. The Brit-Thai driver who was on track for his first podium in Formula 1 then only finished 14th. Hamilton had front wing damage from the collision and was given a five second penalty after the race.

This allowed Gasly to leapfrog both of them into second place on the back straight to take his first podium in Formula 1.

Behind them, Carlos Sainz made a one-stop strategy work brilliantly as he moved up from 20th on the grid to finish 4th. Hamilton's penalty meant that Sainz got his first podium in Formula 1. Alfa Romeo also had a good outing as Raikkonen and Giovinazzi finished 4th and 5th. Renault's Daniel Ricciardo shook off the early contact and a 5 second penalty to finish 6th.

Max Verstappen took revenge for his disappointing finish last year when the race win was taken out of his hands, but the 2019 Brazilian GP will be remembered more for the chaos behind him.

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