Anton Andres / Formula 1, Mercedes-AMG, Red Bull Racing | November 16, 2016 09:21
Hamilton carries title fight to final race
Lewis Hamilton may have dominated and won yet another race but this year's Brazilian Grand Prix may go down in history as one of the most memorable races in Interlagos. This year's running of the Brazilian GP saw a series of safety car periods, two red flags and many spinouts.
Heavy rain marred the entire race with action happening even before the drivers got to the grid. With standing water all over the track, Romain Grosjean spun on the final corner, sending his Haas straight into the wall. This would be the start of the many delays that would plague the race. The race start was pushed back by 10 minutes and behind the safety car. Several laps were run behind the safety car and racing got underway on lap 8 with Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg running 1-2 respectively. Some teams gambled on taking Intermediate tires despite the downpour. Sebastian Vettel would later spin out on the final corner and, a lap after the Ferrari driver's excursion, Marcus Ericsson would slam into the same barrier as Grosjean. The incident would bring out the first safety car period.
Ericsson's stricken Sauber was blocking the pitlane entrance but, fortunately for Max Verstappen, he was able to take evasive action and was committed to enter the pits. The timing was just right right before the stewards declared the pitlane closed. Not as lucky as Verstappen is Daniel Ricciardo, entering the pits right after it was declared closed. As soon as the green flag waved, it would be Kimi Raikkonen retiring from the race in a dramatic fashion. Raikkonen hydroplaned on the straight, first hitting the outside wall, then, careening into the inner wall. Debris was scattered all over the track and brought out the red flag.
There was an attempt to resume racing under the premise that it will start under the safety car. Heavy road spray hampered visibility which was demonstrated by Jolyon Palmer. Under the treacherous conditions, Palmer was unable to see the Toro Rosso of Daniil Kvyat, ramming into the left rear corner of the latter's car. Despite the heavy shunt, Kvyat was still able to carry on racing. Palmer meanwhile was forced to retire. After that incident, the race was red flagged yet again, much to the displeasure of the Brazilian crowd.
After another red flag period, racing went underway under the safety car for a few laps with the green flag being waved with 40 to go. On restart, Verstappen got a strong start on the cautious Nico Rosberg, making a move on the championship leader and was able to overtake by turn 3. Verstappen nearly lost it at the exit of the final corner but was able to catch the slide, inches away from the barrier. Meanwhile, Fernando Alonso and Vettel were wheel to wheel but Vettel eventually won out of the duel, forcing the Spaniard to run wide. Later on, misfortune would hit Felipe Massa on his final Brazilian GP, spinning out in the last turn and crashing into the wall. Unharmed, the emotional Massa walked back to the pits and was cheered on by the home crowd. Massa's crash also brought out the last safety car of the day.
All this time, Verstappen was making a recovery drive. After switching back to full rain tires, he rejoined the race in 16th. After the restart, he began his charge to the front, gaining positions lap after lap until he eventually caught up to Sergio Perez, running 3rd at the time. With two laps to go, Verstappen and Perez duked it out for third and, with fresher tires, Verstappen was able to overtake the Force India driver to claim a podium finish. Meanwhile, Lewis Hamilton had won the race, ahead of Nico Rosberg by quite some margin. The rain-soaked GP also saw Hamilton keeping his title fight until the last race in Abu Dhabi.
The top 10 finishers in the 2016 Brazilian Grand Prix are Lewis Hamilton, Nico Rosberg, Max Verstappen, Sergio Perez, Sebastian Vettel, Carlos Sainz Jr., Nico Hulkenberg, Daniel Ricciardo, Felipe Nasr and Fernando Alonso.