The Brazilian GP has always provided a spicy race, so why would the 2016 Grand Prix in Sao Paulo be any different?
The Mercedes pair headed into this race knowing that Nico Rosberg could finish second at this event and in the final event at Abu Dhabi, and still win the world championship. All that Lewis could do is win, and hope for the best. Maybe a Red Bull thrown into the mix would help. It would certainly give the last race a bit more energy.
Because I can be rather stupid at times, I messed up the race start time and before I realised, the race was red flagged at 21 laps, which is when I started watching. As always, I blamed the wife, a massive Rosberg fan. What I can tell you is that in the first period of racing, Raikkonen spun and ended his race, Along with his Ferrari teammate who luckily avoided the wall, Ricciardo was handed a 5-second penalty and a few others fell victim to the extremely wet racing conditions. After a red flag, the race started again behind the safety car for a number of laps before it was red flagged, yet again. This was displeasing to not only a number of drivers, but also to the booing grandstands.
Finally, the race was underway. Hamilton burst away from the start and being such a Ninja when it comes to wet racing, had no issues from the challengers behind. To the delight of Hamilton fans, young Max Verstappen passed Rosberg who seemed to be struggling in the rain, or maybe he was just playing it safe. Max then had a scary moment as he dropped his Redbull on the white line, sending the vehicle into a 90-degree slide, only for him to hold it, avoid the barrier and carry on in second place.Brilliant. His second place didn’t last long though as Redbull pitted both their drivers onto Intermediate tyres, a brave move which resulted in1 fast lap, more rain, and a legend by the name of Felipa Massa hitting the wall and blocking the pit entrance, him also on the intermediate tyres.
This was Massa’s last ever home race and as the safety car removed the damage, Massa was given a Guard of honour by the Mercedes and Ferrari team as he walked down the pitlane, greeted halfway by his wife and young son resulted in a lot of tears. A touching moment amongst fierce competition.
The safety car unified Hamilton’s advantage and allowed Ricciardo and Max to get back onto full wets, putting them both near the back of the grid, with 10 laps remaining. This is when the magic happened. Verstappen caught his team mate with tremendous speed and passed him around the outside as he struggled to overtake the vehicle in front. But that was not an issue for Max, as he quickly discarded of him also. Max continued to shed up the track and fellow drivers with some wonderful outside overtaking moves using lines reminiscent of Karting in the wet. He soon approached his arch nemesis Vettel and after gaining the inside line, passing him Also. As always, Vettel was unhappy and claimed he was forced off the track, boohoo. Time was ticking as Max continued to pass with sublime driving. With 3 laps remaining, Max was hunting down Perez in 3rd place, and although Perez fought hard, there was nothing stopping the young man who has really spiced up F1 this season.
The Red Bull has always been a fantastic car in the wet, but this was a driving masterclass by Verstappen, something which could not be replicated by his teammate. Many are calling it one of the best drives ever in Formula 1. Hamilton finished the race in 1st, winning by 11 seconds from Nico Rosberg.
Hamilton has brought this championship down to the wire, both drivers have now won 9 races each, with the mechanical failure to Lewis being his downfall this season. The last race in two weeks is at THE Yas Marina circuit in Abu Dhabi. If Hamilton wins there, he will need Rosberg to finish 4th or lower, a massive ask. The Brazil GP was defiantly Hamilton’s chance to gain a little more advantage, and with the Redbulls speed and Nicos slide, it nearly happened. If Rosberg wins the championship, I will be happy for him, he probably deserves one after trailing to Lewis his whole career. The fact remains, though, If Hamilton did not have the engine failure after leading the Malaysian GP with 15 laps to go, he would be in the driving seat. Rosberg has been graced with 100% reliability this season, which looks like it could decide the championship, for me, that’s not how it should go.
Images Courtesy of F1.com