A bold first corner move by Max Verstappen led to a second victory of the season for the Red Bull driver, while Lewis Hamilton sealed a fourth world title despite finishing down in ninth place.
Drama befell the front-runners through the opening chicane, as Verstappen stuck his car around the outside of polesitter Sebastian Vettel at the first right apex. Forcing his way past at the second left apex, Hamilton cut back to the outside of Vettel through the Turn 3 exit.
Disaster struck for both title protagonists, as Vettel glanced the right rear wheel of Hamilton’s Mercedes with his front wing endplate. Hamilton picked up a puncture, while Vettel lost his endplate, with both pitting for new tyres and nosecone respectively at the end of the first lap.
With his two chief rivals eliminated, Verstappen was able to pull away at the front, the second Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas unable to keep pace with the Red Bull in second.
Vettel made much faster progress through the midfield than Hamilton, the latter’s car suffering from overheating in the tow of Carlos Sainz for nearly a dozen laps.
A mid-race virtual safety car for Brendon Hartley‘s expired Toro Rosso allowed Hamilton to switch compounds from soft to super soft, allowing him to make faster progress up the order.
The only real resistance he faced on his way to ninth place was the very last car he passed, tenth placed Fernando Alonso. The McLaren driver put up a staunch defence, holding him at bay in the closing laps, but a bold move around the outside of Turn 5 gave Hamilton the place.
Vettel climbed to fourth, not enough to keep the championship alive going to the next round in Brazil. He finished 23 seconds behind his team-mate Kimi Räikkönen, who suffered a poor start and had to fight back against the Force India pair to finish on the podium.
Esteban Ocon rounded out the top five, he and team-mate Sergio Perez sandwiching the Williams of Lance Stroll in sixth. Stroll was a major beneficiary of the earlier virtual safety car, making his one and only stop while the race was neutralised to capitalise on his strong start.
Another driver to benefit from good timing for their only pit-stop was Kevin Magnussen, who was the very first driver to pull in when the virtual safety car was deployed. Having stayed out longer than most and made a nuisance of himself for the early stoppers, eighth was a fine reward from 14th on the grid.
Daniel Ricciardo had been scything through the field in the early laps, but pulled in shortly after with an MGU-H failure, one of the new components fitted for this race. Nico Hülkenberg also retired, being told to stop by his Renault team when his car was deemed unsafe to continue.
Marcus Ericsson turned in one of his best performances of the year, fighting tooth and nail with Alonso for points in the early stages. He had lost out by taking his stop just before the virtual safety car, and shortly after pulled into the pits with his engine on fire and being forced to retire.
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