Verstappen leads Honda-powered 1-2 as the Ferrari pair collide

by Harry Slade
Max Verstappen

Max Verstappen claimed victory at the Brazilian Grand Prix ahead of Pierre Gasly as the Ferrari pairing collided in a chaotic race at Interlagos

Sebastian Vettel initially got away well, only for Lewis Hamilton to bravely lunge around the outside of the Senna S – promoting himself to second.

Further back, Daniel Ricciardo locked up into turn four, clashing with Kevin Magnussen as they contested twelfth and thirteenth.

The Australian was forced to pit for a new front wing due to the contact, while Magnussen was left a lowly eighteenth due to the incident.

The stewards duly delivered Ricciardo a five-second time penalty for the incident.

Back at the front, it took Charles Leclerc ten laps to find himself back into the top six as he passed former Red Bull incumbent Pierre Gasly.

Mercedes AMG Petronas triggered the opening round of pitstops on lap twenty, as the Brit urged his team over the radio to take the shot.

Verstappen followed suit a lap later, only for Red Bull’s herculean pit-stop efforts to be in vein as Hamilton came out ahead.

The Red Bull effort was hindered further by Robert Kubica being released into the path of the RB15, causing the Dutchman to take avoiding action and giving the Pole a five-second time penalty.

Following the stops the duo quickly passed Leclerc’s Ferrari, and Verstappen soon moved onto the attack of Hamilton’s net race lead.

The Red Bull driver attacked the world champion into the Senna S – diving to the inside to repass Hamilton.

Alex Albon then allowed his team-mate through, holding up Hamilton until the main straight.

The top two pitted for soft tyres, committing to a two-stop strategy.

This allowed Vettel to gamble on a set of Medium tyres, while Valtteri Bottas moved onto hard tyres.

The hard tyre gamble proved futile for the Finn as after a short eleven lap stint he switched onto the Medium tyres.

A lap later it was Hamilton’s turn to stop, moving onto the Medium tyres in his own right.

Verstappen knew the pressure was on, as Hamilton attempted to undercut the Dutchman, yet another sub-two second stop from the Red Bull mechanics allowed him to retain his advantage.

Bottas then set about reclaiming fifth from Leclerc following his pitstop.

The Finn got close on a handful of occasions into the Senna S, only to be denied by robust defensive moves from the Monegasque.

However, it soon went from bad to worse for Bottas as a power unit fault saw him retire from the race – his second retirement of the season.

The incident triggered a safety car, and after much deliberation on the pit wall Mercedes informed Hamilton to do the opposite to Verstappen, allowing him to reclaim the lead as the Dutchman pitted for Soft tyres.

Another benefactor was Leclerc who pitted for a set of Soft tyres in his own right.

On the restart, Hamilton showed Verstappen the outside line, only for the 22-year-old to drive clean around the outside of the world champion to move into a race-winning position that he would never relinquish.

Behind them, Albon produced the same manoeuvre on Vettel to move into the podium places.

The pressure wasn’t over for Albon as Vettel continued to hound the Thai driver.

Vettel was then forced to turn his attention behind him as Leclerc produced a superb move into turn one.

Vettel fought back on the run into turn four, only for contact to leave both of the Ferrari cars out of the race.

The German seemed to move across, colliding with the Monegasque in an incident mirroring his own incident with Mark Webber in at the 2010 Turkish Grand Prix.

The fallout was a safety car and a two-lap shootout to follow.

Verstappen led Albon, with Gasly completing a Honda-powered one-two-three, as Hamilton pitted for a fresh set of Soft tyres.

Hamilton quickly passed Gasly on the restart and was soon on the tail of Albon.

A lunge from the Brit saw the Thai driver pitched into a spin, crushing his hopes of a debut podium.

The move promoted Gasly to second as he held off Hamilton at the flag to claim a first-ever podium in Formula 1 for the Frenchman.

Carlos Sainz Jr. was a remarkable fourth for McLaren from the back of the grid – as an under the radar drive saw the Spaniard hold off the Alfa Romeo Racing pair to equal his career high best-finish.

Kimi Raikkonen led team-mate Antonio Giovinazzi as the Hinwil-outfit gained much needed ground in the constructors championship after a barren run in recent races.

Daniel Ricciardo was seventh as Renault look to defend their fifth in the constructors from Toro Rosso, ahead of Lando Norris in the second McLaren.

Sergio Perez and Daniil Kvyat rounded out the points in ninth and tenth respectively.

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