Verstappen shoves Ocon as Hamilton wins
A furious Max Verstappen was pictured pushing Esteban Ocon in the paddock, after a 44th lap-clash with the Force India ended his hopes of winning the Brazilian GP. The Red Bull team principal, Christian Horner, suggested Ocon was fortunate that the Dutchman only shoved him aside given how the race unfolded with Verstappen, the race leader at the time of the incident, ultimately forced to settle for second. Lewis Hamilton clinched victory, earning Mercedes a fifth successive constructors’ championship, but it was that collision between Verstappen and Ocon that dominated the post-match discourse. In his post-match press conference, Verstappen said that Ocon’s 10-second stop-go penalty proved it was the Force India’s mistake. “He [Ocon] got a penalty and that tells you the stewards know who was in the wrong. The penalty for me is that I lost the victory today. We are all passionate about the sport, but it would be odd if I shook his hand. I’m a winner. To get taken out by that and to get a stupid response from their side, I was not happy about that.”
Ocon said: “I was really surprised by the behaviour of Max, afterwards, with the FIA having to intervene. He pushed me and wanted to punch me and that is not professional. I’m used to the fights with Max. He’s always been the same. It goes back a few years.” Horner added: “What on earth Ocon was thinking there is beggars belief. I think look they are quick on the straight, but why on earth is he racing the leader if he doesn’t have the pace and he chucked the car up the inside there, it makes no sense. I think Max has been restrained to be honest, he drove his heart out in a damaged car and Esteban is lucky, and I told Max to get it under control in the cool-down lap. We had Mercedes on the ropes, we passed Ferrari so it was frustrating for everyone.”
The national anthems – British and German – ring out at Interlagos; Lewis Hamilton cannot take that grin off his face. Mercedes are understandably beaming, having sealed a fifth successive constructors’ championship. Hamilton picks up his second winning trophy in São Paulo, as Andrew Shovlin, the chief Mercedes race engineer, lifts the trophy on behalf of his team. Hamilton kickstarts the celebrations, with the Samba in full swing. Queen’s We Are The Champions is blaring out of the Mercedes paddock. As for Max Verstappen, he trudges off the podium. He feels sick, as though he’s been mugged of victory.
Max Verstappen speaks, describing Sebastian Ocon as an “idiot” for barging into him while the Red Bull zoomed beyond the back marker. “I’m happy for second, but we really should have won today,” he says. Kimi Räikkönen, in his 150th race for Ferrari, adds: “It was good, not easy, but some battling so it was run.” Toto Wolff and Hamilton embrace over the barrier in pit lane. Hamilton says: “This is what we all work for. We were struggling, we had problems with the engine and we were sitting ducks at one stage, but Max made a mistake and that brought us back into contention. For everyone back home, God bless and thank you.”
Lewis Hamilton wins the Brazilian GP!
Mercedes have done the double! Hamilton, the world champion, holds on to clinch victory and with it, Mercedes have bagged the constructors’ championship. Brackley will party tonight. Hamilton has now won 50 of the last 99 F1 races. A fantastic victory for the Mercedes, with Max Verstappen forced to settle for second after that clash with Sebastian Ocon put pay to his chances of winning in Interlagos. “I hope I can’t find him [Ocon] now in the paddock,” a seething Verstappen says.
Lap 70/71: Hamilton leads Verstappen by 1.6secs. The Mercedes is clinging on. Can he hang through the final lap and on until the chequered flag? We’re in for a big finish in Brazil.
Lap 69/71: Concern for Lewis Hamilton. “The car’s got no grip,” he says. His Mercedes is sliding around, but can Max Verstappen make the desired dent? Alonso is given a five-second time penalty for ignoring the blue flags. Ricciardo is on the tail of Kimi Räikkönen.
Lap 67/71: Back markers are causing havoc, with Hamilton stuck behind Sirotkin. Verstappen is slightly disadvantaged, given he is unable to lean on DRS. Still, the Red Bull is breathing down his neck. He trails by 1.5secs!
Lap 66/71: Toto Wolff looks a little nervy down in the pit lane. Hamilton’s unhappy at the state of his tyres, with his front-left badly blistered. The Mercedes’s lead has been halved, to less than two seconds ... this race is far from finished in Brazil.
Lap 64/71: Verstappen is eating away at Hamilton’s lead. He’s cut it to 2.4secs. Unsurprisingly, a lightning Ricciardo’s closing on Kimi Räikkönen, almost 0.4secs faster per lap. As for Valtteri Bottas, he’s just set a 1.10, a new track record at Interlagos.
Lap 63/71: Ricciardo sets a new fastest lap of 1.11.343. Alonso is at the back of the grid, down in 18th. He’s also under investigation for ignoring the blue flag. At the front, Hamilton is moaning about a bout of understeer. Can he get the job done?
Lap 62/71: Otmar Szafnauer, Force India’s team principal is unhappy with that 10-second stop-go penalty for Sebastian Ocon. Of that clash with Verstappen, he says: “It’s a big penalty and I completely disagree, you’re allowed to unlap yourself.”
Lap 61/71: Ten laps to go! Hamilton leads Verstappen by 3secs.
Lap 60/71: Bottas pits. He’s in and out in 2.5sec, and he will come out in fifth, a good 19 seconds or so in front of Sebastian Vettel. At the front, with a shed load of back markers still to come, you sense Verstappen is slowly running out of laps to trump Hamilton. Kimi Räikkönen, in third, is placed very nicely.
Lap 59/71: Ricciardo streaks down the inside of Bottas, and this time the Red Bull has his man on toast! Ricciardo sails into fourth, with the Mercedes resigned. Can Ricciardo get to Kimi Räikkönen next? He trails the Finn by 3.7secs.
Lap 58/71: Hamilton leads Verstappen by 3.6secs.
Lap 56/71: Ocon is punished for that incident with Verstappen, hit with a 10-second penalty. Not that that helps the Red Bull now. Meanwhile, Vandoorne flies beyond Lance Stroll into 16th.
Lap 55/71: Down the team radio, Hamilton enquires if anybody else is struggling with their tyres. Mercedes were debating pitting Bottas, and Hamilton is hardly breezing round the track. Verstappen has shaved 0.5secs off his lead.
Lap 54/71: Vettel pits! The Ferrari will come out behind Leclerc, but he is unlikely to have too many problems bypassing the Sauber.
Lap 52/71: Verstappen is almost 0.2secs faster per lap than Hamilton, who is on those medium tyres. That gap is fluctuating around 4secs, with Kimi Räikkönen actually closing on the Red Bull; the Finn trails by 1.5secs.
Lap 51/71: Verstappen is closing. He’s 4.4secs off Hamilton, who has an issue with a power unit. Vettel, in sixth, is struggling to up the ante. “I’m trying to go as fast as I can,” the German says.
Lap 50/71: Ricciardo is hot on the heels of Bottas, 0.6secs off the Mercedes. The Red Bull is exposing those troubles, with the Finn’s tyres blistering, just as Hamilton’s tyres are hurting. Ricciardo, who is lapping almost a second quicker than Verstappen, is only 10 seconds off the overall race lead.
Lap 49/71: A gift for Hamilton, then. Can he take advantage? The Mercedes’s pace is still not rip-roaring, but he boasts a healthy five-second lead.
Lap 47/71: Hamilton’s front-left tyre looks angry once more. Could his tyres plot his own downfall? Verstappen, seething in second, sets after Hamilton. The Red Bull is only 1.1secs in front of Kimi Räikkönen now, but is gaining on the race leader. “I don’t think I need to comment on what happened,” Ocon says down the team radio. Verstappen’s verse is expletive-ridden. He mentions some floor damage. That’s not good.
Lap 46/71: The stewards are investigating that incident between Verstappen and Ocon into turn two. Verstappen did not appear to do a lot wrong, but has been punished. All of a sudden, he trails Lewis Hamilton by 5.3secs.
Lap 45/71: Christian Horner, the Red Bull principal, down in the pit lane is absolutely fuming. Understandably. Verstappen was cruising out in front. And now Ricciardo’s in a fight with Vettel, with the Red Bull snatching fifth ahead of the Ferrari, who ultimately lost out in the grip-stakes.
Lap 44/71: Max Verstappen spins out, and loses the lead! It was a clash with Sebastian Ocon. Verstappen went off the track, but in fairness to the Red Bull, it seemed as though the Force India tried to overtake Verstappen after the Red Bull had already bypassed him. Hamilton zooms in to take the lead!
Lap 43/71: Vettel and Ricciardo go toe-to-toe, wheel-to-wheel. That battle for fifth got momentarily a little spicy, with the Red Bull attempting to skirt round the outside of the Ferrari. But, the German stands his ground.
Lap 41/71: He shoots, he scores. A wonderful and exhilarating bit of driving courtesy of Verstappen. The message down the Red Bull team radio? “Get in there my son. Get. In. There.” And now Ricciardo’s set a 1.11.6. Frightening pace.
Lap 40/71: Verstappen’s pace is all too much for Hamilton down the straight. The Red Bull basically pushes the Brit uphill, as he regains the lead. The Mercedes was totally powerless. Bottas is third, Kimi Räikkönen fourth and Sebastian Vettel in fifth.
Lap 39/71: Max Verstappen sets a new fastest lap of 1.12.143. He’s absolutely flying round the circuit. He’s 0.2secs behind Hamilton ...
Lap 37/71: Ricciardo has a 9.6secs lead over Hamilton, but the Red Bull is yet to pit. Leclerc leapfrogs Perez to snatch back eighth.
Lap 36/71: Vettel allows Kimi Räikkönen to bypass him. A tactical move by Ferrari, with the Finn on newer tyres. So fresh, in fact, that Räikkönen has just set a 1.12 fastest lap. Meanwhile, Verstappen pits. He’ll come out in front of Bottas, into third. Hamilton will have to earn his crust to keep a lively Verstappen at bay. For now, Daniel Ricciardo is the race leader.
Lap 34/71: A quick look at the top five:
Ricciardo + 10.9secs
Hamilton + 8.9secs
Leclerc + 5.2secs
Bottas + 3.7secs
Meanwhile, it’s bad news for Hülkenberg. The Renault has been forced to retire with a mechanical fault. Drat, drat and double drat.
Lap 32/71: Kimi Räikkönen is in and out of the pits. The Finn comes out seventh, behind Vettel. So for now it’s a Red Bull one-two out in front. Further down the grid, Vandoorne and Alonso, the two McLarens, are fighting it out ... for 18th.
Lap 31/71: Verstappen insists his tyres are “getting better” as he sets a new fastest lap. Hamilton’s not such a happy bunny. “You need to give me something, I’ve got these guys ahead of me,” he moans down the team radio. And now Vettel leaps in front of Grosjean to take seventh. Bottas remains sixth.
Lap 29/71: Bottas makes some ground, with the Mercedes nipping in front of Grosjean to take sixth. It’s been a mixed bag for the Finn so far. Meanwhile, the Red Bulls are still flying round at a blistering pace, with Ricciardo slowly closing on the Ferrari in second.
Lap 28/71: Vettel pits, with a medium tyre on. The Ferrari comes out behind the Haas of Kevin Magnussen, whose eighth.
Lap 27/71: The Force India’s are about to pit. Ocon’s in 12th, Sergio Pérez 10th. Otmar Szafnauer is worried about the pending rain.
Lap 26/71: Verstappen leads Kimi Räikkönen by 8.2secs.
Lap 25/71: It’s spitting with rain in Interlagos. “Have we lost ground, or?” Hamilton asks Mercedes. He’s told he’s gaining, but Hamilton remarks that his tyres are not feeling too great. Meanwhile, Verstappen is weaving his way through the back markers, Alonso and Lance Stroll.
Lap 24/71: Hamilton breezes beyond Leclerc and into fifth. He’s got plenty of pace. In front of the Mercedes are Ricciardo and Vettel, who are battling it out for third. Verstappen is cruising out in front.
Lap 23/71: Verstappen leads Kimi Räikkönen by almost 8secs. The Red Bull is eating up Interlagos. Hamilton is stuck behind Charles Leclerc, in fifth. And Marcus Ericsson’s race is indeed over.
Lap 22/71: Marcus Ericsson’s race looks to be over. After spinning off the corner, he’s fallen to the back of the grid and, calmly, the Swede tells Sauber: “I need to box.” A great shame in Ericsson’s penultimate GP, with him moving into IndyCar in 2019.
Lap 21/71: With Hamilton having gone into the pits, we have a new race leader, Max Verstappen. “Don’t overdrive it,” the Red Bull engineer says. “Keep it clean.” Verstappen’s just set another fastest lap. He’s ripping it up.
Lap 20/71: Hamilton is in and out inside 2.6secs. The champion breezes out of the pits behind the Haas of Romain Grosjean, into seventh place.
Lap 19/71: Bottas is into the pits, on to medium tyres, as Max Verstappen sets a new fastest lap of 1.13.599. Bottas comes out of the pits into ninth, behind Magnussen. Hamilton, meanwhile, will come in shortly.
Lap 18/71: Ferrari are readying themselves in the pits. Will it be Räikkönen or Vettel, in fourth and fifth respectively, in first?
Lap 16/71: Kimi Räikkönen squabbles with Bottas into turn six, and it seems just a matter of time before the Mercedes is bypassed. Meanwhile, Fernando Alonso has been in and out of the pits, but it all went wrong. Alonso seemed to stall.
Lap 15/71: “It seems like he is sliding a bit more than me,” Verstappen says of the race leader, Lewis Hamilton. Creep up on the Mercedes comes the riposte. The champion’s front-left tyre is beginning to blister, while Bottas is also struggling with the heat.
Lap 14/71: Kimi Räikkönen’s only 0.4secs behind Bottas. Then Vettel and Ricciardo are in close proximity, as is Charles Leclerc.
Lap 13/71: Verstappen is flying. He’s just shaved 0.3secs off of Hamilton’s lead. The fight for third is hotting up, but at the front it’s become a two-horse race.
Lap 12/71: Down the team radio, Ricciardo is told about Bottas struggling. “The Mercedes are not particularly quick at this stage,” the Red Bull race engineer says. Hamilton’s doing alright out in front, but Bottas does seem to be struggling. All of a sudden, the Ferraris have found their feet and will fancy their chances.
Lap 11/71: Kimi Räikkönen tries to eat away at Bottas, but the Mercedes stands firm. The Ferrari came soaring down the straight but his countryman kept his line. Stellar driving from both. Hamilton leads Verstappen by 1.5secs.
Lap 10/71: Verstappen zooms beyond Valtteri Bottas. The Red Bull needs no second invitation through an open door, and the Dutchman is not messing around out there. That’s three places Verstappen has already gobbled up. Next in his sights? The race leader, Lewis Hamilton.
Lap 8/71: The two Renaults, Hulkenberg and Sainz are jostling for 13th. The Ferraris are just starting to find some pace, though they’re not quite at Red Bull-level just yet. They’re switching on now. As for Marcus Ericsson, who started sixth, he’s fallen down to 14th.
Lap 7/71: Ferrari, remember, are on the soft tyres, whereas almost all the rest of the grid are on the supersofts. Both Vettel and Kimi Räikkönen are struggling with the grip. But as Toto Wolff warned, Ferrari are expected to handle the pending 10-15 laps that little bit easier. Nevertheless, a far from ideal start.
Lap 6/71: Hamilton is 1.9secs ahead of Bottas, with Verstappen less than half a second behind the Mercedes. Red Bull realised they would not get pole, but their tactics here are already bearing fruit. Their pace is unrivalled.
Lap 5/71: The Red Bulls have made an electrifying start, with Ricciardo leaping in front of Leclerc to move into sixth having started down in 11th. A superb first few laps for Verstappen, who is already bearing down on the front two.
Lap 4/71: Verstappen whizzes beyond Vettel – and snatches third from the German. Meanwhile, his Red Bull team-mate Ricciardo has just set a new fastest lap of 1.13.784. The Ferraris are struggling round Interlagos.
Lap 2/71: Verstappen zooms into fourth ahead of Kimi Räikkönen. The Red Bulls have discovered some frightening early race pace, and the Dutchman already has his eyes on Sebastian Vettel.
Lap 1/71: A dream start for Mercedes, who set the pace early on out in front. Ericsson’s had a poor start, sliding down to 10th from sixth. Charles Leclerc is up to seven, while Ricciardo’s made some early ground, up into ninth.
Lewis Hamilton flies uphill and it’s a seamless start for Mercedes, with Valtteri Bottas hiking up into second ahead of Vettel. A sluggish start by the Ferraris.
The clouds are looking a bit ominous in São Paulo – there’s a 40% chance of rain. We are just a formation lap away from the race start.
A quick soundbite or two from the grid. Toto Wolff, the Mercedes principal, says: “We have so many concerns, we have the wrong tyre, the track is 46 degrees – the hottest it’s ever been – and we just had a little oil worry on Lewis’s car. There is no dull moment this season.” Daniel Ricciardo, with hip-hop blaring in his ears, says: “Obviously I would like to finish the race but I don’t want to finish in 11th. The top-five of the group is the group I should be with.” His Red Bull team-mate, Max Verstappen, says: “To go past four cars with an undercut, I don’t think it’s going to happen. We will do our best. Around here [Interlagos], it’s going to be difficult.”
Sauber have a couple of problems to sort, with Marcus Ericsson’s car not quite right, having lost a rear diffuser. Frédéric Vasseur, the team principal is confident they can solve the issue before the off. “We lost part of the extractor in the out lap but I hope we will fix it for the start of the race,” he says. “It could be better but I hope we will be able to fix it.” Ericsson, the Swede set to be dropped at the end of the season, is due to start from sixth. A parting gift.
Hamilton’s wearing an Ayrton Senna-inspired helmet, 30 years on from the day the Brazilian won his first world championship. Want some more numbers? Vettel is looking for his fourth win at Interlagos, while Hamilton starts on pole in search of his second. That pole was a landmark one too, Mercedes’s 100th.
This race is Kimi Räikkönen’s 150th – and penultimate – race for Ferrari, before joining Sauber. Only two other drivers have achieved that milestone with a single team, Michael Schumacher, of course, and David Coulthard. The Finn will start from fourth on the grid, alongside his countryman Bottas on the second row. As for Hamilton, it could be a special victory, one that would push Mercedes to the brink of the constructors’ championship. “The Brazilian Grand Prix is so hard to win,” he says. “I’ve not had as much success here as I would have hoped.”
1 Hamilton 2 Vettel
3 Bottas 4 Räikkönen
5 Verstappen 6 Ericsson
7 Leclerc 8 Grosjean
9 Gasly 10 Magnussen
11 Ricciardo 12 Pérez
13 Hülkenberg 14 Sirotkin
15 Sainz 16 Hartley
17 Alonso 18 Ocon
19 Stroll 20 Vandoorne
Lewis Hamilton may already have a fifth world title in the bag, but after racking up pole No 82 in Interlagos, he has his eyes on a second career win in Brazil. It is a strange thing to say, but Hamilton has never tasted victory in the race immediately after taking home the title on the four previous occasions. For Hamilton, it is of course already a case of job done but the focus shifts to the team and ensuring Mercedes wrap up the constructors’ championship. To do so in Brazil seems a big ask given Ferrari’s pace of late, with Mercedes needing to outscore the Italians by 20 points. But with plenty still at stake, red mist descended over Sebastian Vettel in qualifying with the German fined €25,000 after failing to adhere to the stewards’ instructions at the weigh bridge. Vettel starts alongside Hamilton on the front row. Nevertheless Toto Wolff, the Mercedes principle, is billing Ferrari as favourites. “They are on the more robust tyre for the race and they have a disadvantage at the start but a big advantage over the first 10 or 15 laps, which in our models show them as the favourite to win,” he said. More than capable of playing the role of underdog then is Hamilton, who will be whizzing round the circuit wearing an Ayrton Senna-inspired helmet. Lovely stuff.
Lights out: 5.10pm (GMT)