F1 Brazilian Grand Prix Has Loads of Surprises

Michael Hernandez, Contributing Writer

Although the drivers and constructors championships were already decided, there was still a lot to play for during the Formula 1 Brazilian Grand Prix which occurred on Nov. 17. For most of the weekend, it seemed as though it would be a fight between the top three teams for the victory: Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull. When it came to Qualifying, Red Bull driver Max Verstappen got his second ever pole, with Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel qualifying second, and the reigning champion from Mercedes Lewis Hamilton qualifying in third, with Vettel’s teammate Charles Leclerc in 4th, Hamilton’s teammate Valteri Bottas in 5th, and Verstappen’s teammate Alex Albon in 6th.

However, due to Leclerc changing components of his engine, he received a grid penalty and started in 14th place, moving Bottas and Albon up one position. Toro Rosso driver Pierre Gasly qualified 7th, but with the Leclerc penalty, he moved up to 6th for the race. McLaren driver Carlos Sainz did not set a qualifying lap and started last.

When the race went green, Verstappen held the lead with Hamilton passing Vettel in the first corner. From then on, the top five remained as they were while Leclerc was slicing his way through the midfield and was up to 6th place by lap 10. Then on lap 21, Hamilton entered the pits and committed to a two stop strategy, which Verstappen responded to by entering the pits on the next lap. When Verstappen left the pits, he nearly crashed in the pit lane with William’s Robert Kubica and lost the position to Hamilton.

However, within one lap, Verstappen retook the lead from Hamilton on track. Vettel and Albon also went to a two stop while Leclerc and Bottas attempted a one stop strategy, but the one stop was ineffective, which led to both Bottas and Leclerc both pitting again and ruining their chances of winning the race. At this point it seemed that either Hamilton or Verstappen would win.

Then on lap 52, it all changed. Bottas retired due to an engine problem, which led to a safety car being called out. The safety car effectively neutralized the race by causing all of the drivers to slow down, which bunched everyone up. Using the safety car, Verstappen entered the pits for a 3rd time and came out behind Hamilton. When the safety car left, the order was Hamilton, Verstappen, Vettel, Albon, Leclerc, Gasly and Sainz in 8th.

Once racing resumed, Verstappen cruised past Hamilton on fresher tires, with Albon also passing Vettel as well. But then on lap 66, the Ferrari teammates crashed into each other, which brought out the safety car once again, which caused Hamilton to enter the pits to get new tires and dropped him down to 4th. When the safety car left the order was Verstappen, Albon, Gasly, Hamilton and Sainz in 5th.

When racing resumed, Hamilton passed Gasly, but on lap 70, Hamilton collided into Albon, causing the Red Bull driver to fall to 14th. This allowed Gasly to move up to 2nd place with Hamilton still in 3rd . When they crossed the line, the order was Verstappen, Gasly, Hamilton then Sainz.

However, after the race, due to Hamilton’s incident with Albon, he was given a five-second penalty, which demoted him to 7th place and meant that Sainz got promoted to 3rd. This was the first podium for both Gasly and Sainz. This race always has some exciting moments. and this time it did not disappoint. And with the final race in 2 weeks time in Abu Dhabi, fans are hoping that it will be as exciting as this one was.