Formula 1: Vettel victorious in Brazil
Sebastian Vettel has won the 2017 Brazilian Grand Prix after getting past the Mercedes of pole-sitter Valtteri Bottas into turn one on the opening lap. Bottas kept hot on the heels of the Ferrari right to the end of the race, with just 2.762 seconds separating them at the chequered flag. Vettels’ Ferrari teammate Kimi Räikkönen drove a characteristically consistent race, starting and finishing in third.
It was Lewis Hamilton in the other Mercedes who stole the show, however. Starting from the pit lane in last place after crashing out in qualifying without setting a time, Hamilton made his way up to fourth by the end of the race and crossed the finish line just under a second behind Räikkönen.
Finishing a distant fifth was the Red Bull of Max Verstappen, leading home his teammate Daniel Ricciardo. Ricciardo had battled his way up from 14th after taking a 10-place grid penalty for exceeding his power unit element allowances, and was the victim of a first-lap incident between the McLaren of Stoffel Vandoorne and the Haas of Kevin Magnussen that sent the Australian into a spin. Vandoorne and Magnussen retired instantly from the race.
Felipe Massa finished seventh in his last home race, the Williams driver announcing his retirement from Formula One at the end of this season. Massa previously announced his retirement at the end of the 2016 season, but was recalled by Williams after Bottas departed for Mercedes, and his seventh-place finish is a much better send-off than last year where he failed to finish in Brazil. Just half-a-second behind Massa was the McLaren of Fernando Alonso, and the Force India of Sergio Pérez following even closer, under 0.2 seconds behind.
Nico Hülkenberg rounded off the top-10 finishers, ahead of his Renault teammate Carlos Sainz and the Toro Rosso of Pierre Gasly. Behind Gasly were the two Saubers of Marcus Ericsson (who had received a five-place grid penalty for an unscheduled gearbox change after qualifying) and Pascal Wehrlein in 13th and 14th respectively, followed by the Haas of Romain Grosjean, who received a 10-second time penalty for causing a collision with the Force India of Esteban Ocon on the first lap. Ocon subsequently retired from the race, the first time he has retired since entering Formula One 28 races ago and dashing his hopes of continuing his streak of 12 points finishes.
Lance Stroll (who also received a five-place grid penalty for an unscheduled gearbox change after qualifying) backed down from battling Romain Grosjean with a delaminating left-front tyre towards the end of the race, finishing 16th in his Williams. Brendon Hartley joined the retirees, suffering a mechanical problem with his Toro Rosso.
Although the battle for the Championship ended with Lewis Hamilton taking the title at the previous race in Mexico, there are still some battles for standings to be resolved at the season finale in Abu Dhabi:
- If Bottas wins in Abu Dhabi and Vettel finishes outside the top-eight, Bottas will jump ahead of Vettel for second in the Championship.
- Ricciardo and Räikkönen are separated by just seven points, following the latter’s recent streak of podium finishes. Another strong finish could see Räikkönen take fourth in the standings from Ricciardo.
- Force India teammates Pérez and Ocon are separated by 11 points, currently seventh and eighth in the standings respectively.
- Toro Rosso, Renault and Haas are separated by four and two points, and recently reliability issues at Toro Rosso and Renault could see Haas jump the both of them for sixth in the Constructors Championship standings.
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