Well, we got there in the end. A race that started late, and was stopped more than once, eventually produced an event that was worth watching, largely because of one man – no, not Lewis Hamilton.
Hamilton himself drove serenely in appalling conditions, never really troubled by anyone. In the dry conditions of qualifying Hamilton was narrowly quicker than Rosberg; in the wet of the race, he was considerably faster. At the first start, once the safety car had been withdrawn, Hamilton bolted clear of Rosberg and was looking set to streak to victory. Behind the two Mercedes, Max Verstappen was making short work of Kimi Raikkonen, diving down the inside of turn 1.
As the rain continued to fall it caught several drivers out, including experienced heads. Among the spinners were Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel, whilst Raikkonen and Felipe Massa (racing in his final Brazilian Grand Prix) were just two of a number of drivers to crash out on the way down to the start-finish line. These incidents either brought out the safety car, or even red-flagged the race, leading to a question mark over whether we’d get to 75% race distance – the point required for full points to be awarded. In the midst of it all, Red Bull cost themselves a potential win by putting their drivers on intermediate tyres instead of full wets, but after the final safety car period, Verstappen would turn things up a notch.
His performance over the final 16 laps of the race has drawn comparisons to Ayrton Senna and Michael Schumacher. Verstappen went from 16th to third, finding grip seemingly everywhere, in defiance of the conditions. It was a masterful drive on a soaked track, defying his young age, and once again earmarking him as a future champion. Verstappen needs to mature as a racer, but on the back of this season, the talent is there.
Daniel Ricciardo also managed a spate of overtakes, and so too did Fernando Alonso. It would be remiss of me to not draw attention to this fact. Ricciardo is another driver who could be a world champion someday, and did his reputation no harm in Brazil.
There was a key moment for the struggling Sauber team. Felipe Nasr finished 9th, picking up two invaluable points that have lifted Sauber above Manor. Unless there is chaos in Abu Dhabi, it seems Sauber will pip Manor in the constructor’s championship.
Force India tightened their grip on fourth. Perez finished fourth and Hulkenberg – who might have felt his elusive podium finish was possible – finished seventh. They are now 27 points clear of Williams and it would take a remarkable race in the finale to deny them fourth now.
The driver’s championship goes to the wire. If Rosberg is second or third he will be champion regardless of whether Hamilton wins. If Hamilton wins and Rosberg fails to finish on the podium the title goes to Lewis. There are of course other permutations, but I’m not going to list them all here. Instead, let’s just wait for Abu Dhabi!
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