Hamilton wins in Brazil after Verstappen punted out of lead
Brazilian Grand Prix

Hamilton wins in Brazil after Verstappen punted out of lead

12/11/2018

Lewis Hamilton won an action-packed Brazilian Grand Prix after Max Verstappen crashed out of the lead following a collision with a lapped backmarker.

The result of the race secured the constructors' championship for Mercedes, but the main talking point after the chequered flag was how Verstappen missed out on victory.

The Red Bull driver, who started fifth on the grid, scythed past Kimi Raikkonen, Sebastian Vettel and Valtteri Bottas in the first ten laps of the race before taking the lead from Hamilton, who had started on pole, on lap 40. Everything looked set for the Dutchman to take his second win in as many races, but disaster struck on lap 44 as the Force India of Esteban Ocon tried to unlap himself from the Red Bull coming into Turn 1. Ocon was running 14th, but had impressive pace thanks to fresher tyres and saw an opportunity to get back on the lead lap of the race -- something backmarkers are allowed to do.

The Force India moved to the outside of the Red Bull at Turn 1 and got alongside Verstappen as they went through the corner, but Turn 2 comes in quick succession at Interlagos and as Verstappen moved to claim the apex of the second corner the two collided, sending them spinning to either side of the track. Hamilton, who was losing time to Verstappen before the collision, breezed past the scene of the accident to regain the lead as Verstappen was left finding first gear.

The Red Bull rejoined the race in second place but had damage to its floor on the right-hand side that curbed the impressive pace he had shown earlier in the race. Verstappen was able to close the gap to Hamilton from 5.5s to 1.4s in the remaining 27 laps, but ultimately had to settle for second. Ocon was given a ten-second stop-go penalty for the incident -- the biggest penalty before being black flagged -- and finished 15th.

After the race, Verstappen was caught on camera pushing Ocon in the chest in the driver weighing area. The Dutchman was also seen shouting and pointing at the Force India driver in an aggressive manner.

Raikkonen took third place after Ferrari struggled for pace throughout the race. The Finn had to battle hard to hold off Daniel Ricciardo in the final laps of the race and crossed the line 0.429s ahead of the second Red Bull. Bottas ran as high as second on the opening lap of the race but dropped to fifth by the chequered flag as he struggled with tyre degradation. Vettel also had a race to forget as he dropped from second on the grid to sixth at the finish.

Charles Leclerc took seventh for Sauber ahead of the two Haas drivers of Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen. Ocon's Force India teammate, Sergio Perez, took the last point on offer in tenth.

Verstappen's race had been hugely impressive up until the clash with Ocon. Both his pace and his strategy were better than Hamilton's, as the Red Bull emerged as the most competitive car in race conditions. Within the first four laps he was past both Ferraris to move up to third and by lap ten he had passed Bottas for second place. Hamilton was up next for Verstappen, but the Mercedes driver pitted for fresh tyres on lap 19 before the Red Bull had a chance to overtake.

Verstappen went to lap 36 before pitting for fresh tyres, underlining the superior tyre management of the Red Bull compared to Mercedes. He emerged 1.7s behind Hamilton but was now on a softer, faster compound of tyre, which were also 16 laps fresher than Hamilton's. Verstappen's tyre advantage was clear to see and on lap 39 he got a much better exit out of the final corner and passed Hamilton as the two cars crossed the line to start lap 40. Hamilton tried to retaliate on the run to Turn 4, but couldn't get close enough to pass and fell back into line behind the Red Bull. That should have been the order until the end of the race, but Verstappen's collision with Ocon turned the result on its head and handed Hamilton victory.

The final race of the season will take place in Abu Dhabi in two weeks' time.

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