At Interlagos The Heat Is On!

“It has been a tough couple of weeks for us, but it is nice to be up here.” (Vettel)

1. Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari)
2. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes)
3. Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari)
4. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
5. Max Verstappen (Red Bull)
6. Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull)
7. Felipe Massa (Williams)
8. Fernando Alonso (McLaren)
9. Sergio Perez (Force India)
10. Nico Hulkenberg (Renault)
More on the F1 teams of 2017

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It was Vettel’s first victory since July, before his championship fell apart. He controlled the race at the Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace after snatching pole from Bottas at the start. An assured race in which he was rarely troubled, Vettel remained a comfortable 2 or 3 seconds ahead of Bottas, highlighting what might have been - had his season not unravelled following the summer break.

Lewis Hamilton delivered the excitement as he fought his way up the grid from the back, to finish 4th. He had started at the back following a crash in qualifying on Saturday. Two weeks after winning the championship in a race where he finished 9th, Hamilton had been hoping for a decisive victory.

Today it wasn’t to be. But he put a positive spin on it!

“I am really grateful for the opportunity to sharpen my tools, brush off the cobwebs, come up through the field and put everything to the test…. It allowed me to shine in a different light and I’m grateful for that.”

He had to make do with an impressive show. Hamilton had benefitted from a new engine that was fitted following the crash in qualifying. This gave him more power a reliability without incurring a penalty.

Hamilton was in 6th place within 20 laps and led on Lap 30 when Vettel, Bottas, Raikkonen and Verstappen pitted. When Hamilton pitted on Lap 43 he returned to the race in 5th, 8.4 seconds behind Verstappen. By Lap 57 he had caught him and passed him on Turn 4 of Lap 59.

On Lap 65 he caught Raikkonen, but the Finn managed to hold him back to hang onto 3rd. Just 5.5 seconds behind Vettel at the flag, he very nearly made the podium – but had to settle for 4th.

“I just didn’t have enough time or tyres left” Hamilton conceded, but again he tried to concentrate on the positive “it was fun, it felt like reminiscent of my karting days – starting at the back.” Perhaps it is easier to be philosophical when you already have the title of Formula One World Champion in the bag.

So, wasn’t to be Hamilton’s stylish win to end his championship year, but it was an epic performance. Can Abu Dhabi be the race to end his winning season with a flourish?

Bottas started in pole, but was quickly overtaken by Vettel “I lost it in the race start, very disappointing.” But he did finish a comfortable 2nd and he is likely to finish 3rd in the championship in an impressive first season at Mercedes - last year with Williams he could only finish 8th.

Ricciardo also made a great come back. He started in 14th, then his car went into a spin on Lap 1 after being caught in the collision between Magnussen and Vandoorne. This put him at the back of the grid, but 3 laps of a safety car meant that he didn’t lose too much ground. By the halfway race point Ricciardo was 6th and this was where he finished.

There was another crash on Lap 1 when Haas driver Grosjean took Ocon out of the race - after a clumsy attempt to overtake – for which Grosjean received 2 penalty points on his licence and a 10- second race penalty.

There was further discontent for Alonso, after he had started in a promising 6th place - his best starting position since joining McLaren-Honda in 2015. Then on Lap 1 he overtook Sergio Perez to take 5th position. Then the emergence of the safety car gave Massa an opportunity to surge past him at the restart and Alonso remained behind him for the rest of the race. Though Alonso can’t have begrudged Massa a decent final ‘home’ race before his retirement; and given his season up until now he can’t be too disappointed with an 8th place finish.

So, the season is very nearly over… how are we going to fill our weekends until March?

For now we still have Abu Dhabi on November 26th. See you there.