Sport

Hamilton Brazil GP win takes F1 Championship to final race

Lewis Hamilton clinched his third victory in as many races to take the fight for the F1 Drivers’ World Championship down to the final race in Abu Dhabi.

Hamilton was trailing Nico Rosberg by 19 points upon arrival in Brazil,  if he could claim victory for the first time at Interlagos, he would take the Championship to the final race and shorten his teammate’s lead to twelve points in the process. A Rosberg win, however, would have seen the German crowned World Champion for the first time.

Indications were that Hamilton – who qualified on pole – would claim victory at Interlagos. If anyone was in any doubt as to how difficult the conditions were, Grosjean showed how hard it was going to be, crashing heavily on the way to the grid before the start of the race to end his afternoon prematurely. With the start delayed, the cars began the race under the safety car until lap seven when Charlie Whiting gave the drivers the all clear to go racing. Max Verstappen took immediate advantage, overtaking Kimi Raikkonen for third at turn one and setting off down the road to challenge Nico Rosberg.

With ten laps completed and the track beginning to dry, several of the drivers pitted for intermediate tyres. Sebastian Vettel was left to regret that decision almost instantaneously, the Ferrari driver spinning at Juncao corner and dropping to the back of the field. The rain also made the run up to the pit entrance through Arquibancadas a treacherous one, Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson the first to fall victim after putting a wheel on the white line and slamming into the wall, blocking the pit lane entry in the process.

Kimi Raikkonen brought about the afternoon’s first red flag by crashing into the right-hand wall and then spinning across the circuit. He was unharmed and allowed to continue. Jolyon Palmer wasn’t so lucky, the rookie Brit crashing into the back of Daniil Kvyat to record his fifth retirement in his debut season in F1.

The race was restarted 30 minutes later which allowed Verstappen to put a move on Rosberg for second. The 19-year-old’s work was almost undone after the youngster put a wheel on the white line, forcing the car into a spin from which the Dutchman miraculously managed to catch his steering to prevent burying the Red Bull into the barrier. Verstappen eventually ceded second place back to Rosberg on lap 44. Then it was Rosberg’s turn to have a heart in mouth moment, but the Championship leader caught his car to prevent replicating Ericsson’s earlier incident.

Felipe Massa in his final home race, however, did not enjoy such luck. The Brazilian driver crashed on the entry to the straight before heading back on foot to the pits where he received applause and a guard of honour from the Mercedes and Ferrari personnel. The increasingly treacherous conditions forced both Red Bull’s to swap back on to full wets, dropping Verstappen to the rear of the field, however, the Dutchman eventually claimed third.

It was Hamilton, though, who took a comfortable victory to reduce Rosberg’s Championship lead to 12 points after the German finished runner-up in Interlagos.

The stage is now set for the final race showdown in Abu Dhabi. The advantage remains with Rosberg, but Hamilton is still in with a shout of denying his teammate a first World Championship if results go his way in the UAE.

24/11/2016

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andrewmackenzie



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