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P2 finish for Verstappen in Brazilian Grand Prix: 'Should have won'

Published on 11 November 2018 by Raymond Snip

Max Verstappen finished in second place during the Brazilian Grand Prix. After an excellent first stint on the supersofts and clean pit stop by the team, the Aston Martin Red Bull driver was able to take the lead in the race at Lewis Hamilton's expense at Autódromo José Carlos Pace. Max then seemed to be able to drive to victory with a problem, until Esteban Ocon wanted to unlap himself. In the first corner combination, Ocon hit the Dutchman, by which Max was robbed of a victory. Hamilton won the race and also managed to secure the constructors' Championship for Mercedes. Kimi Raikkonen completed the podium with a third place.

"I don't know what to say," says a visibly frustrated Verstappen after the race. "We did everything right, you go through the field and had a great car, but then you're being taken out by such an idiot. I have no words."

Max talks us through from the start: "The first lap was okay. I caught Kimi, but because we are lacking top speed, he passed me again. I was quite surprised that our speed was this good. After I passed both Ferrari's and Valtteri, I was able to drive my own race and get closer to Lewis. We caused them to go in quite early, so that we could continue on and carry out our strategy. Everything went perfectly and when I came out on the softs, we had a lot more grip. Therefore, I was able to pass Lewis relatively easily."

"After this I thought: I am going to drive my own race. You then automatically reduce the pace to save the tyres. But then that Force India comes out of the pits and tries to overtake you. Look, you can unlap yourself, but you have to do it with caution. It’s incredible when he crashes into my side. Esteban got a penalty which says enough. I do not know what else to say about it."

Despite the disappointment, there was nothing to criticize Max's race: "It went better than expected. The car was working really good today and we had the right strategy. I was able to drive on the supersofts for a quite a long stint. I'm happy with second, but we should have won today."

When the five red lights go out on the Interlagos circuit, Max Verstappen has a great starting. The Dutchman immediately catches Kimi Raikkonen at the entrance of turn one. The Finn, however, regains the position shortly after. Sebastian Vettel loses his second place to Valtteri Bottas. After the first lap, Hamilton, Bottas, Vettel, Raikkonen, Verstappen and Leclerc are the top six.

At the beginning of lap three, Verstappen again manages to pass Raikkonen. His sights are then focused on Sebastian Vettel, the man in third place. Max is, unlike the Ferraris on the soft tyre, on the supersoft and manages to overtake Vettel in lap four. Shortly later the German makes a mistake, giving teammate, Kimi Raikkonen, a chance pass him.

In the meantime, Daniel Ricciardo continues to move forward after his grid penalty. The Australian ridden by bad luck this season quickly manages to move to sixth place and keeps the gap to the drivers in front of him small.

Max is quick on the supersofts and is increasing the pressure on Valtteri Bottas. In lap ten Verstappen manages to take over P2 from the Mercedes driver through a nice overtaking action. After this, the gap to Lewis Hamilton continues to fluctuate around one and a half seconds.

In lap sixteen it is Fernando Alonso who comes in for the first regular pit stop of the day. However, it’s not a smooth one. Three laps later, Valtteri Bottas is the first of the top teams in the pit lane to pick up a new set of mediums. Lewis Hamilton does the same a lap later.

Marcus Ericsson is unable to cash in on his beautiful sixth starting spot. The Swede struggles with serious balance problems and spins off the track in turn seven. Although Ericsson manages to avoid the tyre barrier, there is enough reason to bring the Sauber back to the pit lane at the end of the lap. The first DNF of the day is a fact.

With a little more than a third of the race is left, Max Verstappen is driving in the lead. Raikkonen, Vettel, Ricciardo, Hamilton and Leclerc are the top six behind him. Both Red Bulls and Ferrari's still have to make their pit stop.

Almost halfway into the race, Nico Hülkenberg is forced to return his Renault to the garage with a technical problem. Immediately after this, Max Verstappen also makes his pit stop. The Dutchman comes back on track with a two-and-a-half second gap to Hamilton, but with the soft tyres he is on a softer compound than the five-time World Champion. Both Ferrari's have completed their mandatory tyre switch at that time.

Max is gaining on Hamilton in the next laps. At the entrance of lap one in round forty, the Red Bull Racing driver takes his chance and overtakes Hamilton for the (virtual) lead in the race: teammate Daniel Ricciardo still has to make his stop.

Not much later after the latter has completed his pit stop, things go terribly wrong for Max Verstappen when Esteban Ocon tries to unlap himself. At the end of the straight, the Force India driver chooses the outside of the corner and together they go into the first combination. Ocon hits the Dutchman, causing both drivers to spin. Hamilton regains the lead. Fortunately, Max can continue his race, however, with a five second gap. Max’ chances of a win seem to have dissipated. Ocon eventually receives a ten second stop-and-go penalty.

In lap 54 Sebastian Vettel comes in for a second stop. The Ferrari driver changes to the supersofts and comes back on track in seventh place. Not much later Valtteri Bottas does the same. However, the Finn changes to the compound with the yellow wall.

In the final phase of the race, the standings remain virtually unchanged. Lewis Hamilton maintains his lead to Max Verstappen and finishes as the winner. Verstappen and Raikkonen complete the podium in P2 and P3 respectively, although the third position for the Finn was still challenged by a charging Daniel Ricciardo. The Australian does not succeed in the end, but after a lot of bad luck he drives a solid race and finishes fourth. The rest of the top ten is completed by Sebastian Vettel, Charles Leclerc, Romain Grosjean, Kevin Magnussen and Sergio Pérez.

Results Grand Prix Brazil:

1Lewis HamiltonHAMMercedes711:27:09.06625
2Max VerstappenVERRed Bull Racing TAG Heuer71+1.469s18
3Kimi RäikkönenRAIFerrari71+4.764s15
4Daniel RicciardoRICRed Bull Racing TAG Heuer71+5.193s12
5Valteri BottasBOTMercedes71+22.943s10
6Sebastian VettelVETFerrari71+26.997s8
7Charles LeclercLECSauber Ferrari71+44.199s6
8Romain GrosjeanGROHaas Ferrari71+51.230s4
9Kevin MagnussenMAGHaas Ferrari71+52.857s2
10Sergio PerezPERForce India Mercedes70+1 lap1
11Brendon HartleyHARScuderia Toro Rosso Honda70+1 lap0
12Carlos SainzSAIRenault70+1 lap0
13Pierre GaslyGASScuderia Toro Rosso Honda70+1 lap0
14Stoffel VandoorneVANMcLaren Renault70+1 lap0
15Esteban OconOCOForce India Mercedes70+1 lap0
16Sergey SirotkinSIRWilliams Mercedes69+2 laps0
17Fernando AlonsoALOMcLaren Renault69+2 laps0
18Lance StrollSTRWilliams Mercedes69+2 laps0
0Nico HulkenbergHULRenault32DNF0
0Marcus EricssonERISauber Ferrari20DNF0