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Max Verstappen took a well deserved victory at the Brazilian Grand Prix, from Pierre Gasly and Lewis Hamilton. Incidents for Daniel Ricciardo, Kevin Magnussen, Alex Albon and the two Ferrari’s added a heavy dose of spice.
Verstappen, Hamilton and Vettel fought for the lead during the early stages of the race as Charles Leclerc charged towards the front from a lowly 14th on the grid. Daniel Ricciardo was another who made positive inroads on the front runners until he came across the stubborn Haas of Kevin Magnussen. Ricciardo looked to pass with a typical late braking manouvre, however a resolute Magnussen forced the Renault onto the curve, which compromised Ricciardo’s ability to stop. The Renault had a small lock up and made light contact with the Haas. Magnussen spun and Ricciardo had damage to his front wing and a five second pitlane penalty for his part in the incident.
Valtteri Bottas suffered a power unit issue and retired form the race as Verstappen and Hamilton made it a two way fight for the lead. The pair mirrored each other’s two stop pit strategy and Hamilton appeared to gain the ascendancy after Verstappen was caught behind Robert Kubica’s Williams as he left the pits.
Verstappen closed down on Hamilton and retook the lead, while Pierre Gasly moved into second and Alex Albon demoted Hamilton to fourth as the race moved into the final laps. Charles Leclerc caught Seabstian Vettel and displaced his teammate in the downhill esses. Vettel gained a DRS advantage and looked to retake the position only for the pair to touch on the straight. The contact saw Leclerc’s front tyre shred and tear the wheel from the suspension. He careered off the track as Vettel launched an expletive laden tirade as he also stopped with a rear puncture. Replays showed Leclerc hold his line mid track, with little room for the #5 to pass, while Vettel appeared to move slightly left as he came alongside. The Safety Car was called which left a short dash to the finish.
Lewis Hamilton closed on Albon at the restart and appeared to be gifted a place when Albon ran wide on the approach to a corner. Hamilton duly moved inside only for Albon to move across and make contact with the #44 Mercedes. Albon spun and Hamilton continued in third. Stewards decided to examine the incident post race, with Carlos Sainz the likely beneficiary of any penalty in fourth place.
At the chequered flag it was Verstappen from Gasly and Hamilton. Sainz was fourth with the Alfa Romeo pair in fifth and sixth. Daniel Ricciardo finished in 7th on a day where a podium may have been a possibility if not for the earlier contact.
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