Red Bull’s Max Verstappen claimed his third victory of the season in a dramatic Brazilian Grand Prix on Sunday.
The Dutchman held off various challenges, with Ferrari pair Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc crashing into each other, while Frenchman Pierre Gasly pipped Carlos Sainz to a shock second-placed finish.
Here’s the key talking points from a lively race:
MAX ON THE RISE
An outstanding weekend for the 22-year-old.
He kept the pace at the front of the grid after a flawless weekend – where he led Q1, Q2 and Q3 – without making a mistake to seal his eighth career victory.
It was a richly deserved triumph, especially when having to fend off Hamilton for large spells of the race, and capitalising on just his second pole of the season.
What made this win even more sweet was after last year, when he surged into the lead from fifth, only to collide with Esteban Ocon and subsequently drop to second.
Sunday’s victory reaffirms the continuous progress of the future world champion in the making.
There was a point during the summer when it looked as if Verstappen might emerge as a challenger for the championship – after he took two wins and a second place in a run of four races from Austria to Hungary.
Since then, the Dutchman crashed in Spa and Italy, and then made a mistake in Singapore and qualified lower than expected.
In Japan, he was taken out at the first corner and in Austin he came second behind Hamilton.
His win in Brazil will do wonders for his searing confidence ahead of the season-ending race in Abu Dhabi in two weeks’ time.
HAMILTON NOT HAPPY
On the evidence of the season so far, the race was likely to come down to a battle between the Mercedes pair and Verstappen.
Hamilton, who qualified third, enjoyed a positive start to pass Vettel and kept the pressure on Verstappen for strong spells of the race.
At one point, he led, only to be pushed back into second again shortly after.
He drove angry, complaining at his team for not putting him on hard tyres in comparison to the softs on the first pit stop.
No sign of him letting up, even though he wrapped up his sixth world title two weeks ago.
The Briton demands the highest standards and, while other drivers may have clocked out for the rest of the season after winning the title, Hamilton constantly wants to get the maximum from his car.
In the end, he had an opportunity to seal second but, on older tyres, he failed to pass a pacy Gasly and was forced to settle for third before a five-second penalty relegated him to a provisional seventh.
DISASTER FOR FERRARI
A disaster of a finish for Ferrari.
We expected fireworks between the drivers at some point this season, but five laps from the end of the second last race of the season seemed the unlikely time.
Vettel seemed to blame Leclerc for the crash, but it was he who moved off the line, though both drivers are unlucky that the contact was so minor, yet causing major damage to the cars.
Up until that juncture in the race, both drivers had enjoyed positive afternoons, with Vettel threatening a podium finish and Vettel soaring from 14th to fifth place.
If the crash didn’t happen, then one of the two Ferrari’s would have been sitting on the podium.
With one race remaining, the Italian marque need to achieve some sort of positive result.
Gasly notched the result of the season for Toro Rosso, finishing second for his first career podium.
Demoted from Red Bull earlier this season, there’s no doubt the Frenchman endured some difficult days after struggling to handle the challenge against former team-mate Verstappen.
And, with results difficult to come by in the slower Toro Rosso machine, the Rouen native, who started from sixth on the grid, capitalised on two safety cars, a Ferrari crash and holding off a late surge from Hamilton to achieve a stunning result.
There is plenty more to come from the 23-year-old.
On a different note, it was cruel to see Alex Albon lose a place on the podium after a late shunt by Hamilton. As a result, he ended up finishing 15th.
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