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Verstappen takes victory in stunning Brazilian Grand Prix

By John Skilbeck
Cars of Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton - cropped

Sao Paulo, Nov. 18: Max Verstappen made it worth the wait as he triumphed in a remarkable Brazilian Grand Prix, a year after an Interlagos victory was snatched from his grasp.

A cruel collision with back-marker Esteban Ocon 12 months ago saw Verstappen hand the lead to Lewis Hamilton, who went on to take the checkered flag.

Verstappen was so upset on that occasion that he took out his frustration on Ocon when remonstrating with the Frenchman after the race, and was handed a two-day 'public service' punishment.

This time it was world champion Hamilton who was left frustrated, frequently chuntering complaints from the cockpit as he and Verstappen vied for supremacy.

Victory after a series of dramas went to Verstappen, and rather than Hamilton it was Toro Rosso's Pierre Gasly who finished second. Hamilton was provisionally third for Mercedes, but a late collision with Alex Albon threatened to affect that. Hamilton apologised after the race and a penalty looked likely.

Hamilton was unhappy with the choice of tyres - soft rather than medium - at the first change, and seemed repeatedly irked.

Later Hamilton complained he was a "sitting duck" when Verstappen went to the pits for a third time as the safety car came out when Valtteri Bottas, his engine smoking, pulled over on the 54th lap.

And that was exactly how it played out, Verstappen sweeping past Hamilton when racing resumed on the 60th lap, taking the lead at the first corner.

If Hamilton had a trying day, Ferrari had a nightmare. Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc were pushing to finish on the podium when they astonishingly collided on the 66th lap. Leclerc looked to go past his senior team-mate, who appeared to turn into him, resulting in a clash of tyres and a pair of blow-outs.

"What the hell? Come on!" snapped Leclerc, as the latest chapter in a tense rivalry between the team-mates unfolded, causing another safety car interruption.

Hamilton went to the pits for his third change, leaving him down in fourth as the 71-lap race neared its conclusion. As racing resumed, Hamilton went for broke and ran into Albon, Verstappen's team-mate who was also in the podium frame.

Gasly avoided the carnage and quietly moved up to second place, with Hamilton crossing the line in third, Carlos Sainz fourth and Kimi Raikkonen fifth.

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Story first published: Monday, November 18, 2019, 0:50 [IST]
Other articles published on Nov 18, 2019
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