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Featured Brazilian GP Debrief: Hamilton Overcomes Rain, Rosberg to Take Fight the Distance

Discussion in 'Formula 1' started by Ben Stevens, Nov 14, 2016.

  1. Ben Stevens

    Ben Stevens
    Premium Member

    hambrazil2.JPG Despite torrential rain, five safety cars and the threat of a premature finish, Lewis Hamilton was at his best in another crucial victory

    In a race that was the quintessential example of wet-weather chaos, there was only one constant: Lewis Hamilton.

    Finding a level of comfort that belied the treacherous conditions, Hamilton managed to keep points leader Nico Rosberg in second with an assured drive that flew in stark contrast to the struggles of several others.

    A heavy downpour in the lead-up to the race meant proceedings got underway behind the safety-car, but Hamilton was able to quickly find his groove on the slick track, establishing a pace advantage over Rosberg that would hold throughout the afternoon, eventually finishing 11.4s ahead of his teammate. Concerns over aquaplaning and the full-wet tyre’s ability to clear water failed to hold the Brit back even as several others were tripped up in the process, leading to a further four safety car restarts.

    Kimi Raikkonen, Felipe Massa, Marcus Ericsson, Jolyon Palmer and Romain Grosjean all found themselves in the barriers at some point – the latter most notably on the way to the grid – to highlight just how difficult the conditions were to drive in, while several others were able to put in some remarkable performances. Sauber’s Felipe Nasr got a crucial ninth that could end up earning his team millions, while Red Bull’s Max Verstappen put in the drive-of-the-season to beat Force India’s Sergio Perez to the final podium position. Read on for a look at all the fallout from a scintillating 2016 Brazilian Grand Prix.

    hambrazil.JPG Hamilton gets elusive Interlagos win

    If there was one track capable of halting Lewis Hamilton’s championship fightback, it was Interlagos. Consider that obstacle well-and-truly hurdled.

    The one track that Rosberg has owned since the two teamed-up at Mercedes, Hamilton finally managed to best his teammate when he needed it most, his 0.102s advantage in qualifying leading to a thoroughly dominant performance on Sunday.

    A drive that will probably remain underrated with so much attention (and fairly so) on Felipe Massa’s home farewell and the exploits of Max Verstappen, this was essentially a re-opening of the Hamilton-Rosberg chasm of old. With the rain pouring down, the Brit was clearly a class above in his driving. While Rosberg struggled for grip – and nearly binned it on two separate occasions – Hamilton just went about his business, dictating pace as easily as in the dry and showing off his speed with several fastest laps. To finish 11-seconds ahead of his teammate in the wet on such a short track is about as dominant as it gets, and is sure to have him feeling confident as he heads to Abu Dhabi.

    And yet, as superb as Hamilton was, Rosberg after dodging another bullet in the form of Verstappen. Had the Dutchman not pitted from second his lead could have been all-the-more tenuous, but with a 12-point advantage, he remains firmly in control. For Hamilton, the close to 2016 is starting to feel an awful lot like an inverse of last season, where it was Rosberg who outdrove Hamilton down the stretch, yet the title remained out of reach. Expect him to do his part in the desert, but with one opportunity left, he’s still waiting on a miracle.

    verstappenbrazil.jpg Verstappen takes his star turn

    He may only be 19-years-old. He may only have one win under his belt. He might not even have a car capable of winning more. It doesn’t matter. For Max Verstappen, the future is now.

    Aside from the championship battle, the Dutchman’s rise has been unquestionably the biggest story of 2016, but Sunday was another level entirely. The win in Barcelona, the duels with Vettel, Rosberg and Raikkonen, the skirting-the-rules defending, all of it only added to the hopes that Verstappen would be F1’s next great champion – Sunday only confirmed it’s a question of when, not if.

    A safety car start, two red-flags, and a myriad of incidents, and still Verstappen didn’t get the memo – wet racing is supposed to be difficult. And sure, the wet can be a great performance equaliser, meaning a pass here-or-there is to be expected, but not a complete devouring of every car unlucky enough to be in his vicinity. The way he blitzed past both Kimi Raikkonen and Nico Rosberg, he looked a realistic shot at victory if not for a questionable tyre strategy, but even relegated to twelfth, he found his way back to the podium. Passing Bottas, Ricciardo, Kvyat, Ocon, Nasr, Hulkenberg, Vettel, Sainz and Perez on his way to third, Verstappen was on a completely different plane of existence, dismissing notions of “decreased grip” like it too was merely a suggestion from Toto Wolff. It was the best drive the sport has seen in a long time – if there’s such a thing as F1’s “chosen one”, Verstappen is it.

    Because while Sunday’s performance doesn’t make him a superstar – yet, it does confirm not only the obvious talent, but the rare knack for capturing the imagination present in any great sportsperson. It may not have ended quite as successfully as Spain, but Sunday is undoubtedly the biggest moment of his career so far, and will remain one of his most memorable performances regardless of what he does in the future. Driving simply doesn’t get more spectacular than that.

    brazilredflag.JPG FIA continues cautious approach to wet racing

    Sunday may have provided one of the most exciting races in recent memory, but the slog it took to get there means it wasn’t all sunshine-and-rainbows, both literally and figuratively.

    If not for Verstappen’s one-man tidal wave, the images of Brazilian fans showing their discontent at the race being red-flagged would’ve been at the forefront of the post-race discussion. Time-and-again race director Charlie Whiting and the FIA erred on the side of extreme caution as the showers rolled in, and it made the race an unnecessarily frustrating experience.

    In particular, there were two questionable decisions taken, the first being the aforementioned start under safety car conditions – and the subsequent decision to keep it out there for seven laps, and the even more curious decision after a lap-21 red-flag to resume the race under the safety car, only to halt proceedings a second-time after a further seven laps.

    The Sao Paulo faithful were quick to voice their displeasure at the second stoppage, and with good reason. Already having taken a solid two hours to complete only 29 laps, the decision to stop came as conditions were noticeably improving, while team radio indicated most drivers were ready to race. Instead, the drivers were brought back to the pits for more standing around, the only point-of-interest being whether Guns N’ Roses guitarist Slash knew what city he was in.

    Finishing three hours after it started, this was a race that should never have gone that long, but did due to two problems endemic with F1’s current wet-weather operation. The first, as Kimi Raikkonen mentioned post-race, is that the Pirelli’s full-wet tyre continues to underperform, with its water-displacement failing to match the standard of previous suppliers Michelin and Bridgestone. The second, is the fact that Jules Bianchi’s ultimately-fatal accident is weighing heavily on the minds of decision makers, as the FIA seems content with prolonged stoppages and safety car periods on safety grounds, even after the cause of his accident has been addressed with new procedures regarding on-track machinery and the introduction of the virtual safety car. The prospect of honest-to-goodness wet racing has long been one of the main selling points of Formula 1, yet in its current state, cars are forced to tip-toe to the point that intermediates are entirely usable by the time the action is restarted, even on days like Sunday. Under the current testing restrictions, it’s difficult for Pirelli to get a full grasp on how their wets perform, but clearly their current iteration has been substandard. Let’s hope that next year they get it right, and in turn the FIA finds the confidence to send their drivers racing, giving us more such spectacular Sundays.

    Does Hamilton still have a realistic chance at the title? Where does Verstappen’s day rank among the all-time great performances? Was the FIA right to be so cautious? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.
    • Like Like x 7
  2. The FIA makes decisions on safety acts as a knee jerk reaction to Bianchi's crash. The halo is a prime example of one of their knee jerk reactions. They need to stop living in fear

    Vettel needs a break. He's become far too hypocritical. Does exactly what he criticises Max for. Idiot

    Max was bloody brilliant. Clinical where Ricciardo wasn't and he made insane moves left right and centre. **** Red Bull not getting their strategies right on any car. Very disappointing

    Rosberg did a great drive to keep out of trouble. Hamilton put in a world class win.

    Palmer still is an idiot. No idea why he was retained
    • Agree Agree x 4
    • Like Like x 1
  3. samcar304

    Sam Carmichael Staff Member

    Very refreshing to read an unbiased article on F1 these days. Andrew Benson from the BBC can't write an article with out giving Hamilton the title of "The Messiah". Nice Job Ben really enjoyed the good read!

    Great Win for Lewis to keep the championship alive, Although I do want it to go in favour of Rosberg.
    Max left me on the edge of my seat and speechless. I kept screaming at the television he needs to turn the AI difficulty up...

    Just one more race now and the season is over... :( It seems as if it has gone way too quickly.

    Come on Nico! Keep it together!
    • Agree Agree x 10
    • Like Like x 1
    • Haha Haha x 1
  4. Bert Austen

    Bert Austen
    Pedal tho the metal Men Premium Member

    Max Verstappen our countryman Hero:unsure: What a drive.....whe are proud to have such a talent in our country....the future World Champion When Red Bull closes the gap in 2017 with Mercedes......Is Max the guy to beat
    • Like Like x 1
  5. Erwin Greven

    Erwin Greven
    Premium Member

    @samcar304 I agree: it would be ok to me when Nico also took one world title. Ok, he is not the Hors category driver: but there were more WDC's who took a world title by hard work and some luck.
    • Agree Agree x 2
  6. He has to beat Ricciardo, and that's no easy feat
  7. Great race, eventually! Looking forward to Rosberg's face when his engine goes up in smoke in the final showdown. But he drove a very Prost like race and did what he needed to do. Vettal needs to grow the F U and stop throwing his teddy's out the cockpit, be more Jenson like, not a nice trait. Max simply stunning
  8. Lewis and Nico both did what they needed to do, but Max stole the show. Well done mate.
    • Agree Agree x 8
  9. Chris

    Ted Kravitz Appreciation Society Staff Member

    Verstappen is a special, special talent. That was one of the greatest sporting performances I've ever seen.
    • Agree Agree x 9
  10. You may like him or (more likely:D) don't but that was...
    some spectacular race in rain. :confused::thumbsup:
    Oh, c'mon...
    you know of whom I'm talking about, don't you "Mars Bar" to me... :laugh:
    • Agree Agree x 1
  11. Verstappen the PROFESSOR.
    Prost used to be called the professor. In the rain Versappen sure gave a lesson to all other drivers (except Hamilton), about how to drive in the wet. Overtaking Rosberg and Vettel. What a lesson it was.
    Professor at 19.
    • Like Like x 1
  12. "Despite torrential rain, five safety cars and the threat of a premature finish, Lewis Hamilton was at his best in another crucial victory"
    UM! The race started under the safety car in extremely bad conditions with Hamilton already in the lead throwing masses of water spray over those behind him. Any driver could have and should have won in those conditions given the advantage Lewis had from starting in the lead under the pace car. Rosberg was sensible not challenging Hamilton with the risk of spinning or crashing out of the points. I admit Lewis is great but he is not the Messiah of Formula One.
    • Agree Agree x 4
  13. Lorenzo Bonder

    Lorenzo Bonder
    RD's Two Wheeled Driving Specialist Staff Member

    And on Nasr's news. Keep the car on the track and get 40M euros in return.

    Sometimes even Lady Luck has to strike on those who need some.

    Furthermore, onto Abu Dhabi we go. Rosberg, don't screw it up. Verstappen, Senna would be proud of your ballsy drive, now drive on the rain with the slicks and achieve the same thing and we'll talk.
    • Like Like x 2
  14. fortyfivekev

    Premium Member

    They weren't going to beat Hamilton by running the same strategy as Mercedes. As Horner said after the race they made that call to try and win a race that otherwise wasn't going to happen. Would you rather they didn't try that and just followed the Mercs home?
  15. FIA is a mess..second red flag and those safety car phases are hilarious. One crash takes how long to clean? 2, maximum 3 laps of safety car...how long does it stay out? 6,7,8..what the hell. If even the drivers push for earlier starts, you know something is wrong.
    • Agree Agree x 1
  16. Andrew Harper

    Andrew Harper
    Premium Member

    Well done to Lewis, job done for Nico (I also hope he lands the title in Abu Dhabi). I'm going to be a bit different as although Max drove a blinding race my drive of the day is for Nasr. He kept it out of the wall, kept his head when he had much faster cars around him and scored some very valuable points for the team. It's on days like that the smaller teams should be able to take advantage and he did. Well done :thumbsup:
    • Like Like x 1
    • Agree Agree x 1
  17. The inters were a stupid call and ended up hindering them. The rain was coming and the inters were the wrong call. Should have pitted on to fresh wets
    • Agree Agree x 2
  18. Queequeg

    Premium Member

    They were never going to beat Hamilton running the same strategy; his pace was too good. But Verstappen would have beaten Rosberg if RB had stuck to wet tyres. Guess they were shooting for a win instead of second.

    Magnificient drives from Hamilton and Verstappen, but especially Verstappen. Never been much of a Nasr fan, but that was a solid performance from him. Keeping it clean and keeping the pace up to take advantage of the DNFs and bring the Sauber home in ninth! :thumbsup:
    • Agree Agree x 1
  19. STOP, LOOK & LISTEN Moment in Max's career no doubt about it.

    He will definitely take a title IF he doesn't kill himself first.

    2017 his last season in the bull if he ain't World Champion for sure.
    • Like Like x 1
  20. Eh, no. He will stay at Red Bull for a while me thinks.