Max Verstappen wins crazy Brazilian GP of collisions
Ferrari's Vettel, Leclerc clash and retire; while Hamilton apologises for crashing into Albon
Max Verstappen,22, underlined his potential as a future champion yesterday morning (Singapore time) with a commanding victory for Red Bull in an astonishing and crash-hit Brazilian Grand Prix at Interlagos.
The Dutchman twice passed newly crowned six-time world champion Lewis Hamilton in a thrilling contest - that had two safety-car interventions and saw the Ferraris of Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc clash and retire - before clinching the eighth victory of his career.
It was his third win this season.
He made the most of pole position and finished a dominant winner ahead of his former Red Bull teammate Pierre Gasly, now with Toro Rosso, as they delivered a Honda-powered one-two for the Japanese company for the first time since the heyday of local hero Ayrton Senna.
Frenchman Gasly came home 0.062 seconds ahead of Hamilton, who finished third for Mercedes. But Hamilton was demoted to seventh following a post-race stewards' investigation after crashing with luckless Thai driver Alexander Albon, the man who replaced Gasly at Red Bull, in the final laps.
Hamilton's demotion gifted McLaren's Carlos Sainz his first Formula One podium, subject to several other stewards' inquiries.
The collision between the Ferrari pair, one a young charger and the other a four-time world champion, who have been battling for supremacy this season, provided a major talking point.
Leclerc, on fresher tyres, passed Vettel for fourth place towards the end of the race but the German came back at him on the outside.
What looked like a light contact ended with both cars suffering race-ending damage, Leclerc's front- right suspension breaking while Vettel suffered a rear puncture.
Both retired, with the safety car then deployed. Both were summoned to the stewards post-race, with no further action taken.
Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto said he was disappointed.
"I feel sorry for the team, I think the drivers need to feel sorry for the team," he said.
"But they know that silly mistakes are something we should avoid for the team itself," added Binotto, who refrained from casting judgment before a thorough analysis back in Maranello.
Leclerc said he had spoken to Binotto immediately after the race but not to Vettel.
"I'm pretty sure we are mature enough to put that behind us," he added of the incident. "In the end, both of us feel extremely sorry for the team."
Hamilton, who was handed a five-second penalty, apologised to Albon, who was second when the collision occurred but finished 15th.
"I was the driver behind and it was my mistake," he said.
"I apologise massively to Alex. The gap was there, but it closed pretty quickly. It was completely my fault and I hold my hands up." - REUTERS, AFP
BRAZILIAN GP RESULTS (Top 5)
1 Max Verstappen (Red Bull) 1hr 33min 14.678 sec
2 Pierre Gasly (Toro Rosso ) +6.077s
3 Carlos Sainz (McLaren) +8.896s
4 Kimi Raikkonen (Alfa Romeo) +9.452s
5 Antonio Giovinazzi (Alfa Romeo) +10.201s
DRIVERS STANDINGS (Top 5)
1 Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) 387 points
2 Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) 314 pts
3 Max Verstappen (Red Bull) 260 pts
4 Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) 249 pts
5 Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) 230 pts
CONSTRUCTORS ( Top 5)
1 Mercedes 701 points
2 Ferrari 479 pts
3 Red Bull 391 pts
4 McLaren 140 pts
5 Renault 91 pts