Lewis Hamilton wins the 2016 Brazilian Grand Prix
A soggy afternoon in Sao Paulo saw Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton secure an all-important victory in the Championship battle, after holding off teammate Nico Rosberg, with Red Bull’s Max Verstappen storming home to third.
Voted the Driver of the Day, Verstappen stormed home from 14th to 3rd place in the final stint of the race, taking his car to the edge, as opposed to others who adapted a more careful driving style in the wet weather.
Remaining pretty much unchallenged throughout the race, Hamilton began and stayed leading the pack, securing his first Brazilian victory.
Although this was a positive step for Hamilton as it prevented his teammate securing the title in Brazil, all Rosberg has to do in Abu Dhabi to be crowned World Champion is to come third, even if Hamilton wins.
Red flags, Safety Cars, and retirements
In what was arguably the longest-running race of the season, we saw two periods of red flags and 5 Safety Cars, which totalled to around a three hour race, highlighting the extreme showers that take place in Brazilian springtime.
As rain flooded the track before the start of the race, leaving standing water all-over, everyone knew it would not be any ordinary race. Testament to the risky conditions was Haas’ Romain Grosjean, who spun his car en-route to the grid, putting him out of the race before it even began.
On the grid, it was announced that there would be a Safety Car start, which lasted until the start of lap eight, where Verstappen took off straight away, leaving Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen behind before he even knew it.
However, the drama was cut short when Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson collided with the wall on lap 13, bringing out the Safety Car.
As racing resumed on lap 20, it was cut short soon yet again, as Raikkonen lost control of his Ferrari after aquaplaning on some standing water, and collided with the barriers, bringing out the Safety Car.
Luckily the Finn was unhurt, but this dramatic retirement unsurprisingly brought the race to a stop as it was red-flagged due to the conditions.
The race was stopped for a total of 35 minutes until race control deemed it safe enough for the remainder of the pack to venture back out on track.
Renault’s Jolyon Palmer, however, did not join them. The Brit had made contact with Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat before the race was red-flagged. This meant that now four drivers were out of the race.
The string of cars trailed behind the Safety Car following the re-start for seven laps, before race control deemed the session too unsafe to continue, as it was red-flagged again.
This was followed by another 30 minute delay until the Safety Car led the pack back out, and three laps later it was back to racing.
A touching retirement
After spinning out mid-race, Williams’ Felipe Massa had to retire from his final home Grand Prix, in what could only be described as an emotional moment.
The pit lane was closed during the short Safety Car period that followed as Massa’s car had spun out in front of it, blocking the entrance. In an emotion-filled and patriotic act, the Brazilian return to the pits holding his native flag over his shoulders like a cape, as the crowd cheered him on.
When he returned to the pits, Massa was welcomed by his son and his wife, as the pit crews of Mercedes, Ferrari and Williams applauded.
Although it was not the result he hoped for his final home Grand Prix, Massa certainly created a memorable and touching moment for all.
Moment of the race:
For this Grand Prix, I have chosen two moments since I could not decide on one.
01) Massa’s emotional and touching return to the pits.
02) Verstappen’s save – The Dutchman faced a near-miss with a barrier going into the final corner after spinning out but managed to recover his car just in time before it collided with the wall.