Brazilian GP: Sebastian Vettel wins as Lewis Hamilton charges to fourth from pitlane
Vettel delivers frontrunning masterclass to claim first win since July; Massa holds off Alonso in emotional farewell
By Pete Gill
Last Updated: 13/11/17 8:18am
Sebastian Vettel won the Brazilian GP from Valtteri Bottas as Lewis Hamilton charged from the pitlane to fourth.
In the race's decisive moment, Vettel passed the pole-sitting Bottas off the line and into the first corner.
Vettel then emerged just ahead of the Mercedes following his one and only pit-stop after Bottas tried to undercut the German.
It was Vettel's 47th F1 victory but only his first since July. The result also all-but guarantees Vettel, who maintained at least a two-second lead over Bottas through the closing stages of the race, will finish the season as the second-placed driver in the world championship ahead of the Finn.
"He had it all under control," summarised Sky F1's Martin Brundle as Vettel celebrated his third win at Interlagos. "Vettel did a superb job. He got the start right and then controlled the pace."
The race was enlivened by Hamilton's brilliant charge from last following his crash in qualifying to fourth place behind Kimi Raikkonen.
Hamilton's stunning surge through the field, which saw him lead the race at the halfway stage after the frontrunners had pitted and overtake Max Verstappen with 10 laps remaining, was only thwarted when he caught Raikkonen and locked up into the first corner.
Had Hamilton been able to quickly pass Raikkonen then, with Bottas only just ahead of the Ferrari, an unlikely victory push could have followed but the four-time world champion ultimately had to settle for fourth and the Driver of the Day award.
Vettel gives Ferrari welcome late boost
Vettel had missed out on pole position on Saturday after running wide into the first corner. But the Ferrari driver, eager to deliver a welcome fillip to his beleaguered Ferrari team after the collapse of his title bid, was to use almost exactly the same piece of tarmac to rectify his mistake as he squeezed past Bottas into the first corner after an evenly-matched start off the line.
"We lost the race in the first corner," bemoaned Bottas.
Although Bottas briefly threatened to claim back the lead after Mercedes called him in for an early stop, Vettel held his nerve and quickly built up a comfortable buffer after returning to the track a few metres ahead of Bottas.
An accomplished frontrunner, Vettel never let his lead drop below two seconds through the final 20 laps and eventually took the chequered flag 2.7 seconds clear of Bottas.
"It's a great release," said a relieved Vettel. "It's been a tough day and race. We were all more or less the same on pace, it was really difficult and no room for mistakes."
Only a DNF for Vettel and victory for Bottas will result in their current positions of second and third in the Drivers' Championship being reversed at the season-concluding Abu Dhabi GP in two weeks' time.
Hamilton almost makes it to the podium
Hamilton's rise through the filed was aided and abetted by a series of first-lap collisions which saw Daniel Ricciardo tangle with Kevin Magnussen and Stoffel Vandoorne, and, separately, Romain Grosjean crash into the Force India of Esteban Ocon.
The two incidents triggered the Safety Car's deployment to instantly wipe out the deficit Hamilton had incurred from starting in the pitlane after Mercedes elected to fit a beefed-up engine.
Once the race resumed, Hamilton's overtakes quickly became a lap-by-lap regularity as the world champion's Mercedes swept past car after car in ruthless fashion.
Remarkably, Hamilton even led the race for over ten laps after starting out on the longer-running soft tyres but his bid to become only the third driver in F1 history to finish on the podium after starting out in the pitlane ultimately came up just short.
But the fact that Hamilton crossed the line less than three seconds behind Bottas having started 20 places behind his team-mate underlined the skill and speed of the world champion's surge.
"Lewis' drive was exceptional," said Mercedes chief Toto Wolff. "He's really on a roll and ending up five seconds behind the leader starting in the pitlane is amazing.
"I think on pure pace Lewis was the fastest car today and probably would have deserved to win."
Massa bows out in style
In a suitably stirring climax to his final race at Interlagos, home favourite Felipe Massa, who will retire from F1 at the end of the season, finished seventh after withstanding a race-long challenge from Fernando Alonso.
The pair were team-mates at Ferrari and, with Sergio Perez in close proximity, crossed the line less than a second apart before a teary Massa was congratulated over team radio by his son. Massa then thanked the Interlagos crowd from the podium in a heartwarming farewell.
"Today was like a victory," an emotional Massa told Sky Sports F1. "It was a race that I will never forget
Alonso sportingly applauded Massa as the Brazilian returned to the pits and his eighth-placed finish carried the considerable consolation of propelling him above McLaren team-mate Stoffel Vandoorne in the standings.
"Next year is going to be fun!" the Spaniard said over team radio as McLaren count down the days until their switch to Renault power.
In a parting shot against Honda, Alonso added: "We had a fantastic car but we cannot overtake. The lack of power was amazing."
Brazilian GP race result
|1) Sebastian Vettel||Ferrari||1:31:26.260|
|2) Valtteri Bottas||Mercedes||+ 2.762|
|3) Kimi Raikkonen||Ferrari||+ 4.600|
|4) Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes||+ 5.468|
|5) Max Verstappen||Red Bull||+ 32.940|
|6) Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull||+ 48.691|
|7) Felipe Massa||Williams||+ 68.882|
|9) Fernando Alonso||McLaren||+ 69.363|
|9) Sergio Perez||Force India||+ 69.500|
|10) Nico Hulkenberg||Renault||+ 1 LAP|
|11) Carlos Sainz||Renault||+ 1 LAP|
|12) Pierre Gasly||Toro Rosso||+ 1 LAP|
|13) Marcus Ericsson||Sauber||+ 1 LAP|
|14) Pascal Wehrlein||Sauber||+ 1 LAP|
|15) Romain Grosjean||Haas||+ 2 LAPS|
|16) Lance Stroll||Williams||+ 2 LAPS|
|Did not finish|
|Esteban Ocon||Force India|
|Brendon Hartley||Toro Rosso|
Don't miss the F1 Report on Wednesday at 8.30pm on Sky F1 as Williams co-founder Sir Patrick Head joins Marc Priestley and Natalie Pinkham to review the Brazilian GP.
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