Gracias Fernando! - As if to summarise the championship this year, Sebastian Vettel was again forced to stare at the back of the Silver Arrow as it pulled away into the distance and Lewis Hamilton displayed another magnificently polished performance to take the final 1st of 2018.
As it happened both Mercedes managed to get away well alongside Charles Leclerc, who made a move on Daniel Ricciardo for 5th Place. Max Verstappen was unlucky, with a systems issue bogging him down and leaving him in 10th behind his sparring partner from Brazil, Esteban Ocon.
Before the first few corners could settle a battle between Nico Hulkenberg and Romain Grosjean, sent The Hulk barrel rolling his way into the barriers as he misjudged the position of the HAAS. Fortunately, despite the ugly-looking crash Hulkenberg emerged with no injuries, despite him "Hanging here like a Cow" whatever that means.
Hulks crash did prompt a safety car, after which Hamilton made a lightning start with the two Mercs leaving a healthy gap to the boys in red behind. Behind the front runners, Ocon and Verstappen were battling closely. I can't have been the only one worried about that one being that they both had a bit of a point to prove. Max won the battle, although the Force India put up a good fight, even if Max did give him a little love tap on his way through at Turn 7.
On lap 7 we saw the Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen retire. An unfortunate end to his final race with Ferrari before he heads to Sauber for 2019. The stricken Ferrari prompted the VSC, allowing Hamilton to make an early pitstop for Supersoft Tyres. With the uncertainty of impending rain and 48 Laps to go, it looked like a bit of an error for Mercedes when Hamilton emerged from the pits in 5th Place.
There were plenty of battles all over the grid with the Sauber of Marcus Ericsson duking it out with the Toro Rosso before the Sauber bowed out of the final race for the Swede. Just ahead was a battle for P7 between Ocon and Sainz, with Sainz winning out for his last race with Renault.
By Lap 23, Daniel Ricciardo was leading the race. Opting to stretch his stint on the Ultrasoft Tyres after the rest had already pitted. With the threat of rain, it was looking like a good move. Until it didn't rain. Ricciardo finally pitted on lap 34 for Supersofts, returning to the track in 5th place, eight seconds off his teammate.
Up in P3, Vettel took advantage of a lock up from Bottas in Turns 5 and 6 to take P2 and set about the chase for Hamilton who was back in the lead. Another lock up from Bottas put him in the path of Verstappen, who certainly didn't need an invitation managed to break past the Finn a few laps later. Shortly followed by teammate Ricciardo, who also took advantage of the fading tyres of the Mercedes.
A few laps later, the strain of the season proved too much for the cars of Ocon and Gasly with the Force India throwing in the towel on the pit lane entry and the Toro Rosso parking up and leaving a trail of oil.
At the pointy end of the runners, Hamilton managed to bring it home with no issues. Vettel unable to challenge came away with the second spot, followed, but not troubled by, the Dutchman.
With Ricciardo finishing 4th and Bottas in 5th, that left Kimi in 3rd for the driver's championship. Sorry, Kimi, looks like you're going to Russia. It also meant that Bottas is the first Mercedes driver to obtain no wins in a season since 2012. Although arguably he was set to win in Russia. Poor Bottas, it still hurts to think about.
In the 1.5 "best of the rest", Carlos Sainz put in a cracking performance to bring Renault 4th in the Constructors Championship, their best placing since returning to F1 in 2016. After his fight with Daniel Ricciardo in the first few laps an early pitstop for Charles Leclerc, put him in traffic although he still gave a solid performance to come home in seventh for his last run with Sauber before he and Kimi swap seats.
It was an emotional end to the race for most of us. Although not quite able to put it into the points, it was a good send off for Mclaren's Fernando Alonso. Vettel and Hamilton gave him a police escort to the start and finish straight where the three gave us some spectacular spins. I know we're going to miss Nando next year, but I don't think this is the last we'll see of him in F1. Well, we can hope can't we?
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Max V Ocon, Let's Get Ready to Rumble! - It was another stunning weekend for Lewis Hamilton in Brazil, still reeling from clinching the 2018 world championship in Mexico and now set to start the Brazilian GP from pole position. That accompanied by Tony Bellew's bout with Usyk was going to make for a great weekend for British sport, surely?
Okay, well maybe not for Bellew. But lucky for us that wouldn't be the only televised fight we would see that weekend as Max Verstappen came to, uh, shoves with Esteban Ocon, who had spun Verstappen whilst he was leading the race.
With Hamilton starting from pole, it was expected that his biggest threat would be the two Ferrari's behind, desperate to keep the constructors title alive. This was not the case when the lights came out, Sebastian Vettel struggled with a sensor issue at the start which would cause him issues throughout the afternoon.
With both Mercedes' and Red Bull's starting on the Super soft compound tyres the Ferrari's were left behind as their Soft compound tyres took some time to come to life. Valtteri Bottas managed to get ahead of a struggling Vettel, to create a comfortable buffer for his teammate in P1.
As lap two came about, Verstappen managed to sling his Red Bull around the outside of Kimi Raikkonen, who had been forced by the Dutchman to cover the inside at turn 1.
The next time around, Verstappen set about the other Ferrari of Vettel. A mix of Verstappen's optimism and a struggling set of Soft Tyres meant Verstappen made short work of the German.
Verstappen managed to get himself nice and cosy behind Bottas, whilst behind Vettel managed to run wide into Subido do Lago, allowing Raikkonen into fourth.
Within a few laps, the tyres of Bottas were beginning to fade and with Verstappen close behind this meant only one thing. On lap 10 Verstappen took a lunge into turn one, putting himself into 2nd.
There was less than a few seconds to separate the top 5, with Verstappen now two seconds behind front-runner Hamilton and Bottas certainly not safe from the Ferrari's, who's tyres had begun to come alive.
As the gap closed at the front, Hamilton decided to pit for fresh tyres. Verstappen put up an admirable attempt to open up the gap and complete an overcut, but he was unable to leapfrog Hamilton in the pit stops.
With 31 Laps to go though, the Dutchman did his overtaking on the track. Comfortably taking Hamilton and starting to eke out a small lead. It was looking like a great outcome for Max, something I'm sure lots of us had been eager to see after a great performance so far and a poor start to the season.
We looked set from this point, until it happened. Watching from the TV it was almost unbelievable, I looked up to see a spinning Red Bull and Pink Blur of the Force India of Ocon.
It seems that in a bid to un lap himself on fresh tyres, Ocon had turned into the Red Bull, spinning him out of the lead. Understandably, Verstappen was furious, giving Ocon a one-finger wave and some colourful language as he made his way back on the track in 2nd place.
Ã Despite a valiant effort to get back on the top step, it was Hamilton who took victory in Brazil. An unfortunate result for Max but what a race for those watching. It was made even better by a charge from Ricciardo, wo managed to go from 11th to 4th, chasing down Raikkonen.
For those watching after the race, what followed was footage of an extremely upset Verstappen, pushing an almost bemused Ocon. It's understandable that Max was upset, I get upset by someone going 65 in the fast lane of the M6. It wasn't until we saw the cool-down room footage where we saw a few words of wisdom from Lewis who cool as a cucumber told Max, it was Max who had something to lose, not Ocon.
Although it probably wasn't the outcome Verstappen deserved after such a good effort, it certainly made for some interesting talking points. Hopefully we can see a few more exciting moments like this in Abu Dhabi!
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Max Verstappen clinched his second victory in Mexico this weekend, the Dutchman got off to a flying start, overtaking his teammate and storming his way to the top step of the podium. Although this would Verstappen's 5th career win, it would also be the weekend of Lewis Hamilton's 5th World Championship joining the likes of Juan Manuel Fangio and Michael Schumacher as the only drivers to have won five (or more) championships.
Coming into the weekend Sebastian Vettel knew his Championship challenge was extremely slim but still possible. That was almost put to bed as the German failed to out qualify both members of his former team. Verstappen was flying but was ultimately denied from becoming the youngest ever pole sitter by his teammate Daniel Ricciardo, who qualified just 0.026 seconds quicker.
Ricciardo's advantage was short lived, however. When the lights went out the Austrailian got off to an extremely poor start with Verstappen and Hamilton able to take advantage into Turn 1. Valtteri Bottas tried to have a go at Riccardo but was ultimately denied and left to fight off an eager Vettel, who managed to muscle his way past through Turns 4 and 5.
Further back, the F1.5 race was in full effect, with contact between the Force India of Esteban Ocon and the Renault of Nico Hulkenberg sending a piece of Ocon's front wing into the Mclaren of Fernando Alonso. The Spaniard was forced to retire five laps later.
Up at the front, Verstappen was keen to make up for the previous day and put in A series of fastest laps, covering off the chasing Hamilton. Tires were already playing a big part in the race, with Hamilton's Ultrasofts looking extremely angry, he was forced to pit on Lap 12 for Supersofts. The Red Bull's weren't far behind, both pitting for Supersofts on laps 13 and 14. Ferrari managed to stay out until lap 18.
As things started to settle Verstappen was in control, he pulled out a comfortable gap from Hamilton behind, but the action was happening A little further back. Vettel was driving a great race on form we haven't seen for a while and eyeing up P3. The Ferrari driver was on form, storming past the Red Bull into Turn 1 on lap 34.
Vettel was able to remain fast, five laps later he was on the tail of Hamilton and after some great wheel-to-wheel racing Vettel was able to use his DRS and take P2 from Hamilton. Vettel was clearly doing everything in his power to keep the championship alive but without a mistake from Hamilton it wouldn't be enough.
On lap 62 we saw an all too familiar sight as the Red Bull of Ricciardo pulled out of second place and parked up at the side of the road. This was the Australian's 8th retirement of 2018, who will surely be very keen to get into the more reliable yellow car next year.
Despite his best efforts, Vettel was unable to catch Verstappen, who was at this point far too gone. Although he drove an incredible race, Verstappen gave arguably his most convincing performance yet giving us high hopes for his future capabilities.
Hamilton, despite only needing a top 7 finish was decidedly unhappy with the performance of his Mercedes. He presented a series of irritable messages over the team radio as his car was chewing through Supersoft tires. He was ultimately passed by Kimi Raikkonen, who went on to claim 3rd position.
Although I'm sure he would have rather done it from the top step of the podium, Hamilton finished in fourth to claim his 5th World Championship title and secure his place in the record books.
The best of the rest was topped by Nico Hulkenberg, who came in in 6th with Leclerc behind having had yet another stellar race. Vandoorne had a good day in 8th, one of his most successful races this year and his first points finish since Baku in April!
Although the Drivers Championship has now come to a close, it's still wide open for the Constructors Championship with Ferrari nipping at Mercedes' heels.
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Kimi Raikkonen stormed his way to victory in Austin on Sunday as Lewis Hamilton, after finishing in 4th place, had to postpone the inevitable celebrations of his fifth world championship until Next Week's Grand Prix in Mexico.
Raikkonen managed to take the lead in the first lap the first time he has gained a place on an opening lap since 2016 to eventually break a 113 race dry spell, taking the prancing horse to a well deserved victory.
Going into the weekend, like most I had hoped Vettel would be able to pull something special out of the bag and re-ignite the championship battle. Sadly, it wasn't meant to be; a three-place grid penalty for failing to slow under a red flag in practice left the German with a much unneeded handicap.
Raikkonen managed to storm past the pole-sitter Hamilton on the run into Turn 1, with Hamilton putting up very little of a fight allowing the Finn to initially eke out a fairly comfortable gap. There was drama at the back of the pack as Fernando Alonso and Romain Grosjean came together, resulting in the pair retiring later that lap.
Vettel, perhaps a little too keen to make up some ground from P5 got into a scrap with Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo, resulting in the two touching into Turn 13. This left Vettel pirouetting his way back to 15th, an all too familiar sight this season for the Ferrari driver.
Ricciardo's podium challenge was short lived however, as for the seventh time this season we saw his Red Bull stranded at the side of the track and the dejected, cowboy clad Honey Badger having to get a lift back to the pits.
Ricciardo's stranded Red Bull forced a VSC on Lap 11, at which point Hamilton was brought into the pits for an essentially free pit-stop, despite the Iceman's best efforts to trick him into staying out. Hamilton put his new Soft tyres to good use and after being waived through by teammate Valtteri Bottas, he began to quickly chip away at Raikkonen's lead. Hamilton managed to get within DRS range of the Finn, only to be met by an extremely wide Ferrari of Raikkonen, who managed to keep Hamilton at bay until he pitted from the lead on Lap 21.
Raikkonen emerged on Soft tyres in 5th, just behind his teammate who had managed to claw his way back from 15th. On massively different strategies, Raikkonen was quickly let past Vettel who was also passed by Max Verstappen. Verstappen having already pitted for Super-Softs, stormed his way from 18th to 3rd. After his pitstop, Vettel re-joined the track in 5th place with 16 seconds left to make up to the Mercedes of Bottas in 4th.
Having taken the lead after Raikkonen's pitstop, Hamilton had brought out a gap of 17 seconds however his tyres were now substantially older than those of Raikkonen, who was now beginning to reel in the Mercedes. This forced a second pit stop on lap 38 from Hamilton, who emerged on fresh Soft tyres in 4th position behind Raikkonen, Verstappen and Bottas. As it stood, he would need to finish in second place to clinch the title.
As is tradition, Bottas let Hamilton through to 3rd place behind Verstappen. At this point Raikkonen hit traffic, allowing the pack to close in behind him. The top three now separated by less than two seconds in the final seven laps of the race.
With life still left in his tyres, Raikkonen started to push ahead, leaving Hamilton and Verstappen to duke it out. Hamilton made a last ditch attempt to pass the Dutchman but he was unable to make the move stick and ran wide, which gave Verstappen some breathing space, thus putting an end to any chance of clinching the title in the USA.
The fight for 2nd gave Raikkonen chance to extend the gap and storm to a well earned and much anticipated victory.
Verstappen managed to keep Hamilton at bay and finished in 2nd place having had an absolutely extraordinary race from P18. Hamilton finished in third with Vettel behind in 4th, having managed to pass Bottas on the penultimate lap. Now with a 70 point gap, he needs to win in Mexico to keep the championship alive.
The rest of the points paying positions were taken by Nico Hulkenberg, Carlos Sainz Jr., Esteban Ocon, Kevin Magnussen and Sergio Perez. Although after the race stewards would disqualify both Ocon and Magnussen for fuel breaches, promoting both Brendon Hartley and Esteban Ocon into the points.
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Gracias Fernando! - As if to summarise the championship this year, Sebastian Vettel was again forced to stare at the back of the Silver Arrow as it...
Max V Ocon, Let's Get Ready to Rumble! - It was another stunning weekend for Lewis Hamilton in Brazil, still reeling from clinching the 2018 world...
Langtech's Road to a Role in F1
Max Verstappen clinched his second victory in Mexico this weekend, the Dutchman got off to a flying start, overtaking his teammate and storming his...
Kimi Raikkonen stormed his way to victory in Austin on Sunday as Lewis Hamilton, after finishing in 4th place, had to postpone the inevitable celeb...