2019 Brazilian Grand Prix Review

This weekend saw Formula One head to Interlagos, Brazil for the 2019 Brazilian Grand Prix, which marked the penultimate round of the 2019 season. 

With the Driver and Constructor titles both already settled, the focus shifted to who would collect Bronze whilst there’s a three way Constructor fight for fifth still to resolve too, so here’s our review of how every team fared around Interlagos.

 

Mercedes

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Race results: Lewis Hamilton – 7th, Valtteri Bottas – Retired

With both titles now done and dusted, Mercedes have had a quiet weekend because they didn’t seem to mount the usual challenge that we expect of them.

Hamilton didn’t even bother to set a time in a wet FP1 but was very close to Ferrari and Red Bull throughout the remainder of the weekend, despite his strong FP3 topping pace falling away throughout Qualifying.

A strong start and late braking overtake on Vettel into Senna S however looked to give Hamilton a shot at victory over Max Verstappen, but Mercedes ultimately threw it away with a poor tyre strategy although he did unfortunately lose third through a harsh 5s penalty for colliding with Alex Albon, which looked like a simple racing incident in reality. 

Bottas meanwhile looked impressive in a wet FP1 despite being half a second down on Albon, although mistakes cost him throughout the rest of Practice and Qualifying – particularly at the Senna S.

Those issues therefore clearly affected his race performance because he was off the pace throughout the race, until an oil related issue forced him to retire after 51 laps so hopefully it isn’t a serious issue to necessitate a power unit change for Abu Dhabi. 

I would therefore say that Toto Wolff’s absence was definitely felt but Abu Dhabi should hopefully return them to glory, given their form around that circuit in the hybrid era. 

 

Ferrari

FERRARI BRAZILIAN COLLISION

Race results: Charles Leclerc – Retired, Sebastian Vettel – Retired

Like USA, Brazil was again one of two halves for Ferrari because they had excellent one lap pace, yet lacked the necessary race pace to challenge for victory when it mattered most.

Vettel however produced one of his strongest weekends in a while to better Leclerc throughout, although it was the Monegasque who produced the stronger race as he mounted a great start from 14th on grid after a ten place grid penalty for changing part of his power unit. 

His alternative strategy then bared fruit in the second-half, when he got ahead of a two stopping Bottas and mounted a stern defence until Bottas’ power unit gave up, although his late clash with Vettel on fresher tyres highlights Ferrari’s consistency in silly mistakes. 

Having got a brilliant run out of the Senna S, Vettel made a great overtake on outside of Leclerc along the Reta Oposta but failed to leave enough racing room which resulted in avoidable contact. 

Personally, I think it was a silly move because Vettel could of conceded the corner then tried again on the next lap, given that there were five more laps remaining which would of been enough time for him to try and get back past his teammate.

Looking at the bigger picture though, that collision means that Vettel is out of the race for Bronze but I doubt that he will try to help Leclerc in Abu Dhabi, because Leclerc realistically needs a win plus fastest lap and Verstappen not on podium if he is to snatch third. 

 

Red Bull

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Race results: Max Verstappen – 1st, Alexander Albon – 14th

This has to be Red Bull’s strongest weekend of the season because they were quick from the get-go, although Albon experienced a big learning curve throughout the entire weekend. 

Albon was mightily fast in FP1, highlighting his wet-weather quality but unfortunately he was lured into a unlucky incident on a track that looked ready for slicks when it obviously wasn’t. 

That incident clearly affected his confidence throughout FP2 and Saturday in comparison to Verstappen, who just grew more comfortable and produced a brilliant qualifying to take pole. 

Verstappen then took a dominant victory with a perfect strategy, although it was Albon who was the more impressive as he calmly worked his way up into podium contention throughout the race. 

He however made an unfortunate mistake on the penultimate lap at Turn 8 in allowing Hamilton enough space to make an overtake down his inside, as the Thai moved back to squeeze him which resulted in Albon spinning out of a potential first podium. 

Both drivers however were honest enough to call it a racing incident unlike the stewards, which I do agree with as it was a simple mistake and Albon could of easily kept his line and tried a late braking move into Turn 9. 

Red Bull however should be overall pleased with how this weekend turned out because Albon has gained valuable experience in terms of which areas he can develop over the winter break, whilst Verstappen is continuing to mature into a top driver. 

 

McLaren

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Race results: Carlos Sainz – 3rd, Lando Norris – 8th

McLaren will be delighted to have secured fourth and their first podium since the 2014 Australian GP, but this wasn’t a straight forward weekend for either driver. 

Sainz looked as strong as he usually is throughout practice, especially in experimenting with the car in FP3 although a power unit issue in Q1 necessitated a change and a plum last start. 

He however quietly drove a great race under the radar on a one stopper which allowed him to take advantage of the late race chaos, finishing fourth on road before taking his first F1 podium by virtue of Hamilton’s penalty. 

A part of me does however think second could of been possible if he hadn’t had to start at the back, but it is simply how the cookie crumbles unfortunately in this case. 

Norris meanwhile struggled with traffic throughout the weekend although a repeat of his tyre wear issues from USA again cost him, because he did struggle heavily in comparison to those around him throughout the race but eighth is a solid finish. 

Their 19 points therefore meant that they had outscored Renault by 13 points and secured fourth, which is a remarkable achievement given the lows of recent seasons. 

 

Renault

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Race results: Daniel Ricciardo – 6th, Nico Hulkenberg – 15th

I have to say that this has been a tough weekend for Renault because they looked quick in a wet FP1, yet they then struggled throughout the remainder of the weekend in the dry. 

Neither driver then managed to make the right impact in the race because Hulkenberg just struggled throughout, whereas Ricciardo had a lap eight collision with Haas’ Kevin Magnussen at Descida do Lago before somehow recovering to finish sixth with a solid two stopper.

Renault surely will have to consider this a disappointing weekend because without the late race drama, they most definitely wouldn’t of scored many if any points. 

 

Toro Rosso

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Race results: Pierre Gasly – 2nd, Daniil Kvyat – 10th

We are now definitely seeing a clear split in performance at Toro Rosso because Gasly once again was comfortable in the car and delivered a strong qualifying performance to reach Q3 for the fourth consecutive race.

Kvyat meanwhile experienced a change in car balance from FP3 which saw him make various errors and consequently suffer a Q1 exit, when both cars could of possibly reached Q3. 

That difference then proved notable in the race because Gasly drove a strong race and was able to fully maximise the late drama to take second after fending off Hamilton to the flag, giving him his first F1 podium after a tough season and Toro Rosso’s first ever dry podium finish. 

Kvyat meanwhile didn’t really make any impact but too benefitted from the late drama, which earned him a point as the team regained sixth and now sit 16 points clear of Racing Point but only eight behind fifth-placed Renault. 

Abu Dhabi therefore will be interesting because if Gasly or Kvyat can finish sixth and Renault fail to score, Toro Rosso will snatch fifth by virtue of their two podiums this season but could possibly lose sixth too if a freak result happened. 

 

Racing Point

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Race results: Sergio Perez – 9th, Lance Stroll – 19th

There isn’t really much to say about Racing Point other than they lacked one lap pace all weekend, although they did extract points with a great race strategy like they have done many times this season. 

As for Stroll, I have lost count of how many Q1 exits he has had this season never mind throughout his three seasons in the category, which speaks volumes about his poor performance in comparison to Perez who extracts the maximum out of the car no matter what as evidenced by his two points. 

Stroll however was on a similar strategy to Leclerc so you do have to feel for the Canadian a bit because if he hadn’t ran over debris from the Ferrari incident, he could of snatched some points himself. 

Nevertheless, Brazil definitely didn’t suit Racing Point all weekend so hopefully they can hit back in Abu Dhabi but seventh looks set to be their finishing position this season.

 

Alfa Romeo

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Race results: Kimi Raikkonen – 4th, Antonio Giovinazzi – 5th

Finally Alfa Romeo has shown that their recent dip isn’t a quiet tail-off of this season because both drivers seemed to enjoy this circuit, punching the lower top ten despite track temperature changes putting Giovinazzi out in Q2. 

He however mounted a strong recovery and alongside Raikkonen, they both produced strong but quiet drives to fourth and fifth on similar strategies after Hamilton’s penalty was applied post-race. 

That fifth place is in fact Giovinazzi’s highest ever finish in F1 so great credit to the Italian for justifying his retainment for next season, 

Alfa therefore surely have to be one of the top teams from this weekend because both drivers simply drove a brilliant race under the radar, bringing the team their best double points finish since Canada in 2012 under their old Sauber name. 

 

Haas

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Race results: Kevin Magnussen – 11th, Romain Grosjean – 13th

If Haas’ weekend was a toy then it would be a yo-yo because they struggled in the wet and high track temperatures of FP1 & 3 respectively, yet excelled in the low temperatures of FP2 and Qualifying. 

They were however unlucky in that the race was ran in higher temperatures because if it had been lower and coupled with no mistakes then points certainly would of been possible. 

Different issues however cost both drivers a top ten finish because Grosjean didn’t pit during the first Safety Car, which resulted in him slipping down the order against those on fresher tyres before pitting late on but just couldn’t recover. 

Magnussen meanwhile can probably blame Ricciardo because if he hadn’t been sent spinning by the Aussie earlier on, he could of been in a position to finish ahead of Kvyat and take at least one point but he made a great recovery to finish 11th though. 

Bad luck therefore was ultimately responsible for Haas’ failure to score points this weekend, although they can take heart from a first Q3 appearance since Spain which is some positive. 

 

Williams

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Race results: Robert Kubica – 16th, George Russell – 12th

There is no real surprises at Williams but George Russell looked great all weekend, and particularly in the dry because he was half a second off Stroll in both of Saturday’s sessions.

Russell also impressed in a wet FP1 to finish tenth but his race was just fantastic because he had to battle a visor tear issue, before fighting his way past Kubica and a chaotic climax to post a strong 12th placed finish in the dry.

Kubica meanwhile had a poor weekend because he suffered a FP2 crash after picking up Kevin Magnussen’s spray on the exit of Senna S, although he did manage to not finish a second behind Russell on Saturday which is a positive for him at least.

 

If missed the previous 19 rounds of this season, get up to date with our race reviews below along with our half-term report.

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