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.
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 ten 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 filip to the beleaguered Scuderia after the collapse of his title bid following the summer break, was to use almost exactly the same piece of tarmac to rectify his mistake as he held the high line over Bottas into the first corner after an evenly-matched start off the line.
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.
“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.”
Retiring Williams driver Felipe Massa drove for the last time in front of his Brazilian home fans and was given a heartwarming message over team radio by his son Felipe Jr.
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 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.
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.
Brazilian GP race result Driver Team Time 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 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren Kevin Magnussen Haas Brendon Hartley Toro Rosso
More to follow…
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.