It was a day for extremes. We started by lamenting the modern sport; we ended with the sport at its most visceral. And an extraordinary afternoon somehow ended with the most ordinary result, which for the third round in a row left the title fight loosely as you were.
Lewis Hamilton has for a while needed the unusual to tilt the championship his way. He got the former in Interlagos, but somehow not the latter. The habitually-wacky Brazilian venue did its worst. Before the race it had rained since overnight and it showed no sign of relenting throughout. It’s a track rather from another era, with plenty hard to hit near-at-hand, particularly at its most treacherous point of the uphill, curving and undulating Subida dos Boxes section. Plus, all faced it with tyres that a few thought weren’t up to the challenge. Many smashed out; plenty more got away with it by sheer fortune.
We got the usual slow burner in such conditions too – a delayed race start; several safety car periods; two red flag stoppages (and lamenting as noted). But as we seem to get every time too, once we eventually got going proper the fare was gripping; plenty of bravery and skill was on show.
Mercedes Drivers do What They Have to
And yet. As I said it was extraordinary and ordinary. Even with all this, just like in the previous two, both Mercedes pilots did just what they needed – Lewis finished first; Nico Rosberg followed him in.
Lewis definitely can be said to have done his bit – on such a day he looked as comfortable as is possible out front, not looking like he would be touched and as far as we could tell not so much as putting a wheel out of line. He said it was easy, which surely it wasn’t (probably he was seeking to needle his team mate), but in fairness he made it look so.
And Nico in a way did his bit too. He got second and was self-confessedly content with it. He never had near his team mate’s pace, but had the sense to almost visibly cede the chase (he did however survive a wild moment at the Boxes section mentioned). Now a mere third place in the final round will make the championship his.
It was noted too that all three on the Interlagos podium had reason to be happy with their day, as third-placed Max Verstappen was scintillating. His placing doesn’t begin to tell the tale, as his rise from P16 with just 15 laps left to get there, a consequence of Red Bull rolling the dice on tyres and it not working, was one for the ages. His speed and impeccable judgement was conspicuous throughout. He earlier had passed Nico for second with a typically bold move and would almsot certainly have stayed there had his team not got interventionist.
As outlined there was plenty of heroism out there: Sergio Perez, Carlos Sainz, Felipe Nasr and Esteban Ocon all were quick and stayed out of trouble. Sebastian Vettel, Nico Hulkenberg, Daniel Ricciardo and Fernando Alonso recovered aggressively from delays.
But none of them, not even by his own admission Max, could get with Lewis. He is doing what he can, but so is Nico. Not even the worst of Interlagos sent this story from its script.
Pictures: hypebeast.com – Visit them.