Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel has not won a Formula One Grand Prix since July when he took the trophy in Hungary. That changed today in Brazil when he slid down the inside of polesitter Valtteri Bottas lap one turn one, and kept the pace to fend off all attacks for the remaining laps. Ultimately his gap to Bottas in second at the checkered flag was 2.7 seconds with teammate Kimi Raikkonen nabbing third.
All of that seems well and good, but the battle at the front was wildly overshadowed by already-crowned 2017 World Driver’s Champion Lewis Hamilton, who finished in fourth. Thanks to his spin and crash on lap one of qualifying, Hamilton failed to set a time and was forced to start the race from pit lane in last place.
Hamilton started the Grand Prix on a set of unused soft tires and rapidly made his way through the backmarkers. By lap 9 he’d already moved up into the points paying positions by passing Pierre Gasly into tenth. Shortly afterward, the drivers at the front started to pit to remove their ‘super soft’ tires in exchange for standard ‘softs’. While they were in the pits, Hamilton actually briefly inherited the lead of the race before pitting for tires himself.
For the rest of the race, Hamilton was consistently the fastest driver on the track, now lighter on fuel and running on the stickier super softs. When he rejoined the track he was 19 seconds down to the leader. With 12 laps remaining Hamilton made a stellar move on Verstappen around the outside between turns 3 and 4.
Once in clean air, Hamilton quickly gained on Raikkonen in third. Once caught up to him, Hamilton then spent a few laps trying to figure out a way past. An attempt to pass the Finn to get on the podium was mounted, but a lockup on Hamilton’s part into turn one meant it was nothing doing.
For having started 20th, I’d say getting to the finish line in fourth is mightily impressive. Then again, he’s already champion, so he might as well just show off.