Lewis Hamilton battles back while Sebastian Vettel takes charge at Brazilian GP

Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel took his first victory since July at the Brazilian Grand Prix, where Lewis Hamilton battled from the back to finish fourth. Vettel controlled the race after taking the lead from pole position man Valtteri Bottas’ Mercedes at the start. Hamilton, his fourth world title won at the last race in Mexico, provided much of the excitement, carving through the field in the early laps as he attempted to make up for the crash in qualifying that left him at the back of the grid.

He was sixth within 20 laps, and into the lead on lap 30 as leaders Vettel, Bottas, Kimi Raikkonen of Ferrari and Max Verstappen’s Red Bull made their pit stops. Vettel cruised to a comfortable victory that served only as a reminder of what might have been for the German had his and Ferrari’s title campaign not collapsed in September and October because of a series of errors by driver and team.

Hamilton stayed out, running longer on an inverted tyre strategy and delaying his stop until lap 43, returning to the track in fifth place. But not before some assured overtaking, including a clever pass around the outside of Force India’s Sergio Perez after the Mexican had tried to defend the inside of Turn One. Hamilton set about chasing a podium place after his pit stop, using the grip advantage of the fresher super-soft tyres in his second stint to attack the cars in front who had started on those tyres but switched to the softs at their earlier pit stops.

Hamilton was 8.4 seconds behind Verstappen when he rejoined after his pit stop on lap 43 and caught the Dutchman by lap 57. The Mercedes passed the Red Bull into Turn Four on lap 59 and set about trying to close the five-second gap to Raikkonen in the remaining 12 laps. It took just six laps for Hamilton to catch the Finn but a lock-up into Turn One with four laps to go delayed him and afterwards Raikkonen used his experience to hold him back and just hung on to the final podium place.

“It was fun, it felt like reminiscent of my karting days – starting at the back,” he told Sky Sports. “I messed up yesterday and put myself in the worst position. I was quick enough to win this race. Waking up this morning, my goal was to redeem myself and do the team proud.”

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