Sebastian Vettel wins Brazilian Grand Prix, Lewis Hamilton secures fourth place

It was, Sebastian Vettel admitted, a big relief when he steered his Ferrari to his fifth victory of the season, but his first since the Hungarian GP back in August. That gap, more than anything else, allied to the German’s flawless performance this day, highlighted just how much Ferrari had lost after the wheels had fallen off their wagon through myriad incidents since Vettel had gone into the summer break well ahead of the man who eventually beat him to the championship crown.

That man, of course, was Lewis Hamilton, who had to start from the pit lane after his Mercedes had been rebuilt after the first-lap crash in qualifying yesterday which prevented him from fighting for pole position. That had fallen to his team-mate Valtteri Bottas, but after Vettel beat him away at the start, the Finn had to spend the afternoon fighting a rearguard action, trying to keep the pressure on the leading Ferrari while fending off the other one driven by Kimi Raikkonen. This he did honourably, at one stage reducing the gap between them to less than two seconds, but Vettel was always in control and won by 2.7s.

“I had a very good getaway but then I had a bit of wheel spin and thought I was going to lose out after all to Valtteri,” Vettel said. “But he was struggling even more so I had the chance to squeeze down the inside going into the first corner, which surprised him. After the safety car had gone back in [it was deployed for the first five laps after a first-lap incident involving Daniel Ricciardo, Stoffel Vandoorne and Kevin Magnussen], the remaining 65 laps were flat out, trying to maintain the pace while controlling the tyres. We were all of us doing similar lap times, so there was no room for mistakes.  It’s been a tough few weeks for us, so I’m really happy for all guys in the team back at Maranello, and it’s nice to get the win at last and have both cars up here.”

Bottas put a brave face on things, but the defeat means that Vettel will almost certainly hold on to the runner-up position with only the Abu Dhabi race left in a fortnight’s time. Vettel has 302 points to Bottas’s 280, which means Bottas must win in the Middle East with Vettel unplaced, to take the position. “I started from pole position, so I’m very disappointed not to win the race today. I lost it at the start, and after that we were so evenly matched but I just couldn’t get close enough to try to overtake Sebastian.”

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