The Ferrari Owners’ Club
of Great Britain

GRAND PRIX: Brazil: Vettel Notches Up Win No.5

23-11-2017

By Jack Target

Sebastian Vettel picked up race win number five as Ferrari finished with two cars on the podium in the penultimate race of the season. 

Brazil was host to this much needed victory for Ferrari but the story of the weekend was Felipe Massa who drove his last race in his home nation (unless he come out of retirement again). 

Now instead of writing about the great man here, may I point you in the direction of my heartfelt write up after last year’s Brazilian GP

Massa didn’t have all the headlines this weekend though as there was plenty going on off the track in the build up to the race. Firstly an issue for Liberty Media to look at next year after some of Lewis Hamilton’s staff were robbed. It has been a growing trend when F1 comes to town and one that will start to worry a few of the drivers and teams.

In driver seat news, Fernando Alonso is sticking with McLaren as they move to a Renault engine next season. Speaking of Renault they had some drama too as Renault Sport F1 boss Cyril Abiteboul expressed concern over how Toro Rosso had been using their engines. The Italian team, who will have Honda engines next year, took umbrage with this with a long statement that ended  “Since the summer break, Toro Rosso has suffered continuous power unit related failures, and the resulting grid penalties has cost the team points and relative positions in the Constructors’ championship.” If that doesn’t shout conspiracy, I don’t know what does.

After this weekend, in which Toro Rosso had a 12th placed finish and a retirement, Renault’s single point from Nico Hulkenberg has put the French team just four points behind the Italians. 

Things were hotting up as it was but things got a little more interesting right from the off as Hamilton, just two weeks from securing the championship, spun on his flying lap in the first session of qualifying. 

This opened the door for Ferrari as well as Red Bull and even Hamilton’s teammate Bottas, who has had some critics of late. One of the big surprises of qualifying was Esteban Ocon not making the top 10. At the top it looked like the Ferrari pair had locked it up but Bottas pulled out a much needed quick lap to put himself on pole. Red Bull followed the prancing horses with Sergio Perez tucking in behind them and Alonso started in 6th after Daniel Ricciardo’s grid penalty.

After the disappointment of missing out on pole, Ferrari didn’t need a problem like the one they found themselves with on Sunday. Kimi Raikkonen had some electrical issues that almost brought some emotion out of the Finn. Almost.

He was fine to start though, as was Hamilton from the pit lane. It almost felt that he needed a challenge after winning the title and we all knew this would be fun to watch.

When the lights went out Vettel overcame losing pole by getting past Bottas and holding on after a good battle. Further back, Ricciardo, after his 10 place penalty got tangled up and spun but was able to save the car and continue. Ocon followed up a below par qualifying by getting involved with Romain Grosjean which left him in the barriers. It would be the Frenchman’s first DNF in Formula 1, breaking a 27 race streak.

After the restart the Brazilian fans rose to their feet as their hero in his last swan song passed Alonso on the 5th lap. Can you say ‘Fernando, Felipe is faster than you’?

Ricciardo recovered from his difficult start with some sublime overtakes, especially one past Lance Stroll in which he hit the brakes late and cut in on the inside. The Aussie is also a fantastic driver to watch when further down the grid. Hamilton was doing his best to wow the crowd and viewers as he did the same and was up to 5th, from a pit lane start, after only 21 laps. The Brit actually led for a large portion of the race whilst the rest of the pack pitted. As the commentators quite rightly pointed out, if you would have missed the start of the race you would have been very confused to see Lewis at the front. He is good but he couldn’t be that good could he?

Hamilton ended the race with the driver of the day award as he finished in 4th, not too far off a podium. An amazing drive that further proved his greatness. 

But in the end Vettel got his win and Kimi was able to get back on the podium. However the biggest cheer of all was reserved for Massa who just about held on to 7th in front of Alonso.

Now the title has been wrapped up these last few races may not seem important to most fans, but for momentum going in to next year and bragging rights over the winter, there is still plenty to play for. This result this weekend has all but given Vettel the runner up place in the championship with Kimi Raikkonen now just seven points behind Daniel Ricciardo in 4th.

Let’s hope we end the season with a bang and don’t forget to take in those last few images of a halo-less F1 car before their introduction in 2018.