The Interlagos circuit in Brazil is usually host to the climactic final race of the Formula 1 season. But for 2014 the classic track is only the penultimate one, double pointsinstead being awarded at the next and final race of Abu Dhabi.
With the championship still in the hands of both Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton the German had to win at the track to enable a more even fight for the finale.
Rosberg headed up all three practice sessions over the weekend and also stole the pole from Hamilton on his final lap in Q3.
As the lights went out Rosberg had the perfect start, carrying his lead into the first corner, Hamilton safely behind him, followed by the Williams’ of Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas.
Further down the grid the Red Bulls were struggling, current world champion Sebastian Vettel losing places to McLaren’s Kevin Magnussen and Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso.
It was mooted to be a 3 stop strategy for the cars and it wasn’t long before they began to pit. The track has recently been resurfaced causing the temperature to soar, blistering the tyres in the strong heat.
Massa, hoping to impress at his home grand prix, was the first to pit, returning to the track way down in 16th place. He moved back up the grid as the other cars around him began to pit but was hit hard by a 5 second stop/go penalty for speeding in the pit lane.
Button vs Bottas
Some fantastic action came from McLaren’s Jenson Button as, in 5th place, he stuck to the back of Bottas like glue, really piling on the pressure to attempt to take that 4th position.
By lap 25 Hamilton was gaining on Rosberg, the German really having to focus and keep control in order to avoid costly mistakes.
Bottas and Button pitted together, just behind Massa with his penalty. The Finn had an incredibly long stop as his seatbelt caused an issue, mechanics struggling to fix it.
Meanwhile Rosberg had also pitted, Hamilton staying out in an attempt to gain the advantage. But after pushing too hard the Brit lost control of his Mercedes, costing him a total of 6. Hamilton continued to push hard following his error but it was at the cost of further blistering his tyres.
Kimi Raikkonen performed well in his Ferrari, at one stage in third position, but one of his pit stops went badly with the jack being dropped, costing him time. Back on track he managed to take on fellow Finn Bottas and made the pass stick, but more nightmares were in store for Bottas as mechanics struggled to adjust his front wing on his next stop.
Red Bull suffered further, Daniel Ricciardo limping back to the pits following suspected front left brake failure. The mechanics attempted to work on the car but it was all over for the Australian, the suspension having failed.
The final flurry of pit stops around lap 50 brought little change as Hamilton couldn’t gain any more time, remaining in second with Massa and Button behind. Button managed to shorten the gap as Massa accidentally stopped at the McLaren pit.
Massa eventually finds us and switches to another set of primes! too many mechanics in white! pic.twitter.com/eufzrzfSrH
— WILLIAMS RACING (@WilliamsRacing) November 9, 2014
It was another abysmal time for Lotus. Romain Grosjean was looking relatively strong on track but with only ten laps to go he retired at the side of the circuit.
Despite Hamilton’s best efforts it was Nico who saw the chequered flag first, winning for the first time in Brazil. The Mercedes duo made history though as it brought their 11th 1-2 of the season.
— Lewis Hamilton (@LewisHamilton) November 9, 2014
Massa, Button and Vettel followed Hamilton across the line, the Brazilian clearly ecstatic to make the podium in front of his home crowd. The Ferrari’s of Alonso and Raikkonen took 6th and 7th whilst Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg took 8th ahead of Magnussen, Bottas rounding up the top ten.
There are now only 17 points separating Rosberg and Hamilton in the championship standings, with double points stepping up the excitement for a climactic finale.
The final race of 2014 in Abu Dhabi is live on both BBC1 and Sky Sports on 23rd November from midday. You can’t miss it.
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