The Formula One championship is heading for a season decider in Abu Dhabi a week on Sunday following Lewis Hamilton’s third consecutive victory at a chaotic Brazilian Grand Prix.
But what else did we learn from a day of racing in Sao Paulo? Well, a few things actually…
1. Don’t be fooled by Hamilton downplaying brilliance in Brazil.
As the chaos unfolded around him, Hamilton kept his cool in the treacherous conditions to deliver one of his finest performances in recent years.
Hamilton downplayed his masterclass – his first victory at the home of his boyhood hero Ayrton Senna – afterwards by claiming it was one of the easiest wins of his career. But do not be fooled. Yes, Hamilton has the best car, but at one stage of the race he was more than 25 seconds clear of team-mate Nico Rosberg.
And while Rosberg, four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel and even Max Verstappen all lost control of their cars, Kimi Raikkonen, the 2007 world champion, crashed out and Jenson Button, usually a master of the inclement conditions, plodded home in last, Hamilton did not endure one scare.
A brilliant effort from the Englishman, who can now boast 52 victories in the sport.
2. Verstappen’s the real deal.
The only other driver on the same level as Hamilton on Sunday was Verstappen, and his outstanding performance has rightly drawn comparisons with some of the best wet weather performances in F1 history.
Verstappen, still only 19, passed Rosberg, Raikkonen and left Vettel on the grass, in a thrill-a-minute display which had his boss Christian Horner, the Red Bull team principal, purring. “Max was in a league of his own,” Horner said following Verstappen’s remarkable comeback drive from 14th to third in just 15 laps. “You don’t often witness a motor race like that, and what we saw was something very, very special.”
3. Not a great day for other Britons.
Outside of Hamilton’s rip-roaring display, it was an afternoon to forget for the other British drivers. Button, who will head to Abu Dhabi for what is likely to be his last race, finished last, while Jolyon Palmer crashed out after colliding with Daniil Kvyat.
“There is definitely something wrong as I don’t think I have forgotten how to drive in the wet,” said Button, who often revels in the inclement conditions.
Palmer, who also failed to make the finish in the rain at Monaco earlier this year, added: “I just couldn’t see anything. Kvyat, in front of me, was slower and I hit him.”
4. Tears flow for Felipe Massa.
There was not a dry eye in the house after Felipe Massa crashed out of his final Brazilian Grand Prix. Massa, draped in his national flag, was in tears as he took the acclaim of the home fans before he was given a guard of honour by rival teams up and down the pit lane as he made his way back to the Williams garage.
“It was heartbreaking because I didn’t want it to finish like this,” Massa, who will compete in his 250th and final grand prix in Abu Dhabi before retiring from the sport, said.
“I wanted to finish with a good result for the fans, for Brazil, for my team, for me. Unfortunately I couldn’t. I had an amazing feeling with the fans and I couldn’t stop crying.”
5. Hamilton calls for Interlagos to stay on F1 calendar.
Interlagos threw up another fine race on Sunday, however Bernie Ecclestone, Formula One’s 86-year-old chief executive, has warned that it may not be on the calendar next year.
But Hamilton, who sported a crash helmet in tribute to Senna here this weekend, said: “This is a grand prix that must stay. It’s a part of Formula One’s heritage, and it’s one of those original circuits which we can’t lose.”