WHAT could have been a fantastic one-two for Red Bull Renault in the Grand Prix of Brazil turned into disappointment for Max Verstappen after a sensational collision but lifted the curse on teammate Daniel Ricciardo.
The two finished second and fourth respectively after a hugely entertaining race on the Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace at Sao Paulo.
Verstappen was in the lead and heading for a clear win when he was hit by Force India’s Esteban Ocon on lap 43 of the 71-lap race.
Ocon, on fresh tyres, was trying to unlap himself and tried to get past the race leader in a bizarre 300km/h wheel-to-wheel battle before crashing into Verstappen in the Senna Esses.
Both cars spun off, Hamilton sailed past to reclaim the lead as Verstappen recovered to take second spot.
The furious driver labelled his French rival a ‘p***’ and a ‘f****** idiot,’ then confronted him in the pit and gave him a few angry shoves.
Verstappen was in great form, passing the favoured Mercedes pair of Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas, as well as Ferrari’s Sebastien Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen on his way to the chequered flag.
But final honours went to Lewis Hamilton, with Verstappen finishing 1.5 seconds behind.
Then came Kimi Raikkonen, who crossed the line just three tenths of a second in front of a fast closing in Daniel Ricciardo.
It was the Perth driver’s first good result in a while in what he had labelled his ‘cursed’ car after a record number of retirements throughout the season.
He might well have claimed second place had it not been for a grid penalty that had him starting from 11th place.
The penalty was due to his car needing a new turbo after a marshal in the previous race in Mexico emptied his fire extinguisher into the Red Bull’s exhaust pipe, mistakenly thinking the engine was on fire.
The fire retardant solidified in the turbo, rendering it useless.
In fifth place and some 18 seconds astern of Ricciardo came Bottas, followed by Vettel, who had a miserable drive in the Ferrari, while Charles Leclerc put in another stirring performance to claim seventh for Alfa Sauber.
The Haas pair of Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen made up for their poor performance in the US and Mexico with a solid 8th and 9th and the final championship point went to Force India’s Sergio Perez.
Teammate Ocon was hit with a 10-second stop-and-go penalty for his whack into Verstappen. It was the most severe punishment available to the stewards, but it did nothing to console the livid Dutchman, who started from fifth on the grid.
“It is a real shame we didn’t come away with the win due to the incident with Ocon,” he said .
“Of course a backmarker can un-lap himself but he took an unnecessary amount of risk, especially against the race leader.
“It is now important to take the positives from the race and the rest of the weekend and carry on the momentum into Abu Dhabi.”
Daniel Ricciardo had a phenomenal race, picking off rivals lap after lap in a great display, and it was clear that just one more lap would have given him third place.
“I’m happy with my race, but still a bit disappointed to just miss out on the podium,” he said.
“I caught Kimi and could see the podium, but unfortunately it just wasn’t quite enough.
“I had fun and some great battles, especially my pass on Bottas and the battle with Seb (Vettel) was cool, I think we maybe touched once or twice, but I’ve always respected him and the way he races.
“We’ve had some on-track battles before, at times it gets slightly heated, but I believe we know where each other’s limits are.
“Anyway, I have no regrets from the race, I did all I could and I know the team did, so it is what it is. With the pace we had today I really have some optimism going to Abu Dhabi.
“I feel like that’s a stronger track for us than this, so maybe we can go there and drink some fake champagne.”
Team principal Christian Horner was even angrier than Verstappen.
“After having fantastic pace in the race today it’s incredibly disappointing to lose the victory with Max following what can only be described as irresponsible driving from a backmarker.
“Nevertheless, we had phenomenal pace which was demonstrated by both Max and Daniel.
“Exceptional driving and a great strategy enabled Max to take the lead following the pit stops and Daniel made swift progress from 11th on the grid with some outstanding overtakes, particularly on Bottas and Vettel.
“Second and fourth is a good result for the Team, but we can’t help but feel that we have been robbed.”
Final race of the season is at Abu Dhabi on November 25.
CHECKOUT: Alonso races hybrid between races
Brazilian Grand Prix results
|2||33||Max Verstappen||Red Bull||+0 laps||71||5||18|
|3||7||Kimi Räikkönen||Ferrari||+0 laps||71||4||15|
|4||3||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull||+0 laps||71||11||12|
|5||77||Valtteri Bottas||Mercedes||+0 laps||71||10|
|6||5||Sebastian Vettel||Ferrari||+0 laps||71||2||8|
|7||16||Charles Leclerc||Sauber||+0 laps||71||7||6|
|8||8||Romain Grosjean||Haas F1 Team||+0 laps||71||8||4|
|9||20||Kevin Magnussen||Haas F1 Team||+0 laps||71||10||2|
|10||11||Sergio Pérez||Force India II||+1 lap||70||12||1|
|11||28||Brendon Hartley||Toro Rosso||+1 lap||70||16||0|
|12||55||Carlos Sainz Jr.||Renault||+1 lap||70||15||0|
|13||10||Pierre Gasly||Toro Rosso||+1 lap||70||9||0|
|14||2||Stoffel Vandoorne||McLaren||+1 lap||70||20||0|
|15||31||Esteban Ocon||Force India II||+1 lap||70||18||0|
|16||35||Sergey Sirotkin||Williams||+2 laps||69||13||0|
|17||14||Fernando Alonso||McLaren||+2 laps||69||17||0|
|18||18||Lance Stroll||Williams||+2 laps||69||19||0|
|RET||27||Nico Hülkenberg||Renault||Power unit||43||13||0|
|RET||9||Marcus Ericsson||Sauber||Collisiion damage||22||6||0|