Sebastian Vettel’s 100th race for Ferrari was not one for the history books. The German’s milestone moment was ruined by a collision with teammate Charles Leclerc adding to Ferrari’s difficult end to the season.
It’s not often that Sebastian Vettel breaks into his native language over the Ferrari team radio, but the German expletives flowed freely after his Brazilian Grand Prix was brought to a grinding halt.
With five laps remaining in the race, a fierce battle was brewing with Ferrari teammate Charles Leclerc. With Vettel attacking on the straight, a touch of the tires led to both suffering race-ending damage to their vehicles. As a result, their afternoons ended in being sprayed, not by champagne, but by sparks, tire debris and gravel.
"I don’t think we can apportion any blame right now," admitted Vettel, who had been hoping to celebrate a milestone moment in his Ferrari career with the race in Brazil being his 100th on the books of the Italian manufacturers. "It’s just silly for the team. Charles tried to overtake, I defended the first corner and then tried to pull away on the straight. I thought I had gone past, but then we collided."
Team collisions are never a good look and this one is unlikely to ease the tensions that have been building all season between the two Ferrari teammates. For Ferrari, it’s their first since 2017 when Vettel and Kimi Raikonnen clashed in Singapore and the disconsolate look on the face of Ferrari Team Principle Mattia Binotto after the incident told the whole story.
"We need time to look at the video I will have a chat with the drivers, I won't judge now," Binotto told reporters. "I don't want to tell my own opinion on the crash."
With the season winding down, Ferrari have already found themselves in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons due to the controversy surrounding the output of their engines that eld to the FIA issuing two rule clarifications. When Leclerc finished close to a minute off of winner in Austin, Red Bull's Max Verstappen, who took the checkered flag in Brazil, even went as far as to suggest: "That's what happens when you stop cheating."
Needless to say, Ferrari have refuted the claims as "absurd" and maintain that they have changed nothing in their engines as a result of two FIA clarifications. However, the inquest into both their engine's output and what went down at the Brazilian Grand Prix between Vettel and Leclerc will only serve to compound what is turning into a forgettable end to the 2019 Formula 1 season for Ferrari.
Former teammates Max Verstappen (l.) and Pierre Gasly (r.) shared the podium at the end of a thrilling race in the Brazilian Grand Prix.
Max Verstappen claimed his third win of the season after defending pole in a breathtaking Brazilian Grand Prix, while Torro Rosso's Pierre Gasly's finished on the podium for the first time in his career. Recap how the race went down below.
The Brazilian GP - as it happened!
Team radio: "You were magic today Max."
Verstappen: "We won as a team. Thanks guys. What a race. I loved it!"
Team radio: "Redemption Max, redemption."
Verstappen wins the Brazilian GP. Gasly holds off the challenge of Hamilton down the final straight to take P2 - his best-ever career finish.
Hamilton clips Albon! Gasly is up to P2, Hamilton drops to P3, while Albon is all the way down in P15 now. Meanwhile, Hamilton's front wing has definitely taken damage.
Hamilton immediately attacks Albon having breezed past Gasly after the restart.
Hamilton was second when Mercedes pitted him. Was it worth the risk?
Mattia Binotto looks absolutely crestfallen as he enters the Ferrari garage. Oh to be a fly on the wall when he talks to Vettel and Leclerc!
Lance Stroll has also dropped out of the race. It looks like he'd lost control of his front right ties.
Vettel: "What the hell is he doing?"
Leclerc: "What the ----?"
Hamilton immediately dives into the pits and exits in P4. We've got a Red Bull one-two as it stands.
Nightmare for Ferrari. Leclerc and Vettel were contesting position and end up taking each other out. Vettel is not happy and the safety car is out.
Nico Hulkenberg is under investigation for overtaking Kevin Magnussen during the sfaety car.
Vettel attacks Albon on the outside heading into Turn 1, but is held off. The German unable to pull off the same maneuver that saw him lose out to Hamilton and Albon.
Quick update in the big winner of the day: Carlos Sainz. He's up 13 places in P7.
An exciting restart sees Verstappen quickly take Hamilton. The Brit is battling back, but struggling. Further back, Vettel has lost out to Albon.
Hamilton is worried about his tires as he's told they're "15 laps old" by the Mercedes engineers.
As things stand:
Snapshot from Sao Paolo
Hamilton: "The safety car needs to speed up man, jeez."
Vettel and Verstappen both have fresher tires which means that Hamilton is going to be really up against it after the restart having decided not to pit. "Are you going to give me some power?," asks Hamilton.
The saftey car could also benefit Vettel who has the freshest tires. Meanwhile, Verstappen is taking the opportunity to switch onto the soft tires without losing much time.
The Yellow Flag is waved with Bottas off the track and it doesn't take long for Verstappen to complain that Hamilton didn't slow down.
Bottas' race is over. It's been a while since we've seen engine trouble with Mercedes. What a shame as his battle with Leclerc was just heating up.
Leclerc is still holding Bottas at bay, but it looks like something has gone wrong with the Finn's engine as he trailing smoke.
Verstappen got hot on the heels of Vettel, who pitted as a result. The one-stop strategy is out the window as the Ferrari man exits in P4.
"I need more power," demands Hamilton. His quest for perfection is one of the reasons he's a six-time world champion.
We're seeing signs that Vettel is slowing down while Hamilton and Verstappen have sped up on the medium tires. How long can the German maitain lap times that will keep them at bay? As I write that, Verstappen takes another 2-1s off Vettel's lead.
There's a great battle going on between Leclerc and Bottas in P5 and P6. The Finn just can't find a way past the Ferrari driver, whose defending admirably.
Snapshot from Sao Paolo
Verstappen follows suit and, like Hamilton, switches onto the medium tires. Crucially the Red Bull driver exits the pits with Hamilton still behind him. Both are upping the pace now.
Hamilton pits and comes out in P3 behind Ricciardo.
Bottas pits with Mercedes worried about an undercut from Albon, meanwhile Hamilton used expletives to describe the state of his tires. The Brit is now asking "what are you waiting for? I can't get any closer than this."
Snapshot from Sao Paolo
As things stand:
Now Bottas is complaining about the effect the wind is having on his car. "We've got the same issue with the other car," is the message over the radio. Seems there's something up in the Mercedes camp.
The closest battle on track is between Norris and Kvyat right now, with the Toro Rosso man on softs looking to find a way past the hard-shod McLaren.
Vettel has just been told that "Hamilton is struggling on the softs". That should provide a useful motivation boost as he trails the Brit by roughly 9 seconds - "You're faster than the leaders, very good pace."
Hamilton keeps asking about whether the wind has picked up. There hasn't been much change according to the Mercedes team, but it suggests his car still isn't driving at max capacity. He's just won the title and this is all largely academic, but he's still all about maximising performance. Impressive.
Vettel is matching the pace of the front two and, given that Verstappen and Hamilton have to stop again, could find himself in a position to go on the charge.
Unsurprisingly, Kubica is handed a five-second penalty for an "unsafe release" in the incident involving him and Verstappen in the pit lane.
After trading places during a spell of breathtaking driving, now that those around them have pitted, Verstappen and Hamilton are back out in front. The gap right now is 2.1s.
Leclerc is told to go onto "Plan C" by the team radio. I wonder what happened to Plan A and Plan B? Either way the Ferrari driver is into the pits for the first time and switches to the hard tires.
Hamilton asks if he has "an engine problem" and is told by the engineer that "temps are a little hot", but that everything is ok. The world champion has just admitted he's having trouble keeping up with the race leader - "we should have gone on mediums."
Snapshot from Sao Paolo
Bottas pits with Verstappen hot on his heels and drops down to P5.
Vettel pits and changes to the medium tires. He exits in P5 behind Ferrari teammate Leclerc, but a one-stop strategy could give him an edge today.
There was almost a crash in the pit lane between Kubica and Verstappen that is now being looked at by the race officials.
The pit stops have sparked this race into life as Verstappen and Hamilton both get past Albon. Hamilton is complaining about his battery, which could see him struggle.
Hamilton nips past Leclerc who also loses out to Verstappen before the Red Bull driver bursts around the outside of Hamilton to take P4. A lovely move and it didn't take long for him to get back ahead.
Verstappen follows suit on the next lap, but he comes out behind Hamilton in P6. Vettel currently leads with Bottas and Albon behind him.
Hamilton is in the pits first as he undercuts Verstappen.
Ricciardo looks like he might be ready to go on the attack with nothing to lose.
Verstappen and Hamilton are still going back and forth, but the Red Bull driver has to be feeling good about the lead he's built up whilst battling on the soft tires. "I wonder how long these tyres are gonna go," says Max.
A message to Sebastian Vettel over the team radio: "We are on plan Plan A plus two." A puzzler!?
Ricciardo is given a five-second penalty for causing the accident with Magnussen, but he's already in P20 right now.
Those on soft tires like race leader Verstappen will need to be thinking of pitting soon given the temperatures out on the track.
As things stand, Verstappen would move up into third in the driver's championships standings - not that it makes much difference given that Hamilton has already wrapped up the title.
Verstappen is no longer extending his lead as Hamilton goes faster than the Red Bull driver for the first time. The gap is now at 2.1s.
Verstappen is on the soft tires and gives the Red Bull team an update on how they're holding up: "Yeah, they're ok. I felt a bit of vibration on the left front."
After being penalised in qualifying and starting furter back as a result, Ferrari's Leclerc is driving like a man possessed!
Spinout on lap 8!
Albon is battling with Bottas for P4 and gets words on encouragement over the team radio: "Well done Alex - keep hassling him if you think you can pass."
Sainz has also shot up the standings. After starting all the way at the back - he's up into 16th and aiming for a points-finish.
Are we set to see Verstappen and Hamilton duke it out for P1? The world champion will want to set a marker for next season given how strong Verstappen has been at the tail of end of this season.
Elsewhere, Leclerc has moved up four spots into 10th after enjoying a blistering start further down the pack.
It's a clean start in Brazil, as Hamilton burns rubber to get past Vettel on the first corner. A brave move that pays dividends.
We're underway in Sao Paolo! Can Verstappen hold onto pole to claim a third win of the season or does the Brazilian Grand Prix have a few tricks up its sleeve?
A touching tribute
Not long to go now!
Talking to Sky Sports Germany, Bernie Ecclestone wasn't interested in calling out a potential winner for today's race: "It'll be one of the front three, but it's impossible to say who, I just hope it's a good race."
Big-name Brazilians in attendance
Dani Alves has said he's got his fingers crossed for Lewis Hamilton, as "he's a good personal friend".
A lot is being made of the temperature of the track which is a good 15-18 °C warmer than yesterday at 49 °C. That could mean that teams opt to make use of the hard tires which should hold up better.
Half an hour to go!
Verstappen starting from the front is the fifth time a Red Bull driver has taken pole in Brazil. McLaren have the most with 12, closely followed by Ferrari with 11, and Williams with six.
The front three
Sebastian Vettel on qualifying: "Both Red Bull and Mercedes look a bit stronger managing tyres, but we are there for a reason - we have the speed, we have the power. We'll see what we can do."
Max Verstappen edged out Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel and world champion Lewis Hamilton to claim pole in Brazil.
A chance at redemption
Verstappen may be able to laugh about it now, but it was certainly no laughing matter when he crashed out at last season's Brazilian Grand Prix. On course for victory having climbed from fifth to first, the then 21-year-old touched tires while Esteban Ocon was trying to unlap himself - a costly mistake that he'll be keen to atone for today.
Max is fired up!
Max Verstappen after claiming pole position: "The car was really good. From Q1 the car was flying and really enjoyable to drive. Really happy with this pole position."
Verstappen chasing third win
Hello and welcome one and all to DW's coverage of the Brazilian Grand Prix. It's the penultimate race fo the Formula 1 season and, while Mercedes and Lewis Hamiltonhave already claimed silverware, Red Bull are enjoying a strong finish to the campaign. With Max Verstappen starting from pole position it's fair to say that anything could happen, as he goes in search of his third victory of the season following triumphs in Austria and Germany.