Red Bull’s Max Verstappen won a
dramatic safety car affected race with three pit stops, having started from
pole. He made his final stop under the penultimate safety car, sacrificing
his lead to Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton. However, at the re-start the
Dutchman got back ahead to claim his third win of the year, ahead of Pierre
Gasly’s Toro Rosso. As expected, race day conditions in Sao Paulo were much
hotter than previous days, with track temperatures more than 20 degrees
warmer than they had been during free practice on Friday.
* Verstappen was one of only two points-scoring drivers to make three pit
stops, gambling on one more stop during the penultimate safety car.
* There were three completely different strategies in the top four, with a
wide variety of tactics all the way down the field. While Verstappen and
Hamilton made three stops, McLaren’s Carlos Sainz was fourth at the flag
(before any stewards’ decisions) with one stop from last on the grid, and
Gasly finished runner-up with two stops.
* The two safety cars at the end of the grand prix turned it into a race of
opportunism, with several dramatic incidents occurring as cars tried to take
advantage of the changing situation.
* Before then, a soft-medium-soft strategy had been favoured by most of the
frontrunners, which offered both speed and flexibility in the warm
* With the higher temperatures today, degradation was slightly increased for
some drivers and all three compounds were used during the race, but there
were still some long initial stints seen on the soft compound..
HOW EACH TYRE PERFORMED
HARD C1: Working well in the higher temperatures, this was used by Mercedes
and Ferrari in the race with Valtteri Bottas and Charles Leclerc
MEDIUM C2: A key component in the middle stint for most drivers, while Sainz
completed a 42-lap final stint on it to reach the finish in fourth place.
SOFT C3: The two safety cars at the end meant that several drivers took the
chance to put this on for a final sprint to the finish, especially Hamilton
who went for it during the last safety car period, with only two racing laps
MARIO ISOLA - HEAD OF F1 AND CAR RACING
“Today will go down as one of the really dramatic races of Formula 1
history, with almost unbelievable action all the way to the finish line. The
two safety car periods at the end of the race completely changed the
complexion of the strategy, which up to that point had seemed to favour a
two-stop race, in the notably higher temperatures that we experienced on
race day compared to previous days. These also brought the most durable hard
compound into play. However, Carlos Sainz proved that a one-stopper was
still possible, and there were many other drivers who made the most of this
very unpredictable race to choose different calls on tyre strategy that paid
off. Congratulations to Pierre Gasly and Toro Rosso for a well-deserved
second place, and to Honda for putting two of their cars on the podium.”