Max Verstappen finished the 18th round of the Formula 1 World Championship in tenth place*, the same as where he qualified – he started 9th because of grid penalties for others – to bring home one more precious point. Carlos Sainz’s first visit to Interlagos is one he will prefer to forget.
Let’s therefore deal with the Spaniard’s race first: his STR10 stopped on track as he set off for the grid. Then, having started last from pit lane, just a few corners later, his race ended after his rear wheels locked up due to an issue with the drivetrain.
As for Max, on a day when many drivers complained of the difficulty of overtaking on the twisty Brazilian circuit, the rookie delivered a mini-masterclass in the art of F1 passing. After the start, he immediately got in a fight with Massa, passing the home hero, but the Brazilian retook the position. Perez also got ahead of the Dutchman so that he was tenth as they crossed the line for the first time. He had moved up to seventh, before pitting for Medium tyres, having started on Softs, on lap 11. This dropped him to 15th place, but with the run of pit stops he was soon back up to 11th. Max was now much closer to Perez ahead of him but the Force India had the edge in terms of speed down the straight.
Then on lap 32 came the move of the race, possibly even the move of the season, as Max tried to pass Perez going into the downhill turn 1. The Mexican legitimately moved the Dutchman slightly towards the outside, but Max was having none of it, his foot buried on the throttle and he managed to get ahead, going into the second right hand part of the Esses.
On lap 54, the Toro Rosso man made a final stop for new Softs and he was determined to use the advantage of the softer compound to get back in the points. On lap 58, he attacked Nasr in the Sauber, with a copycat of his move on Perez at the Senna Esses to go 11th. He had a gap of 2.7 to close to catch Maldonado if he was to end the day with at least one point. On lap 67, it was another incredible move, as Max dived down the inside this time at the first corner, showing great feel on the brakes to get back in the points with 3 laps to go.
The race at the front was far less thrilling, with the top four coming home in grid order, the only drivers to finish on the lead lap. That meant a podium consisting of the Mercedes duo of Nico Rosberg, taking his 13th career victory and Lewis Hamilton, joined by Sebastian Vettel for Ferrari. We are now well and truly on the home straight of this season, with the finale coming up in a fortnight’s time in Abu Dhabi.
After the race, the Stewards disqualified Felipe Massa from the results for a rule infringement. The Williams driver had been classified eighth, so his disqualification promotes Max Verstappen to ninth place.