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Class of the Field
Adam Barton

A Formula One fan since he was six, back while Häkkinen and Schumacher were having many an epic battle, Adam has seen a great deal. From German domination (twice), to British determination (once) and a Spanish invasion. A near compulsive fan who one day hopes to write about the sport for a living, outside of F1 Adam also authors his own blog One Guy's Opinion.

Water off a Dutch's back - Verstappen gets the headlines but lower order dance in the rain


There was excitement aplenty once the cars actually got going in São Paulo. All of the drivers that finished could be awarded for serene car control and lightning quick reactions – and frankly everyone deserves credit as F1 proved that it has the best drivers in the world. All they need is tyres that work in the given conditions.

Verstappen makes his mark

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing: Started 4th, Finished 3rd

Verstappen’s day, and really his season were summed up perfectly with his one error
Credit: Thompson/Getty

Verstappen may have been aided by a clearly quicker car but the spectacular nature of his drive means his performance can’t be ignored. Verstappen was the only one capable of taking the fight to Mercedes, and those behind weren’t even close. The trouble for him and Red Bull was that their bold strategy always had him on the back foot in the battle for the lead, stopping three times as Mercedes ran without the need to change tyres.

Verstappen passed Räikkönen instantly after the Safety Car start with an aggressive dive into turn one. The Dutchman made the first of his stops just as Marcus Ericsson crashed, moving to inters and ceding position to Räikkönen. That was nearly his downfall as the Finn crashed right in front of him on the restart, with the teenager doing very well to avoid spinning himself. Then came the red flag.

Verstappen was the only one capable of taking the fight to Mercedes, and those behind weren’t even close

After the restart Verstappen was all over Rosberg and eventually got past on lap 31. Once again Red Bull went aggressive and tried to move on to inters, looking for the win. It didn’t work and the youngster was forced into an ill-timed third stop just before the final safety car came in, dropping him to 14th when he had looked nailed on for a podium. What followed will become part of the Max Verstappen legend as he ran rings around half the field, passing Gutiérrez, Wehrlein, Bottas, his own teammate Ricciardo, Kvyat, Ocon, Nasr, Hülkenberg, Vettel, Sainz and finally Pérez to regain his rightful third place. He did all this in just 14 laps, on the same tyres as the majority of them with no clear advantage other than his confidence and unbelievable talent. Verstappen’s day, and really his season were summed up perfectly with his one error as he half span up the field but dusted himself off, got straight back up to speed and defended second place to Rosberg perfectly with a no-nonsense move.

The overtaking got harder as Verstappen climbed the field but nothing could stop him and had Red Bull been slightly more conservative, it’s hard to argue that he wouldn’t have won the race.

Brazil’s new favourite son?

Felipe Nasr, Sauber F1 Team: Started 21st, Finished 9th

As one local hero bowed out in dramatic fashion, another stepped up to offer Brazil new hope – if he gets in a quicker car. Saturday showed the inherent lack of pace of the Sauber, but Felipe Nasr, and the rest of his Swiss team showed patience and took advantage of track position to score critical points for the team.

Nasr kept ploughing and rising through the field
Credit: Sauber AG

As cars pushed too hard and crashed out or tried their luck by pursuing aggressive strategies and switching to the inters at least once, Nasr kept ploughing and rising through the field, reaching a high of 6th on lap 23, having started 20th on the grid, following Romain Grosjean’s pre-race excursions. It was always going to be tough to hold on to such a high finish. The Brazilian battled on manfully and held on until lap 31 before Ricciardo made it past before pitting. Nasr would run 6th or 7th until lap 60 when Nico Hülkenberg finally made it past, potentially harming his former team. In the final 10 laps, both Red Bulls would make it past Nasr, creating a few nerve-jangling laps with Esteban Ocon, Daniil Kvyat and Fernando Alonso all looking to spoil Sauber’s day.

Credit also has to go to Esteban Ocon too who came very close to a maiden point and put up a vital fight for Manor as they looked to hold on to 10th in the constructors’ championship. The Frenchman shadowed Nasr for much of the race, profiting as others tried intermediate tyres but couldn’t quite make the pivotal move past Nasr to save Manor’s bacon.

Sainz leans on rally pedigree

Carlos Sainz Jr, Scuderia Toro Rosso: Started 15th, Finished 6th

The Spaniard was so close to a career best but couldn’t quite hold off as the established front runners made a late charge through the points. After a disappointing Saturday that saw Sainz out-qualified by Kvyat, the Spaniard recovered marvellously and proved that he can give Verstappen a run for his money in equal machinery.

Another man who decided to live with the conditions come what may, Sainz managed to climb up to fourth on lap 44 as Verstappen pitted for a second time. At that point Sainz was the second non-Mercedes. All of the traditional top runners ahead had either struggled on their tyres and felt the need to change or put it into the wall, or at the very least across the grass. As tempting as it was, Sainz couldn’t quite keep up with Sergio Pérez ahead and showed great maturity not to overdrive the car in search of a maiden podium.

Sainz’s hopes were dashed with five laps to go
Credit: Fox/Getty

Sainz’s hopes were dashed with five laps to go as the charging Verstappen and then Vettel got past. Sainz could have put up more of a fight but knew sixth was a great result, matching his career best, and bringing in vital points for the team, as well as giving him an outside chance of a top ten finish in the championship.

Checo falls just short of record

Sergio Pérez, Sahara Force India F1 Team: Started 9th, Finished 4th

It helped Force India secure a best ever fourth place in the constructors’ championship

Once again, another masterful drive in terrible conditions that was thwarted at the last. Sergio Pérez craved a seventh podium, more than any other Mexican in F1 and had done everything right. He was on for best of the rest behind the two Mercedes, making the most of others falling by the wayside. Pérez had been solid in qualifying, just edged out by Hülkenberg on Saturday, but he jumped through the field as both Ferraris and Verstappen span. In the end he was three laps short of a great national record as Max Verstappen did what he had done to so many earlier and breezed past.

While a third podium of the year would have been phenomenal, it was still a stunning drive, with great importance as it helped Force India secure a best ever fourth place in the constructors’ championship, as well as best of the midfield behind Mercedes, Red Bull and Ferrari for Pérez himself.