SAO PAULO. — Max Verstappen won a thrilling Brazilian Formula One Grand Prix for Red Bull on Sunday after the Ferraris collided and Mercedes’ six-time world champion Lewis Hamilton was demoted from third to seventh.
In a race of safety cars and surprises, Verstappen’s former team mate Pierre Gasly made a first podium appearance in second place for Red Bull-owned Toro Rosso, a rare Honda-powered one-two.
Hamilton chased the Frenchman across the line for third but was handed a five-second penalty for tangling with Red Bull’s Alex Albon in a frantic finale to the season’s penultimate round.
“I fully accept responsibility,” said Hamilton, who also collected two penalty points and apologised to Albon for costing the rookie a likely first podium and Red Bull a one-two.
The Thai, who replaced Gasly at Red Bull in a seat switch last August, finished 14th after being sent spinning in the penultimate lap collision.
Hamilton’s demotion lifted Spaniard Carlos Sainz, who started last after an engine problem in qualifying, to third and McLaren’s first podium since the 2014 season-opening Australian Grand Prix.
Both titles had already been won by Mercedes for an unprecedented sixth year in a row, with Hamilton securing his sixth in Texas two weeks ago.
Verstappen started from pole position, only the second of his career, but had to twice overtake Hamilton and avoid a near pitlane collision with Williams’ Robert Kubica in a race he otherwise controlled.
The win was the eighth of his career, third of the season but first from pole.
It also made amends for last year’s race at Interlagos where he was heading for victory before a coming together with French backmarker Esteban Ocon dropped him to second. – Reuters