What the teams said - Race day in Sao Paulo
Hamilton made up 15 places yesterday in the Sprint, so starting from P10 today, no one expected him to stay there for long. But instead of just getting on the tail of the top runners, within a few laps he was in the midst of them. He picked off Perez on track, closed the gap to Verstappen out front, chased him through both pit stop periods and then made a move stick on track – a few laps after being barged wide by the Dutchman. Sao Paulo was his sixth win of the season, and arguably his most important, and impressive. Bottas played the team game, letting Hamilton through and jumped Perez in the pit stops thanks to a handily timed VSC to come home third.
READ MORE: 'I don’t remember another weekend like this' says Hamilton after sensational last-to-first comeback in Brazil
Lewis Hamilton, 1st
"I am so, so grateful for the incredible support I've had this weekend from the people of Brazil - I've not had this kind of support since Silverstone! To hear the crowd throughout the weekend has been really humbling. I've just been saying 'Obrigado Brasil' all weekend. What a race! The Team here and at the factory did an amazing job, and Valtteri did a great job today to get as many points as possible.
"I was pushing as hard as I could from last on grid yesterday, and then with another 5-place penalty today. This was, I think, the hardest weekend I've had. But my dad said 'you reminded me of 2004' when I was in Formula 3 in Bahrain - I started last and I finished 10th and then I finished 1st so, this one is for my dad.
"Coming into this weekend I never, ever thought we'd be able to close the gap like we have today. And then things just kept going against us, but I think it really shows, just never give up. Whatever you're facing, you've just got to keep pushing, keep tumbling away, keep fighting. Never, ever stop fighting. That's how I've approached this weekend. It feels like a first because I don't feel like I've had a win for a long time."
Valtteri Bottas, 3rd
"The start today was quite tricky, it was a disappointing first lap but I tried my best. After that, the pace was good and from the cockpit, I thought we could have a chance of the one-stop, but we decided to do a two-stop. The team put me in a good place to take advantage of the VSC, and it fell my way for once, so I was happy with that. Overall, I'm glad we could score more points than Red Bull today - it was a positive result. Congratulations to Lewis, he had an amazing drive."
Toto Wolff, Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport
"What a weekend from this team. We started the weekend on the backfoot with our self-inflicted engine penalty, we got disqualified yesterday which was harsh, and then today in the race, things went against us too. This team has always been together, but these decisions have brought us so close. It felt like everything was against us and I think that's what Lewis has felt all his life and we now feel it together as a team and we're going to fight - that is the emotion we're feeling in the garage at the moment.
"Yesterday Lewis produced one of the best drives we have ever seen. I don't know how many overtakes there were across the weekend but Lewis was left, right, and over them. And today, his driving was immaculate. Max forced him off the road at Turn 4 and Lewis was very clever to avoid contact. It was great to see these amazing drivers but not giving a 5 second penalty? Come on!
"Valtteri banked crucial points for the team today and his driving was top-class all weekend, a very strong podium for him today to follow his victory in the Sprint yesterday. This season keeps delivering and you can see how quickly the tides change - last weekend we went away beaten up in Mexico, this week we had the faster package. Red Bull could be very strong in Qatar next week and that is to be expected. May the stronger one win. Last weekend it was them, this weekend it was us - we'll fight to the end."
Andrew Shovlin, Trackside Engineering Director
"We've seen some impressive drives from Lewis over the years but that was incredible, we don't have the car advantage that we've had in years gone by but to do what he did this weekend was just amazing. Valtteri lost a bit of ground off the line and was pushed wide at turn one which gave him a difficult run to turn four. After that though, he did a brilliant job to recover to a podium, the VSC brought things our way but he was closing in on Max at the end and we were wishing the race was a couple of laps longer. It's been a busy weekend and whilst the win and double podium were the highlights, the most encouraging aspect was how strong the car pace was at a track that we were not strong in 2019 and how well the team and drivers have stuck together through was has been a really difficult weekend. We're looking forward to the challenge of the new track in Qatar and will be working non-stop over the next few days to try and arrive in as good a shape as possible."
Verstappen jumped Bottas off the line and looked comfortable in the opening stages. But after being nearly undercut by Hamilton in the first pit stop, he blinked first second time around and thus had track position – but a slightly fresher shod Hamilton on his tail. The Dutchman did everything he could, racing hard but fair in the eyes of the stewards but just couldn’t keep the Mercedes behind forever. Perez was unfortunate to lose out to Bottas but at least picked up the fastest lap bonus point to take it away from Hamilton.
READ MORE: ‘It was a good battle‘ – Verstappen gives his take on his Lap 48 defence from Hamilton in Brazil
Max Verstappen, 2nd
“I knew today would be difficult, but I did everything I could, we were just lacking a little bit. At least it was a fun race, of course I would have liked to have won but realistically I think this was a good result. Lewis and I were fighting for position on multiple occasions, I think it was hard racing but good racing and that’s how it should be. I was hoping for a little bit more performance but this result is definitely the maximum we could do. Top speed wise it was tough to defend, you can clearly see when they take a fresh engine that it gives them a bit more power, so hopefully that will die down over the coming races. There are three races coming up that will be completely different again, so we’ll see how it goes.”
Sergio Perez, 4th
“It was close today and it was fun, but I am not here to have fun, I am here to deliver. I had a great start but then it was very difficult to hold Lewis back, I tried my best to hold onto him but I couldn’t, he was flying! Then we were ahead of Bottas by two seconds, we had the position and we had the podium but two laps later the virtual safety car came in. That timing was extremely unlucky for us and it worked perfectly for him, he managed to do the undercut and then pull five seconds away from us. It is a bit of a shame we lost the podium but I was able to build a big enough gap to the Ferrari in fifth to pit and go for fastest lap, which is an important point for the team. That straight-line speed of the Mercedes is just unbelievable, we were not able to match them and today they were on another planet. Ultimately it is a good result for us today, I don’t believe there is much we could have done differently, it’s just a shame because we should have finished ahead of Bottas had it not been for the VSC. Today the luck wasn’t with us but there are still three races to go and everything to play for so we will keep pushing. Now we look forward to Qatar and hopefully there we can be competitive.”
Christian Horner, Team Principal
“To come away with second and fourth today, plus the fastest lap was damage limitation this weekend. We scored 20 points for Max this weekend versus their 25 for Lewis in the Drivers’ Championship, so we’ll take that. We put up as good a defence as we could, Max did his best and raced hard, and Checo made Lewis have two goes to get past, and he came back with a great move to reclaim the place after Lewis’ first effort. But we saw Mercedes pace from Friday and then again yesterday, so today wasn’t too much of a surprise. They did a good job and Lewis drove a great race today, so well done to them. We’ve got some catching up to do this week. There’s a lot of racing still to go, so we’ll brush ourselves down and come back fighting in Doha.”
Sainz had a poor getaway and tangled with Norris at the start which compromised his first lap, allowing his team mate to slip through. From there is was a relatively lonely race for Ferrari, well back from the leaders, and ahead of the rest of the midfield. But the solid result increased the Scuderia’s lead over McLaren in the constructors’, so all in all, it was a very good afternoon.
Charles Leclerc, 5th
"That was a really nice race. We weren’t satisfied after the Sprint yesterday, so we worked hard last night to analyse where we could make some improvements. And that’s what we applied today, so I am very happy with the performance. I had a very good start, which was my first target. After that, the race was all about managing the tyres well and maintaining the gap to those behind me. It’s also looking good in terms of the gap we are building to our direct competitors in the championship, so overall, a very positive finish to the weekend."
Carlos Sainz, 6th
"I cannot be happy with today’s result as I think if I had made a clean getaway from the line it would probably have ended with P5. We need to keep digging into that to understand what was the cause, as we are lacking consistency off the line. I then had contact with Lando (Norris) and that ended up costing me positions to Checo (Perez) and Charles. From there, the pace was strong the entire race, but that was it. There are a lot of positives to take away from this weekend. First of all the points that we were able to collect as a team to extend the lead over McLaren and secondly the good feeling with the car, the tyre management and the strong pace since Friday. It’s just frustrating that I haven’t made the most of the last two races after eventful starts, but we’ll keep pushing! On to the final race of this triple-header."
Mattia Binotto, Team Principal
"A good result in terms of the championship, given that we have doubled our lead over our closest rivals in the constructors’ classification. Having said that, a 31.5 point lead doesn’t mean that it’s done and dusted, far from it. We know the situation can change in an instant and that our opponents are very strong. During what proved to be a busy weekend, the team, both at the track and back in Maranello, worked very hard and with great precision, tackling every situation with the right approach. Today, every aspect of the race was managed well – strategy, tyre management and pit stops – and the drivers produced a clean and effective performance. There are now just three races to go and we must continue in this fashion to reach what has become our goal for the end of season."
Norris had a brilliant start and jumped Sainz, but in his over eagerness, he cut ahead of the Ferrari too soon and caught his rear tyre on the Spaniard’s front wing. The ensuing puncture sent him to the bottom of the pile as he limped back to the pits for fresh tyres. But from there he kept his head down to work his way back into the top 10 for a solitary point. As for Ricciardo, he was running in the top 10 all afternoon and fighting hard with Gasly for seventh until the team called him in with a suspected PU issue.
Daniel Ricciardo, DNF
“It was going okay! We went forwards at the start, which was definitely one objective after yesterday. I wasn’t happy with how the sprint panned out for myself, so I was determined to make it better. We had some good battles, Ocon made a good move on me early in the race and I was able to get him back with pretty much the same move, so that felt good.
“After that, we were in the fight with Gasly, and with Ferrari as well. We knew they had to two-stop. I think they had a bit more pace but maybe through strategy we could've disrupted them. But then we had a loss of power and had to retire the car. Definitely a shame, but it was a much more promising day than yesterday. We’ll take the positives from that, and we’ve got another chance next week.”
Lando Norris, 10th
“A disappointing day for all of us as a team, as well as for myself. I had a really good start and as I tried to come back onto the track there just wasn’t enough room and I ended up getting the puncture. We could’ve scored some good points. We’ll review it and try to do a better job next time. The fight back through was good, managing to score a point, which is better than nothing. I think that’s the best we could’ve done today after what happened. A tough few weeks but hopefully we can have a better one in Qatar.”
Andreas Seidl, Team Principal
“A challenging Sunday afternoon for us with again just one point for a lot of effort. Unfortunately, after a good initial launch, Lando came together with Carlos [Sainz] which cost him a puncture and put him at the back with significant damage to the floor area resulting in a loss of performance. We kept fighting, Lando made his way through the field and did well to score a point, but it’s obviously disappointing given where we started. On Daniel’s side, he made up ground at the start and his race was going well until he was forced to retire, having suffered a power loss.
“The triple header has not gone well for us so far, but we’re hoping to have a better run in just seven days' time. Irrespective of the result, everyone worked very hard this weekend, particularly given the intensity caused by the late arrival of our freight, and we had a competitive car. My thanks to everyone at the track, back at the factory and our colleagues at Mercedes HPP for their effort. We’ll continue to work hard, and look forward to going again with some exciting, new races starting with Qatar next week.”
After a poor Sprint yesterday, Gasly did his best to atone today by fighting hard with his rivals in the midfield. An early first stop paid dividends and he used the fresh tyres to fight forward, having to overtake both Alpine cars out on track to come home seventh – meaning the two teams remain locked together points-wise. As for Tsunoda, he gambled on the soft tyre to start the race. But an early coming together with Stroll as he opportunistically tried a dive down the inside not only destroyed his front wing, but earned the rookie a ten second penalty too.
Pierre Gasly, 7th
“I’m really happy, it’s been a very intense race, but I think we can be pleased with today. There were some really nice battles, with Daniel and Seb, then at the end of the race with the Alpines. It was so fun to be racing with them, as we don’t often get to do that in F1. It was of course hard, but today we finished in the best position we could, behind the top three teams, and that’s the most important thing, as we continue our fight for fifth.”
Yuki Tsunoda, 15th
“I’m pretty frustrated after today. I think we made a good choice with the tyres but unfortunately the collision with Stroll completely ruined my race. It was a risky move, but he just wasn’t looking in his mirrors and we came together. It’s a real shame I received the penalty, as I also struggled with damage for the rest of the race, but these things happen and we’ll work to come back stronger next time out.”
Guillaume Dezoteux, Head of Vehicle Performance
“We can be happy with the result today. We started Pierre on the mediums and after the safety car periods, he was able to gain position on Vettel, then follow the train ahead. The tyre degradation was significant on this hot track, so the two-stop race was the fastest option for us at the time. After his first pit stop, Pierre drove a solid second stint, opening the gap to Ricciardo and Ocon, but we could also see that Alonso was quite fast too, trying to make the one-stop work.
"After our second pitstop, the target was clear, we had to pass both Alpines on track with our fresher tyres. The battle was really intense and, with Alonso giving the DRS to Ocon, we couldn’t get close enough for overtaking both before T1 and T4, which are the only places where it is possible. The fight lasted six laps, but Pierre made superb moves on both and secured 7th place.
"Regarding Yuki’s race, it was compromised very early on, as he had an incident with Stroll. He sustained significant damage and this affected a lot of his race pace, which is unfortunate. After 19 races, we are still on the same points as Alpine, which makes this end of season extremely exciting for all of us and our fans. The fight is on, we will make it!”
It was a good day for Alpine, who rolled the dice and opted for a one stop strategy for both drivers. They had to work for it, fighting out on track with the likes of Ricciardo, Gasly and Vettel but ultimately got both cars home in the points to remain tied with AlphaTauri in the standings.
Esteban Ocon, 8th
“I’m happy to be back in the points today after a very busy race. Today was all about our strong teamwork between all of us. We tried to maximise everything the best we could, and we pushed everything to the limit both from a performance and tactical point of view. When Gasly pitted for the second time, I gave the place to Fernando to see if we could hold him behind by giving me a tow. It worked for a couple of laps, but it was not enough in the end and Fernando returned the place. Still, eighth and ninth position at the flag gives us six points and that’s a great team result, which is important for the constructors’ championship. It’s still tight, we head to two unknown tracks next and we’ll keep pushing as much as we can to hold onto this position.”
Fernando Alonso, 9th
“I am happy with our result today after a difficult day yesterday. The start and the restart didn’t play to our hands but then we had really good pace once it all settled down. We were a little unlucky with the Virtual Safety Car that happened, as we weren’t able to box and, in the end, we did lose some time with that. Once we were back out our pace was strong. We only chose to stop once and despite some teamwork to try and stop Pierre (Gasly) from the overtake, we weren’t able to hold him off. It’s good to see both cars in the points again and we are still level with Alpha Tauri for fifth heading into Qatar next weekend, so we’ll aim to continue this form.”
Laurent Rossi, Chief Executive Officer
“We’re very pleased to have both cars inside the points for the first time since the Italian Grand Prix. Not only does it mean we remain fifth in the Constructors’ Championship, it also confirms a return to a good competitiveness level after a run of races, which has left us searching for answers. Today’s race was entertaining, and it was good we could put on a show for an electric Brazilian crowd.
"As a team, we can be proud of our teamwork today as demonstrated by Esteban and Fernando on-track. After Gasly’s second pit stop, we opted to stick to a one-stop strategy and defend as best as we could from him. First, Esteban allowed Fernando to pass in order to create a tow with the aim of keeping Gasly behind. While this worked for a handful of laps, ultimately, with the tyre advantage he had, we weren’t able to hold out. Fernando returned the position on the last lap to Esteban underlining both drivers’ impressive team spirit to help each other and, in parallel, drive the team forwards. Our focus switches straight to Qatar for the final round of the triple header. We’re heading into the relatively unknown, but that’s an exciting challenge, which we’re looking forward to taking on.”
Stroll was in the wars early on, tangling with Tsunoda for position. While it appeared his rival had come off worse, the Canadian shed parts of his front wing a few laps later and wound up retiring with damage. That left Vettel to fly the flag for the team and he did so with aplomb for much of the race, running inside the top 10. But the team lost out to the Alpine boys, who both one-stopped out there to jump ahead on track.
Sebastian Vettel, 11th
“I thought we had a good opportunity to score points today, but the Virtual Safety Cars did not help us and cost me a position to Esteban [Ocon]. Without that, it would have been a different race. We still tried everything we could and chose the two-stop strategy, rather than the one-stop. We were close to scoring a point in the end against Lando [Norris] and we were catching him in the final laps, but it was not quite enough.”
Lance Stroll, DNF
“After making up some ground yesterday, I think we had a good chance to score points today. After a strong start, [Yuki] Tsunoda made contact with me in Turn 1. He was on the softs whereas I was on the mediums, so at that stage he was faster. I think his move was desperate and he was way too optimistic. That contact damaged my car and from there more pieces were falling off, which meant that the pace got worse and we were just going backwards. It is disappointing to retire, but this weekend has made me even more determined to finish well in Qatar next weekend.”
Otmar Szafnauer, Team Principal & CEO
“Sebastian and Lance both made excellent starts to be sixth and 12th on lap one. The flying [Lewis] Hamilton passed Sebastian on lap two, then, one lap later, [Yuki] Tsunoda recklessly hurled his car down the inside of Lance’s at Turn 1, causing a collision, for which clumsiness he was rightly given a 10-second penalty. Thereafter, Lance did his very best, but his car had been so badly damaged by Tsunoda, and its performance so seriously compromised, that, through no fault of his own, we finally had to retire it. Sebastian ran as high as sixth at about one-third distance, but, unfortunately, also through no fault of his own, his pit stop occurred just before the Virtual Safety Car was deployed and that bad luck dropped him out of the points. In the end he finished 11th. Roll on Qatar.”
The Alfa boys mostly kept out of trouble today, but with so few retirements, couldn’t make meaningful progress towards the points. Raikkonen had started from the pit lane after changing his rear wing, but the early Safety Car negated any time lost and left him right in the thick of things. He wound up coming home ahead of his team mate thanks to a slightly better, earlier second pit stop.
Kimi Raikkonen, 12th
“The car felt quite nice today, a lot better than at any other time in the weekend: we changed a few things, so we started from the pit lane, but we were able to produce a good recovery drive. We made up eight places, which was probably the most we could do today, but we need points for the championship and we didn’t get them. So, all in all, it was the right decision, but we fell a bit short. The positive is that we had the same good feeling with the car we had in the last few races, so hopefully we can keep this form in the final three rounds and have some good results.”
Antonio Giovinazzi, 14th
“The first part of the race wasn’t bad, I had good pace and could be in the battle just outside the top 10. We stopped for the first time and then got stuck behind Stroll and Russell, then we pitted again but ended up behind Russell again. We all know how difficult it is to pass here and once we were in that position, there wasn’t much I could do. Not the Sunday I expected, but hopefully we can have a better one next week.”
Frédéric Vasseur, Team Principal
“Independently from our own result, the Brazilian Grand Prix was an absolute thriller and a great advertising for our sport. Starting in P13 with Antonio and from the pit lane with Kimi, after we had chosen to swap some components of his car after yesterday’s sprint, we knew we would have our work cut out to be in the points. Still, we put up a good fight, with a decent number of battles and we ran as good a race as we could, with good stops and good pace. In the end, crossing the line in P12 and P14 was as much as we could do in the circumstances. Even if we didn’t get points, we have shown to be in the fight for the top ten and we can hope to continue aiming for points in the final three races of the year, starting next Sunday in Qatar.”
Russell got a better start than Latifi, but early pit stops under the Safety Car dropped them to the back. From there, Russell managed to make headway but didn’t have the pace to fight for the points today. Luckily for them, neither did Alfa Romeo, their rivals in the constructors’.
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George Russell, 13th
"Today was better than we expected. The first two stints were quite tough, we couldn’t make any progress on the opening few laps and struggled on the restart, but the final stint was good, and we managed to stay ahead of Antonio Giovinazzi. Being able to keep an Alfa Romeo behind is a pretty big deal for us as we just didn’t have the pace this weekend. P13 is not what we are aiming for as a team but, given the circumstances, I think it was a good result. I’m more optimistic heading to Qatar as I think the Losail International Circuit will suit the characteristics of our car more than the last two races, so hopefully we can go there and can be faster next weekend."
Nicholas Latifi, 16th
"The race was easier to manage than I anticipated as we had decent pace, but it was a very lonely Grand Prix as I was by myself for most of it, which is quite frustrating. We will have to look back and see what we could’ve done differently. However, we race again in seven days and on these upcoming tracks, we should be more competitive than we’ve been in Mexico and Brazil, so I’m looking forward to these next few Grands Prix in the Middle East."
Dave Robson, Head of Vehicle Performance
"Today was enjoyable, and although we ultimately lacked the pace to score a point, we put together a strong race in tricky circumstances. With multiple pitstops required, and several interventions from the Safety Car and the Virtual Safety Car (VSC), there was opportunity to win and lose time and it was important to manage the car through the interventions. We had a poor opening lap and so took an early opportunity to pit George and get him onto the more robust hard tyre, on which he showed good pace, including a particularly strong final stint. Nicholas was less fortunate as the VSC cleared whilst he was in the pit lane, which put him a little further down the road than he would otherwise have been. However, in the free air, he was able to manage the car well and apply pressure to Tsunoda.
"Overall, today was a good workout for the whole team as we rarely get to do genuine multiple stop races these days. The addition of the (virtual) safety cars and the high track temperature made for a busy but interesting race. We didn’t get everything right, we could’ve done a little better with Nicholas’s first pitstop - however, we did a lot of things very well and learnt a lot in the process, which will help further our development as a strong race team."
Schumacher tangled with Raikkonen in what was deemed a racing incident. But it certainly didn’t do the German any favours, as the damage to his front wing sent it up and under his wheels, leading to a very slow lap back to the pits for a new one. He was able to finish the race but trailed home last. As for Mazepin, he was running in the thick of things early on, but lost out as faster cars recovered positions.
Mick Schumacher, 18th
“We were battling Kimi and we were joking about it in the press conference. It’s unfortunate that we got a bit too close but those things happen, especially at that kind of corner where it’s tight. I went limping into the pits but after that I think overall, it was a good race. We learn from these things and any battle that I get is really useful. A lot of positives that we can carry away from here and I have to say, I really enjoyed that one.”
Nikita Mazepin, 17th
“I had a good day. My start wasn’t the best, I had a good getaway and then had a bit of wheel spin, so the first few corners were difficult to overtake people. I had a good Turn 4 and after that I think I looked after the tyres nicely in the first few opening laps. The team did a great job of giving me the car that worked very well in the beginning, I had a bit of a difficult middle and then I was able to recover towards the end. I made a move when I needed to make it, and obviously with a few VSCs we tried to maximise it and there wasn’t a whole lot on the table to extract more from today.”
Guenther Steiner, Team Principal
“Our race today was pretty good – the starts were good. Mick made a lot of progress and Nikita as well. Mick ran into Kimi and that compromised his race, but Nikita’s first stint was very good. I think this was one of our best weekends this year and that shows we are getting there with the drivers. All in all, the result is not fantastic, but the progress is.”
Mario Isola, Head of F1 and Car Racing
"Strategy was at the forefront of this finely-balanced grand prix, with similar performance between the frontrunners and a number of strategies that were on paper very closely matched. Track temperature was the biggest influence on the strategy today, with temperatures that were around 20 degrees higher than yesterday’s Sprint Qualifying, shifting the balance away from the softer compounds towards the harder compounds. The hard was the main race tyre, performing very well with some impressive lap times in these challenging conditions. With the first stint lasting a little longer due to safety cars, the drivers were able to gain more flexibility for the second stint. There was a clear tactical battle involving the ‘undercut’, especially among the frontrunners, and that’s the reason why the central stint on the hard tyre was so short for some of the top drivers. Lewis Hamilton did a very impressive job over the weekend: from the back of the grid in the Sprint all the way to the top step of the grand prix podium."
RACE HIGHLIGHTS: Watch all the action from a thrilling Sao Paulo Grand Prix at Interlagos