Max was cruelly denied what looked an almost certain Brazilian Grand Prix win when he was taken whilst leading the race at Interlagos by Racing Point Force India’s Esteban Ocon. Daniel, meanwhile, put in a brilliant, battling performance to rise from P11 on the grid to claim fourth place, his best ever finish at the São Paulo circuit.
The Dutchman had stormed through from fifth on the grid to seize the lead from Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton. On lap 44, though, Max went to lap Ocon, passing the French driver in Turn 1. Ocon inexplicably fought back, however, and when Max turned in for the second corner the pair collided.
Max was sent into a spin and that allowed Hamilton to reclaim the lead. Despite significant floor damage, Max fought back, closing the gap to within two seconds. Hamilton, though, was in control and took the victory with Max finishing second, ahead of Ferrari’s Kimi Räikkönen and Daniel.
At the start, Hamilton held his advantage from pole and kept the lead, but a slightly slow getaway by Vettel allowed Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas, starting third, to get past the German through the Senna S.
On the opening lap Max stayed in fifth place, but he closed hard on Räikkönen and at the start of lap three he went past the Finn around the outside into Turn 1. Vettel was the Dutchman’s next target and at the start of the next lap he again used DRS to close, but this time he opted for a dive down the inside to claim P3.
Behind him, Daniel was also on the march, and after passing Haas’ Kevin Magnussen on lap one he quickly began to pick off the cars ahead, rising to P6 on lap seven after dismissing Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson, Toro Rosso’s Pierre Gasly, the second Haas of Romain Grosjean and Sauber’s Charles Leclerc.
There was no stopping Max though and on lap 10 he once again chose the inside of Turn 1 to dive past Bottas and claim second place. Race leader Hamilton was now just 1.7s ahead.
Bottas was the first of the leaders to pit, the Mercedes man heading in for medium tyres at the end of lap 19. Hamilton then ceded the lead to Verstappen at the end of lap 20, with the Briton also stopping for medium compound rubber. Hamilton emerged in P6 behind Leclerc but by lap 25 he was past the Monegasque and closing on fourth-placed Daniel, who was just under six seconds ahead.
Vettel then pitted at the end of lap 28 and the German also opted for medium tyres before rejoining in ninth place. Freed from behind the Ferrari, Daniel moved up to third and set the fastest lap of the race to that point, a 1:12.919. And when Räikkönen pitted the Australian was promoted to second place behind his team-mate.
The Bulls began to pull out a lead from those who had already pitted, but Verstappen was unable to build a big enough margin before his own stop, and when he rejoined on lap 30 he was in third place, 3.0s behind Hamilton.
Max was armed with newer rubber and greater pace than the champion, however, and as the pair arrowed towards the start-finish line to begin lap 40 he eased past Hamilton.
Max’s lead wouldn’t last long, however. At the start of lap 44, the Dutchman went to lap Ocon, making a move down the inside of the Force India. Despite being lapped, Ocon protected his position and tried to deny the pass. Verstappen turned in to take the second corner and the pair collided.
Max was sent into a spin and sustained serious floor damage in the incident, while Hamilton was allowed to sweep past into the lead. Ocon was later handed a 10-second stop/go penalty for causing the collision.
Daniel meanwhile was having his own close calls, twice banging wheels with Vettel as he tried to get past the Ferrari. At the second attempt the Australian won out and he climbed to fifth place behind Bottas.
Both Bulls began to close on the cars ahead, with Verstappen edging to within two seconds of Hamilton and Ricciardo getting inside DRS range of Räikkönen, but neither could make a move stick in the closing stages. And after 71 laps Hamilton crossed the line to take the second Brazilian Grand Prix win of his career, ahead of Max, with Räikkönen third ahead of Daniel.
Bottas was left with fifth place ahead of Vettel, while Leclerc finished in a best-of-the-rest seventh place. Grosjean took eighth place for Haas ahead of team-mate Kevin Magnussen and the final point on offer went to Racing Point Force India’s Sergio Pérez.