Lewis Hamilton wins Brazilian Grand Prix to maintain title bid

Lewis Hamilton leads Max Verstappen on his way to victory at a rain-soaked Interlagos. Picture: Mark Thompson/Getty Images
Lewis Hamilton leads Max Verstappen on his way to victory at a rain-soaked Interlagos. Picture: Mark Thompson/Getty Images
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Lewis Hamilton delivered a wet-weather masterclass at a chaotic Brazilian Grand Prix to take the championship 
battle into the final race of the season.

Nico Rosberg, who crossed the line at a rain-soaked Interlagos in second place, would have been crowned champion had he won here yesterday.

But Hamilton kept his cool in a marathon race which was suspended on two occasions and took more than three hours to complete as 
persistent rain wreaked havoc in Sao Paulo.

Rosberg however, now has to secure a top-three finish in Abu Dhabi in a fortnight’s time to clinch his maiden title.

The penultimate round of the season was delayed by ten minutes and then eventually started behind the safety car following continuous rain at a venue which so often throws up a dramatic race. And yesterday it was no different.

When the safety car eventually peeled in after seven laps, Hamilton led from Rosberg, pictured, while Max Verstappen immediately passed Kimi Raikkonen for third place.

But after just six laps of racing, the safety car was back in action again after Marcus Ericsson lost control of his Sauber and slammed into the barrier at the final corner.

The field, led by Hamilton, then toiled behind the slow-moving safety car in the treacherous conditions as the debris was cleared. On lap 20, the decision was taken to re-start the race, but, within seconds, Kimi Raikkonen crashed out.

The 37-year-old Finnish driver slammed into the nearside barrier before his car slid across the track and collided with the opposing wall. Raikkonen sat there helplessly in his Ferrari as a number of cars came within feet of hitting his stationary car.

The race was immediately stopped with Hamilton 
leading from Rosberg and 
Verstappen. After clearing the wreckage from Raikkonen’s harrowing crash, the race was up and running again, albeit behind the safety car, following a 35-minute delay. But after just seven laps and a further 15 minutes the race was suspended once more, with the conditions deemed too dangerous.

Another 27-minute delay ensued before the safety car led Hamilton and the pack out once more. After just two laps, Hamilton was released, and behind him Verstappen soared around the outside of Rosberg at turn three.

It was a fantastic move from the fearless Dutchman which would have been greeted 
with delight in both the Red Bull and Hamilton camps. The 19-year-old then began his pursuit of Hamilton, and got the gap down to one second, before he lost control of his Red Bull at close to 180mph as he entered the pit straight. Incredibly, he managed to avoid any contact with the barrier, and remained ahead of Rosberg, too.

Red Bull opted to pit Verstappen for the intermediate tyre on lap 43, and Rosberg, who survived a scary moment when he endured a half-spin one lap later, was promoted back up to second.

It was the wrong decision from Red Bull, with Verstappen ultimately having to pit for the extreme wet tyre when the safety car emerged for a fifth and final time after Felipe Massa, during his final race in Brazil, stuck his Williams in the barrier.

Another six laps followed behind the safety car before Hamilton crossed the line 11 seconds clear of Rosberg, while Verstappen delivered an incredible performance 
to claw his way back from 
16th on to the final spot on the podium.