Felipe Massa, Williams, Interlagos, 2017

2017 Brazilian Grand Prix Star Performers

2017 Brazilian Grand Prix

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Felipe Massa and Sebastian Vettel were F1 Fanatic’s star performers of the Brazilian Grand Prix weekend. Here’s why.


Sebastian Vettel

Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, Interlagos, 2017
Pole eluded Vettel – but not the win
It wasn’t a perfect weekend for Vettel – he could have wrung another 39 thousandths of a second from the SF70-H for pole position – but even so he grabbed victory in a race Mercedes should have won.

A great start and tidy first-corner pass put him on course to win, but he never had a very comfortable margin over Valtteri Bottas. A slip=up would have been costly, but none ever came.

Felipe Massa

Racing in front of his home crowd for the final time (again), Massa gave a very good account of himself in what has otherwise been a forgettable season. He made the cut for Q3 and started superbly, passing both Renaults and Sergio Perez. When the Safety Car came in he got the jump on Fernando Alonso, too.

From there on it was a question of hanging on to what he had gained. He wasn’t a match for the two cars behind him on pace but he had enough straight-line speed to keep Alonso at arm’s length.


Lance Stroll

Lance Stroll, Williams, Interlagos, 2017
It was a tough weekend for Stroll
Stroll didn’t look in great shape on Friday and misfortune intervened on Saturday. A gearbox problem forced him to switch to an older power unit and he wasn’t able to use the high performance engine mode in qualifying. He dropped out in Q1.

His pace on the super-softs wasn’t bad but he struggled on the soft tyres, locking one of them badly enough to cause a delamination which forced him into the pits. He came home last.

Romain Grosjean

From 11th on the grid, points were a possibility for Grosjean. Keeping Esteban Ocon behind at the start was obviously vital to his strategy, but going into Ferradura he lost control and wiped them both out, ending Ocon’s race and ruining his. Grosjean later blamed the accident on a puncture.

And the rest

Between Bottas’ performance on Saturday and Hamilton’s on Sunday, it’s not hard to see how Mercedes could have won this one. Shortfalls from both drivers meant they didn’t. Kimi Raikkonen took another podium finish but didn’t have the pace on the super-softs to contend for victory.

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Interlagos, 2017
Hamilton’s weekend was going well until this
The Red Bull drivers were both limited by performance restrictions and, in Daniel Ricciardo’s case, reliability problems. Max Verstappen did a better job in qualifying but a top four finish never looked likely.

Alonso battled in vain to get himself back ahead of Massa while Perez rued losing out in his first corner fight with the McLaren driver. Stoffel Vandoorne’s day ended early, as did Kevin Magnussen’s.

Nico Hulkenberg had a straightforward race and bagged his first point since Belgium. Carlos Sainz Jnr in the other Renault picked up floor damage at the start but finished just over six seconds behind his team mate.

Both Toro Rosso drivers had power unit penalties and Brendon Hartley was stopped by another problem in the race. Pierre Gasly’s car kept going to the flag – almost. He lost power with a few hundred metres to go, but did will to recover 12th from the back row of the grid.

The two Sauber drivers pitted under the early Safety Car after which Pascal Wehrlein gambled on finishing the race without another pit stop. He made it, but was passed by Marcus Ericsson, who had pitted again, before the flag.

Over to you

Vote for the driver who impressed you most last weekend and find out whether other F1 Fanatics share your view here:

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    Keith Collantine
    Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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    36 comments on “2017 Brazilian Grand Prix Star Performers”

    1. Whats score after this race?

    2. Vandoorne belongs on the list of strugglers. He didn’t finish the race, but I think we saw enough to put him in that category. Fernando’s excellence shouldn’t be an excuse for Vandoorne’s comparitivly poor performance. He was too far off.
      Vandoorne’s results in junior-series leading up to F1 have given him a certain amount of credit, but if you ask me that is about to run out. He must start to perform, otherwise he should be threated no differently than other strugglers who aren’t protected by past reputation.

      1. I think you’re a little too hard. It’s the first time he drove the Brazilian GP. And he had a great start but needed to back off. Getting hit by Magnussen isn’t his fault either.

        And I don’t know if the car really suits Vandoorne racing style. He is always positive so it’s hard to really know how he feels about it.

        1. I heard that he hasn’t always had the same equipment than Alonso even if he had in Brazil.

          I was also expecting him to get better results and closer to Alonso. But i guess that the latter is overdriving the car while Stoffel is still trying to figure out how to get the most out of this package. Next year will be interesting with less testing all kind of engines and more driving for both of them…

        2. According to the stewards it was a race incident – no one was to blame…and not MAG..

      2. @me4me By his own admission he struggled in FP3 and in qualification. And though I agree he should really start to be closer to Alonso more often it is Alonso, arguably one of the best out there. So a bit unfair. Not every driver has such a highly rated teammate. And concerning Brazil race Vandoorne was torpedoed by Madnussen (I take that had he qualified better he wouldn’t have to start alongside him).

        What’s for sure is that he already received a warning from McLaren and he probably won’t have many before being bowed out. As a fan I hope he can overcome this. He should be a bit more hot-headed, like Verstappen, Ocon or Sainz :)

        1. What’s for sure is that he already received a warning from McLaren and he probably won’t have many before being bowed out.

          @spoutnik Where did you read that? That’s just utter nonsense? Vandoorne has had a very good second half, we’re praising Ocon for being close to Perez yet we’re expecting Vandoorne to beat Alonso, a 2-times world champion many see as the best of the last 10 years? C’mon,…

          1. @flatsix I’m really cheering for Vandoorne and he’s had a really better second half (furthermore he didnt have same material or had to serve tows in quali to Alonso). I haven’t expressed it correctly as I’m sure he is up to the task. I didn’t expect him to surpass Alonso but it is true that McLaren (Boullier) had expressed that his first half of the season was below expectations. And seeing how Magnussen was rejected I think expectations and pressure is very high.

            “Not as good as I was expecting. He’s got a pretty high track record in the junior categories. He won everything that he went through like Lewis [Hamilton]. He’s very talented.”

            “We didn’t give him 100 percent to do well because he had a lot of issues on his car which was quite regular. But we are now addressing this to help him drive the cars the way we want to be fast. I am confident he will achieve this. All the young drivers, starting from Verstappen, struggle in the first six months,” explained Boullier.

            1. @spoutnik Haha! That’s typical Boullier ‘Ron-speak’, but hardly a “warning” mate.

            2. I should add @spoutnik, that Van Doorne needs watch out, not for Alonso, but Norris ;)

            3. @baron that’s a warning for performance. But indeed Norris is in the line too.

            4. @spoutnik, @baron I so don’t read it as a ‘warning’ in the sense ‘do better or there’s the door’. On top I don’t even think he needs to worry about Norris as the boy just won F3, that’s hardly to the likes of runner-up FR3.5, runner-up GP2, most dominant title GP2 and a super SF season,…

              That being said it’s not like Vandoorne can take the deckchair off Alonso and sit down. He’s got work to do but he’s a true asset to McLaren and they’re keen on keeping him as he is ‘life after Alonso’.

    3. Alonso is worthy of a “mention in dispatches”. He was troubling Massa for goodness knows how many laps. In front of its lame engine, the McLaren must have a reasonable chassis. Shame they can’t put a Merc engine in there for next year. Hamilton kept it entertaining, even if it wasn’t his weekend.

      1. Alonso is worthy of a “mention in dispatches”.

        I think Alonso himself has those dispatches covered.

    4. Bottas, is not cutting the mustard in the merc, he is below the cars ability..and he must be feeling the pressure of ric or ocon taking his seat after next year…he needs to lift his game..l really though he would take it up to lewis this season, he has been very disappointing.

    5. I agree with this list but I would probably add Alonso as a star performer. But one thing I disagree on is on is the sentence saying Massa has had a forgettable season. IMO, this is the best year he’s had at Williams since 2014. He’s scored in most of the races even though he’s had to retire many times down to bad luck. He’s had to retire from a possible win in Baku. He had a puncture in Spain, a puncture in Mexico, a slow puncture in Russia, got taken out in Canada. Possibly more bad luck than this too. All of these will have been good points scoring opportunities that he missed out on. He would very likely be comfortably ahead of Ocon and possibly even Perez if it wasn’t for all this. And there is no doubt that Williams have been weaker than Force India on the whole this season, just maybe not in the first 3rd or so.

      1. Fernando Mariano
        13th November 2017, 19:24


      2. Agreed, not sure thrashing your teammate 16-2 counts as a bad season.

        Massa’s just been unlucky.

      3. Couldn’t agree more!

    6. He is tied with Alonso in points, if i’m not mistaken. Of course Fernando lost more due to failures, but Vandoorne is much, much closer to Alonso than Stroll is to Massa.

      You just can’t compare them. And being a rookie racing with by far the worst engine doesn’t make anything easier.

    7. Fernando Mariano
      13th November 2017, 19:22

      The only reason you guys talked about Massa was because you guys had no choice, but even so, said that his season has been bad for him. Actually, his performances have been better than his last 2 seasons at least, but the results have been worse because of his luck and also the car. These 2017 cars suits him a lot more. He destroyed Stroll in performance the whole year, was only behind on points for the same reason Alonso was behind Vandoorne: LUCK. 16-2 on qualy with an average of almost 1 second. More than 10 races this year the gap between them on qualy has been more than 1 second, it was just disguised by Massa’a unluck on race day.

      The way you guys talked about Stroll is also not realistic, as if everything that happened wasn’t his fault. He was slow as always, period. He has no talent to be in F1. Period.

    8. 16-2 on qualy with an average of almost 1 second. More than 10 races this year the gap between them on qualy has been more than 1 second

      He was slow as always, period. He has no talent to be in F1. Period.

      This is why Massa is so hard to judge this season. The safe bet is that he’s performing similarly to how he has since 2010 and Stroll is just making him look good. I think he has had some good races this year, but I doubt he has consistently gotten the maximum out of the car, because whenever he’s had a consistent teammate (and Bottas isn’t looking so hot right now) his performance has been up and down.

      Is it possible that the new cars suit him? Sure, but nobody else has shown a huge change in fortune this year.

      1. Fernando Mariano
        13th November 2017, 23:16

        To be fair, I think Alonso is, maybe Hamilton too. Just look at Massa before 2010 and after and you will see a huge difference. Most people think it was because of the accident, but me and some others think different. That was mainly because of 1 thing: The end of refueling and the Pirelli tyres, this thing of taking care of the tyres and smaller tyres didn’t suit Felipe at all, Felipe has an agressive style, he was a monster when it was all about refueling and pushing as fast as you could. Speed was never Felipe’s problem, and you could tell that since he broke Schumacher’s record at Fiorano in 2003. Of course Felipe also wasn’t favoured by Ferrari at all with his years with Alonso, Ferrari made him a 2nd driver. About Bottas, even tho I don’t think Felipe was at his best, he was massively unlucky, specially in 2014. In 2014 and 2015, when both finished the race, Massa was the one who ended most times in front. If you actually see it, the only times Bottas got a podium (big points) and Felipe was on the race with no problems was Austria 2014 because of a bad pit stop, and Felipe was right there with him:

        Sochi 2014 (engine problem on quali, Felipe started last), Siverstone 2014 (Kimi crashed and Massa at the wrong place, wrong time, DNF), Germany 2014 (Magnussen crash at the start), Spa 2014 (Felipe had the whole tyre of LH stucked to his floor the whole race), Canada 2015 (engine problem on quali, started 16th), Canada 2016 (engine problem, DNF).

        Meanwhile, when Massa was on the podium, Bottas with no problems was usually way behind:

        Monza 2014 (+14s), Brazil 2014 (1 lap behind the leader, so at least more than 35 seconds behind Felipe, that one you can count out as Bottas had to fix his seatbelt when he had his pit stop, even if Massa had a 5sec penalty also on his pit stop), Abu Dhabi 2014 (+26s), Austria 2015 (+36s), Monza 2015 (+0.3s).

        I know it’s boring to read it all, but details are very important in racing. You can’t just check the standings and judge a season by that.

        1. Massa also had Perez wallop him out in Canada 2014. He’s been insanely unlucky in most of his years since his return to Williams. But anyhow, I think it is clear, Bottas was better than him in all 3 of them together, especially 2016. But Massa looks to be back to his 2014 level this year and I think it is a shame to see him go.

          1. Fernando Mariano
            14th November 2017, 17:49

            I don’t think Bottas was better than him in 2014 and 2015, no way… If you take all the points Felipe lost because of all those things, Felipe would have finished in front of Bottas in 2014 and 2015. Bottas was just luckier that year and was also delivering good results. 2016 I totally agree with you, aftr Felipe announced his retirement that was his worst run in Formula 1.

            1. Well, I agree with some thing’s you’ve said, but I haven’t seen anyone else say they think Massa was better than Bottas in 2014 and 2015. Bottas suffered bad luck in both too, just not as much as Massa. Many didn’t rate Bottas’s season’s that highly, but out of all the people’s views I have read (simply loads), I haven’t yet seen a single one say Massa did better in any of those 3 years. I think Bottas was stronger than many suggested and Massa was pretty close, then dropped down in 2016. And came back on form again this year. That is my view on him. Fair enough that you have your own opinion, but i think you will be one of a extreme minority that thought Massa was better than Bottas on the whole in those 2 years.

            2. Fernando Mariano
              15th November 2017, 5:17

              Like I’ve said before, racing is something that you really need to look beyond the result to understand. So, if myself saying that when both finished races Massa went on top in 2014 and 2015 is still not enough, I will give you some facts and numbers.
              First, I will show you all that happened with Felipe, specially in 2014, for you to see that it was a lot more than what you remember:

              2014 – Australia (Massa in front of Bottas on qualy, Kobayashi crashes Massa out of the race on the start, DNF, Bottas 5th even crashing once), China (Massa running 5th while Bottas 7th, Massa pits and Williams puts his tyre on the wrong side, making an incredible 1 minute pit stop – no joke), Monaco (Felipe faster than Bottas on the weekend and qualy, then Ericsson crashes Felipe on Q1, Felipe out even if qualified to Q2, starting p16), Canada (Felipe with great pace, chance of winning or at least a podium Perez crashes him on the final lap, while Bottas was running 9th, DNF), Silverstone (Felipe right behind Bottas on qualy, with a great car on dry, Kimi crashes into the wall, Felipe ends up having no place to go, crash, DNF, Bottas 3rd), Germany (Felipe starting 3rd right behind Bottas, then Magnussen and Felipe crash on the 1st corner, DNF, Bottas 2nd), Belgium (Felipe get the debris of the whole tyre of Lewis Hamilton stucked to his car til the end of the race, Williams even tries to get rid of it at one of the stops, losing even more time, Felipe finishes 13th while Bottas 3rd), Russia (Felipe with an engine problem on Q1, started 18th, finished 11th, Bottas 3rd).

              So now you can have an idea of how many points Felipe loss while Bottas was scoring big points. So, making a calculation, putting Felipe one position behind Bottas every time he started behind him, 3 behind in Belgium (6th), as he started 3 behind, 3rd in Australia, as Bottas even crashing once got 5th and Felipe was faster than Bottas that weekend by quite a margin, and 5th in China, as that was his position, Felipe would have 226 against 186 of Bottas, so you can even play as if Massa would score minor points the races he didn’t finish or had problems, and still Felipe would have finished in front of Bottas on the championship. I know it’s boring to read it all, but just to show you that you really need to look more than just the results. This is what most people outside of F1 don’t see, as they don’t really have to follow those things, but people inside the teams they know these things. It’s quite interesting if you investigate, not always the results show it all. Cheers!

          2. Sad indeed to see Massa go;he was consistently faster than Stroll. Williams should know better to ditch him. Better to ditch Stroll and get a huge sponsor contract on Kubica. [ who will be just ast slow as Stroll.]

    9. I’m not entirely convinced that Alonso did his very best to pass Massa. I’m hoping that he just pushed Felipe to make his last race in Brazil a more rewarding experience. Somehow I like to think that because he didn’t really have anything to lose, he gave that one to Felipe. :-)

      I bet Lewis had a lot more fun than Sebastian.

      1. Massa has already had his retirement. I doubt Alonso would have much sympathy this second time around :)

      2. Fernando Mariano
        15th November 2017, 4:26

        Alonso said that he didn’t have a clear chance because Massa didn’t make any mistake a did a great race (his words). BUT, he did say that there was a time where he was kinda close and thought about it, but he didn’t know how hard Massa would defend and how agressive himself would’ve had to be to overtake, so he didn’t want to risk the points at that time. ;)

    10. Where is Alonso?

    11. @danmar I actually agree with you. Massa had the back step out massively at one point on the last lap when Alonso was a car length behind and it really looked like Alonso came off the throttle a tiny bit instead of passing him.

      Massa was a dutiful teammate for many years, it’s not impossible to think Alonso may have found it in his heart to give the local fans what they wanted.

      1. You’re talking about Alonso. Alonso. He would never, never, do something like that.

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