Valtteri Bottas, Max Verstappen, Interlagos, 2018

2018 Brazilian Grand Prix Star Performers

2018 Brazilian Grand Prix

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Max Verstappen, Lewis Hamilton and Charles Leclerc were RaceFans’ Star Performers of the Brazilian Grand Prix. Here’s our verdict on whose driving impressed us the most last weekend.


Max Verstappen

Red Bull didn’t have the pace in qualifying; Verstappen was half a second off pole but ahead of Ricciardo. He briefly passed Raikkonen at the start but lost the place. However within a couple of laps he began a storming charge. Verstappen but got by both Ferraris on laps three and four, then worked patiently on Bottas who finally succumbed on lap 10 at turn one. Impressively, Verstappen made his super-soft tyres last until lap 35, and after pitting he emerged on Hamilton’s tail.

Within a few laps he’d completed a clean sweep of passing the Ferraris and Mercedes, but on lap 44 he tripped over a lapped Ocon at turn two. Perhaps he should have left more space, but the Force India shouldn’t have been where it was, and cost him a seemingly certain race win.

Lewis Hamilton

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Interlagos, 2018
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Interlagos, 2018
Hamilton narrowly beat Sebastian Vettel to pole in a session with unpredictable rain showers. Starting on super-softs instead of softs threatened to put him at a strategic disadvantage, but didn’t, and the advantage off the line he enjoyed meant he led safely led into turn one. With a slowing Bottas behind him he enjoyed a quiet first stint but was forced to pit relatively early due to blistering. He went onto the mediums and put up little resistance when Verstappen, on 16-lap fresher soft tyres, cruised up behind him.

But four laps later Verstappen’s clash with Ocon handed the lead back to Hamilton. His run to the chequered flag was far from straightforward, however, as serious engine concerns left him juggling many settings changes. A superb win under trying circumstances.

Charles Leclerc

Leclerc looked set for a Q2 elimination as the rain intensified at the end of the session, but he insisted on staying out for one more lap and he improved enough to make it into Q3. He was the only driver to improve in the session as time ran out. He was beaten by Ericsson in Q3 by two tenths, but quickly made up for this in the race, as he led the midfield through the first sequence of corners. He spent the rest of the race error-free on a two-stop strategy and finished best of the rest.

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Esteban Ocon

Max Verstappen, Esteban Ocon, Interlagos, 2018
Max Verstappen, Esteban Ocon, Interlagos, 2018
Ocon’s troubles began when he lost out to his team mate by only 0.029 tenths and was eliminated in Q2. He had an awful start and was last by the time everyone made it out of the first series of turns. He spent the rest of the race playing catch up and he went long in the first stint to minimize the damage. He made his way up to tenth before he stopped on lap 40 for supersofts.

Following his pit stop he was a few tenths quicker than leader Verstappen, who was managing his pace. Ocon tried to go around the outside into turn one, then kept his nose in as they rounded turn two. The pair collided and Ocon fell to 16th before being given a 10-second stop-go penalty. This took him completely out of contention for points and he finished 15th.

Valtteri Bottas

Bottas was forced to start on the second row after losing out his team mate and a Ferrari. In the race he quickly got by a slow starting Vettel but didn’t have the pace to attack his team mate for the lead. He did well defending against Verstappen, but eventually, he was helpless and he fell to third. Bottas was one of the first drivers to stop for new tyres on lap 18 and was expecting to go to the end on mediums. During his second stint he struggled with pace and was overtaken by Raikkonen and then Ricciardo. After Ricciardo got through he stopped for fresh softs and cruised to finish fifth, well behind his team mate.

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And the rest

Pierre Gasly, Toro Rosso, Interlagos, 2018
Gasly infuriated team mate Hartley
Ferrari looked like they had the pace to fight for the win and after qualifying on soft tyres in Q2 they appeared to be the favorites. Vettel suffered from a sensor failure for the entire race which drastically impacted his pace and meant he was forced into a two stopper. He ended up finishing sixth while Raikkonen finished third on a, quicker, one-stop strategy.

Heading into the weekend Daniel Ricciardo knew he would have a five-place grid penalty since the team was forced to replace his turbo. He started 11th and quickly made his way through the field and was in with a shout of the podium but was held up by Bottas for too long.

Haas had a strong race, finishing eighth and ninth, with Grosjean slightly ahead in qualifying and the race. The Frenchman did make contact with Ericsson in turn two and lost part of his bargeboard, but it didn’t have any lasting effects on his pace for the rest of the race.

Sergio Perez showed strong race pace after qualifying 12th and finishing 10th on a two-stop strategy. Ericsson suffered damage on the opening lap that made his car essentially undriveable, causing a spin and his eventual retirement from the race.

Renault were much slower than expected with Sainz qualifying 16th and Hulkenberg 14th. They had slightly better pace in the race but Hulkenberg was forced to retire with an engine problem, while Sainz finished 12th on a three stop strategy.

Tensions ran high between the Toro Rosso drivers again. Gasly out-qualified Hartley again, but was caught by his team mate in the closing stages and ignored a string of orders to let his team mate by, before eventually gave way with three laps to go.

Williams were stuck at the back of the field yet again, but Sirotkin was quicker than Stroll in qualifying in what Paddy Lowe described as, “one of his best of the year”. The young Russian managed to stay ahead in the race as well.

McLaren also found themselves nowhere near the points and while Alonso maintained his qualifying streak over Vandoorne the Belgian did finish ahead of the three time world champ in the race.

Over to you

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

2018 Brazilian Grand Prix

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Author information

Josh Holland
USA-based Josh joined the RaceFans team in 2018. Josh helps produce our Formula 1 race weekend coverage, assists with our social media activities and...

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33 comments on “2018 Brazilian Grand Prix Star Performers”

  1. Stars: Verstappen, Hamilton, Leclerc, and Ricciardo to an extent.
    Strugglers: Ferrari, Bottas, Ocon, and Renault.

    1. Don’t forget about the mega strugglers McLaren, @jerejj.

      And Ericsson deserves some love.

      1. @coldfly Well, Mclaren has been struggling in pretty much every race since the Spanish GP, so, therefore, not too much point in including it every time separately, LOL.

  2. How is Max a star performer? He made a blunder costing him the win which should he thoroughly deserved.

    1. Maybe because he has a strong qualifying, and then on Sunday, gradually overtook two Ferraris and two Mercedes to get in to the lead of the race. While managing his climb in to the lead of the race, he also managed to make his SS tyres last longer than any of the front runners.

      Then he got taken out by a back marker.

      But you’re right. Getting taken out by a back marker means the rest of his weekend was rubbish, and he shouldn’t be included in the stars performers list.

      1. ” then on Sunday, gradually overtook two Ferraris and two Mercedes to get in to the lead of the race. ”

        The two Ferrari’s that he overtook were on the slower tyre. While Vettel also had a sensor problem. And Hamilton was nursing an engine problem, juggling various settings trying to ward off “imminent failure” warnings he was getting. Taking all this into account, Max’s overtakes seem less impressive.

        I would give star performer to Hamilton;
        Fantastic pole
        Made his mediums last over 50 plus laps (Pirelli had recommended no more than 50 laps on the mediums)
        After lap 44, managed to keep Max behind him, all while nursing his sick car and making various switch/settings changes to stave off engine failure
        Kept himself out of trouble while Max rather stupidly got himself tangled up with Ocon
        Won the race under trying circumstances

        1. Problem with the Ferrari so slow is why could Kimi overtake Max right after Max overtake him. So Bottas had also a problem with his engine Sorry but that doesn’t compute.

          Max did over took the best two teams so he is a star performer.

    2. If you look at it objectively, the one who got the penalty was Ocon, so regardless of your opinion the fact is Ocon was at fault, pointing that incident out to say Max wasn’t a star goes against that, and this column is bases on objective information, not on hipotetical realities

      1. Based on objective information Max finished 2nd when he was in a position to take a straightforward race win, therefore it’s legitimate to say he underperformed.

        On the other hand, he did manage to get ahead of two Ferraris and one of the Mercs (and outperformed his teammate) so on balance it was still a decent job even if below what he was capable of.

        1. you missed it

    3. My thoughts exactly. The car was clearly good enough for first.

      Part of good driving, street or circuit, is avoiding indiots. It wasn’t like Ocon rear ended him. Max lost a winnable race.

      1. People keep viewing this as a racing incident where Verstappen should have left more room, but it isn’t. Verstappen was p1 Ocon p16, the were not in a race. Yes Ocon defenitly hase the right to unlap him self which he tried into turn1, He was half a car in front going into turn, but half a car behind comming out. At that point he should have backed off, especially since Verstappen made his intentions clear. The leader is entitled to the racing line at that point. So Verstappen, knowing he cleared Ocon, would have already been focussed on turns 2 and 3. Racing drivers must be able to trust on their fellow competitors not doing anything stupid, like Ocon did lunging into side of Verstappen. As race leader it wasn’t Verstappens job to avoid a collison, it was Ocon’s. These guys can’t drive at the speeds they do worrying about every backmarken doing something stupid.
        Had they been racing for position i 100% agree Verstappen should have left more room, but this wasn’t a racing situation.
        As for Hamilton say he should have given more room, thats just mind games. Hamilton doesn’t give friendly advise to competitors.

        1. The FIA is crystal clear in this. You can overtake cars that are a lap ahead, but you cannot fight for track position. In other words, stay off the racing line.
          Ocon wasn’t half a car length behind. He was a full lap behind.

  3. Well I would say Alonso was a strugler. I mean for Vandoorne to finish ahead he had to be.

    Leclerc was a star for me last time out, but in Brasil? Being beaten by his teammate in qualifying is quite the dent on the weekends performance.

    Did Perez qualified ahead of Ocon? I can’t remember. If so, I think he would be a good candidate for a star performer, especially because he made that strategy work. Which actually goes against the pre-conceived idea that people have about him that he gets good results in race where he needa to manage tyres, on that 2 stopper he had to push harder than the others.

    1. Kinda shocked Kimi is not a struggler tbh

      1. I thought kimi did ok – hardly a struggler, just another of his typically anonymous races (of the last 4 years).

        1. @frood19 that comment is related to last stars and strugglers article where Kimi was included as a struggler even though, imo and @mrboerns there were drivers performing worse (Kimi finished in the podium at least). It is irony basically

  4. In the race, I thought it was quite clear that the Red Bull and Ferrari were better than the Mercedes. It was Bottas’s fault for being slow but he helped hamilton massively by holding up Verstappen, kimi and Ricciardo. And given that several started to close up on Hamilton clearly showed that Hamilton may have been under pressure way sooner without Bottas. The Mercedes was not very strong this race and Bottas beat vettel. He also was better than Kimi ferrari’s in qualifying and instantly got past Vettel in the race. Bottas wasn’t good but neither was he a struggler. Vettel was.

    Leclerc as a star performer is the one I disagree with most though. Sauber were very very easily the 4th best car this weekend. Ericsson looked close throughout all of qualifying. The big deal seems to be that he made it through to Q3. Well Ericsson did too no? And Ericsson beat him, which must mean that was a truly outstanding lap by Ericsson who was one of only 2 drivers in the top 10 to improve on his 2nd timed run, or it was poor by Leclerc if we usually say Ericsson is bad. I think it is a bit of both. Then before the race, Ericsson’s car fell apart and was mended by glue. Apparently had understeer in the first corner and got more damage then had to retire. We can’t judge how good Leclerc’s race was given that Sauber were so strong and we lost Ericsson who for once looked matched or slightly better based on qualifying.

    I can agree Verstappen is a star performer, But I still blame him as he basically made the choice to get hit. He was aware that Ocon was quicker. He actually defended (loosing time by the pits) That was pointless. If he didn’t defend, Ocon will have got past and no time will have been wasted and no contact will have been made. But instead, he tried to prevent him getting past, took a different line and despite Ocon being clearly in his vision, he turned right with Ocon right by him. Ocon shouldn’t have kept trying, but what was the point of Verstappen trying to keep him behind. That was his choice that he waisted time. The contact was Ocon@s fault but Verstappen could have made it have no impact on his race at all.

    IMO, Ricciardo should certainly replace Leclerc as a star performer. was 0.002 behind Verstappen in qualifying, and very quickly climbed up the grid. It seems that Verstappen can get a star performer even when he was at fault for starting at or near the back when he climbs up the grid (even when it is a track that is easy to overtake on. This track is much more challenging and Ricciardo did a great job and was also really close in qualifying.

    1. @thegianthogweed

      I do think Leclerc’s qualifying performance was a bit overrated. First of all, in Q2, he put himself in a trying situation by setting a mediocre lap on his first run and while his second lap was really good, he failed to replicate that performance in Q3 and was comfortably outqualified by Ericsson. It was a thrilling performance but in terms of end result, also underwhelming, considering his usual advantage over Ericsson.

      Also, as you say, Sauber was very fast throughout the weekend. If Charles can be called a star performer for his performance here, I don’t see why Hulk didn’t get star performer in USA. Leclerc currently seems to be in that phase where his hype is so great that even the slightest positive thing about his ability as a racing driver is being amplified to the max. I guess he has earned it with his performances this year, though.

      I also believe that any other driver with the slightest bit of self confidence and competitive spirit would have reacted similarly to Leclerc on being called back to the pits by his team. If they think there’s a chance, they’ll go for it; “I never give up” is not unique to Leclerc.

    2. @thegianthogweed

      I can agree Verstappen is a star performer, But I still blame him as he basically made the choice to get hit. He was aware that Ocon was quicker. He actually defended (loosing time by the pits) That was pointless. If he didn’t defend, Ocon will have got past and no time will have been wasted and no contact will have been made. But instead, he tried to prevent him getting past, took a different line and despite Ocon being clearly in his vision, he turned right with Ocon right by him. Ocon shouldn’t have kept trying, but what was the point of Verstappen trying to keep him behind. That was his choice that he waisted time.

      Everything you say about Verstappen is true. He should never have fought Ocon. It’s just that you make your point about losing time. But Verstappen would also lose time by letting Ocon go. First, he couldn’t stay close to Ocon while managing his tyres, second he would lose more time after Ocon’s supersoft tyres lost their freshness. Within a few laps Ocon would get blue flags and would have to let Verstappen by again. All things Verstappen didn’t need with Hamilton breathing down his neck (the gap was only 2 seconds).

    3. People with biased opinions will remain blaming Verstappen for each and every incident he was involved in regardless of other drivers being the cause…
      – Spa 2016 Ver on the inside, Vettel squeezing from the outside
      – Spain 2017 Ver on the outside, Bottas overshooting the corner from the inside crashing into Raikkone
      – Singapore 2017 Ver in the middel both Ferrari’s steering in
      It doesn;t matter where Verstappen is, some will always blame him for being in a place where he shouldn’t be according to the armchair experts.

      Blaming Verstappen for Brasil tops it all….as a race leader he had everything to loose, especially with Hamilton being 2-3 sec behind. Verstappen did not fight Ocon…it was Ocon he refused to stop fighting while Verstappen was ahead keeping his racing line.

      If he would have let Ocon pass it would have cost him ~0.5 sec, after that Ocon would get blue flags, Max would get DRS and he would have to overtake him again…. + the RBR is ~0.5 sec in sector 2, while Ocon was only 0.4 sec faster over a whole lap. Ver would not be able to overtake Ocon in the 2nd sector so Hamilton would have come closer without any doubt.

      Blaming Verstappen for a backmarker crashing in to him is like blaming the housekeper for not locking the doors when the burglar comes.

      One of Max most strong race, beating 4 potentially faster cars from P5

      1. I do think Ocon should have got the penalty he did, but Verstappen still could have avoided it without loosing him any time at that moment. Yes, he may have lost a bit of time later, but Ocon will have known that he was slower and moved over quickly.

        But you can’t really deny that Verstappen knew Ocon was there and Verstappen turned in when Ocon was along side him. You can’t say Ocon drove into him when he was going straight and Verstappen turned right…

        Ocon at the time he was close to Verstappen didn’t have blue flags for Hamilton behind him. He asked his team if he can have a go on Verstappen. His team allow him. He made simple work on it. Verstappen went defensive which was pointless. Ocon could have got past without this and then given the position back when he was slower again. That will have cost verstappen much less time than going defensive and ignoring where Ocon was. Admittedly, once Ocon realised Verstappen was trying to defend (which was unnecessary), Ocon should have backed off. It was right that Ocon got the penalty, but you have to admit it Verstappen could have avoided this easily.

        I don’t remember this Spain 2016 thing with Verstappen so I can’t comment on that. Somethign I do remember about that race though is that when Haryanto came out the pits, he was just ahead of the leaders. He had blue flags, but opened the gap to over a second and then he stopped getting them until about 3 laps later. Then he allowed the leaders through. If Verstappen didn’t defend Ocon, he may have lost a bit of time, but not that much.

        In 2017, there was no action on that clash in Spain. Kimi couldn’t go any wider because Verstappen was there. At the time of the corner, the only one who could have gone wider was Verstappen. Kimi and Verstappen both chose to go on the outside of Bottas and 3 wide into that corner is very risky. It was a racing incident. I don’t blame Verstappen at all for Singapore.

        Regarding this race, Red Bull were not strong in qualifying. But if you look at Ricciardo and Verstappen, they were both catching Hamilton and it was Bottas who delayed them both. I think The Red Bull was the best car on race day. Not in a straight line, but the grip they have around corners and ability to drive in dirty air without their tyres suffering is something the Red Bull is excellent at.

        1. Ben,
          In hindsight it’s always easy to avoid an incident, but as we know in nearly every race drivers keep on bumping into each other, in wich Hamilton is no exception.

          You could argue if Hamilton played it smart in Mexico 2017, starting from P3 he faught for positions with Vettel and Max wich got him a puncture… while he could have DNF-ed just as easy. This would have ment Hamilton wouldn;t have taken the title that race. Hamilton is not better, nor wiser than Verstappen in Brasil.

          The simple fact remains, Verstappen simple did not expect Ocon to push through… and he wouldn’t have he’de easily would have won the race.

          1. There is simply no precedent that Max could have drawn on that would have him expecting, as the race leader, to be aggressively challenged with a dive bomb. It simply isn’t done by backmarkers on race leaders. Dive bombs by their very nature can, and are even meant to, surprise even drivers who are on the same lap and fighting for a podium spot.

            It is wholely unfair, and uses complete hindsight, to claim Max has any share of the blame here. A normal driver vs driver situation…sure, then we have a debate. A race leader vs a backmarker…there is no debate that Ocon’s responsibility was to leave Max alone until a safe place to get by without bothering the leader. The leader has earned that in F1’s eyes through their regs for decades now.

          2. @Matn

            One of Max most strong race, beating 4 potentially faster cars from P5

            Not at all. The RedBull was faster than both Ferrari and Mercs at this race. Just like in Mexico.
            We must understand the fastest car can, and does vary from race to race.

            Max certainly did not beat 4 top drivers based solely on his driving abilities.

    4. Letting Ocon past wasn’t really an option. Ocon was only faster on the straits, and Hamilton was only 2 seconds behind at that point. Say Verstappen would have let him by, he would loose maybe half a second letting Ocon by and then another second on the twisty bit. Witch would place Hamilton within drs range, with a massive uphil drs zone comming up. That would have left Verstappen vulnerable to being overtaken by Hamilton, and those guys were fighting for position.
      You’re viewing it as a racing incident, but you shouldn’t because the were not racing each other. It was Ocon’s job to avoid Verstappen, and he didn’t.

  5. he began a storming charge.

    And was stil ‘stormly charging’ at the weigh-out :P

  6. Alonso maintained his qualifying streak over Vandoorne the Belgian did finish ahead of the three time world champ in the race.

    Also where’d Fernando get another championship?

    1. Singapore?

      1. @johnmilk going for the Triple crown? Cheating by rigging races, cheating by espionage, and …..?

        1. team orders, check check check

          1. What a legend!

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