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Hamilton wins a incident filled Brazilian Grand Prix

NEWS STORY
13/11/2016

What's the Brazilian Grand Prix got in common with Brexit and the 2016 US Election you ask.

Well, like the pollsters in both Brexit and the recent election, UBIMET and the rest of the forecasters appear to have got the Interlagos weather spectacularly wrong.

To refresh your memory, UBIMET, the meteorologist to the FIA, said: "the probability for some rain throughout the day is quite high - light and intermittent in the morning hours, more frequent and possibly moderate in intensity during the afternoon hours due to an approaching weather system."

The reality is that it has rained throughout the night, for all of the morning and into the afternoon. And when we say "rain", we mean "rain".

Consequently all bets are off... all that went before doesn't matter.

Many years back, it was Spa 1993 if we recall, the back cover of the programme bore a picture of Ayton Senna. Sat in his McLaren the Brazilian legend appeared to be praying... above him were the words "please let it rain".

Eyeing a 19 point deficit to title rival Nico Rosberg, one can fully imagine Lewis Hamilton lying in bed last night, those words, that image running through his mind.

But while, Toto Wolff might believe that today is all about the title fight, there are twenty other drivers out there, each looking to take advantage of the situation.

A strong points finish might mean the difference between an F1 seat or a reserve driver role in 2017 for the likes of Esteban Gutierrez. It might mean Williams finishes ahead of Force India in the standings, thereby earning tens of millions extra.

A win might give Ferrari the boost it so very much needs, putting a smile on the face of Sebastian Vettel (or Kimi) and allowing Maurizio Arrivabene to head into the winter with a little more job security.

As well as snubbing Toto Wolff, a win for either of the Red Bull drivers would go down a treat, not only in terms of the in-team battle, but serving notice to Mercedes that come next year it will be a regular force to deal with.

So many times this year we have been led into a false sense of security promised that the weather gods would provide us with something special, this time it really does appear that we're finally going to get a classic.

While Hamilton has to win, Rosberg doesn't consequently there is no need for anything silly when they head into the infamous first couple of corners - or beyond that - he'll want to win but he doesn't have to win. On the other hand, if Hamilton - or anyone else - can force him into a mistake...

That said, in view of some of the negativity surrounding his season - almost all of it totally unjustified - Rosberg will not want to win the title by default, as we saw in Q3 yesterday, he is still up for the fight.

However, while the title can be won here, it can also be lost.

The pitlane opens and one of the first out is Hamilton. While yesterday morning's session was damp, this is properly wet and the drivers have had little real preparation.

More and more drivers head out, all sporting the full wets. Air temperature is 18 degrees C, while the track temperature is 20 degrees.

And with 24 minutes before the start of the race, Grosjean's day appears to be over before it has properly begun. The Frenchman, who was so impressive in qualifying yesterday, has gone off coming out of T13 and into the barrier ripping off the left-front wheel. He lost the car under acceleration, losing control as he crossed one of the numerous tiny litter rivers that appear in such conditions here.

The incident is an early wake-up call for his rivals.

Having been given a ride in the Safety Car back to the pits, Grosjean is still wearing his helmet. Read into that what you will.

Understandably, the drivers prefer to complete as many laps as possible rather than take their place on the grid. An early arrival is Massa - making his final appearance here before retiring at the end of the season - he makes a point of giving Bernie Ecclestone a hug and a kiss.

And just to let you know, Race control advises that the risk of rain is 100%.

Bottas has warned of aquaplaning at T13 and T14, while Verstappen says he would prefer to start behind the Safety Car.

While the national anthem of Brazil brings back happy memories of sunny afternoons watching Ayrton Senna on the podium, today that all seems a million soggy years away, though the legend would have revelled in these conditions.

Ten minutes before the scheduled start, the start is delayed by ten minutes.

There is still no definitive decision on whether it will be a standing start or behind the Safety Car, though the delay suggests Charlie whiting might opt for the former.

At 14:00, Race Control announces that the race will get underway behind the Safety Car.

Rosberg asks about brake balance on "the other car", a nod to Hamilton's wet-weather prowess.

Hulkenberg is advised that there is likely to be ten more minutes of these conditions, then half-an-hour of lighter rain then a return to heavy rain.

"Cinturato blue on every car," tweets Pirelli, "these evacuate 65 litres of water per second at 300kph."

Rosberg is told to watch the kerbs for "stored water", particularly Turns 2 and 3.

They're away... behind the AMG Mercedes Safety Car.

Hamilton says he cannot see much behind the Safety Car and asks for permission to fall back.

Imagine the irony if he collided with it.

"There is a lot of water on the straights," warns Vettel, "even between Turns 3 and 4 which wasn't there earlier."

Hamilton slows down and the concertina-effect almost catches out Ricciardo.

"The exit of the last corner is the worst part of the track conditions-wise, says Ricciardo. "It's worse than the lap to the grid."

"A lot of standing water everywhere," warns Button, "but the corners that really matter are Turn 5 and the final corner, obviously they're blind."

Sainz and Ricciardo both believe that we are close to the point where the race can get underway.

As the Safety Car pulls off at the end of lap 7, Hamilton warns that his visor is leaking rainwater and he needs it blocked at his pit stop.

Check out our Sunday gallery from Interlagos, here.

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READERS COMMENTS

 

1. Posted by testa rossa, 14/11/2016 7:39

"Again the Lewis and Max show"

Rating: Positive (2)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

2. Posted by Kkiirmki, 13/11/2016 20:40

"How good is Verstappen? Some of the best wet weather driving you'll ever see...now THAT was Sennaesque. I really hope the new regulations get the Red Bulls (and Ferrari) back in the championship fight for 2017, we could be in for a great season. "

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