Sebastian Vettel ended Ferrari’s win drought after passing Valtteri Bottas at the start of the Brazilian Grand Prix, while Kimi Räikkönen resisted a charging Lewis Hamilton to take the final podium place.
Vettel seized the initiative from pole sitter Bottas into the Senna S and remained in control throughout, completing a one-stop strategy, from Super Softs to Softs.
Hamilton, meanwhile, started from the pit lane after his qualifying crash, and carved his way through the lower order, emerging from his sole stop in fifth spot, before lighting up the timing screens.
Hamilton surged past Max Verstappen and took seconds out of his rivals, but was unable to find a way past Räikkönen, who held on to ensure a double podium for Ferrari.
Bottas and Vettel made similar getaways off the line but the Ferrari driver pulled alongside his rival and captured the inside line into the Senna S, grabbing the lead in the process.
While the leaders avoided drama, Kevin Magnussen, Stoffel Vandoorne and Daniel Ricciardo came to blows exiting the Senna S, causing terminal damage to the Haas and McLaren, while Ricciardo spun.
Further around the lap, Romain Grosjean and Esteban Ocon ran side-by-side on the run to Ferradura, though the Haas driver lost control of his VF017 and collected Ocon, causing both to spin.
Ocon’s car sustained terminal damage, leading to his first retirement in Formula 1, while the Safety Car was deployed to clear the various wreckages.
After five laps, the drivers were unleashed to race once more, and Vettel soon established a gap over Bottas, which remained around the two-second mark, with Räikkönen third and Verstappen fourth.
Hamilton, meanwhile, moved up to 14th place through the early drama. He sliced his way past midfield opponents with a sequence of moves into the Senna S.
Lewis, having swept past Brendon Hartley into Ferradura, overhauled Lance Stroll, Marcus Ericsson, Pierre Gasly and Carlos Sainz Jr. into the Senna S on successive laps.
Hamilton then passed Nico Hülkenberg into Descida do Lago, went around the outside of Sergio Pérez at the Senna S. He quickly caught and overhauled the battling Massa and Alonso.
That left Hamilton in fifth position, albeit some 17 seconds behind Vettel. Seb still had Bottas hovering around the two-second mark. Mercedes reacted first by servicing Bottas on lap 27. Ferrari responded next time around, bringing in Vettel.
The undercut enabled Bottas to latch onto the rear of Vettel’s Ferrari. But the German pulled clear, escaping DRS by the time they entered the next zone.
With Räikkönen and Verstappen also pitting, the yet-to-stop Hamilton stayed out in the lead on Soft tyres, and preserved a three- to four-second gap over Vettel, as they worked their way through traffic.
Hamilton finally stopped on lap 43 and came out 18 seconds behind Vettel. He set about hunting down Verstappen, who complained of rear-tyre wear on his RB13.
Verstappen defended into the Senna S. But Hamilton swept past along the Reta Oposta, and continued to take chunks of time out of the lead trio. A lock-up into the Senna S cost Hamilton time. And he was unable to seriously challenge Räikkönen for the podium.
Up front, Vettel preserved a gap over Bottas across the second stint. And he crossed the line 2.7s clear to his 5thvictory of the campaign, and first since july.
Verstappen, behind Hamilton, pleaded with Red Bull to be allowed a second stop and the team ultimately approved his request. He took a low-key fifth.
Ricciardo, having been caught up in the first-lap clash, made a strong recovery. He past midfield rivals with a series of overtakes into the Senna S. Ricciardo’s Soft/Super Soft strategy brought him into 6th position. He finished clear of a fierce scrap involving Massa, Alonso and Pérez.
Massa and Alonso pitted on successive laps. And the McLaren-Honda driver spent most of the race trying to get in DRS range of the outgoing Williams driver. He was ahead of late-stopping Pérez.
The trio converged during the closing stages. But Massa held on to seventh – much to his delight. He received a rapturous welcome from the fans, when he was afforded time on the podium after the race.
Alonso held off Pérez to take 8th position. As Nico Hülkenberg rounded out the top 10 for Renault.
INITIAL CLASSIFICATION (LAP 71/71)
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