Battling Bulls claim P2 and P4 in Brazil
Max Verstappen finished in second place after an intense battle with title rival Lewis Hamilton at the Sao Paulo Grand Prix while Sergio Pérez finished in fourth. However, the Mexican driver rescued an extra point on the final lap with a late soft tyre run to claim fastest lap.
Hamilton trailed Verstappen for two-thirds of the race and was able to overtake Max with a move on lap 59. Max defended into Turn One, slowing his exit, and this time Hamilton was closer still as they entered the back straight. Verstappen defended to the inside, but Hamilton's over-speed took him past the Red Bull before the braking zone and he squeezed to the inside so his rival could not defend.
Max’s second place was his 15th podium finish of the year and leaves Brazil with his lead in the Drivers’ cut to 14 points, while in the Constructors’ Championship, Mercedes now lead by 11 points. Checo’s P4 result cements his fourth place in the Drivers Standings and is 25 points behind Bottas.
On his P2, Max Verstappen commented “I knew today would be difficult, but I did everything I could, we were just lacking a little bit. At least it was a fun race, of course I would have liked to have won but realistically I think this was a good result. Lewis and I were fighting for position on multiple occasions, I think it was hard racing but good racing and that’s how it should be.
“I was hoping for a little bit more performance but this result is definitely the maximum we could do. Top speed wise it was tough to defend, you can clearly see when they take a fresh engine that it gives them a bit more power, so hopefully that will die down over the coming races.
“There are three races coming up that will be completely different again, so we’ll see how it goes.”
Max Verstappen started the São Paulo Grand Prix from the front row of the grid after the Sprint at Interlagos was won by Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas. The second place result in the last Sprint race of the season gave the Dutchman an extra two Championship points.
Sergio started fourth after being edged out of the Sprint Qualifying top three by Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz. At the start of the race Checo profited from a poor start by Sainz to slip through to third place but midway through the race pitted for hard tyres. Just after his stop the Virtual Safety Car was deployed again, this allowed Mercedes to pit Bottas and with the caution forcing Checo to run slowly, Bottas was able to steal third place. The Mexican however took fastest lap at the expense of Hamilton pitting for softs during the final laps of the race.
Discussing his race, Sergio Perez said: “It was close today and it was fun, but I am not here to have fun, I am here to deliver. I had a great start but then it was very difficult to hold Lewis back, I tried my best to hold onto him but I couldn’t, he was flying!
“Then we were ahead of Bottas by two seconds, we had the position and we had the podium but two laps later the virtual safety car came in. That timing was extremely unlucky for us and it worked perfectly for him, he managed to do the undercut and then pull five seconds away from us. It is a bit of a shame we lost the podium but I was able to build a big enough gap to the Ferrari in fifth to pit and go for fastest lap, which is an important point for the team.
“That straight-line speed of the Mercedes is just unbelievable, we were not able to match them and today they were on another planet. Ultimately it is a good result for us today, I don’t believe there is much we could have done differently, it’s just a shame because we should have finished ahead of Bottas had it not been for the VSC.
“Today the luck wasn’t with us but there are still three races to go and everything to play for so we will keep pushing. Now we look forward to Qatar and hopefully there we can be competitive.”
While we enter the final throws of the 2021 season, Max and Sergio went head-to-head in a brand new quiz, Box Box Box, to answer questions about all things Mobil 1. Click here to watch the full film.
Commenting on the race, Team Principal Christian Horner commented: “To come away with second and fourth today, plus the fastest lap was damage limitation this weekend. We scored 20 points for Max this weekend versus their 25 for Lewis in the Drivers’ Championship, so we’ll take that.
“We put up as good a defence as we could, Max did his best and raced hard, and Checo made Lewis have two goes to get past, and he came back with a great move to reclaim the place after Lewis’ first effort. But we saw Mercedes pace from Friday and then again yesterday, so today wasn’t too much of a surprise.
“They did a good job and Lewis drove a great race today, so well done to them. We’ve got some catching up to do this week. There’s a lot of racing still to go, so we’ll brush ourselves down and come back fighting in Doha.”
Next stop in the triple header is the Qatar GP in Doha, and the paddock will remain in the Middle East for the final stages of the season with only three races left on the calendar.
The 2021 season is one of the most competitive in recent years and ExxonMobil continue to support Red Bull Racing Honda fight in the Drivers and Constructors Standings.