Lewis Hamilton gave a masterclass in how to drive in the rain as he led from start to finish to claim a crucial victory in an incident-packed but memorable Brazilian Grand Prix on Sunday.
With incidents and accidents galore, Hamilton defied the horrendous conditions to dominate and take the 2016 title race down to the final race of the season.
At one stage, with the cars halted due to track conditions, it looked like the race would be abandoned, but for the thousands of fans at the track, and watching around the world on television, it did eventually reach a rather belated conclusion, with Hamilton scoring his 52nd Grand Prix victory along the way.
He said afterwards: “Man, that was difficult, but in some ways that was the easiest victory of my career.
“My car was great and the team did a superb job. I came here to Brazil, the homeland of my hero Ayrton Senna, to win and that is what I did. The championship is still on and I will be doing all I can to win the title in the final race of the season in Abu Dhabi.”
Team-mate Nico Rosberg kept the destiny of the title in his own hands by finishing second. He said: “Lewis drove a brilliant race to win in Brazil. I had a good car but Lewis was on great form.
“There is one race left and I know it is going to be a great fight to the chequered flag.”
Behind the Mercedes duo, Max Verstappen captured headlines with a stirring drive to third in his Milton Keynes-based Red Bull. The young Dutch racer was star of the day with a performance that drew comparisons to that of a young Ayrton Senna or Nigel Mansell.
Verstappen’s push for the podium during the closing laps thwarted Sergio Perez’s hopes of scoring a third podium of 2016, the Force India driver having to settle for fourth at the race’s end.
Perez said: “I was thinking I could hold on for third, which would have been a great result, but I didn’t have the pace of Verstappen in the last few laps and he was able to pass me. We have had a great season, and we are all looking forward to the final race in Abu Dhabi.”
Nico Hulkenberg also scored points for the Silverstone-based Force India team, taking seventh.
In related news, with Hulkenberg leaving the team next season, Force India have announced this week that highly-rated French racer Esteban Ocon will drive for them in 2017.
A standout in F3. GP3 and DTM racing, Ocan has been driving for Manor since the Belgian GP in August.
He said: “This is amazing news that I have secured a drive with Force India for 2017. I am looking forward to meeting my new team and getting to know them over the coming weeks as the season ends and we start preparation for next year.”
Ocon, 20, performed well in last weekend’s Brazilian Grand Prix, and looked set to score his debut world championship points until dropping out of the top ten on the race’s final lap.
Carlos Sainz Jr. was another star of the race, driving his part Bicester-based Toro Rosso-Ferrari to a superb sixth.
He said: “This was a great race for me today, I am very happy with my performance.”
Daniil Kvyat finished outside of the points after he was hit from behind by the Renault of Jolyon Palmer.