F1

Brazilian Grand Prix 2017: What we learned from the race

RealSport takes a look at what we learned from the penultimate race of the 2017 season.

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Ferrari will come back strong in 2018 

The stark downfall of the Scuderia in the second half of the season has been frankly unbelievable. Sebastian Vettel was favourite to snatch his fifth world championship after Hungary, but today saw him claim his first win since the summer break. 

Without the mishaps in Singapore, as well as the reliability issues in Malaysia and Japan, it’s almost certain that Vettel would have at least taken the title fight to Abu Dhabi, and today proved why. Yes, Hamilton and Mercedes have stepped up their game since Spa, but that’s not to say Ferrari have completely lost their strong pace. 

Today’s win won’t taste anywhere near as sweet for Vettel, as it perhaps should, but it at least serves as a reminder to the paddock, and arguably most importantly himself, that Ferrari are more than capable of beating Mercedes. 

Alonso needs a better car

Ok, we might have learned this a long time ago, but the Brazilian Grand Prix reinforced the pressing need for Fernando Alonso to race in a competitive car. 

The Spaniard put in an excellent qualifying display to start sixth on the grid after Ricciardo’s grid penalty and was able to finish eighth in an inspired race-day performance. It seemed that Alonso had better pace than Felipe Massa for most of the race, but the huge engine deficit between the Mercedes and Honda engines meant that not only was Alonso defenceless against the Brazilian, but he was unable to pass the slippery Williams. 

Fernando will be looking forward to the chequered flag in Abu Dhabi more than anyone else as Mclaren’s partnership with Honda finally comes to an end. Let’s hope that Renault can improve their engine next season so Alonso can consistently fight towards the front of the grid where he undoubtedly belongs. 

Daniel Ricciardo is the sport’s best overtaker 

If Ricciardo’s job wasn’t tough enough starting from 14th after grid penalties, it certainly was after a spin at turn two that demoted him to the back of the grid. 

But in typical fashion, the Aussie brilliantly fought his way back through the field, pulling off some characteristically fantastic overtaking manoeuvres along the way. Ricciardo has developed a reputation for his brave, and sometimes unthinkable late lunges up the inside of drivers, and he executed several of these very well to finish sixth. 

Renault’s mediocre engine means that the Red Bull driver can’t simply breeze past drivers on the straight before the overtaking zone, which requires Ricciardo to be punchy, and late on the brakes. It certainly provides us fans with some great action, and it shows the art of true, organic overtaking still remains in Formula 1. 

Massa goes out on a high 

Last year’s race at Brazil was emotional, to say the very least, for Felipe Massa, despite him not finishing the grand prix. It was meant to be the Brazilian’s last home race in F1, but Valtteri Bottas’s move to Mercedes meant Massa was recalled for another season. 

12 months later, and Massa finishes an excellent seventh position in surely his last home race in Formula 1. It was always going to be an emotional weekend for Felipe for so many reasons, most of all being the immense adoration between his fans and himself. 

A touching radio message from his son after the race, combined with a podium celebration with his close friend Rubens Barrichello, made it a fitting end for Massa at a track where he has endured some huge ups and downs. Losing the 2008 championship the way he did must still haunt him to this day, but it shouldn’t take anything away from the superb career he has had. Thank you, Felipe! 

Bottas must improve

Whereas Lewis Hamilton has been in the best form of his career in the second half of 2017, the same definitely cannot be said about Valtteri Bottas, who has endured a glum series of races since Belgium. 

The Finn experienced an impressive start to life at Mercedes by somewhat exceeding prior expectations set by many. However, he has been so far off the pace compared to his teammate in recent times, and has been publicly criticised by Toto Wolff as a result. Despite finishing second, Hamilton’s pace showed that Mercedes had the pace advantage over Ferrari today, but Bottas couldn’t capitalise on this. 

He is fortunate Mercedes decided to keep him on for 2018 relatively early into the season. I’m not so sure that if they made their decision again, it would be the same outcome. 

What were your main talking points from Brazil? Let us know in the comments below!

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