Two red flags and several safety cars disrupted the 2016 Brazilian Grand Prix, but they didn’t prevent Lewis Hamilton taking his ninth win of the season. His first victory in Brazil couldn’t have come at a better time as he prevented Nico Rosberg from wrapping up the championship.
Treacherous conditions greeted teams and drivers on Sunday and the FIA took the decision to start the race behind the safety car. Romain Grosjean became the first driver to get caught out by aquaplaning as he spun on his reconnaissance lap on the way to the grid. The race start was also delayed by ten minutes.
The race eventually concluded three hours after it started with Hamilton crossing the line 11 seconds clear of Rosberg. Max Verstappen was driver of the day as he recovered from a late spin to climb back up the order to third. Sergio Perez was fourth ahead of another spinner Sebastian Vettel. Carlos Sainz was sixth with Nico Hulkenberg and Daniel Ricciardo seventh and eighth.
Local driver Felipe Nasr started last on the grid but finished in ninth place ahead of Fernando Alonso in tenth. Alonso was another driver who spun during the race but recovered to score a point.
Valtteri Bottas was 11th ahead of Esteban Ocon, Daniil Kvyat, Kevin Magnussen and Pascal Wehrlein. Jenson Button struggled throughout the race with the handling of his McLaren and was the last of 16th classified finishers.
Felipe Massa, Kimi Raikkonen, and Marcus Ericsson joined Grosjean on the sidelines after getting caught out by the conditions – their cars being sent into spins by aquaplaning and into the barrier. Jolyon Palmer cited poor visibility for his race ending accident when he made contact with Kvyat who continued. Esteban Gutierrez retired with car problems.
It was a disappointing end to his last Grand Prix for Massa who retired during the race. He was clearly emotional as he climbed out of his car after hitting the barrier, raising the Brazilian flag above his head. There were extraordinary scenes in the pit-lane as Mercedes, Ferrari and Williams congregated outside their garages to give him a guard of honour while the race was still happening. Massa was greeted by his family as he walked down the pit-lane. He later described the moment as overwhelming but said the reaction from the fans made him proud.
The championship will conclude in Abu Dhabi.