Max Verstappen had looked set to win the Brazil Grand Prix until his Red Bull was controversially hit and pitched into a spin by the lapped Force India of Esteban Ocon.
Verstappen and the Red Bull team emerged as unexpected contenders in the race after low-key performances in qualifying from both Verstappen and team-mate Daniel Ricciardo.
While the latter had to fight his way through from 11th on the grid, from fifth Verstappen was soon through to second place behind Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes. Verstappen did not manage to jump Hamilton for the lead during the first round of pitstops, but by staying out later on his first set of tyres, the Red Bull driver had the tyre life later in the race to give him the grip needed to overtake the Mercedes.
From there Verstappen seemed on course for the win, until he clashed with Ocon at turn one while the Force India driver attempted to unlap himself. Verstappen spun but was able to resume in second place; Ocon likewise continued in the race but was slapped with a 10-second penalty.
Verstappen labelled the Frenchman an ‘idiot’; after the race the pair, rivals since their karting days, almost came to blows.
Kimi Raikkonen was third behind Hamilton, the Ferrari driver barely managing to hold out Ricciardo during the final laps.
As Mercedes wrapped up its fifth consecutive Constructors’ Championship with Hamilton’s second place and Valtteri Bottas’ fifth place, Red Bull was left to rue another lost opportunity.
Just as Verstappen likely would have won had it not been for the Ocon incident, Ricciardo’s pace suggested he might have made it a Red Bull one-two had he not been hamstrung with a five-places grid penalty.
The 2019 Formula 1 season concludes in two weeks’ time in Abu Dhabi.