For this weekend’s Rewind, Formula 1 will be streaming the 2019 Brazilian Grand Prix. It was the penultimate round of the season and both the Drivers’ and Constructors’ championships had already been won by Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes.
It meant that the focus was elsewhere in the Drivers’ championship and although there was a battle between Charles Leclerc, Max Verstappen and Sebastian Vettel over third, there was also another three way fight over sixth involving Alexander Albon, Carlos Sainz and Pierre Gasly.Embed from Getty Images
Albon went into the race weekend in Brazil leading Sainz by four points while Gasly was in eighth, three points behind Sainz and seven behind Albon. Since taking Gasly’s Red Bull seat from the Belgian Grand Prix onwards Albon had made good use of being in a ‘Class A’ car, gradually moving up the championship and closing in on Sainz and Gasly as the Thai driver regularly finished inside the top six. Sainz and Gasly were in part relying on the points gap they had built over Albon earlier in the season to weather any retirements or finishes outside the top ten they achieved from Belgium onwards.
The first twist during the weekend in the three way battle came in qualifying as Sainz was unable to set a lap time in Q1 meaning he would have to start from the back of the grid. Albon went on to qualify in sixth while Gasly qualified in seventh. It could therefore have stayed like that once the race had been completed with perhaps an exception of Sainz working his way through the field to finish somewhere between eighth and tenth.
However there would be big points on offer in the three way battle as first Valtteri Bottas retired from the race leading to the deployment of the safety car. At the end of this safety car period Albon was fourth, Gasly sixth and Sainz was in eighth. At the restart this changed slightly as Albon moved up to third while Sainz managed to move into seventh. A few laps later the two Ferrari’s collided leading to another safety car period and it now meant that there was definitely a podium finish up for grabs. At the start of the penultimate lap Albon was second, Gasly fourth and Sainz fifth before the next big factor came into play.Embed from Getty Images
That next big factor in the fate of those contesting sixth in the championship was Lewis Hamilton. He would collide with Albon, spinning the Thai driver out of second and down out of the points, the result of which gave Gasly an opportunity to pass the Briton. Hamilton would battle Gasly for second but get out-dragged to the line by the Toro Rosso driver, the Frenchman clinching his first podium in Formula 1. Meanwhile Sainz had done brilliantly to work his way through the field and then to fend off other cars in the latter stages to initially finish fourth. However Hamilton was under investigation for his collision with Albon and would eventually be handed a five second penalty. This meant that the Briton dropped down to seventh promoting Sainz into third, his first podium in the sport and McLaren’s first podium finish since 2014.
It all meant that at the end of the weekend Gasly had moved back up to sixth in the championship, level on points with Sainz while Albon dropped down to eighth, eleven points behind the pair with a championship decider of sorts to take place at the final round in Abu Dhabi.