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Lewis Hamilton won a rain-soaked 2016 Brazilian Formula One Grand Prix after leading from start to finish on the Interlagos track at Sao Paulo on Sunday. Hamilton finished ahead of Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg, meaning he’s pushed the fight for the world championship to the season’s final race at Abu Dhabi.

It was a stop-start day littered with red flags and featuring more than one crash, where the safety car did almost as much driving as the racers. But Hamilton started fast and never relinquished his lead.

Meanwhile, Rosberg stayed steady in torrential conditions, although he did face a strong challenge from Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen at one point. Verstappen ultimately finished third after a stunning race.

    

Recap

Conditions proved torturous early on, and it was no surprise the safety car was needed right from the off. Channel 4 F1 relayed a snap of the vehicle leading the drivers out, an image that also shows the level of water on the track:

The slick surface and constant downpour soon forced several drivers into a tyre change. Interestingly, many opted for the intermediates:

It was a risky ploy given the level of water building up on the track. So it proved, as Sauber driver Marcus Ericsson soon careened off course.

Sky Sports F1 relayed images showing the Swedish driver’s crash:

Ericsson’s collision prompted Hamilton to question the intermediates, according to Formula 1:

In all honesty, though, there wasn’t much any tyre could do to help the drivers and cars adequately get to grips with the ultra-slippery surface. Even those smart enough to try the wets early were susceptible to the treacherous conditions.

A big crash seemed inevitable with vision all but completely obscured for most drivers. Unfortunately, it was Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen who was soon out of the race after a scary collision with the wall.

Scuderia Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel nearly became embroiled in the wreckage. The German pulled no punches about the state of the weather and the danger it was creating on track, per BBC Sport’s Andrew Benson:

Raikkonen’s crash prompted a long suspension of racing. In the meantime, Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg was left needing repairs to the front of his car after scraping by the wreckage.

Finally, the race got back underway, although the safety car stayed out for more than just a single lap. A cruel puncture soon sent Hulkenberg to the pits, though. It meant he slipped from fourth to 15th, all but ending his chances of earning a rare place at the podium.

Another red flag soon followed. It came even though leader Hamilton predictably felt the race could continue, as did Vettel:

This time, the safety car didn’t stay out long after the latest restart. Its exit prompted some superb racing as Red Bull drivers made their move.

Hamilton held his lead, but Verstappen dropped Rosberg into third after a daring move to overtake:

A little further back, Verstappen’s team-mate, Daniel Ricciardo, moved up to fifth. But it was Rosberg’s drop on everyone’s mind.

The German could afford to finish third in one of the final two races and still win the title, but it would create pressure he doesn’t need. Especially with Hamilton determined to push the title fight all the way.

Rosberg nearly got back into second when Verstappen skidded. Somehow, the Dutchman engineered a splendid save to not only avert a serious crash, but also maintain his lead over Rosberg:

Further back, Vettel passed Fernando Alonso in controversial fashion. The McLaren-Honda man quickly gave his verdict on Vettel’s tactics:

A sad moment came when Felipe Massa had a crash, forcing the Brazil native out of his final grand prix on home soil. Things turned bittersweet when the retiring Williams driver took the applause of the home fans and even received a guard of honour from the Mercedes pit crew and technicians in a splendid show of sportsmanship:

Back near the front, Ricciardo was soaring through laps on his intermediates. But as more rain returned, he was soon stopped at the pit for a necessary switch to wets.

Visibility was deteriorating rapidly, but the race reached its 54th lap, meaning full points would be awarded with Rosberg back up to second and Hamilton still leading.

Rosberg was buoyed further when Verstappen went into the pits. Red Bull had given up points by stopping both of their drivers. They’d also virtually handed Rosberg second.

Conditions were still dicey as the race sped toward the final 10 laps:

Verstappen slipped to 16th after his pit stop and the latest restart. But the 19-year-old was soon making up the ground:

Ricciardo joined Verstappen in chasing down Hulkenberg.

Verstappen was soon beyond Vettel, despite the German’s initially strong defences to deny him the outside. Vettel was far from happy:

The final podium place was Verstappen’s once he’d seen off Force India’s Sergio Perez with another impish overtake. But it was Hamilton who crossed the flag first, a commendable win, even though Rosberg will take second knowing his lead is still a healthy one ahead of Abu Dhabi.

Hamilton has made the final race unmissable viewing. He’s determined not to give up the title to Rosberg easily.

Hopefully, better conditions at Abu Dhabi will make for a thrilling duel to decide the season. Meanwhile, Verstappen already looks like the sport’s next big thing.    



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