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GP Week : Issue 233
Across the garage it was another disappointing weekend for Carlos Sainz, who was forced out on the opening lap with a mechanical problem. Sainz's dramas began even before the race, his engine dying as he reached the grid forcing a pit lane start. His race hardly lasted longer, reaching turn five before rolling to a halt once again. He was the sole retirement from the event as even McLaren managed to get Fernando Alonso to the flag after the Spaniard had stopped on track twice during the course of the weekend. Daniel Ricciardo climbed well on the opening lap after starting in 19th following an engine change. He'd reached 13th by the end of the third lap when he became the first to stop, ditching the soft compound Pirelli tyres for the favoured mediums. His progress through the field from that point came as a result of running in clear air, gaining time to gain track position as those ahead stopped. It worked up to a point, though he did pass Felipe Nasr on track just prior to his final stop. Ricciardo had taken the engine penalty for taking on the newest Renault design, which seemed a wasted effort when Daniil Kvyat with the older engine managed to out qualify the Australia. There was another fine Interlagos performance from Nico Hulkenberg, who has quite an affinity for the Brazilian circuit. Having claimed pole for Williams and led the race for long periods in years gone by, it was no surprise to see the German fifth on the grid. However he lost out to Verstappen and Valtteri Bottas at the start and was never able to regain the lost ground to the Williams driver. Bottas laid justifiable claim to best of the rest, but it was a comparatively simple race once ahead of Hulkenberg. He fell down the order briefly during his first stop but by the time those ahead had pitted he resumed fifth place, holding it to the finish. For the most part, that was the story of the race; after the opening lap furore the race settled into a predictable and largely processional rhythm with the biggest moves coming through strategy rather than on track action. It again highlighted Mercedes advantage, and while Ferrari was within touching distance the pace the silver cars had shown earlier in the weekend suggested there was plenty in hand should they have needed it. 19 GPWEEK.com // 19 GPWEEK.com // F1 >>> BRAZIL PARTNERS: