Vettel: Bottas was as quick, if not quicker

Felipe Massa waves a green flag as he tours the Interlagos circuit after finishing seventh

Felipe Massa waves a green flag as he tours the Interlagos circuit after finishing seventh

That was that among the front three - the spectre of Hamilton's incursion apart - and it finished with Vettel leading Bottas and Raikkonen home.

Former F1 team owner Flavio Briatore says Ferrari made a mistake by not signing Red Bull's Max Verstappen.

"I think Lewis the whole year has been rock and roll, and Valtteri has recovered slowly but still needs the tick of a killer".

Organisers have been forced to issue renewed safety instructions for staff working at Interlagos, with discussions now under way as to whether to return to the track next year in light of the security concerns. "I was really happy with my approach on the way in because I've had a couple of wobbles this year at times which doesn't help the guys if the car doesn't come in in perfect position".

Red Bull's chiefs have publicly expressed their desire to make Verstapen the youngest F1 world champion in history and, with team-mate Daniel Ricciardo yet to sign an extended deal beyond 2018, it has led to suggestions that the Dutchman is effectively becoming their 'number one' driver.

Massa stood on the podium with son Felipinho after the race to wave goodbye to fans
Massa stood on the podium with son Felipinho after the race to wave goodbye to fans

Having taken pole with a fine lap, Valtteri Bottas was optimistic that he could turn his lacklustre second half of the season around in Brazil.

Starting second on the grid alongside polesitter Bottas, Vettel made the better getaway, and though he controlled the race from the front thereafter, his lead was rarely more than the 2.7s advantage he held at the chequered flag. Thanks to his spin and crash on lap one of qualifying, Hamilton failed to set a time and was forced to start the race from pit lane in last place.

Grosjean was unlucky to be served with a 10-second time penalty for the contact with Ocon. Where they were closely matched, the ascendancy of aero influence in the new regulations was proving again that passing where there is no high speed differential will be difficult.

"It feels the same as it would feel at any other point in the season", Hamilton said.

But Hamilton and Mercedes deserve the lion's share of the credit. It was early doors, for one. He crossed the line only five seconds shy of Vettel, too. However, as good as the champion was, the W08 exhibited severe understeer when Hamilton was following cars.

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