We’re two races from the end of the 2019 Formula 1 season, and with both championships won (by Mercedes Benz and Lewis Hamilton you will be no doubt shocked to read!) the Brazilian Grand Prix was the first of two ‘dead rubbers’ to round off the year.
Dead rubbers typically go one of two ways – they can be a borefest with teams and drivers unwilling to chance anything on or off track with nothing to play for and with one eye on next year, or they can be quite the opposite – with nothing to lose drivers go hell for leather and the result is a cracking spectacle.
And it proved to be the latter at the front of the field.
Obviously, Williams’ hopes of turning around a miserable season ended when the dead turkey that is this year’s FW42 proved not to be worthy of resuscitation and so that both championships were off the table was of little consequence.
At the sharp end, Max Verstappen took his second (he says third) pole position of the season, the Interlagos circuit clearly suiting his Red Bull Honda.
Ferrari showed signs of real pace too, and would have taken second and fourth places on the grid (sandwiching newly crowned world champion Lewis Hamilton) had it not been for a grid penalty for LeClerc demoting him ten places.
It promised to be an entertaining Grand Prix.
Sadly for Williams, the weekend started off badly when Kubica lost control of his car in damp conditions on Friday afternoon, and this required an overnight rebuild of chassis #01 to allow him to continue with his weekend.
Half a second was the difference between George Russell in 18th and 19th placed Kubica in qualifying, with just the McLaren of Sainz behind them after mechanical issues prevented him from setting a time.
As is now customary, Kubica stole a march on his team-mate at the start, but dropping behind Sainz – about to embark on his best ever Grand Prix – leaving him a net 19th position, Russell in 20th.
The two continued in tandem before Kubica pitted on lap 20, when he almost inadvertently took out leader Max Verstappen when he was released from his pitbox directly into the path of the Dutchman – as a result of which he would later receive a 5 second penalty.
George followed him in on lap 23, and on returning to the track behind Kubica, managed to slip by his team-mate as they made way for the leaders, and the (again customary) gap between the two began to build.
Two late safety cars not only spiced up the action at the head of the race, but it also brought Williams back into contention at the rear, with George managing to slip by Haas’ Romain Grosjean and up to 13th place where he’d finish, later promoted to 12th when Nico Hulkenberg found himself the recipient of a lovely five second penalty for overtaking under the safety car.
Kubica again finished stone last a lap down.
Post race there was a slight suggestion that there might be more penalties for up to half a dozen drivers using DRS under yellows, but that was later quashed when those involved proved they’d lifted despite DRS being open.
Perhaps too, the FIA didn’t much fancy completely rearranging the finishing order beyond Hulk’s clear infringement and WC Hamilton’s demotion to seventh for spearing into Albon in the battle for second in the closing stages of the race.
Once race left, and then everyone gets an opportunity to reset.
I just hope when we reboot for 2020, the guys at Williams find themselves with the car that all their hard work deserves, and with which they can ‘do a McLaren’.