McLaren and Honda did not enjoy a successful reunion four years ago, but they were united in success at the end of an extraordinary Brazilian Grand Prix.Max Verstappen scored Red Bull’s third Honda-powered victory at a circuit where the Japanese manufacturer had only scored a single win once before. That was Ayrton Senna’s emotional home triumph for McLaren in 1991.
This was the eighth victory of Verstappen’s career, giving him as many wins as 1967 world champion Denny Hulme and Jacky Ickx.
You had to feel for Alexander Albon, who would have had third place at least had Lewis Hamilton not tipped him into a spin on the penultimate lap. Instead Pierre Gasly hung on to second place by his fingernails, leading Hamilton across the line, before the Mercedes driver’s five-second time penalty dropped him down to seventh.
This earned Toro Rosso their second-best result in their 14-year history. Sebastian Vettel’s 2008 Italian Grand Prix victory is the only time one of their cars has finished any higher. Gasly was the first French driver to reach the podium since Romain Grosjean at Spa four years ago.
Verstappen and Gasly formed the first Honda-powered one-two since Gerhard Berger led McLaren team mate Senna home at Suzuka in 1991. Their last one-two formed by two different teams was four years earlier at Monza, Nelson Piquet’s Williams leading Senna’s Lotus home.
Not present on the podium, but promoted to the rostrum later by dint of Hamilton’s penalty, was Carlos Sainz Jnr, for the first time in his career. He is the fourth Spanish driver to finish in the top three and scored the 100th podium finish for his country, joining Alfonso de Portago (one), Pedro de le Rosa (one) and Fernando Alonso (97).
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With Gasly and Sainz finishing in the podium places for the first time in their careers, this was the first time the top three has featured more than one newcomer in over 25 years. This is a very rare occurence: It’s only happened four times in the last four decades. The last such occasion was the 1994 German Grand Prix, when Ligier team mates Olivier Panis and Eric Bernard finished second and third.
Sainz and Gasly are, of course, both been in the Red Bull Junior Team and have both been Verstappen’s team mate. They are also older than him. With a combined age of 71 years and 60 days, they formed the youngest podium trio in F1 history, beating the record set when Vettel won at Monza in 2008. He, Heikki Kovalainen and Robert Kubica had a combined age of 71 years and 338 days.
This was the first podium for McLaren in over two thousand days. Curiously one of their drivers was also absent from their last podium result: Kevin Magnussen and Jenson Button finished third and fourth on the road in the 2014 Australian Grand Prix, but Button was promoted to third place when Daniel Ricciardo was disqualified from second.
That 2,072-day wait is the longest McLaren has ever gone between podiums, which began in the year before their ill-fated tie-up with Honda. However Honda’s F1 technical director Toyuharu Tanabe, praised their former partner’s success.
“Congratulations to McLaren, with whom we scored that last win in 1991, for finishing on the podium today,” he said. “We would like to dedicate this win to our founder, Soichiro Honda, whose birthday it would have been today,” he added. Honda was born on November 17th 1906.
Hamilton’s penalty also promoted the Alfa Romeo pair, giving the team its first double top-five finish since 1951 – it never managed it during its stint in the sport in the seventies and eighties. Today’s Alfa Romeo is a rebranding of the Sauber team, which last had two cars in the 2009 Belgian Grand Prix as BMW Sauber, and prior to that in the 2004 Belgian Grand Prix as Sauber.
Alfa Romeo therefore scored 22 points, the second-largest haul for anyone yesterday after Red Bull. With one race to go, they have slashed Racing Point’s lead over them in the constructors’ championship from 30 points to 10.
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Review the year so far in statistics here:
- 2019 F1 championship points
- 2019 F1 season records
- 2019 F1 race data
- 2019 F1 qualifying data
- 2019 F1 retirements and penalties
- 2019 F1 strategy and pit stops
Have you spotted any other interesting stats and facts from the Brazilian Grand Prix? Share them in the comments.
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2019 Brazilian Grand Prix
- Leclerc: Vettel knows he shouldn’t have moved left in Brazil crash
- Gasly thought of Hubert when he took first F1 podium in Brazil
- Binotto held talks with Vettel and Leclerc over ‘unacceptable’ Brazil crash
- Bottas: Red Bull quicker than Mercedes on the straights now
- Russell will miss “funny, knowledgeable” Kubica