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Lewis Hamilton Conquers The Rain To Win Brazilian Grandprix

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton produced a masterful performance to win a wet and chaotic Brazilian Grand Prix that saw several drivers involved in several high-speed accidents, two stoppages and five safety cars.

The penultimate round of the season was delayed by 10 minutes and then eventually started behind the safety car following continuous rain at a venue that so often throws up a dramatic race. 

When the safety car eventually peeled in after seven laps, Hamilton led from Rosberg, while Max Verstappen immediately passed Kimi Raikkonen for third place. But after just six laps of racing, the safety car was back in action again after Marcus Ericsson lost control of his Sauber and slammed into the barrier at the final corner.

The field, led by Hamilton, then toiled behind the slow-moving safety car in the treacherous conditions as the debris was cleared. On lap 20, the decision was taken to re-start the race, but, within seconds, Kimi Raikkonen crashed out.

The 37-year-old Finn slammed into the nearside barrier before his car slid across the track and collided with the opposing wall. Raikkonen sat there helplessly in his Ferrari as a number of cars came within feet of hitting his stationary car.

“This is just bad, just stupid,” Sebastian Vettel, one of the drivers who had to take evasive action, yelled over the team radio. “Red flag is what it needs, we need to stop the race. How many people do they want to crash, I nearly crashed into Kimi in the middle of the straight, I couldn’t see anything.” The race was immediately stopped with Hamilton leading from Rosberg and Verstappen.

After clearing the wreckage from Raikkonen’s harrowing crash, the race was up and running again, albeit behind the safety car, following a 35-minute delay. But after just seven laps and a further 15 minutes the race was suspended once more, with the conditions deemed too dangerous to race.

The controversial decision taken by the race director, Charlie Whiting, was greeted by a chorus of boos and “thumbs down” gestures from the Brazilian crowd.

Hamilton was also disappointed with the verdict. “It is not even wet now,” he bemoaned over the team radio. “It is normal wet conditions. I don’t know why we are stopping.”

Another 27-minute delay ensued before the safety car led Hamilton and the pack out once more. After just two laps, Hamilton was released, and behind him Verstappen soared around the outside of Rosberg at turn three.

It was a fantastic move from the fearless Dutchman which would have been greeted with delight in both the Red Bull and Hamilton camps.

The 19-year-old then began his pursuit of Hamilton, and got the gap down to one second, before he lost control of his Red Bull at close to 180mph as he entered the pit straight. Incredibly, he managed to avoid any contact with the barrier, and remained ahead of Rosberg, too. “The heartbeat went a bit higher there,” he said coolly over the team radio.

With Rosberg now third, the German would have to finish second in Abu Dhabi to win the title. But Red Bull opted to pit Verstappen for the intermediate tyre on lap 43, and Rosberg, who survived a scary moment when he endured a half-spin one lap later, was promoted back up to second.

It was the wrong decision from Red Bull, with Verstappen ultimately having to pit for the extreme wet tyre when the safety car emerged for a fifth and final time after Felipe Massa, during his final race in Brazil, stuck his Williams in the barrier.

Another six laps followed behind the safety car before Hamilton crossed the line finished 11 seconds clear of Rosberg, while Verstappen delivered an incredible performance to claw his way back from 16th on to the final spot on the podium.

Hamilton, who punched his fist in the air after winning in Brazil – the home of his boyhood hero Ayrton Senna – for a first time, said: “"I was generally just chilling up front. When it rains it's usually a good day for me. It was tricky for everyone. There were definitely opportunities for aquaplaning, which everyone did"

“There were no mistakes, no issues, no spins. It was interesting to hear how many people were spinning behind me. I didn’t have that problem.

Hamilton ninth win of 2016 is the 52nd of his career, making him the second most successful race winner of all time ahead of Alain Prost (51) with Michael Schumacher way ahead on 91 wins. it also means that the F1 championship will be decided on the final race of the season with his Mercedes team-mate, Nico Rosberg, who crossed the line at a rain-soaked Interlagos in second place would have to come third in Abu Dhabi to be crowned champion.

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