Interlagos win sees Hamilton keep F1 title race alive

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Lewis Hamilton closed the gap on Formula One world championship leader Nico Rosberg to 12 points by winning a Brazilian Grand Prix that came close to being abandoned amid wretched weather at Interlagos on Sunday

Hamilton started on pole and remained untroubled at the head of the pack in Sao Paulo, as persistent heavy rain wreaked havoc among the field behind him.

Rosberg, who benefited from a Red Bull misjudgement to regain second place from Max Verstappen, retained top spot in the drivers' championship standings on 367 points, with defending champion and Mercedes team-mate Hamilton on 355 going into the final race of the season in Abu Dhabi later this month.


Third place at the Yas Marina circuit will be enough for Rosberg to claim his first crown regardless of Hamilton's performance.

The English pole-sitter quickly got clear when racing began after a safety car start on Sunday, leaving Rosberg battling to hold off Verstappen in the heavy spray.

Having dramatically passed Rosberg and successfully defended from the German after recovering from a spin, Verstappen suffered when he was forced to return to the pit lane for full wet tyres, a brief flirtation with the intermediate compound ruined by more torrid weather.

He demonstrated extraordinary determination to move back up from 16th to third, forcing Sebastian Vettel onto the grass in the process in yet another instalment in the mounting rivalry between the two men.

"MY HEARTBEAT WENT A BIT HIGHER THERE"

When, following two red flags in quick succession, racing finally began again after lap 31, Verstappen swiftly pounced to take second from Rosberg on the outside at turn three.

The teenager then surpassed the excitement of that manoeuvre with a thrillingly instinctive piece of driving eight laps later, recovering from a tail spin to narrowly avoid hitting a barrier, before successfully defending a subsequent attack from Rosberg.

His hard-fought gains were undermined by the tyre gamble that backfired, although he cemented his reputation as the most exciting young talent in the sport by roaring back to claim a podium place.

OBIRGADO FELIPE

In Felipe Massa's final appearance at his home grand prix, the veteran Brazilian started badly by earning a five-second time penalty for overtaking before the start line after the safety car returned to the pits.

And the penultimate race of his career ended in disappointment when he crashed out on lap 48.

The premature conclusion to Massa's race led to emotional scenes as he made his way down the pit lane on foot, Brazilian flag held aloft, as the crews of rivals, Mercedes and his former team Ferrari among them, formed a guard of honour to salute the popular figure.

After embracing his family, Massa attended the medical centre as a precaution based on sensor readings.

NOVEMBER RAIN FUELS APPETITE FOR DESTRUCTION

Former Guns N' Roses guitarist Slash was watching on from the Ferrari garage as the weather claimed Kimi Raikkonen, who spun out and struck the wall on lap 20.

His team-mate Sebastian Vettel said over the radio: "We need to stop, how many people do you want to crash?" The German duly got his wish, the first of two red flags halting the race while the wreckage of Raikkonen's car was cleared.

In addition to the Finn and Massa, Jolyon Palmer of Renault, Sauber's Marcus Ericsson and Haas driver Esteban Gutierrez did not finish, while Romain Grosjean crashed during the installation lap.