F1 2021
Round 19

Max Holds His Championship Lead, Finishing 2nd In Brazil

br Autódromo José Carlos Pace

Max secured the 220th podium for Honda as an engine supplier with a battling drive to second place at Interlagos.

Max Holds His Championship Lead, Finishing 2nd In Brazil

While Max, Sergio and Pierre were all on mediums and very much in the majority at the start, Yuki was the only driver to use a different tyre from the rest of the grid as his first stint was on soft tyres from 15th place.


When the lights went out, Max made an excellent start from second place to take the lead, forcing his way past Valtteri Bottas at Turn 1. Sergio then put pressure on Bottas at Turn 4 and pulled of a clever switchback overtake to move into second place, where the two Red Bulls ran for the first part of the race.

Pierre ended the first lap in eighth place as Lewis Hamilton - recovering from a grid penalty - made his way through the field, while Yuki attempted to also move forward but was caught in a collision with Lance Stroll that saw him lose his front wing. That forced Yuki into an early pit stop for hard tyres, as the Safety Car was required to clear up the debris.


On the restart, Max and Sergio held Hamilton at bay for a number of laps, with Sergio being particularly clever as he was overtaken by Hamilton into Turn 1 on lap 18 but immediately regained the position before Turn 4. At the same time, Pierre made his way past Sebastian Vettel for seventh position, although Sergio did drop to third place one lap later.

Pierre was the first driver to make a planned pit stop as he came in on lap 25 for hard tyres, and Max made the same switch two laps later in response to Hamilton, with Red Bull Racing ensuring he retained the lead. Sergio made his first stop on lap 28, but was unfortunate when two laps later some debris led to a Virtual Safety Car and allowed Bottas a free pit stop, which meant the Mexican dropped to fourth place.

In an attempt to protect the lead, Red Bull opted for an early second stop with Max on lap 40, again fitting hard compound tyres and preventing Mercedes getting an undercut. Sergio made his second stop two laps later, while Yuki had made good progress to run in the top ten before having to take his second stop on lap 39, with a ten-second time penalty for the Stroll collision dropping him down the order.


Pierre made his second pit stop on lap 51, switching to hard tyres to attack the one-stopping Alpine drivers ahead.


In the fight for the lead, Max had to get very defensive and withstood severe pressure from Hamilton for a number of laps before he was finally overtaken on lap 59, coming home a solid second to retain his championship lead.


Sergio made a late stop for soft tyres to score the fastest lap as he finished fourth, while Pierre fought his way past both Alpine drivers in consecutive laps to climb to seventh, ensuring Scuderia AlphaTauri remains level on points with Alpine in the constructors’ championship.

Toyoharu Tanabe
Toyoharu Tanabe
Honda Racing F1
It’s always disappointing not to win, but having Max finish second and Checo fourth at the end of a tough and very exciting race was a case of damage limitation for us today. But it is still a good result and the points scored, including the additional one from Perez for fastest lap, will prove very important for the championship. Both Red Bulls got a good start to run first and second in the early stages, but Mercedes came back at us, proving what strong competitors they are. Once again, Pierre drove very well for Scuderia AlphaTauri, having a very close race with the team’s main championship rivals and thanks to the crucial passing moves on both Alpines to take seventh place, we are still equal on points with them. Yuki’s race was spoilt because he had to make an extra stop to change the nose after a collision and then he received a penalty for the incident. But his pace over the weekend was strong, so we expect him to fight back in the coming races. Now we go to Qatar for the final part of this triple-header. It is a new venue for everyone, so we have been working closely with both our teams as well as the Honda staff in Japan and the UK to prepare as well as possible for the next race.

Max Verstappen
Max Verstappen 33
Red Bull Racing
I knew today would be difficult, but I did everything I could, we were just lacking a little bit. At least it was a fun race, of course I would have liked to have won but realistically I think this was a good result. Lewis and I were fighting for position on multiple occasions, I think it was hard racing but good racing and that’s how it should be. I was hoping for a little bit more performance but this result is definitely the maximum we could do. Top speed wise it was tough to defend, you can clearly see when they take a fresh engine that it gives them a bit more power, so hopefully that will die down over the coming races. There are three races coming up that will be completely different again, so we’ll see how it goes.

Sergio Perez
Sergio Perez 11
Red Bull Racing
It was close today and it was fun, but I am not here to have fun, I am here to deliver. I had a great start but then it was very difficult to hold Lewis back, I tried my best to hold onto him but I couldn’t, he was flying! Then we were ahead of Bottas by two seconds, we had the position and we had the podium but two laps later the virtual safety car came in. That timing was extremely unlucky for us and it worked perfectly for him, he managed to do the undercut and then pull five seconds away from us. It is a bit of a shame we lost the podium but I was able to build a big enough gap to the Ferrari in fifth to pit and go for fastest lap, which is an important point for the team. That straight-line speed of the Mercedes is just unbelievable, we were not able to match them and today they were on another planet. Ultimately it is a good result for us today, I don’t believe there is much we could have done differently, it’s just a shame because we should have finished ahead of Bottas had it not been for the VSC. Today the luck wasn’t with us but there are still three races to go and everything to play for so we will keep pushing. Now we look forward to Qatar and hopefully there we can be competitive.

Pierre Gasly
Pierre Gasly 10
Scuderia AlphaTauri
I’m really happy, it’s been a very intense race, but I think we can be pleased with today. There were some really nice battles, with Daniel and Seb, then at the end of the race with the Alpines. It was so fun to be racing with them, as we don’t often get to do that in F1. It was of course hard, but today we finished in the best position we could, behind the top three teams, and that’s the most important thing, as we continue our fight for fifth.

Yuki Tsunoda
Yuki Tsunoda 22
Scuderia AlphaTauri
I’m pretty frustrated after today. I think we made a good choice with the tyres but unfortunately the collision with Stroll completely ruined my race. It was a risky move, but he just wasn’t looking in his mirrors and we came together. It’s a real shame I received the penalty, as I also struggled with damage for the rest of the race, but these things happen and we’ll work to come back stronger next time out.

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