• Britain’s defending champion wins in Brazil to take second in the championship • ‘He has made his mark on history,’ Hamilton says of champion German
Lewis Hamilton has taken a giant step towards completing his set of seven Formula One world titles by winning at Interlagos, the second leg of the Brazilian Grand Prix on Sunday.
The defending champion took the chequered flag with a comfortably enough lead over his Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas, with the Japanese visitor Kimi Raikkonen, his former McLaren team-mate and Monaco winner on Sunday, two seconds behind.
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Hamilton’s third win of the season left him on 67 points, five ahead of Bottas with three races remaining, and a clear lead of 20 points over Raikkonen. Raikkonen won the 2012 and 2013 titles while Hamilton finished second in 2006, 2006 and 2008.
The leading Mercedes pair were smoothly at the front throughout with Raikkonen 0.247 seconds slower than the Briton in his Ferrari.
Bottas did set the fastest lap and took pole position in qualifying.
Raikkonen, Hamilton’s strong finish in Monaco was a boost for Ferrari but three retired cars in qualifying and the second half of Sunday’s race left the Finn with nothing to do.
Bottas ended up third for the second year in a row behind Raikkonen, who needs to avoid a repeat of the surprise disaster of his 2012 win when he made a botched pitstop that gifted Hamilton his second title to foil Raikkonen.
The Finn paid tribute to Hamilton afterwards. “He has definitely made his mark on history,” said the Finn. “It was a special day. I had to respect that and try to do what I could but I know Lewis is quite quick here.”
Other Briton’s started very well and Hamilton took the lead at the first corner before being passed by Kimi Raikkonen, then the eventual winner in Brazil two years ago.
He was extended by a brief Hamilton break after a safety car was deployed at the restart due to a collision between Sergio Pérez and Lance Stroll and the Canadian restarted with a pitlane penalty.
Hamilton then headed a Mercedes 1-2 after one lap to leave Raikkonen fighting it out with Bottas for second and securing what the Finn called a “special” podium.
“It’s one thing to be here and win a world championship but for me that’s the pinnacle so to get second right now, it feels amazing.”
Red Bull’s Max Verstappen finished fourth for his third podium of the season.
Neither of Ferrari’s three drivers, Kimi Raikkonen, Sebastian Vettel and Daniel Ricciardo, took any points with Vettel in seventh after finishing last at Monza in the previous round and Ricciardo only eighth.
The safety car came out once again on lap 29 when Carlos Sainz crashed into Esteban Ocon on the final lap and his Force India parent team said both were unhurt.