Yes folks, we’re almost at the end of another F1 year (sob). The championships are all sorted but the drivers still have the incentive of a Top Dog accolade to top off their year! Sebastian Vettel had his first win since Hungary, but was it enough to nab Top Dog too? Who impressed the best at Interlagos? Which driver was the top mutt of the Brazilian nuts? Mix a celebratory caipirinha for…

LEWIS HAMILTON

Interlagos has the been the scene of many world championship dénouements, none more exciting than the 2008 showdown which saw Lewis claim his first world title crown. This race may have lacked that carnival quality, but it was certainly reminiscent of that frantic ‘Hammertime’ charge through the field.

It’s almost as if Lewis wanted the challenge after his (ahem) taxing week. In my imaginary Badger interview with the new world champ (yes, I know – I need to get our more!), I can hear him say, “How can I make this race more interesting for me and the fans? I want that freakin’ Top Dog prize. That Dutch dude has been hogging it for way too long.”

If this was his strategy, it got off to a promising start. A clumsy qualifying shunt saw him start the race from the pit lane so it was game on for an overtaking fiesta. Me likey!

ON A SAMBA ROLL

After an early safety car to clear up the mess left behind by the Grosjean-Ocon fracas, Lewis was in the mix early doors. It was relatively easy pickings at first and he was in the points by Lap 9. He pulled off a humdinger pass round the outside of Perez on Lap 14 (loving the addition of the rotating in-car camera to capture that tasty little move). Alonso put up little resistance a few laps later (shame after their brilliant tussle in Mexico) and Lewis soon got by hometown hero Felipe Massa too.  He consistently served up some stunning lap times on tyres that had no business being that quick. Could he really make it from pit lane to podium? It was looking a distinct possibility.

SAO ‘POW’-LO

He might have made it but for some tardy reactions to the blue flags – from Lance Stroll in particular. After his sole stop on Lap 43, Lewis put in some blisteringly quick laps in hot pursuit of serial Top Dog hogger, Max Verstappen. By Lap 58, Hamilton was within DRS range and ready to pounce. Max defended hard for a lap or so, but Lewis made an easy pass in the end. Next up was Ice Man Raikkonen for that final podium place. By this stage, Hamilton’s tyres were in a right old state; he was lockin’ and a poppin’ behind Kimi, throwing everything he could at the Finn. It sure was fun watching him try to nail that podium – a true ‘a la kart’ performance! In the end, car number 44 and the four-time champ managed a stunning fourth place. And he’s managed to wrestle the Top Dog trophy away from Max’s vice-like grip. Nice job, Lewis!

Massa on his first retirement from F1

DEPUTY DOG

Special mention goes to Felipe Massa in his last ever F1 race in front of his home crowd. He finished a brilliant 7th after some fun dicing with his old mucker, Fernando Alonso. And yes, apparently he really is retiring this time. Not re-tyre-ing like he did last year! Totes emosh to see him go. Again!

So it’s bye-bye Brazil and all systems go for the final round in Abu Dhabi. Who will be the Top Desert Dog of 2017? Stick with Badger to find out in a couple of weeks’ time.

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