SAO PAULO GP – Lewis Hamilton takes victory by ten seconds following thrilling drive from tenth

Testing & Race Reports

Lewis Hamilton has closed the gap in the championship to Max Verstappen with victory from tenth on the grid in the Sao Paulo Grand Prix, in one of the greatest drivers in the history of the sport, as well as pivotal in deciding the championship.

The Mercedes driver took victory by over ten seconds after coming through from tenths on the grid to pass his championship rival with twelve laps to go. Hamilton drove one of the best races of his career getting into third by lap fifteen. then needed to make two attempts to try and pass the Red Bull of Sergio Perez.

The seven-time champion then passed the Dutchman after chipping away his lead getting alongside at the Senna S then followed him through the first sector and past at Descida do Lago on lap fifty-nine.

Mercedes first tried to undercut Verstappen at the first stop, but thing didn’t change with Red Bull were able to get the Dutchman 1.7 seconds ahead of Hamilton. But the Englishman had better pace than the Red Bull, at the second stops Mercedes undercut Verstappen.

A dramatic turnaround in fortune for Hamilton, on a tough weekend where he took a new ICE incurring a five place penalty then was excluded from qualifying for a technical infringement. That new ICE looked to give Hamilton better straight line speed than Verstappen that could be key in the remaining races.

Interlagos could once again be pivotal in the climax of the season, with three races in the middle east starting in Doha next weekend with fourteen points between Hamilton and Verstappen with three races to go in four weeks. Despite it being his 101st win in F1, it was only his second from lower than sixth.

Hamilton said, “What a race. The team did an amazing job. I was pushing as hard as I could. From last on the grid and then another five-place penalty was the hardest weekend I’ve had.”

“Then these things that just kept going against us but it really shows for everyone, never give up. Never, ever stop fighting and that’s how I’ve really approached this weekend.”

Verstappen added, “It was a good battle but we just missed a bit of pace. It was good fun. We still have a good lead. Today was a bit of damage limitation and I am confident in the coming races we will bounce back.”

Hamilton’s first win in four races and only the second of his 101 F1 victories came from lower than sixth on the grid.

Ten laps earlier Verstappen had successfully fended off the Mercedes at the same corner, but that prompted complaints from the German manufacture that the Dutchman had forced Hamilton wide.

But the stewards ruled that it was a racing incident with no further action was taken, to the annoyance of Mercedes. They believed Verstappen had forced Hamilton wide and off the track.

After the race, Hamilton was fined €25,000, with €20,000 suspended until the end of 2022 season, in relation to undoing his safety belt on the warm-down lap.

Valtteri Bottas finished third ahead of the second Red Bull of Sergio Perez, both drivers being unable to race in the closing stages. Bottas who started from pole position lost the lead to Verstappen at the start struggling to hold the lead, Pere also took advantage to get past the Mercedes.

As Red Bull knew they would be unable to pass Bottas in the closing stages, they decided to bring Perez in to get the extra point for fastest lap.

Ferrari appear to be gaining momentum in the battle with McLaren for third in the constructors, as they extended their lead to eighteen points. Charles Leclerc finishing fourth two seconds ahead of teammate Carlos Sainz, the Spaniard making contact with his former teammate when they were fighting for fourth on the opening lap.

Meanwhile, also on the opening laps, there was a collision between Yuki Tsunoda and Lance Stroll, leading to a safety car. The tow fighting for twelfth made contact at the first corner, which brought the safety car out as debris was spread over the track and Stroll shortly retired.

Pierre Gasly finished seventh, holding the position he started from, after losing three places in sprint qualifying. The Alpha Tauri driver managed to make a one stop race work as he held off the two Alpine’s of Fernando Alonso and Esteban Ocon.

Lando Norris was another to lose out on the opening lap dropping to last thanks to a puncher, that followed a brilliant start through the Senna S. His puncher came in the second part of the corner when fighting Sainz. A perhaps defining moment in the battle for third, with Ferrari more than a race win ahead of McLaren in the constructors.

Norris then worked his way from the back to eleventh then inherited tenth from teammate Daniel Ricciardo. The Australian being forced to retire with a loss of power running eighth at three-quarters distance.

Sebastian Vettel finished the race eleventh ahead of his former teammate Kimi Räikkönen. The Alfa Romeo driver another one to gain places in the race after starting eighteenth on the grid, finishing twenty-seven seconds ahead of George Russell with his teammate Antonio Giovinazzi fourteenth.

Yuki Tsunoda finishing fifteenth ahead of Nicolas Latifi, with the two Haas’s the final classified finishers two laps down with Nikita Mazepin ahead of Mick Schumacher.

Schumacher had a collision with Raikkonen on the restart, leading to a virtual safety car to clear up debris.

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