The hunt for the 2021 Formula 1 World Driver’s Championship has entered a new chapter with three races to go. Following an engine penalty and a 20th place start for the sprint race, Lewis Hamilton put the new engine parts to good use to win the Sao Paulo Grand Prix in Brazil.
After starting 10th, the Mercedes driver got around Max Verstappen on lap 59 to cement his 101st career win. Verstappen led for most of the race, before falling to Hamilton but still maintaining a 14-point lead heading into Qatar.
Off the start, Verstappen nabbed first from Bottas on the rundown to the first straight. Perez moved past the Finnish driver after he ran wide in turn 4, while Hamilton went from 10th to third in less than five laps. Norris tried a gutsy move around Sainz, which led to the Ferrari cutting down the left rear of the McLaren.
The safety car was shown lap 6 after Tsunoda attempted to dive bomb Stroll. The contact littered the track with debris, forcing the deployment of the safety car. After lengthy clean up, the VSC was called out less than six laps later after Mick Schumacher lost his front wing after contact with Sebastian Vettel.
Max pulled the trigger first and pitted on lap 27, with Hamilton following on lap 28. The Red Bull beat the Mercedes out of the pits by around two seconds, however the gap stood at four seconds before the stop. The safety car came out again, following a carbon fiber explosion off of Stroll’s Aston Martin. A few drivers pitted during this time before Verstappen pulled the trigger again for a second stop on lap 40. Verstappen was held up by Nicholas Latifi, which allowed Hamilton to stretch his pit window another four laps.
On lap 48 the race nearly saw a repeat of Monza.
Hamilton, in DRS, made a lunge around the outside of Verstappen. Verstappen cut him off, leading to both drivers sailing off the track and grass being shot everywhere. The FIA took no action after a review to ire of Toto Wolff.
In the end, the Red Bull could only hold off the Mercedes for so long and on lap 59 Hamilton got the job done and vanished into the sunset claiming the win. Red Bull had one more trick up its sleeve and pitted Perez who nabbed the point for fastest lap.
“What a race, the team did an amazing job, Valtteri did a great job.” Hamilton said. “I was pushing as hard as I could. From last on the grid, and then another five place penalty — I think that’s the hardest weekend I’ve had. Things kept going against us, but it just shows — never give up, keep fighting. Never, ever stop fighting. It feels like the first.”
For Verstappen, he gave it everything he had. However, it wasn’t enough. The Dutchman is confident that they can bounce back in Middle Eastern swing to end the season.
“We were just missing a bit of pace but we gave it our all and had fun,” Verstappen said. “We still have a good points lead, today was a bit of damage limitation. The coming races we’ll bounce back.”
For the first time in F1 history, drivers will take to the Losail International Circuit for the Qatar Grand Prix. A track with a similar layout to Bahrain, both title contenders should be at another equal foot for the race. Sergio Perez is the only active driver who has won a formula car race at the circuit- a 2009 GP2 Asia race. The lights will go out on Nov. 21 at 9 a.m. ET and will air in the United States on ESPN2.
About the author
Alex has been writing in the motorsport world since he was 19. Starting his career with the NASCAR Pinty's Series, Alex's work has been featured in Inside Track Magazine, TSN & NBC Sports as well as countless race programs.
Alex has also worked within the junior hockey world in Canada, appearing as a desk host for the OHL's Barrie Colts. He also got the opportunity to cover the 2018 Chevy Silverado 250 which appeared as the headlining article on NASCAR.com.
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