Lewis Hamilton has sent a stunning message to his Formula One rivals with an extraordinary drive in the Brazilian Grand Prix sprint on Sunday that’s left fans in awe.
Hamilton’s Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas won the 24-lap sprint to claim the three bonus points ahead of championship leader Max Verstappen and Carlos Sainz, who picked up the two and one point bonuses, respectively.
However, it was the drive of seven-time world champion Hamilton that had fans talking afterwards, with the Brit finishing fifth after starting last because of an infringement with his Mercedes in qualifying a day earlier.
Hamilton could be heard saying on team radio the sprint that “this isn’t over yet” in reference to the title race.
Lewis Hamilton is a freak I swear. Unreal overtake 🔥💜 pic.twitter.com/pzDdn7C76i
— Xela | 100 🏆 (@Alex2006__) November 13, 2021
Verstappen is still in the box seat to claim his maiden F1 world title after the two bonus points saw him extend the lead in the standings to 21 points over Hamilton.
However, the Red Bull driver will be no doubt worried about the incredible speed Hamilton showed after being hamstrung by his grid penalty.
Hamilton had to start from the back of the grid after stewards ruled that his Mercedes’ DRS system (the flap mounted on the rear wing of the car which opens to gain top speed) exceeded allowed limits.
The punishment meant Verstappen took Hamilton’s place at the front of the grid but it was the Brit’s Mercedes teammate Bottas who got the jump on the Dutchman at the start and hung on to win the Brazil sprint, to claim the maximum three points.
But it was Hamilton’s extraordinary drive, in which he started from 20th position and finished 5th in just 24 laps, that lit up social media.
Lewis Hamilton takes Saudi Arabian F1 GP pole as Max Verstappen crashes
Lewis Hamilton took pole for the inaugural Saudi Arabian Grand Prix but only after this fascinating Formula One season once more delivered tense drama for the title protagonists. The world champion was on top but only because Max Verstappen pushed too hard and was left wondering what might have been over a damaged car, stranded on the track.
Hamilton had endured nervy moments before qualifying awaiting a steward’s decision in Jeddah, when the world champion’s hopes for a win and his championship ambitions hung in the balance. Cleared of any offences, however, he delivered with great execution, but it might so easily have belonged to Verstappen, who clipped a wall on his last lap when on for taking pole. He was classified only in third behind Hamilton’s Mercedes teammate, Valtteri Bottas.
“It was intense but enjoyable,” said Hamilton, who described his car as being on a knife-edge. “This was heart in your mouth for all of us. If Max had finished his lap he would have been ahead.”
Verstappen has pushed hard all season and he was once more absolutely on the limit on his final lap. On the very edge for 26 corners it was nail-biting but superb, only for him to take too much on the very final bend. For the title these moments may prove vital with Hamilton’s attempt to take an eighth Formula One world championship still very much in his own hands.
“It’s extremely disappointing,” said Verstappen. “We had a good car, everything seemed to be coming together, in Q3 it was good but unfortunately I couldn’t finish the lap. At least it seems like we can fight here.”
It had been difficult to call between the two drivers throughout until the decisive minutes. Hamilton made an error on his first hot lap in Q3, briefly losing the rear, and had to abort his quick lap. He stayed out to put in another run and this time was clean. However, Verstappen was immense on his first hot lap, threading the needle between the walls of this testing circuit with inch-perfect precision. He set a time of 1min 27.653sec, a fearsome target almost four-tenths up on Hamilton.
Hamilton went out first on the final runs and this time he was feeling the grip and was especially strong through the final two sectors, sweeping though the sequence of undulating left and right hand curves. He put in a 1min 27.511sec but Verstappen pushed in response and was on fire. He was over two-tenths up only to lock-up and brush the wall on the final corner. It was a disaster that may yet be compounded if he has to take a new gearbox because of damage and receive a grid penalty.
A win for Hamilton at Jeddah would guarantee the championship will head to a finale at Abu Dhabi and, if Hamilton also scores fastest lap to a second place for Verstappen, the two rivals would go into the decider equal on points. Verstappen can still clinch the title in Saudi Arabia, though that now looks a major task. He leads Hamilton by eight points and can take it this weekend in three ways: if he wins and scores the fastest lap and Hamilton finishes sixth or lower; if he wins without the fastest lap and Hamilton finishes seventh or lower; or if he outscores Hamilton by 18 points.
Certainly Hamilton holds the whip hand. With the narrow track and few passing points, making overtaking difficult, and the low tyre degradation auguring for a single-stop strategy, track position will be vital and Hamilton has the advantage of pole and his teammate at his back.
For an uneasy period before the session began, Hamilton’s fate had been subject to the deliberations of the stewards. He was summoned an hour before qualifying began for two separate offences they were investigating from Saturday’s final practice session. The first was for failing to slow under double-waved yellow flags and the second for impeding another driver. Verstappen was found to have failed to slow under waved yellows at the last round in Qatar and was given a five-place grid penalty.
However, the stewards ruled that the flag warning system had been triggered accidentally and warning lights had not been shown where Hamilton was on track and they took no further action. He was also given only a reprimand for the impeding incident because he had not been informed by his team that Nikita Mazepin was closing on him from behind.
Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc was in fourth and Red Bull’s Sergio Pérez in fifth. Pierre Gasly and Yuki Tsunoda were in sixth and eighth for AlphaTauri.
Lando Norris in seventh for McLaren. Alpine’s Esteban Ocon was in ninth and Alfa Romeo’s Antonio Giovinazzi 10th.
Daniel Ricciardo was 11th for McLaren, Kimi Räikkönen 12th for Alfa Romeo and Fernando Alonso in 13th for Alpine. George Russell was in 14th for Williams and Carlos Sainz in 15th for Ferrari.
Nicholas Latifi was in 16th for Williams, with the Aston Martins of Sebastian Vettel and Lance Stroll in 17th and 18th. Mick Schumacher and Mazepin were in 19th and 20th for Haas.
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‘Should be ashamed’: F1 fans rage over Max Verstappen ‘disgrace’
F1 fans were left raging on Sunday when Max Verstappen wasn’t punished for an ugly incident with Lewis Hamilton in the Brazilian Grand Prix.
Hamilton hunted down Verstappen to win the Sao Paulo Grand Prix for Mercedes and slash his Red Bull rival’s championship lead to 14 points with three races remaining.
Verstappen finished second with Valtteri Bottas third for Mercedes on an astonishing, controversial and roller-coaster weekend in Brazil that will go down as one of Hamilton’s greatest and most satisfying drives.
The Briton was fastest in qualifying for Saturday’s sprint that set Sunday’s grid, and then demoted to the back of the field after his car’s rear wing failed a technical inspection.
He went from 20th to fifth on Saturday, dropping back to 10th on Sunday’s grid after an engine penalty but hungry for much more.
The rest was history as the 36-year-old took his third win in Brazil and set a record for victory in Brazil from the lowest grid position, beating Italian Giancarlo Fisichella’s 2003 win from eighth.
“Lewis, that’s how you overcome a 20-place disqualification,” Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff told him over the radio after he took the chequered flag in front of a cheering crowd.
Hamilton replied: “It was actually 25, but you’re right.”
However it very nearly wasn’t to be after Hamilton was forced off the track by Verstappen late in the race.
Hamilton was picking off the cars ahead of him with ominous ease and after both had pitted twice, Hamilton surged past Verstappen on lap 59 at the third attempt.
His initial overtake looked to have succeeded until Verstappen forced him wide in a move that appeared to be calculated by the leading car’s driver.
However stewards reviewed the incident and ruled that Verstappen didn’t have a case to answer, leaving commentators and fans stunned.
Hamilton tops Brazil qualifying, gets 5-place grid penalty
SAO PAULO (AP) — Lewis Hamilton beat rival Max Verstappen in qualifying to take pole position for Saturday’s sprint race ahead of the Brazilian Grand Prix, although an engine change means the British driver is facing a five-place grid penalty on Sunday.
Hamilton was more than 0.4 seconds ahead of his Red Bull rival in Friday’s qualifying at Interlagos, having also set the fastest time in the morning’s practice session. That means he’ll start first in the sprint race on Saturday, which will determine the starting grid for Sunday’s Grand Prix.
However, the decision by Mercedes to change the engine of his car means the British driver will not start higher than sixth in Sunday’s race, even if he wins the sprint.
“Today was a really good qualifying session, I’m super happy with it,” Hamilton said. “We’ve got the penalty but we’ll give it everything we’ve got. It’s not easy to follow, but I guess Max is starting on pole (Sunday) now so it’s going to be very hard to catch him but I’ll do my best to try and go through the field.”
The seven-time F1 champion trails Verstappen by 19 points in the standings with four races left in the season.
It’s the second time the Mercedes driver has exceeded the limit of three engines for the season, and the penalty will make it even harder to close the gap to Verstappen.
Hamilton could face another penalty as well, as organizers said stewards were investigating whether the DRS system on his car had violated regulations during qualifying. They said a decision will be announced Saturday morning.
Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas finished third in qualifying, 0.014 ahead of Red Bull’s Sergio Perez, who was faster than him in the practice session a few hours earlier.
Montreal’s Lance Stroll was 16th and Toronto’s Nicholas Latifi was 17th.
The Red Bulls had proven faster than the Mercedes cars in recent races but Verstappen said Hamilton’s performance on Friday was “not a big shock” after the engine change.
“I am just happy to be second. That is a good position to start from,” he said. “You always want to be closer, but sometimes you just have to be realistic.”
Hamilton took a 10-place grid penalty for a new engine in Turkey. Bottas has faced similar problems, which has raised questions about the engine’s reliability.
Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff said Hamilton’s engine was replaced because of degradation, adding it’s an issue that “is going to continue until the end of the season.”
“We haven’t yet realized why that is, but we are just seeing it creep down,” Wolff said.
The Brazilian GP will be the third event of the season with a qualifying sprint race on Saturday to determine Sunday’s grid. The two previous sprint races were held in Silverstone and Monza.
The weather could still play a role at Interlagos, with a thin drizzle falling in certain sectors of the track on Friday, but not enough to impact drivers’ performances.
Rain certainly won’t affect the mood in the stands at Interlagos either, with the croud loudly cheering on the drivers during Friday’s sessions. A total of 170,000 fans are expected during the three days of racing after last year’s grand prix was canceled because of the pandemic. Health restrictions at sporting events in Brazil were removed on Nov. 1.
Brazil has reported more than 610,000 deaths from the coronavirus, but the rate has sharply decreased around the country.
Eugenio Silvano, 54, came from the capital Brasil to enjoy all three days at Interlagos. Wearing a shirt that read “Ayrton Senna forever” in Portuguese and a mask in Brazil’s yellow and green colors, he said coming to the race in Sao Paulo is the highlight of his year after losing two friends to the virus.
“One of them would surely like to come here too, he was 63 and a big fan of racing,” Silvano said. “I know the pandemic is not over. This is the first trip I took in nearly two years, but I had to come, for myself and for those that couldn’t.”