Lewis Hamilton scripted an epic win after a no-holds barred duel with Max Verstappen at the São Paulo Grand Prix in Brazil. Valtteri Bottas joined his team-mate on the podium.
This was a must win race for the reigning world champion at the nineteenth race of the 2021 FIA Formula 1 World Championship. With three races to go, Hamilton could not let Verstappen extend his lead in the drivers’ championship to more than a race win.
The Brazilian weekend has been an uphill battle after Hamilton won qualification and was disqualified for a DRS technical infringement.
Hamilton started last in the sprint qualification race and fought back to fifth position. The Briton started tenth in the race after a five-place grid penalty was applied for a new power unit component.
Hamilton from tenth place on the grid fought hard to take his sixth win of the season and cut the gap to Verstappen in the drivers’ championship to fourteen points.
The race at the Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace circuit in São Paulo took place under hot conditions with air temperatures at 23 degree C and track temperatures at 55 degree C.
Kimi Räikkönen made a pit lane start after his rear-wing was changed.
Verstappen had a good start from second position and led pole-sitter Bottas into Turn 1. Bottas for good measure went off the track at Turn 4 and Sergio Pérez was in second position.
It was a Red Bull Racing 1-2 by end of lap 1. Hamilton had gained three places and slotted into seventh position. Lando Norris had suffered a puncture as he tried to get past the Ferrari of Carlos Sainz into Turn 1 and pitted and rejoined in last position.
By the end of lap 4, Hamilton was let past by Bottas and was in third position.
Yuki Tsunoda and Lance Stroll came together withTsunoda suffering extensive damage. The Safety Car was deployed as debris had to be removed from the track.
On the restart, both the Red Bull Racing drivers made a good getaway from Hamilton. Hamilton had a hard battle with Pérez and finally overtook the Mexican on lap 19.
Hamilton was now 3.6 seconds behind Verstappen and it was going to be a straight fight for the win between the championship rivals.
On lap 23, Stroll was the first driver to pit for the hard compound tyres and rejoined in nineteenth position.
On lap 27, Hamilton pitted for the hard compound tyres and rejoined in sixth position behind Daniel Ricciardo and ahead of Sebastian Vettel.
The undercut is powerful at this track and Verstappen pitted on the next lap but his gap to Hamilton was cut to 1.5 seconds.
On the next lap, Pérez pitted and rejoined in fifth position. The Virtual Safety Car (VSC) was deployed due to debris on the track from Stroll’s car.
This handed Bottas an advantage as he pitted under the VSC and rejoined in front of Pérez in third position.
Behind them the two Scuderia Ferrari drivers, Pierre Gasly and the Alpine F1 team drivers were battling for position. Norris had progressed through the field to get himself into the points.
On lap 41, Verstappen pitted for another set of hard compound tyres and rejoined in fifth position behind Leclerc. Bottas and Pérez pitted in quick succession in the next laps.
Hamilton stayed out for another three laps in the lead of the race before he pitted and rejoined behind Verstappen. The gap between the two drivers was 2.6 seconds.
Hamilton got himself within DRS-range and on lap 47 made an overtake move which Verstappen thwarted aggressively. The stewards noted the incident before deciding no action was necessary.
On lap 59, Hamilton finally battled past Verstappen and cruised to a win. With all the setbacks Hamilton suffered this weekend, it was an epic win.
Verstappen finished in second position and still leads the championship by 14 points. Bottas finished in third position and helped Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team extend the lead in the constructors’ championship to 11 points.
Pérez finished in fourth position as he pitted in the final laps for the soft compound tyres to take the point for fastest lap from Hamilton.
Leclerc finished ahead of Sainz as Ferrari had a good haul of points to increase their lead to the McLaren F1 team for third position in the constructor’s championship.
Gasly battled his way to seventh position ahead of the Alpine F1 drivers, Esteban Ocon and Fernando Alonso.
Norris took the final solitary point after he battled his way from last position after the first lap incident.
The epic duel between Verstappen and Hamilton will resume in Qatar next weekend (Nov 19-21 2021). The track at this new race on the Formula 1 calendar is an unknown quantity and adds more variables to this intense battle for the championships.
2021 São Paulo Grand Prix Race Results:
|1||44||Lewis Hamilton||GBR||Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team||71||1:32:22.851||25|
|2||33||Max Verstappen||NED||Red Bull Racing||71||+10.496s||18|
|3||77||Valtteri Bottas||FIN||Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team||71||+13.576s||15|
|4||11||Sergio Perez||MEX||Red Bull Racing||71||+39.940s||13|
|5||16||Charles Leclerc||MON||Scuderia Ferrari||71||+49.517s||10|
|6||55||Carlos Sainz||ESP||Scuderia Ferrari||71||+51.820s||8|
|7||10||Pierre Gasly||FRA||Scuderia AlphaTauri Honda||70||+1 lap||6|
|8||31||Esteban Ocon||FRA||Alpine F1 Team||70||+1 lap||4|
|9||14||Fernando Alonso||ESP||Alpine F1 Team||70||+1 lap||2|
|10||4||Lando Norris||GBR||McLaren F1 Team||70||+1 lap||1|
|11||5||Sebastian Vettel||GER||Aston Martin Cognizant Formula One Team||70||+1 lap||0|
|12||7||Kimi Räikkönen||FIN||Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN||70||+1 lap||0|
|13||63||George Russell||GBR||Williams Racing||70||+1 lap||0|
|14||99||Antonio Giovinazzi||ITA||Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN||70||+1 lap||0|
|15||22||Yuki Tsunoda||JAP||Scuderia AlphaTauri Honda||70||+1 lap||0|
|16||6||Nicholas Latifi||CAN||Williams Racing||70||+1 lap||0|
|17||9||Nikita Mazepin||RAF||Uralkali Haas F1 Team||69||+2 laps||0|
|18||47||Mick Schumacher||GER||Uralkali Haas F1 Team||69||+2 laps||0|
|NC||3||Daniel Ricciardo||AUS||McLaren F1 Team||49||DNF||0|
|NC||18||Lance Stroll||CAN||Aston Martin Cognizant Formula One Team||47||DNF||0|