Valtteri Bottas denied Max Verstappen victory in the Sprint Qualifying race at the Autódromo José Carlos Pace on Saturday as Lewis Hamilton drove from twentieth on the grid to finish an amazing fifth.
Bottas got the jump on Verstappen at the start and was able to get ahead of the Red Bull Racing driver heading into turn one, whilst behind him Carlos Sainz Jr. moved from fifth on the grid to run third, getting ahead of both Pierre Gasly and Sergio Pérez.
Sainz then moved ahead of Verstappen at turn four, with the Dutchman running wide as a result, although the positions switched back a few laps later at turn one once he was able to use the drag reduction system down the main straight.
Hamilton, who had started at the back after being disqualified from Qualifying for a DRS infringement, made up four places on the opening lap and then made light work of the midfield runners to enter the top ten, although once there he was made to work harder, particularly against the likes of Daniel Ricciardo and Sebastian Vettel.
Bottas, running on the soft tyres, was able to keep enough life in them until the chequered flag to deny Verstappen the win, even when the Red Bull driver got close enough to open his drag reduction system on his rear wing. Bottas took the chequered flag at the end of the twenty-four laps 1.170 seconds clear to take the three points.
Bottas and Verstappen ended well clear of the battle for third, with Sainz able to keep Pérez behind him all the way to the chequered flag. Pérez had a few attempts at passing the Scuderia Ferrari driver but to no avail, so the final point on offer went the way of the Spaniard.
Lando Norris was a man on a mission early on as he rose to fifth, but he was Hamilton’s final victim heading into turn one on the final lap, with the McLaren F1 Team racer being forced to settle for sixth. Hamilton’s fifth place will turn into a tenth place start for Sunday’s race thanks to his grid penalty for an unscheduled change of Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) ahead of the weekend.
Charles Leclerc ended seventh in the second Ferrari ahead of Gasly, with the Scuderia AlphaTauri Honda driver struggling at the start and losing out massively to fall to seventh. Once Hamilton was passed him, he fell back further from those ahead of him and ended down in eighth, while the top ten was completed by Alpine F1 Team’s Esteban Ocon and Aston Martin Cognizant Formula One Team’s Vettel.
Ricciardo missed out on the top ten after a poor start, with the second McLaren driver ending eleventh, just ahead of the second Alpine of Fernando Alonso, who also failed to get a good getaway off the line in Brazil.
Antonio Giovinazzi survived an incident with Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN team-mate Kimi Räikkönen at turn one that spun around the Finn to finish thirteenth, with the Italian ending ahead of Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll and AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda.
Nicholas Latifi beat Williams Racing team-mate George Russell to sixteenth, while Räikkönen ended eighteenth after his spin, with the incident involving Giovinazzi not deemed serious enough to be investigated. The field was rounded out by Uralkali Haas F1 Team duo Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin.
Bottas will start Sunday’s main race in São Paulo ahead of Verstappen, while Hamilton will have all the confidence in the world to move forward from tenth on the grid having made up fifteen places in just twenty-four laps on Saturday. After all, there are seventy-one laps to come on Sunday!
São Paulo Grand Prix Sprint Qualifying Race Result
|1||77||Valtteri Bottas||FIN||Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team||24 Laps|
|2||33||Max Verstappen||NED||Red Bull Racing||+1.170|
|3||55||Carlos Sainz Jr.||ESP||Scuderia Ferrari||+18.723|
|4||11||Sergio Pérez||MEX||Red Bull Racing||+19.787|
|5||44||Lewis Hamilton||GBR||Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team||+20.872|
|6||4||Lando Norris||ITA||McLaren F1 Team||+22.558|
|7||16||Charles Leclerc||MON||Scuderia Ferrari||+25.056|
|8||10||Pierre Gasly||FRA||Scuderia AlphaTauri Honda||+34.158|
|9||31||Esteban Ocon||FRA||Alpine F1 Team||+34.632|
|10||5||Sebastian Vettel||GER||Aston Martin Cognizant Formula One Team||+34.867|
|11||3||Daniel Ricciardo||AUS||McLaren F1 Team||+35.869|
|12||14||Fernando Alonso||ESP||Alpine F1 Team||+36.578|
|13||99||Antonio Giovinazzi||ITA||Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN||+41.880|
|14||18||Lance Stroll||CAN||Aston Martin Cognizant Formula One Team||+44.037|
|15||22||Yuki Tsunoda||JAP||Scuderia AlphaTauri Honda||+46.150|
|16||6||Nicholas Latifi||CAN||Williams Racing||+46.760|
|17||63||George Russell||GBR||Williams Racing||+47.739|
|18||7||Kimi Räikkönen||FIN||Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN||+50.014|
|19||47||Mick Schumacher||GER||Uralkali Haas F1 Team||+1:01.680|
|20||9||Nikita Mazepin||RUS||Uralkali Haas F1 Team||+1:07.474|