2021 Brazilian GP Qualifying: A Sprint FIA-sco!

Hamilton disqualified from sprint race and Max Verstappen fined €50,000. The ultimate F1 drama before the Brazilian Grand Prix.

Marcel Shamshoum
14th November 2021
Max Verstappen overtaking Lewis Hamilton in 2017. Image: Wikimedia Commons
In preparation for the sprint race on Saturday, the qualifying session on Friday was full of surprises. Of course I’m referring to Lewis Hamilton’s disqualification from the sprint race; dropping him from P1 to be last on the grid. Meanwhile Max Verstappen cost Red bull €50,000 for examining and touching Hamilton’s car at the end of qualifying after coming second behind the Mercedes driver.

Hamilton’s penalty comes after the FIA stewards have found a DRS infringement in his car. According to the stewards explanation the gap between the upper and lower parts of the rear wing when the DRS is not activated must be 10-15mm; where Hamilton’s car has passed this test. However the problem was, upon DRS activation, the upper part of the wing will rise to a flat position hence increasing the gap, which should be 10-85mm. The stewards explained:

The maximum gap is measured, in accordance with TD/011-19, by pushing an 85mm gauge against the gap with a maximum load of 10N (ten newtons.) If the gauge goes through then the car has failed the test.

Unfortunately for Hamilton, “the gauge did not pass through the inner section of the wing, but did at the outer section of the wing”. This test was done four times. And even though the FIA were satisfied that this design met all their requirements and regulations, it had also passed pervious tests. Yet they argued that the wing has failed the test due to something which had “gone wrong”, which in F1 terms I believe is quite a classic excuse, but then again who am I to judge? Still with all that, the FIA argue there was a performance advantage which is why they gave Hamilton and Mercedes the penalty.  

To make matters worse, Hamilton has taken a new Mercedes engine which means he has an already existing five-place grid penalty that will be applied on Sunday’s race.

The Brazilian GP course. Twitter: @F1

Sprint analysis:

On a more positive note, the sprint race was the ultimate representation of Fast and Furious! Starting from P2, Valtteri Bottas took the lead securing him a P1 position for Sunday. Struggling behind him came Max Verstappen, as he was overtaken by Carlos Sainz at turn four during the first lap, but Verstappen managed to take back his P2 position from the Spaniard at lap four, maintaining it till the end of the race. Carlos Sainz did a great job defending his third position from Sergio Perez up until the end, which means Perez came in fourth.

Putting all of this aside, we need to address the elephant in the room... Lewis Hamilton, starting from P20 he rose victoriously claiming the fifth position from his fellow Brit Lando Norris which dropped him to sixth. Charles Leclerc secured P7, where as Gasly starting at P4 dropped to eighth. Then came Estaban Ocon at P9, followed by Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettel at P10 as he defended his position from Daniel Riccardo’s Maclaren, keeping the Australian driver in P11. Alpine’s Fernando Alonso has dropped from his P9 position to end at P12.

Twitter: @F1

To summarize, there are three main important events that highlighted this race in my opinion; firstly the outstanding performance by Lewis Hamilton where he showed skill and talent and also brought the best out of his car. Starting from P20 and climbing to P5 isn’t something to take for granted; which means his 5 place-grid penalty on Sunday, making him start from 10th position should be a nice walk in the park.

The second event that isn’t getting the attention it deserves is Carlos Sainz’s P3. In contrast to my last remarks in Ferrari (which you can find here), their car has been performing really well since Austin, which means that now they’ve got the car and the talent, making the possibility of a podium more likely.

Finally, Bottas is on pole position, this could be Verstappen’s worst nightmare. The Finnish driver has demonstrated incredible skills over the last few races, thus holding back Verstappen shouldn’t be an issue. At this point, put all drama aside we are in for a treat on Sunday and all we need is some good old racing between the giants of Mercedes, Red Bull and Ferrari!

Catch the Brazilian GP at 5pm tonight!

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