Hamilton still in title hunt after 'Hammer Time' in Brazil

An overview of the Brazilian GP on Sunday.

Daniel Wales
16th November 2021
Image: Wikimedia Commons
Lewis Hamilton’s victory at Interlagos has kept him within striking distance of championship rival Max Verstappen.

The seven-time Formula 1 World Champion won one of the most memorable races of his illustrious career last weekend to keep his 2021 championship hopes alive.

Despite a penalty-ridden weekend in Brazil, Hamilton was able to come away with the full 25 points to make significant inroads into Max Verstappen’s championship lead.

The Brit’s weekend had started poorly when he was given a five-place grid penalty for taking a new engine and going over the maximum allocation. However, having been fastest in Friday qualifying, it was clear that the new Mercedes engine had the pace to compete at a circuit that many thought would favour the Red Bull.

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A rear wing infringement then saw Hamilton’s qualifying lap deleted and him disqualified from the session to further hurt his progress. Verstappen was also awarded a €50,000 fine for examining the rear wing in question in Parc Ferme.

With Hamilton receiving this kind of setback, so late in the season, could have had the potential to derail championship aspirations, but it did not deter Hamilton! The results from the qualifiers meant that Hamilton would start the Grand Prix in tenth, even though he finished fifth.

Lights out on Sunday saw Verstappen take the lead off the line from Hamilton’s teammate, Valtteri Bottas – exactly what the team from Brackley did not want. Hamilton; however, was on the charge once again, making up places early on to put him into contention to challenge the frontrunners.

Soon he was fourth and directly behind teammate Bottas, who duly let him past under instruction from the pit-wall. This left Hamilton to chase after the Red Bulls of Sergio Perez and Verstappen, respectively.

The straight-line speed of the Mercedes allowed Hamilton to dispatch Perez fairly quickly, although the Mexican did make Hamilton fight hard for second place.

Pitstops came and went, but Hamilton’s pace advantage was clear regardless of tyre compound, and he was soon on the tail of Verstappen.

On lap 48, Hamilton attempted a move around the outside of Verstappen, having picked up his slipstream down the back straight. The Dutchman then seemed to drive both Hamilton and himself off the track as he defended his position, which was noted by the stewards.

No penalty was awarded, meaning Hamilton would have to finish the job on track. With 12 laps left, Hamilton once again made a move. This time, having been much closer through the Senna S, he was able to pick up the slipstream down the straight and overtake before the braking zone.

Verstappen had no answer to this pace (though he changed his tyres to take fastest lap), Hamilton drove off into the distance and took the chequered flag a short while later. Meanwhile, Bottas secured third to gain a good haul of points for Toto Wolff’s team.

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