Hamilton overcomes grid penalty to win in Brazil

Reigning champion goes from 10th on the grid to victory at Interlagos

2021 Sao Paulo Grand Prix, Saturday - Jiri Krenek

Lewis Hamilton has cut Max Verstappen’s lead in the driver championship with victory at the Brazilian Grand Prix.

The reigning champion took the chequered flag despite starting from 10th on the grid after being disqualified from qualifying and having a grid penalty after the sprint qualifying.

Verstappen finished second, while Hamilton’s teammate Valtteri Bottas completed the top three.

Lando Norris’s hopes of a podium were dealt a blow early on when he bumped wheels with a Ferrari, leaving the McLaren with a rear puncture before he reached the first corner.

Verstappen got the better start of the front of the field and moved ahead of Bottas, before the Finn ran wide, allowing Sergio Perez to jump up to second.

Hamilton’s qualifying woes and grid penalty meant he started 10th, but a blistering first lap meant he was up to fifth by the start of lap two.

Yuki Tsunoda lost his entire front wing when he tangled with Lance Stroll, leaving shards of carbon fibre strewn across the track of turn one and earning the AlphaTauri driver a 10-second time penalty. The safety car was needed to allow the marshals to clear the debris, bunching the field back together.

There were pieces of front wing in the track again just after the restart when Mick Schumacher collided with Kimi Raikkonen, breaking the German’s front wing and trapping it under the Haas. The rookie tried to bring the car back to the pitlane with the wing still attached, but it broke off on the way, leaving more debris on the track and resulting in a virtual safety car.

Hamilton moved up to second after a battle with Perez, and was the first of the front runners to stop, coming in one lap earlier than Verstappen. The Red Bull driver had held a four second lead before the pitstops, but he rejoined just 1.5s ahead of his rival.

Following his collision with Tsunoda earlier on in the race, Stroll started to shed bodywork, leaving yet more debris on the racing line and forcing another VSC period, which allowed Bottas to stop while the rest of the field was slowed, moving him ahead of Perez.

Having almost been undercut first time around, Verstappen was the first to stop in the second round of pitstops, with Hamilton continuing at the front for a further two laps. In clear air and on fresher tyres, Verstappen was comfortably able to stay ahead.

Hamilton soon had DRS and tried to pass Verstappen for the lead, but the Red Bull drive squeezed the defending champion wide to maintain his advantage at the front of the field – an incident that was noted by the stewards, but not investigation was needed.

Stroll was the first driver to retire from the race as a result of the damage sustained early on, while Daniel Ricciardo had to drop out with 20 laps remaining after suffering a power loss in his McLaren.

Hamilton soon got close to the back of Verstappen’s Red Bull again, and eventually forced his way through before quickly extending a lead at the front of the field.

He was denied the fastest lap though, as Perez stopped again late on to set the quickest time of the day on the final lap of the race.

Provisional classification:

1 Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)

2. Max Verstappen (Red Bull)

3. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes)

4. Sergio Perez (Red Bull)

5. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari)

6. Carlos Sainz (Ferrari)

7. Pierre Gasly (AlphaTauri)

8. Esteban Ocon (Alpine)

9. Fernando Alonso (Alpine)

10. Lando Norris (McLaren)

11. Sebastian Vettel (Aston Martin)

12. Kimi Raikkonen (Alfa Romeo)

13. George Russell (Williams)

14. Antonio Giovinazzi (Alfa Romeo)

15. Yuki Tsunoda (AlphaTauri)

16. Nicholas Latifi (Williams)

17. Nikita Mazepin (Haas)

18. Mick Schumacher (Haas)


Daniel Ricciardo (McLaren)

Lance Stroll (Aston Martin)


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