Lewis Hamilton Stuns in Sao Paulo Grand Prix With a Come From Behind Victory to Beat Max Verstappen
Lewis Hamilton, the seven-time Formula 1 world champion, put on a masterclass of driving at the Sao Paulo Grand Prix, coming from the 10th spot on the starting grid to take victory over title rival Max Verstappen.
Hamilton’s victory cuts Verstappen’s lead in the championship to 14 points and sets up a thrilling title battle for the season’s final three races.
Hamilton has now won six races this season and is in one of the tightest and most exciting title fights Formula 1 has seen in years. The battle between Hamilton and Verstappen will likely go down to the last race of the season with the advantage swapping back and forth between the Mercedes man and the Red Bull ace.
Penalties and disqualifications put Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes on the back foot even before the weekend begins
Coming into the weekend, Hamilton, Mercedes GP, and team principal Toto Wolff knew they were facing an uphill battle against Red Bull Racing, who have won the past two races. Wolff previously stated that he and Mercedes GP would throw everything they had at the fight with Red Bull.
Hamilton’s rollercoaster weekend started with a brilliant lap in Friday’s qualifying session to snag pole position for Saturday’s sprint race. Hamilton’s car failed a post-qualifying technical inspection. That sent the Briton to the back of the field, with a disqualification, for the shortened sprint race.
The Briton scythed through the field in the sprint race and finished an impressive fifth to limit the damage heading into Sunday’s main event.
Mercedes GP decided to change engines in Hamilton’s car for the Brazil race, which meant they would have to suffer a five-place grid penalty for Sunday’s Sao Paulo Grand Prix. This immediately knocked Hamilton and the Mercedes W12 down to 10th position for the start of the race.
The Mercedes Formula 1 car has proven difficult to race in traffic and has not been able to race to the front of the field in the same way that Red Bull’s car has. This set up a possibility that Hamilton’s rival, Verstappen, could walk away with a win, extend his lead in the championship, and make Hamilton’s task of winning an unprecedented eighth championship almost impossible this season.
Snatching victory from the jaws of defeat, Lewis Hamilton thrills in Brazil
Lewis Hamilton battled back from the disqualification and grid penalty to take the lead of a race that many thought favored Verstappen and Red Bull.
Starting in the 10th spot, Hamilton got off to a great start and was sixth at the end of the first lap. After three laps, Hamilton closed up on teammate Valtteri Bottas for fourth position. Team orders came into effect, and Bottas moved aside for Hamilton, who was faster and in maximum attack mode. That move brought Hamilton into third place behind the Red Bulls of Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez.
Hamilton went after Perez following a safety car period, moving into second position with a pass on the Mexican ace into turn one on lap 19.
The pit stops unfolded, setting up a straight fight between Hamilton and Verstappen over the final 27 laps of the race. The fight was not without controversy, with Verstappen and Hamilton leaving the track at the beginning of the battle.
With 12 laps to go, Hamilton made another attempt to pass Verstappen. Forcing Verstappen to defend his position into turn 1, Hamilton was able to slow the Red Bull’s corner exit speed. This meant that Hamilton was able to close up to the back of his rival, and by the time they got to the back straight, the Mercedes had the momentum to sail past the Red Bull before the braking zone. Hamilton moved over to the inside of the track, shutting the door on any challenge from Verstappen.
Lewis Hamilton drove on to take a spectacular victory in Brazil, his 101st career win, setting the stage for an epic title fight heading into the season’s final three races.
Awe and appreciation for one of Lewis Hamilton’s most impressive wins
Speaking at the post-race press conference, Hamilton had this to say about the race, “I don’t remember another weekend like this. It’s quite overwhelming, to be honest. This has been probably one of the best weekends, if not the best weekend, that I have experienced.”
1996 Formula 1 World Champion and correspondent Damon Hill tweeted, “That was one of the best drives I’ve ever seen in F1. By anyone. Utterly awesome.” High praise from a man who famously battled Michael Schumacher, in his prime, for the world championship.
Title rival Max Verstappen had this to say about the race and fight with Hamilton, “It was a good battle but at the end, we just missed a little bit of pace. We gave it our all today, it was a lot of fun. We still have a good points lead. Today was a bit of damage limitation on a weekend that was difficult for us. I’m confident that in the coming races we will bounce back.”
Formula 1 heads next to Qatar for the first of the final three races of the season. Hamilton has proved that he and Mercedes won’t give up the championship without a fight and expect the battle to go down to the last round in Abu Dhabi.
Related: Mercedes Principal Toto Wolff to Formula 1 Driver Lewis Hamilton After Brazilian Grand Prix Penalty: ‘F*** Them All’