Formula 1

“Never, ever stop fighting” – Lewis Hamilton

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2021 Sao Paulo Grand Prix, Sunday - LAT Images

Lewis Hamilton produced one of his greatest drives of not only this season but of his illustrious career, as he stormed through the field to clinch victory at the Sao Paulo Grand Prix, closing the gap to championship leader Max Verstappen.

When Hamilton’s disqualification from qualifying was announced, many wrote him off for not only the win but for the championship, his haters were well and truly silenced by the seven-time World Champion’s greatness. After blitzing his way from twentieth to fifth in the sprint race, meaning a tenth place start for Sunday’s race, Hamilton climbed to second in rapid fashion.

The British driver found himself in second place four seconds behind Verstappen even before the first round of stops, in what was a two-stop race. The Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team then produced a masterclass and pitted Hamilton before Verstappen, closing the gap to just over a second. Red Bull Racing reacted to Hamilton’s speed and made Verstappen’s second stop much sooner than predicted.

Hamilton again found himself a few seconds behind Verstappen but the world champion’s superior pace saw him within DRS range only a handful of laps later. Then the battle really began, and yet again took a controversial turn. Hamilton had an excellent run down the back straight to Turn four and dived around the outside of Verstappen. Hamilton was left with no room despite being ahead going into the corner, with the overhead camera appearing to show Verstappen straightening his wheel mid-corner.

Both drivers ran off the track with the incident being declared a racing incident by the FIA, who later stated they didn’t have footage of Verstappen’s cockpit. In the end it didn’t matter however as only a couple laps later Hamilton finally got past Verstappen again down to turn four. The British driver then drove into the distance to victory.

The win see’s Hamilton close the gap to Verstappen down to fourteen points with only three races remaining, the world champion was incredibly grateful for the Brazilian support in what was one of the weekend’s of his career.

“I am so, so grateful for the incredible support I’ve had this weekend from the people of Brazil – I’ve not had this kind of support since Silverstone! To hear the crowd throughout the weekend has been really humbling. I’ve just been saying ‘Obrigado Brasil’ all weekend. What a race! The Team here and at the factory did an amazing job, and Valtteri did a great job today to get as many points as possible.
“I was pushing as hard as I could from last on grid yesterday, and then with another 5-place penalty today. This was, I think, the hardest weekend I’ve had. But my dad said ‘you reminded me of 2004’ when I was in Formula 3 in Bahrain – I started last and I finished 10th and then I finished 1st so, this one is for my dad.
“Coming into this weekend I never, ever thought we’d be able to close the gap like we have today. And then things just kept going against us, but I think it really shows, just never give up. Whatever you’re facing, you’ve just got to keep pushing, keep tumbling away, keep fighting. Never, ever stop fighting. That’s how I’ve approached this weekend. It feels like a first because I don’t feel like I’ve had a win for a long time.”

“The team put me in a good place” – Valtteri Bottas

Valtteri Bottas completed the podium after a somewhat lonely second half of the race. The Finnish driver who started on pole had a poor start and quickly found himself in third behind both Red Bull’s.

Bottas dropped to fourth after allowing the charging Hamilton past but was then unable to make any progress. When it came to the second round of stops Mercedes were going to run Bottas longer before a lucky moment occurred. A VSC was deployed to clear debris left by Mick Schumacher, this allowed Bottas a cheap stop enabling him to jump ahead of Sergio Pérez into third, the Mexican pitted before the VSC.

Bottas then cruised his way to third, meaning a double podium for Mercedes who extend their Constructors’ championship lead. Bottas is happy with how the weekend panned out despite his tricky start to the race.

“The start today was quite tricky, it was a disappointing first lap but I tried my best. After that, the pace was good and from the cockpit, I thought we could have a chance of the one-stop, but we decided to do a two-stop. The team put me in a good place to take advantage of the VSC, and it fell my way for once, so I was happy with that. Overall, I’m glad we could score more points than Red Bull today – it was a positive result. Congratulations to Lewis, he had an amazing drive.”

2021 Sao Paulo Grand Prix, Saturday – Wolfgang Wilhelm
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