Hamilton wins the dramatic Sao Paulo Grand Prix

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photo: Nelson Almeida / AFP (Getty Images)

Sunday’s race in Sao Paulo, Brazil was the culmination of a hectic Grand Prix weekend, crucial to determining the final outcome of the FIA ​​Formula One World Championship. Lewis Hamilton was disqualified from qualifying on Friday after setting the fastest lap. After it was felt that the opening of the DRS system on his Mercedes was too great, Hamilton started the sprint qualifying race from the back of the field. The Mercedes driver made his way from 20th to 5th place. He still had to serve a five-position penalty on the grid for an engine change and started Sunday’s race from tenth position.

Max Verstappen inherited the first starting position in sprint qualifying, where he crossed the line in second place with his Red Bull. Hamilton’s teammate Valtteri Bottas would have overtaken Verstappen at the start of the sprint and would go on to win pole position. Verstappen was slightly involved in Hamilton’s disqualification as he was caught on camera touching the rear wing of the Mercedes after Friday’s session. Of course, there was no way the Red Bull driver could deflect a rear wing designed to withstand thousands of pounds of force. Verstappen was fined € 50,000 for violating park parc rules.

The roles were reversed during the start of the race on Sunday. Max Verstappen overtook Bottas at the first corner of the race. Behind them, Lewis Hamilton managed to reach fifth on lap three. The safety car was deployed on lap six to clear debris from Turn 1 after AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda lost the front wing in an attempt to overtake Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll.

Shortly after the resumption of the race, the Virtual Safety Car was deployed to recover debris on the circuit from Mick Schumacher’s Haas. Lewis Hamilton was now third in the race with Verstappen in the lead and his Red Bull teammate Sergio Perez in second. Perez slowed under VSC to widen the gap between Max Verstappen in the lead and Lewis Hamilton trapped behind him.

There was a three-second gap between the title contenders as the Virtual Safety Car period ended on lap 14. Hamilton and Perez had an exciting pair of position swaps on lap 18. Hamilton got around Perez on the corner 1 and Perez returned the favor in turn 4. Hamilton would definitely overtake Perez in the first corner on the next lap.

On lap 48, Lewis Hamilton attempted to pass Verstappen on the outside at Turn 4. The Red Bull driver defended aggressively and took a wide exit with both drivers having light contact and entering the escape area outside the boundaries of the runway.

FIA Race Control told Mercedes that Verstappen was under investigation for the move and the team relayed the message to Hamilton via the team radio. However, there was no notice of an investigation into the transmission. It looked like the FIA ​​had told Mercedes this just to get them off. Red Bull was quick to radio check the possibility of a penalty and soon there was a warning broadcast by the FIA ​​that no investigation was needed.

On lap 59, Hamilton was back in position to try and take the lead. The Mercedes driver would do much better to get off at Turn 4, with Verstappen overtaking before the turn. Hamilton turned away from his rival and won the race after completing all 71 laps. Verstappen finished second with Bottas third. Sergio Perez finished fourth. Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz finished fifth and sixth respectively for Ferrari.

Max Verstappen leads the drivers’ championship by 14 points. Formula One wants to return to Qatar next week.

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