How Lewis Hamilton Came from 10th on the Grid to Win F1 Brazilian Grand Prix

Lewis Hamilton entered the Formula 1 Brazilian Grand Prix on Sunday with 100 victories to his name. Not many have been more important than the 101st career win that came on Sunday.

The eventual win over points leader Max Verstappen by 10.4 seconds capped a whirlwind weekend for the seven-time champion.

Consider Hamilton was fastest in qualifying. He was then penalized for a rear wing infraction that sent him to 20th on the grid for Saturday’s Sprint qualifying race. Hamilton raced all the way back to fifth in the Sprint qualifying race.

Ah, but Hamilton had the matter of a five-place grid penalty for an engine change that forced him to start Sunday’s race from not fifth, but 10th on the grid.

Hamilton breathlessly worked his way to second in the early stages at Interlagos, behind only arch rival Max Verstappen, and as they have done so many times this season they embarked on a frenetic scrap for the lead.

On one occasion, Hamilton tried around the outside of the Turn 4 left-hander but Verstappen aggressively defended the inside line, a move that forced both drivers into the run-off. Somewhat surprisingly, given past precedents, stewards opted not to even investigate the incident. Time penalties have been distributed for less.

Understandably Red Bull boss Christian Horner defended his man while Mercedes counterpart Toto Wolff said it was “laughable” that Verstappen did not receive a time penalty.

“It’s fun,” quipped Hamilton afterwards. “It’s what a world championship battle should look like.”

Hamilton went again and this time successfully breezed past Verstappen for the lead on the approach to the same corner, going on to win by 10 seconds. Hamilton’s teammate Valtteri Bottas was third.

“It’s been such a difficult weekend for everyone in the team and I think really just been inspired by everyone’s focus and determination,” said an elated Hamilton. “Did I think we could come from last? I didn’t know what was possible, just gave it everything, and this has definitely been one of the best weekends, if not the best weekends I’ve experienced, probably in my whole career.”

It meant Hamilton passed all 19 of his rivals across Sprint and the Grand Prix, some more than once, to claw back points at a pivotal moment.

“After the August break I was hoping that we would be quick, in a better position,” said Hamilton. “We’ve not really had spectacular showings, I think we’ve had two races we’ve been ahead but the others we’ve really struggled. Coming here 19 points behind, we needed a solid result then we had these penalties which mentally could make you think ‘it’s over, it’s impossible’, but then nothing is impossible if you put your mind to it, so that’s why we cultivated a positive mental attitude and went in fighting guns blazing.”

There was relief, and belligerence, from Hamilton’s boss Wolff.

“I mean the whole weekend went against us,” he said. “We had a broken part on our wing which we couldn’t look at, couldn’t analyse, failed the test, got disqualified, very harsh. Then you see Red Bull with three times in a row (changing) the rear wing while being in parc ferme with no consequence. That’s one thing. That really peaked with the decision in the race which was really wrong defense from Max, absolutely an inch over the limit but he needed to do that to defend and Lewis just managed it even more brilliantly by avoiding the contact. But that was just over the line and should have been a five-second penalty at least.

“I think we have just had many punches in the face this weekend with decisions that could have swung either side for us or against us but when it swings against you it’s something I’m just angry about. I will defend my team, my drivers, to what comes, I’ve been always very diplomatic in how I discuss things but diplomacy has ended today.”

Verstappen still leads the way, but the advantage was reduced from 19 to 14 points. Just to add to the intrigue the next two events, in Qatar and Saudi Arabia, are brand new, while Abu Dhabi’s Yas Marina venue has been slightly reprofiled for 2021. It leaves Formula 1’s engrossing championship battle finely poised as it prepares to gorge on a buffet of events in the Middle East to round out the season.

“We were just a bit too slow,” said Verstappen. “This weekend they were very quick on the straights, so I have to get my lap time through the corners but was very hard on the tyres so that’s not ideal. But they anyway sail past you. I had fun out there, of course I like to win, but second today with the defense I did is also satisfying and we are still ahead in the championship.”

And just to round out the weekend Hamilton was placed under investigation after the race. His offence? On the slow-down lap he collected a Brazilian flag from a marshal and in doing so removed his seatbelts. Fortunately, this time, it was just a fine of a few thousand dollars. And on to Qatar goes the circus.

F1 Grand Prix of Brazil


Updated Standings

3 Races Remaining

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