Race Report: Hamilton overcomes adversity to win in São Paulo

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After running afoul of a rear wing measurement and having his qualifying disqualified, Lewis managed to recover from P20 to P5 during the sprint race with a terrific drive. As he headed to Sunday’s race, his engine change carried a 5-place grid penalty which meant he would start from 10th. Once again, Lewis took advantage of a fresh engine with massive straight-line pace and a wonderful battle to go from 10th to victory for the Sao Paulo Grand Prix in Brazil.

Mercedes were not happy with everything that transpired in Brazil. They made a very good call to change engines here but the wing penalty was unplanned and those are the kinds of things that can throw a team off the scent but they kept their heads down relied on Lewis to cover their error and take the win ahead of Red Bull’s Max Verstappen and his teammate, Valtteri Bottas in third.

Win

A big win for Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes. The team were nursing an engine change—and it was the right track to make the change—but the wing penalty was a tough thing to overcome and it’s one of those things that the team had to rely on Lewis to overcome on track. Lewis overcame it and managed to take advantage of the fresh shove in that engine and maximize their straight-line speed to hunt down the Red Bulls. It’s not that the team didn’t equally work hard to help Lewis recover but he had a lot of work to do and he did it like a champion would.

A win for Valtteri Bottas who got back on the podium despite not agreeing with the strategy call from Mercedes but he managed to keep Sergio Perez behind him and that’s big for the constructor’s championship.

A win for Ferrari who engaged a 2-stop strategy to get Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz in 5th and 6th respectively and well ahead of McLaren for a terrific points haul in the constructor’s championship.

Also a win for Alpha Tauri’s Pierre Gasly who had a great race and finished 7th and continues his streak of good results and keeps the team in the points and challenging in the constructor’s championship.

A win for Alpine to get both Esteban Ocon and Fernando Alonso into the points in 8th and 9th respectively.

Fail

Finishing second and retaining the driver’s championship is hard to consider a fail but for Red Bull’s Max Verstappen lost 7 points in the driver’s championship to Lewis Hamilton and he now faces three races where straight-line speed is critical so the team have a lot of work to do. The fast lap point for Sergio Perez was a help but they will need to consider their final three races and if they truly believe Mercedes is doing something outside the regulations, then they’ll need to lodge an official complaint.

A fail for McLaren who had a DNF for Daniel Ricciardo and only a P10 for Lando Norris. They are bleeding points to Ferrari in the constructor’s championship. Ferrari’s engine upgrade this fall seems to be working but McLaren haven’t answered so far. Will the remaining races flatter McLaren? Time will tell.

A fail for Mick Schumacher who managed to take off his front wing and allow Nikita Mazepin beat him. Also a fail for Nicholas Latifi who languished in P16 while his teammate, George Russel, was up in 13th with an inspired drive.

WTH

Not quite sure what Yuki Tsunoda was doing out there but his clash with Lance Stroll wasn’t optimum and Lance had his own moments out there with a damaged car.

It is interesting to see the difference between Mercedes’s pace with their fresh engine and the pace of Aston Martin and McLaren (loss of power for Ricciardo) and you would be left thinking that the difference is in the chassis so if either team want to make a run for the sharp end of the grid, they have a lot of work to do to get there despite having equal shove in the back of the car.

Pirelli Key Moments:

  • Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton won the Brazilian Grand Prix with a two-stop medium-hard-hard strategy: the same tactic used by all the top three drivers.
  • Hamilton started from P10 on the grid and worked his way up through the field, making his first pit stop one lap before race leader Max Verstappen (Red Bull) but his second stop three laps later. He subsequently passed Verstappen to win the race and narrow the gap in the championship.
  • Most drivers stopped twice, but there was also three one-stop and two three-stop strategies seen during the race, with seven different combinations of compounds. This underlines the variety of tactics implemented.
  • All the drivers started the race on the P Zero Yellow medium C3 tyre (with a free choice allowed, following Sprint Qualifying rules). The only exception was AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda, who opted for the P Zero Red soft. Red Bull’s Sergio Perez was the only other driver to use the soft during the race, fitting it on the penultimate lap to claim the point for fastest lap at the end.
  • The grand prix started in warm ambient temperatures of 24 degrees and track temperatures of 50 degrees: around 20 degrees hotter than the cool track temperatures seen yesterday (and similar to FP2 on Saturday morning). The temperatures remained quite consistent throughout the race.
  • Within the first 15 laps there was a safety car period, followed by other two virtual safety cars in the first half of the race, helping to minimise tyre wear at a crucial point with the cars on full fuel.

São Paulo Grand Prix Results:

PosNameCarLapsLaps LedTotal TimeFastest LapPitstopsPts
1Lewis HamiltonMercedes71171h32m22.851s1m11.982s425
2Max VerstappenRed Bull-Honda7151+10.496s1m12.486s418
3Valtteri BottasMercedes713+13.576s1m12.526s415
4Sergio PérezRed Bull-Honda710+39.94s1m11.01s513
5Charles LeclercFerrari710+49.517s1m12.822s410
6Carlos Sainz Jr.Ferrari710+51.82s1m12.71s48
7Pierre GaslyAlphaTauri-Honda700+1 lap1m13.227s46
8Esteban OconAlpine-Renault700+1 lap1m14.43s34
9Fernando AlonsoAlpine-Renault700+1 lap1m13.922s32
10Lando NorrisMcLaren-Mercedes700+1 lap1m13.761s51
11Sebastian VettelAston Martin-Mercedes700+1 lap1m13.634s40
12Kimi RäikkönenAlfa Romeo-Ferrari700+1 lap1m12.621s40
13George RussellWilliams-Mercedes700+1 lap1m14.355s40
14Antonio GiovinazziAlfa Romeo-Ferrari700+1 lap1m14.227s40
15Yuki TsunodaAlphaTauri-Honda700+1 lap1m14.204s50
16Nicholas LatifiWilliams-Mercedes700+1 lap1m14.616s40
17Nikita MazepinHaas-Ferrari690+2 laps1m14.954s30
18Mick SchumacherHaas-Ferrari690+2 laps1m13.793s50
Daniel RicciardoMcLaren-Mercedes480DNF1m14.443s40
Lance StrollAston Martin-Mercedes460DNF1m15.344s40
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Fabio

Don’t want to be a pedant, but Max only lost five points because of the sprint race.

Also, Bottas really needs to work on his starts, because at the moment it’s a case of “Valtteri, it’s Christian…..”