Lewis Hamilton is no stranger to coming back from setbacks. The Mercedes driver came into the Brazil GP on the back-foot after finishing second at the Mexico GP, allowing Verstappen to end his championship lead. Matters only got worse when a new engine saw him receive a 5-place grid penalty for Sunday’s race.
After Friday’s qualifying, tensions rose when Hamilton’s rear wing was called into question before a technical infringement saw him be disqualified from qualifying for the sprint race. The Brazil GP showed why it’s too early to count Hamilton out of the championship fight.
Hamilton fights back against penalties
The Brazil Grand Prix offered not one but two setbacks for Lewis Hamilton. As a Sprint Race weekend, conventional qualifying was held on Friday, when it was announced that Hamilton would take a 5-place grid penalty on Sunday for an engine change. After qualifying first, he was later disqualified due to a regulations breach.
He started the Sprint Race from 20th before finishing 5th, meaning that he started Sunday’s Grand Prix in 10th position. With the help of a new engine and a determination to fight back, Hamilton quickly made his way through the field to chase down his championship rival. He crossed the finish line 10 seconds ahead of Verstappen and 13 ahead of his Mercedes teammate.
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Verstappen maintains his championship lead
Brazil served as damage limitation for Red Bull. Verstappen came second in the sprint race after a bad getaway, adding two extra points to his tally. The two Red Bull drivers had quick getaways from 2nd and 4th on the grid during the Grand Prix. As Hamilton chased his way quickly through the pack, Perez managed to hold the Mercedes driver up for several laps before eventually being overtaken.
With the benefit of a new engine, Hamilton had the advantage over his championship rival. Tensions had been running high all weekend, including over Verstappen’s Parc Ferme breach that saw him fined €50,000 for touching Hamilton’s rear wing after qualifying. There were a number of close calls between the two rivals, including a defence on lap 48 that saw both drivers go wide.
After finishing 2nd, Verstappen has a 14-point lead with just three races to go. He can thank his Red Bull teammate, Sergio Perez, for pitting on the penultimate lap to take the fastest lap point from Hamilton.
Ferrari vs. McLaren for 3rd place
It was a good weekend for Ferrari as they pulled clear of their rivals, McLaren, for third place in the Constructor’s Championship. Both Leclerc and Sainz finished fifth and sixth after impressive qualifying and sprint race performances, which saw Sainz got perform Perez. Sainz now has the longest active point streak of any of the drivers over the last 12 races.
McLaren were obvious losers from the weekend. Norris fell foul for a first lap incident with Sainz that saw him drop to the back of the pack, while Riccardo was forced to retire from the race after engine failure.
Mercedes now leads Red Bull by 11 points in the Constructor’s Championship, while Verstappen’s lead drops to 14 in the Driver’s Championship. With just three races left, it’s all to play for. Show your support for your favourite F1 driver with our extensive range of F1 team merchandise, whether you’re cheering on Verstappen, Hamilton, Gasly, or Norris.