Statistics | Can Hamilton salvage a race win from the midfield in Brazil?

Statistics | Can Hamilton salvage a race win from the midfield in Brazil?

14-11-2021 12:00

Mercedes have opted to install a fifth internal combustion engine [ICE] to Lewis Hamilton’s car ahead of the 2021 Sao Paulo Grand Prix. The fifth engine is outside of Hamilton’s allocated pool of three ICE for the season, and the British driver will therefore take a penalty. Though Hamilton's grid place is still worse than Mercedes expected when they opted to take the penalty on Thursday. 

Difficult weekend for Mercedes

When Hamilton took the penalty, he would've expected to start from sixth or seventh place. But Hamilton was disqualified from Friday's qualifying session and therefore had to start the sprint race from the back of the field. He impressively worked his way through the field to reach P5 in just 24 laps. And the five-place grid penalty pushes him to P10. 

Formula 1 is at the business end of the 2021 season, and the World Championship title battle between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen rumbles on. It seems like it’s going to go down to the wire, though Verstappen has a strong 21 point lead. Hamilton also took a penalty at the Turkish Grand Prix and started from P11. On this occasion, he worked his way through to P5. Today, he'll be needing to reach the podium to keep strong hopes of an 8th title alive in 2021. 

Fighting through the field in Brazil

In the long history of F1 at Interlagos circuit, pole position has won 43% of the time. Second place on the grid has won 35% of the time meaning the odds are in favour of a win from either Bottas or Verstappen. As proven in the sprint race, the run to turn one is crucial. Nobody in the history of Formula 1 racing at Interlagos (37 races) has from ninth or lower on the grid.

Between 2014 and 2018, no drivers from outside the top five on the grid managed to get on the podium. Though in the last edition in 2019, Pierre Gasly started from sixth and achieved P2. Even more pleasing for Hamilton was Carlos Sainz's race. The then McLaren driver started from P20 and worked his way through the field to finish in fourth. Following a penalty handed to Hamilton for his collision with Alex Albon, the Spaniard advanced to the podium. Thus proving an advance through the field is possible in Brazil. Though this race was an anomaly. 

But nobody has proved it's possible more than Hamilton. In 2009, the Brit started from 17th on the grid and worked his way to a podium finish. And of course, just less than 24 hours ago, Hamilton gained 15 places in just 100km. His overtaking moves were sublime. 

Hamilton fighting through the field 

In his 15 year career, Hamilton has started from 10th on the grid just four times. In those four races, Hamilton reached the podium just once. In the 2016 Russian Grand Prix, on a known strong-hold circuit for Mercedes, Hamilton finished in second behind teammate Nico Rosberg. His only other start from 10th as a Mercedes driver also came in 2016. In Baku, Hamilton worked his way up to fifth place. 

Anything is possible in Brazil. Mercedes will be hoping Bottas gets a good start so that he can control the race from the front whilst Hamilton works his way through. And if this works, there's no reason why Hamilton doesn't have a chance of victory. But Verstappen will do everything possible to ruin those plans at turn one.

Unlike on Saturday, Hamilton will get stuck behind much stronger cars earlier on in his push through the field. He will have to negotioate Mercedes powered Sebastian Vettel first. Red Bull junior Pierre Gasly is waiting for Hamilton in P7 before he moves on to McLaren and Ferrari. Throughout 2021, Mercedes have struggled to pass McLaren cars. But one thing is for certain: the heat is rising in Brazil, and you can follow all the action on GPblog. 

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