Hamilton wins in Brazil after phenomenal duel with Verstappen

14-11-2021 18:32 | Updated: 14-11-2021 18:38
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Hamilton wins in Brazil after phenomenal duel with Verstappen

Lewis Hamilton has won a tense and phenomenal Sao Paulo Grand Prix in Brazil and therefore cuts his World Championship deficit to 14 points with three races remaining. The two title rivals went at each other hammer and tongs for the majority of the race that personified the whole 2021 season. Hamilton had the faster car, but Verstappen pulled some emphatic defensive moves until lap 60. 

In a similar style to Saturday's sprint race, Hamilton excelled the start and avoided any trouble. In less than 100km, Hamilton worked his way up to P2. The two tital rivals nearly crashed into each other on lap 48 but Hamilton completed the overtake on lap 60 and stormed to victory in Brazil. 

Hamilton and Mercedes were much stronger on the long straight from turn 12 to turn one, but the Dutchman gained enough advantage through the twisty middle sector. It's been a crazy Grand Prix weekend that saw both title rivals in the stewards office across the course of the weekend. Verstappen touched Hamilton's rear wing after Friday qualifying. And the stewards determined the wing on car 44 to be illegal and therefore disqualified the Brit. A war of words were exchanged between both teams, but the action on the circuit cleared the air. 

Now just three Grands Prix remain and all three contain uncertain circuits. Qatar and Saudi Arabia are new to Formula 1 whilst the final race in Abu Dhabi features alterations to the layout. Despite this uncertainty, they are expected to favour Mercedes slightly. 

It was another negative day for McLaren in the battle for the constructors championship with Ferrari. The Woking-based team had to retire Daniel Ricciardo with a Mercedes power unit problem. Lando Norris picked up a puncture at the start of the race in a battle with Carlos Sainz. Meanwhile, Charles Leclerc and Sainz both rounded out the top six. Pierre Gasly and Alpine also had a positive day in Brazil. 

All eyes on the start

Verstappen overtook Bottas at the first corner, and then the Finn ran wide which let Perez move through to claim P2. In one lap, Hamilton moved from 10th to sixth and crucially managed to avoid tangling with any of the midfield drivers in a very chaotic first lap. Lando Norris fell victim to a puncture after a wheel-to-wheel touch with his former teammate and now Ferrari rival Carlos Sainz. 

By lap five, Hamilton cleared the Ferrari cars and then swapped with Bottas to hunt down the two Red Bulls. With Yuki Tsunoda's front wing left lying on the circuit, the safety car came on the track to clear the debris. On the restart, Verstappen left it as late as possible to successfully prevent a slipstream advantage for Hamilton. A VSC was later deployed after Mick Schumacher's front wing broke on the circuit. Perez seemed to get away better than Hamilton when the green flag dropped on lap 14. 

On lap 18, Hamilton passed Perez but Perez got him back on the straight before turn four. Meanwhile, Verstappen pulled away up to 3.8 seconds. Second time around, Hamilton made it stick and set off to chase his Dutch rival. 

Into the pits

On lap 27, Mercedes opted for an early pit stop and applied the hard tyres to Hamilton's car. Verstappen covered it one lap later. Hamilton cut the gap by 50% and sat just 1.7 seconds behind the Dutchman. Bottas scored a cheap pit stop under the second virtual safety car period. Hamilton got into DRS range for the lead but couldn't make the move. The Red Bull's strengths in the corners meant that the Brit couldn't get close enough on the straights. 

Verstappen said on the team radio that he didn't want to be vulnarable to another undercut by Mercedes. On lap 40, he pitted for another set of hard tyres to retain track position. Mercedes pit crew emerged, but it was Bottas who pitted instead. On lap 44, Hamilton came in and had 2.6 second gap and fresher tyres. 

On lap 48, Hamilton put Verstappen under pressure and at turn four the title rivals nearly crashed. They both went wide and off the circuit. The stewards noted the incident almost immediatel but they decided no investigation was needed. The two drivers stayed within a second of each other for a number of laps until Hamilton made the move with 11 laps to go. 

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