Defending Formula 1 drivers’ champion Lewis Hamilton kept on the heels of championship leader Max Verstappen of Red Bull and cut down the lead with a brilliant victory in the Sao Paulo Grand Prix, surging ahead from a 10th-place start on the grid to the first position with a scintillating drive on Sunday.
Hamilton won the race after a sensational battle with his rival Verstappen in an enthralling return to Brazil for F1. Verstappen finished runner-up ahead of pole-sitter Valtteri Bottas.
Hamilton got off to a terrific start from 10th position on the grid and was clearly on the charge. His teammate Bottas — who lost the lead to Verstappen at the first turn — letting him by for the fifth position on Lap 5. Hamilton then surged to the second position, getting the better of Sergio Perez in a duel that began on Lap 17 and culminated in a Lap 19 pass at Turn 4. The first pit stops took place around Lap 25 but the action built up to a crescendo after Verstappen took a second stop on Lap 41, followed by Hamilton on Lap 44.
The Mercedes driver bore down on Verstappen and despite being shoved wide at Turn 1 — the stewards noting but not investigating — on Lap 48, the British driver didn’t give up, trying it again on Lap 58 only to meet a stubborn defence. A lap later came the winning pass with DRS on the run-up to Turn 4, this time Verstappen having no choice but to concede. Hamilton ended up 10.4 seconds up the road in first place at the flag, cutting Vers’appen’s championship lead from 21 points to 14.
Bottas, who took an opportunistic stop during the Virtual Safety Car period on Lap 30 and another on Lap 41, finished third ahead of Perez, who started fourth, was up to second, but lost places to the two Mercedes. The Mexican, however, took the fastest lap at the expense of Hamilton, on the final tour of the circuit having pitted for softs on Lap 70.
According to a report on the Formula 1 website, The Ferraris pulled off a two-stop strategy to see Charles Leclerc home in fifth and Carlos Sainz — who lost three places amid contact with Lando Norris (P10) at the start — in sixth. Pierre Gasly picked off the Alpines after pitting twice, his Lap 50 change to hard tyres helping him pass Esteban Ocon (P9) and Fernando Alonso (P8).
Norris picked up a puncture on Lap 1 after Sainz nicked his rear-left tyre, but recovered from there to take the final point, his pit stop during a Lap 7 VSC leaving him on hard compounds right until the finish.
Sebastian Vettel missed out on points by a second to Norris ahead, and finished 11th having started P9, his Aston Martin teammate Lance Stroll eventually retiring – ‘s did McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo.
But it was Hamilton who stole the show here in Brazil — recovering from his disqualification from qualifying on Friday and clawing his way back up to the fifth position from dead last in Saturday’s Sprint, before he took another grid penalty for an engine change on race day. From P10 he put in the drive of his life — and pulled off an impressive move on his title rival Verstappen to seal the victory.