Status: 11/14/2021 8:37 p.m.
The Formula 1 World Cup has become even more exciting: Lewis Hamilton defeats Max Verstappen in Brazil and shortens the gap in the overall standings.
Image: Marcelo Chello / AP / dpa
Wrapped in the Brazilian national flag, Lewis Hamilton enjoyed his spectacular comeback in the World Cup duel with Max Verstappen. In the São Paulo thriller, the determined Mercedes driver struck back and thwarted a title decision in Qatar.
After an electrifying wheel-to-wheel duel with the Dutch championship leader, Hamilton reduced his deficit in the Formula 1 drivers’ standings to just 14 points.
Hamilton: “You must never give up”
The Englishman defied two penalties and celebrated his sixth win of the season before Verstappen in Interlagos. “You must never give up, no matter what,” emphasized the 36-year-old and thanked the frenetic audience in the local language: “Obrigado.” Red Bull driver Verstappen could no longer withstand the onslaught of Hamilton, who started from tenth place, in the closing stages and came in second. “It was a good fight. We gave everything, it was fun,” said Verstappen before the upcoming three-pack in the desert.
Hamilton’s team-mate Valtteri Bottas landed in third place at the Autódromo José Carlos Pace. Sebastian Vettel finished eleventh in the Aston Martin. Haas driver Mick Schumacher crossed the finish line in 18th and last place after an early crash.
Hamilton transferred for engine change, fine for Verstappen
Due to the decreasing engine power, Hamilton’s company car got a new unit. In qualifying on Friday, Hamilton left his opponent Verstappen well behind, but received a five-place penalty for the race.
It got even worse for the 36-year-old. Because of an irregular rear wing, he was disqualified from the start chase. According to Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff, the distance between the movable flaps was just 0.2 millimeters too big. “There is nothing more to lose now,” announced the Austrian and accused the race stewards of a lack of tact. Hamilton raced furiously in the sprint from 20th place to fifth. “It’s not over yet,” said the seven-time world champion imploringly.
Not everything went well for Verstappen before the race either. The 24-year-old touched the rear wing of Hamilton’s Mercedes after qualifying. But this is forbidden in the so-called Parc Fermé. He has to pay the fine of 50,000 euros himself. In the sprint, he secured two points in second behind Bottas in the second Mercedes, and his world championship lead has now grown to 21 points.
Verstappen and Hamilton with good starts
And Verstappen also won the start in the main race. In the first corner he ousted Bottas and accelerated at the front. Hamilton worked his way up from tenth place. On lap five he was already in third place after his Finnish team-mate had let him past.
Hamilton was now chasing Verstappen and Sergio Perez in the second Red Bull. Debris from Yuki Tsunoda’s Alpha Tauri was on the track after a crash, and the Briton caught up in the safety car phase. “Let’s get these guys,” Hamilton called over the radio.
Verstappen and Perez were now zigzagging, Hamilton was waiting for the track to be cleared after the safety car. But the Mercedes man couldn’t go past. Instead there was a virtual safety car shortly afterwards. Schumacher had demolished the front in a collision with Kimi Räikkönen in an Alfa Romeo.
Hamilton pulls past Verstappen late
Hamilton and Perez tackled two laps – in lap 19 the Briton was over and only had Verstappen ahead of him. The defending champion was about 3.5 seconds short of the leader. On lap 27, Hamilton preferred his pit stop and came back on the tarmac in sixth place. Verstappen reacted one lap later and was third after the tire change. Hamilton took up the chase and was suddenly only around 1.5 seconds behind the Red Bull man.
Interlagos Red Bull is actually because of the heat and the altitude, but Mercedes driver Hamilton challenged Verstappen to the utmost. The 24-year-old came into the pits on lap 41, after which he was almost 20 seconds short of the new leader. Three laps later, Hamilton came to the tire change, then continued his hunt. Then the wheel-to-wheel duel.
Wolff: “Absolute mess”
On lap 48, Hamilton was almost able to pass the outside, but Verstappen left him no space. Both pilots raced over the curb. The race stewards investigated the incident, but the defensive maneuver remained without consequences. It was an “absolute mess not to get a penalty for being pushed out,” Wolff scolded Sky.
Hamilton grabbed Verstappen after all – in circulation 59. And made the World Cup duel with his rival even more exciting.