04/03/2024

Brazilian Grand Prix winner Lewis Hamilton. (Photo: F1/Twitter)

Lewis Hamilton takes home the Brazilian Grand Prix after a whirlwind week, closing the gap on Max Verstappen, while Daniel Ricciardo was forced to retire.

After a whirlwind weekend for Lewis Hamilton, the seven-time world champion proved his class coming from 10th place to win the Brazilian Grand Prix at the Autódromo José Carlos Pace in Sao Paulo.

The weekend got off to a strong start for Hamilton who qualified fastest in the sprint qualifier, however that joy was short lived after being disqualified for a technical infringement related to his DRS system. Therefore, Hamilton started Saturday’s sprint qualifier in last place.

Over the 24 lap qualifier, Hamilton showed why is one of the greatest racers of all time, climbing 15 places to finish in fifth place. He was however to take another five place grid penalty for the Grand Prix after fitting a new engine.

Starting the Grand Prix in 10th place, Hamilton made his impact felt immediately, jumping to sixth place after the opening lap. Next, he had to get past the two Ferraris which he did in quick fashion, followed by his teammate Valtteri Bottas to find himself in third by lap five.

From there Hamilton stalked Sergio Perez for the next dozen laps, trying to pick his time to make a move which came on lap 18. On the first turn Hamilton was able to get around the outside of Perez but it was short lived, with Perez able to gain back the position a few turns later.

The next lap Hamilton made the same move, but this time was able to stick it and secure second place with now just Max Verstappen in front.

Mercedes and Hamilton attempted to undercut Verstappen on lap 27, but this proved unsuccessful.

Hamilton then had to wait until he completed his second pit stop on lap 44, where he came out just 2.6 seconds behind Verstappen and with 27 laps to try and overtake him.

The two almost came to the blows again on lap 48 when Hamilton was able to get the slipstream and get ahead of Verstappen, who then defended on the inside of the next turn but in the process pushed Hamilton and himself wide off the track.

Thankfully a crash was avoided, but for Hamilton it was a bitter pill to swallow as Verstappen was able to hold onto first place. More bad news soon followed for Hamilton when the FIA announced that they would not investigate the incident, as they deemed Verstappen was not at fault.

Hamilton reset and on lap 59 took his chance again in the identical place to where the two almost collided, but this time was able to secure the position and become the new leader of the Brazilian Grand Prix.

From there Hamilton was able to cruise to victory to win his third Brazilian Grand Prix, closing the gap slightly between him and Verstappen with three races to go.

Verstappen finished in second place while fellow Mercedes teammate Bottas rounded out the podium in third.

Hamilton was overjoyed post-race, able to get the victory after so many things going against him over the weekend.

“What a race. The team did a great job, Valtteri did a great job. With the penalties, it’s the hardest race weekend I’ve had,” Hamilton said.

Hamilton currently sits 14 points behind Verstappen in the Driver Standings, 332.5 to 318.5.

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Red Bull’s dream start shattered

Everything appeared to be falling into place for Red Bull to have another successful weekend and continue its charge towards extending Verstappen’s lead atop the Driver Standings and close the gap in the Constructors Championship.

The race got off to the perfect start for Red Bull, with Verstappen getting off the line best, able to sweep past pole sitter Bottas on the first turn. A few turns later, Bottas ran wide which enabled Perez to sneak past, giving Red Bull first and second place after the opening lap.

Even with the attempted undercuts by Mercedes, Red Bull was able to remain in a strong position until lap 31. With the virtual safety car in place due to debris on the track, Bottas – who was yet to pit – took the opportunity to pit and subsequently was able to regain his position over Perez.

This strategy worked perfectly as drivers must drive 40 per cent slower when under the virtual safety car, meaning Perez was unable to go fast enough to get past Bottas as he would usually have been able to.

With Hamilton subsequently overtaking Verstappen a while later on lap 59, a race that started out looking so promising for Red Bull after lap one turned sour for the team.

“We still have a decent lead so today was about damage limitation. I’m confident we’ll come back stronger in the next races,” Verstappen said post-race.

Ricciardo forced to retire

Daniel Ricciardo has now been unable to earn points in the last two races after having to retire from the Brazilian Grand Prix on lap 51 due to power loss.

The weekend was mediocre for the Australian, who was unable to perform strongly in the sprint qualifier, therefore starting the race in 11th place.

Ricciardo was able to sneak into the top 10 on the opening lap, but from there made little progress up the grid.

The race was rather uneventful for Ricciardo, who treaded water for a large majority before losing power on lap 51 and being forced to retire early.

Overall, the weekend was disappointing for McLaren with Lando Norris also having a difficult race, getting a puncture at the very start of the race which put him into 20th place.  

Norris was able to salvage one point for McLaren finishing in 10th place, however the result means the team is now firmly in fourth place in the Constructors Championship behind Ferrari after they finished fifth and sixth in Brazil.

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