Lewis Hamilton produced a stunning performance for Mercedes as he took victory at the 2021 F1 Sao Paulo GP, climbing from 10th on the grid to beat out Max Verstappen at Interlagos.
After qualifying for the sprint race in first, Hamilton was disqualified from the final classification and sent to the back of the grid on Saturday, eventually finishing fifth, before a five-place penalty was handed out for the main race on Sunday.
That said, Hamilton made his way through the field like a hot knife through butter and eventually made his way into third after being let through by teammate and pole-sitter Valtteri Bottas. Only the Red Bulls were ahead.
After a safety car bunched the field up, Hamilton made light work of Sergio Perez’s Red Bull, and began his pursuit of leader Verstappen.
The pair almost came together on Lap 48 when Hamilton tried to make the overtake on Verstappen, but the Dutchman moved side and both went off track, with Verstappen retaining the lead. After an investigation, no penalties were handed out much to the chagrin of Mercedes.
Nevertheless, Hamilton did get the move done and made it stick on Lap 54 as he went on to take one of the best victories of his career.
The result leaves Hamilton 14 points adrift of Verstappen in the Drivers’ Championship with just three races left in the 2021 season.
Hamilton’s best weekend?
After the race, Hamilton was full of emotion and clearly spurred on by a series of set-backs over the weekend which make the win at Interlagos even more spectacular.
“It’s been such a difficult weekend for everyone in the team and I think really just been inspired by everyone’s focus and determination,” Hamilton said.
“It’s easy to get down when you’re faced with difficult things like penalties and engine penalties, but everyone just stayed positive, did a great job, mechanics did a fantastic job, strategy also was solid.
“Then it was just down to me to let go of things as quick as possible and focus on moving forward. Did I think we could come from last? I didn’t know what was possible, just gave it everything, and this has definitely been one of the best weekends, if not the best weekend I’ve experienced, probably in my whole career.”
It’s hard to argue with that really. From a special qualifying lap which put him on pole for the sprint, to then be booted to the back for breaking DRS rules, and all that with the cloud of a five-place grid penalty hanging over him. The Sao Paulo GP was special for Hamilton.