Sir Lewis Hamilton has been surrounded by love in Brazil this week, having been made an honorary citizen in a special ceremony. The people of this country have taken him to their hearts, so he really wanted to repay them with a good result this weekend.
However, qualifying did not go his way. Although leading in Q1, by the time he reached Q3, his team mate George Russell managed to get a 3rd position for the sprint race, but soon after he went into the gravel, and triggered a red flag. By the time qualifying resumed, the rain was coming down really heavily making further runs to try and improve impossible. So Lewis was a lowly 8th position, which meant he had work to do to catch up in the sprint. Magnusson had clinched a fine pole position, and Verstappen was 2nd.
In the sprint race, Verstappen overtook Russell and Magnusson to take the lead, meanwhile Lewis was working hard to get himself safely up the grid. A few laps from the end, Verstappen’s performance was lagging and Russell overtook him, as did Sainz and Lewis. Lewis did battle with Sainz for a while, but the Spaniard was due to take a penalty in the main race. Lewis had backed off by the end, knowing that he would line up next to Russell for the main race on Sunday. They finished, a fine 1st for Russell, his maiden victory, 2nd Sainz, 3rd Lewis, and 4th Verstappen, who had been unable to conserve his tyres.
Race day was dry with warmer temperatures, and before the race, Lewis had spoken about teamwork to enable Mercedes to take 1st and 2nd. The start was clean, Lewis did not attempt to overtake George, seemingly aware of the Red Bulls behind them, but before long Magnusson spun and crashed, triggering a safety car. Verstappen was just behind Lewis, and when racing resumed he attempted to overtake him, but failed and he hit Lewis, damaging his own front wing, and the floor of Lewis’s car. He had to pit for a new wing, and Lewis ended up in 8th place. After an investigation the FIA felt Verstappen was predominately to blame, and he was given a five-second penalty, and 2 points on his superlicence. When interviewed afterwards he admitted he knew they would crash, but didn’t want to back out.
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In the meantime, Lewis worked his way up from 8th to 2nd position, some 10 seconds away from Russell. When Lando Norris came to a halt on the track another safety car was deployed, and it was looking difficult for Mercedes, with drivers on fresher tyres behind them for the restart. The restart was good, and both Mercedes raced away. During the last part of the race, Russell asked if there were team orders, and he was told they were free to race respectfully. But this did not happen. Lewis stayed within just over a second of him, and did not attempt any overtakes. At the end of the race, they came in 1st and 2nd. It was a great first win for George, and Lewis was so proud of him, he was generous with his praise, and more than happy to settle for 2nd place. Carlos Sainz took the 3rd podium spot.
Verstappen had a bad race, which begs the question, after having the most dominant car on the grid, why is it suddenly lacking performance? As the championship is well and truly done and dusted, many fans wondered why he disobeyed orders to help team-mate Sergio Perez get points for 2nd in the championship by not letting him pass. And then he made it worse by speaking down to his team in a radio message that was heard by everyone. This caused a huge backlash of anger towards him on Twitter, with many fans stating that they would no longer support him.
But over at Mercedes it was clear that teamwork, makes the dream work, Russell was reduced to tears of happiness for his maiden win, which has surely cemented a strong bond in the partnership with Lewis Hamilton. But how wonderful it is to see Mercedes back on top, even if we do only have 1 race left. If they can carry this form on the car through to next year, we will be faced with another dramatic and exciting season in which Sir Lewis will be aiming to regain the championship that was unjustly taken from him in 2021.
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