Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton ended “the hardest weekend I’ve had” with a stunning victory at the Brazilian Grand Prix yesterday, and gained momentum in his Formula One title fight with Red Bull driver Max Verstappen.
Hamilton, a seven-time world champion, beat Verstappen despite starting from 10th position on the grid due to a penalty — the second Hamilton faced this weekend in São Paulo.
Verstappen, the winner of the race’s previous edition in 2019, finished second and saw his lead in the driver’s championship shrink to 14 points, with three races left. The winner of a race gets 25 points.
“Let’s keep pushing,” Hamilton said on the team radio after his sixth victory of the season. He took a Brazil flag to celebrate his win in the car and on the podium, just as his idol Ayrton Senna did.
Hamilton’s teammate, Valtteri Bottas, finished third and Red Bull’s Sergio Perez was fourth, with the Mexican clocking the fastest lap of the race. The Ferraris of Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz were fifth and sixth, respectively.
Verstappen led most of the race after the first turn when he overtook pole-sitter Bottas. But Hamilton, who rose from 10th to third position in just six laps, went ahead of Verstappen on lap 59, putting a raucous crowd on their feet at Interlagos.
Hamilton finished the race with a 10-second advantage over Verstappen and said he felt like he had won his first race before a joyous crowd at Interlagos.
“I was pushing as hard as I could,” an emotional Hamilton said after his 101st victory. “From last on the grid (for Saturday’s sprint race), and then another five-place penalty — I think that’s the hardest weekend I’ve had. Things kept going against us, but it just shows, never give up, keep fighting. Never, ever stop fighting.”
Mercedes is now 11 points ahead of Red Bull in the constructor standings.
Verstappen will leave Brazil €50,000 poorer. He was fined after being seen touching the rear wing of Hamilton’s Mercedes on Friday.
“We were just missing a bit of pace, but we gave it our all and had fun,” the Dutchman said. “We still have a good points lead; today was a bit of damage limitation. In the coming races, we will bounce back.”
Red Bull head Christian Horner said Mercedes’ pace “was just unstoppable”.
Brazilian GP results:
1. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) 25
2. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) 18
3. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) 15
4. Sergio Pérez (Red Bull) 13
5. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) 10
6. Carlos Sainz Jr (Ferrari) 8
7. Pierre Gasly (AlphaTauri) 6
8. Esteban Ocon (Alpine) 4
9. Fernando Alonso (Alpine) 2
10. Lando Norris (McLaren) 1
Driver Championship standings:
1. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) 332.5
2. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) 318.5
3. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) 203
4. Sergio Pérez (Red Bull) 178
5. Lando Norris (McLaren) 151
6. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) 148
7. Carlos Sainz Jr (Ferrari) 139.5
8. Daniel Ricciardo (McLaren) 105
9. Pierre Gasly (AlphaTauri) 92
10. Fernando Alonso (Alpine) 62
Constructor Championship standings:
1. Mercedes 521.5
2. Red Bull 510.5
3. Ferrari 287.5
4. McLaren 256
5. Alpine 112
6. AlphaTauri 112
7. Aston Martin 68
8. Williams 23
9. Alfa Romeo 11
10. Haas 0