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Bottas wins but Hamilton steals the show


It's fair to say that events over the break since practice have been somewhat seismic.

First off, after hours of deliberation the stewards hit Max Verstappen with a 50,000 euro fine for examining and touching Lewis Hamilton's rear wing in the moments after qualifying yesterday.

Shortly after that it was announced that due to the DRS on said rear wing contravening the rules, Hamilton was disqualified from yesterday's results.

This means the world champion will start the Sprint from the back of the grid while Verstappen inherits 'pole'.

It also means that despite Hamilton might finish this afternoon, he will also drop five places tomorrow due that extra ICE he has taken on - the 5-place grid penalty only applies on Sunday.

So, the world champion has his work cut out, for whilst Verstappen only has to deal with Valtteri Bottas, Hamilton faces roadblocks from the get-go, not least in the form of Nikita Mazepin.

Behind Verstappen and Bottas, it's Perez, Gasly, while the Ferraris, McLarens and Alpines go in two-by-two.

While points are available for the first three today, the main lesson to be learned is to stay out of trouble, to keep it clean, for it is tomorrow that really matters.

Verstappen only has to keep it on the black stuff and bring it home ahead - or behind Bottas - for Hamilton is the one who really has his work cut out.

The pitlane opens and the drivers begin to head out. The air temperature is 17 degrees C, while the track temperature is 39 degrees. It is cooler than this morning.

Among the last to take their place on the grid is the world champion, who is subsequently told that the track temperature has dropped to 37 degrees.

With race control assuring us that there is 0% chance of rain, if Turk Thrust is back working with FOSU again we can only assume that Mas is going to spin going around the outside of Bottas in Turn 1 and drop to last behind Hamilton.

As for tyres, Verstappen, Perez, Leclerc, Norris, Ricciardo, Alonso, Vettel, Stroll, Latifi, Russell and Hamilton are on mediums, the remainder, including Bottas, are on softs.

Bottas shoots off on the formation lap, leaving Verstappen in his wake. All get away.

They're away. Verstappen gets away well, but so does Bottas. They're side-by-heading towards Turn 1, but as they turn in the Finn has the lead and is on the inside. The Mercedes leads the field through Turns 2 and 3, with Gasly and Norris side-by-side as they fight for 6th.

On the run to Turn 4, Sainz is alongside Verstappen, and as they turn in the Red Bull runs wide, as does Leclerc behind in a mirror image scenario as he battles Perez.

The race is just a few corners old but the softs are already paying off.

Further back, much further back, Hamilton is carving his way through, picking off the backmarkers with ease.

At the end of lap 1, it's: Bottas, Sainz, Verstappen, Perez, Leclerc, Norris, Gasly, Ocon, Vettel and Ricciardo, while Hamilton is up to 14th.

A spin for Raikkonen at Turn 1 following a nudge from his Alfa teammate drops him to last.

"Stupid ******* gear sync problem all the time," reports Verstappen who is 0.446s down on Sainz, but 0.8s clear of his Red Bull teammate.

As Verstappen nails Sainz on the pit straight at the start of lap 4, Hamilton finally gets past Tsunoda.

Out front, Bottas has a 2.4s lead, while Verstappen is already 2s clear of Sainz who is falling into the clutches of Perez.

Making quick work of Giovinazzi, Hamilton hunts down former teammate Alonso, who is 1.5s ahead in eleventh.

Leclerc is under intense pressure from Norris as Hamilton posts a new fastest lap (12.357).

Hamilton has DRS but so does Alonso who is chasing down Ricciardo as Verstappen posts a new fastest lap (12.187).

Perez complains that Sainz is "moving very late on the braking".

Hamilton passes Alonso going into Turn 1, the Briton now 0.554s down on Ricciardo.

Quickest in the final sector, Norris is side-by-side with Leclerc into Turn 1 at the start of lap 9, the Briton getting past the Ferrari on the long run to Turn 4.

"Great job," Norris is told, "let's go, Perez next."

"Struggling with tyres," reports Sainz as Verstappen posts another fastest lap (12.114) as he closes to within 1.4s of Bottas.

Hamilton is now in a train of cars that includes Gasly, Ocon, Vettel and Ricciardo.

Track temperature has dropped to 33 degrees.

At the start of lap 13, Hamilton nails Ricciardo into Turn 1, the Australian powerless to resist. Next up is his old foe, Vettel.

Stroll told to stop pushing the entry to Turn 9, the Canadian currently down in 15th.

Suddenly, Verstappen is just 0.5sd down on Bottas as the Finn's tyres appear to fade.

Disposing of Vettel, Hamilton sets out after 8th placed Ocon.

Hamilton sweeps by Ocon in his favourite spot, the run to Turn 1, with Gasly, 1.6s up the road, his next target.

Next time around, Hamilton leaves Gasly for dead... next up, Leclerc, who is 3s ahead.

Ricciardo reports Vettel as "getting very close to moving on the brakes".

As Hamilton remains 2s down on Leclerc, Verstappen falls 1.2s behind the race leader. However, he is warned that the Dutchman is saving his tyres and there will be an attack.

"Six laps to go, those softs are going to be hurting," Perez is told of Sainz ahead. The Spaniard is 16s down on Verstappen.

Hamilton finally passes Leclerc - you know where - and sets about closing the 1.7s gap to Norris.

As they start the penultimate lap, Verstappen is 0.9s down on Bottas, while Sainz continues to hold off Perez and Hamilton has a look at Norris in Turn 4.

A late, brave move sees Hamilton pass Norris into Turn 1 to take 5th, the crowd cheers.

Bottas wins, and thereby claims pole position for tomorrow. Verstappen is second, ahead of Sainz, Perez, Hamilton, Norris, Leclerc, Gasly, Ocon and Vettel.

Ricciardo is eleventh, ahead of Alonso, Giovinazzi, Stroll, Tsunoda, Latifi, Russell, Raikkonen, Schumacher and Mazepin.

Check out our Saturday gallery from Interlagos, here.


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1. Posted by Jet Jockey, 13/11/2021 22:43

"Excellent race from Bottas and phenomenal race from Hamilton. Sainz did great too holding off Perez. "

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2. Posted by Burton, 13/11/2021 22:38

"The season finale should always be at this track."

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3. Posted by Wokingchap, 13/11/2021 22:08

"An absolutely brilliant drive from Lewis, hope he can do a similar job on sunday."

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