Formula 1 2021 Sao Paulo Grand Prix – Lewis roars from the back of the grid to win in Interlagos

Grand Prix

Nov 30th, 2021

Formula 1 2021 Sao Paulo Grand Prix – Lewis roars from the back of the grid to win in Interlagos

Formula 1 2021 Brazilian Grand Prix was held at the famous Interlagos Circuit in Sao Paulo, Brazil. This was the 19th round of the 2021 F1 season and 49th running of the race in Brazil. It was also the first time running the race as Sao Paulo Grand Prix rather than Brazilian Grand Prix. 

The Interlagos track has produced some of the most exciting races in the recent past, and the racing is always great no matter what the condition is. It is a power-hungry circuit, and being the second-highest track after Mexico, it makes engines work even harder. 

After a tough weekend in Mexico, Mercedes needed a good weekend to stop Red Bull from running away with the championship. On Friday, it looked all good when Lewis stormed to the fastest time for the Sprint race but was later disqualified from qualifying due to technical infringement and sent to the back of the grid. 

Mercedes thought that was unfair, stoking anger into aggression for the rest of the weekend. Lewis won the race from Max Verstappen and Bottas, reducing the deficit to Verstappen in the championship. 

Pre-Race Preparations Thursday

The weather is usually unpredictable at Interlagos, but this year, it looked like a dry race weekend with no chance of rain. This was also the third and last race weekend with a sprint race in it. Pirelli brought the compounds from the middle of the range – C2 (White) was the hard tyre, C3 (Yellow) was medium, and C4 (Red) was soft.

Mercedes decided to change Hamilton's ICE and get a five-place grid drop for the race on Sunday. This looked like a tactical decision rather than getting short on mileage. The new ICE will give Lewis nearly two-tenths of lap time from the engine and increase the chances for the rest of the season.

Friday Practice & Qualifying Sessions

Practice Sessions

Mercedes looked quick right from the practice session on Friday afternoon, and they seemed untouchable for the rest of the field, including Red Bull. Red Bull was looking like the second fastest team but well behind the Mercedes pair.

Alpha Tauri was the surprise of the session and looked like the quickest team in the midfield pack and crucially ahead of Ferrari and McLaren. Alpine, along with Aston Martin, was also in the mix along with other midfield teams.

Qualifying F1 Brazil

On the sprint race weekend, drivers are only allowed to use soft tyres for the qualifying, hence a free tyre choice for the Sprint race and the main race on Sunday. Lewis was fastest at the end of Q1, while Max was only 6th, around 6-tenths back from the main rival. Lance Stroll, both Haas and Williams drivers, failed to make any inroads into the qualifying session.

Lewis and Bottas put on a show and went quickest from Verstappen to continue their fine form on Friday. Behind them, the usual midfield qualified for the final shootout, including McLaren, Ferrari, Gasly, and Alonso.

Lewis finished the Q3 session on top, but Verstappen somehow managed to get ahead of Bottas by qualifying for the P2 position. Perez was 4th ahead of a super-quick Alpha Tauri of Gasly. Ferrari lined up 6th and 7th ahead of their main rival, the two McLarens and then Alonso completing the top 10.

Saturday Practice & Sprint

Practice Sessions

There is not much to read into the practice session times done on Saturday, apart from just checking that everything is fine with the cars. Alonso finished the session on top, ahead of Verstappen and the Mercedes of Bottas. Ocon was up there, too, with his teammate in 4th place, ahead of Perez and Giovinazzi. Sainz was in 8th, ahead of his teammate and the Alpha Romeo of Kimi.

The Sprint Race – Hamilton Disqualified

Lewis Hamilton was disqualified when it was found out that the DRS could open 85.02 mm compared to the maximum limit of 85 mm. Free tyre choice allowed Mercedes to put Bottas on soft tyres for the start of the race. 

The extra grip allowed Bottas to overtake the medium tyres of Verstappen into the opening sequence of the corners, and hence, controlled the sprint race, thanks to the superior straight-line speed of Mercedes. 

While Bottas was having a lovely Saturday afternoon drive, Lewis came flying from the back of the field, muscling his way up to P5 by the end of the sprint race. Bottas won the sprint race and qualified on pole position for the race on Sunday, ahead of Verstappen and Carlos Sainz. Perez was 4th ahead of Hamilton, Norris, Leclerc, Gasly, Ocon, and Vettel.

Sunday Race – Hamilton wins action-packed race

Lewis dropped to 10th place from 5th after taking an extra ICE before the start of the weekend. The atmosphere around the Interlagos circuit was electric, and Verstappen made an electric start, jumping Bottas right away.

Bottas ran wide going into turn 4, and Perez was up to second now, making it a Red Bull 1-2. Behind, Lewis was flying and was in P6 by the end of lap 1. After making a brilliant start at lights out and tangling with 3rd-placed Sainz, Norris picked up a rear tyre puncture and was last once he pitted to change to new tyres. 

Debris from the front wing of Tsunoda caused a safety car on lap 4. The race resumed on lap 10, but a VSC was deployed on lap 12 to recover debris from a contact made between Mick and Kimi. VSC ended on lap 15, and within the next three laps, Lewis was right behind second-placed man Perez.

Lewis managed to pass Perez on lap 20 and pitted on lap 27 to undercut Verstappen. Max responded the next lap and emerged ahead of Lewis, who crucially managed to stay ahead of Ricciardo. Perez pitted on lap 29 to come out in P5, with Bottas now leading the race.

Bottas pitted under VSC on lap 30 and came out in P3 well ahead of Perez. Max pitted on lap 40 for his final stop of the race, while his teammate pitted on lap 42, followed by Bottas. Lewis finally pitted on lap 44 and emerged just within 2 seconds of Verstappen. 

Lewis tried on lap 48, but Max ran him wide going into turn 4. Lewis tried again, and on lap 59, he finally got past him and disappeared into the distance. Lewis overturned a net 25-place grid drop to win a race more than 10 seconds ahead of Max Verstappen. 

This was one of the great races for the history books. Bottas finished 3rd to extend Mercedes’ lead in the constructors’ championships.

Perez finished 4th ahead of Leclerc, Sainz, Gasly, Ocon, Alonso, and Norris.

F1 2021 Qatar Grand Prix

Formula 1 heads to another new circuit for the 20th race of the season. It will be the first race in Qatar and will be a night race as well.