An incredible Lewis Hamilton takes the win at Interlagos after an extremely tense fight for the lead against main championship contender Max Verstappen, who had to be satisfied by a second place in the end. The Mercedes joy is completed by Valtteri Bottas securing another podium finish and important points for the constructors's standings, while Perez takes up the fastest lap point.
LEWIS WINS IN BRAZIL!!!!!!! 🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥 pic.twitter.com/i5bv9O8gKn— Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 Team (@MercedesAMGF1) November 14, 2021
Hamilton, with his tribute helmet in memory of Ayrton Senna took up a five places grid penalty for taking up a new ICE, which means that, after his amazing recover in yesterday's Sprint Qualifying from the back of the grid to P5, he will start in P10. Alfa Romeo's Kimi Raikkonen will instead begin his race from the pit lane after a rear wing change, necessary after his teammate Antonio Giovinazzi lightly collided with him yesterday in the first laps of the qualyfing session.
At the start, Norris was hit by Sainz and went off, suffering from a puncture and damaging his wing as well. Hamilton had another astounding start, that allowed him to recover three positions already in the first lap. He went on to overtake both Ferraris by lap three, and by lap five he was already back on the virtual podium, also thanks to a team order that eased the overtaking process of Bottas.
Another driver with an impressive start were Sebastian Vettel, who quickly moved up from his starting P11 to P7, and Red Bull's Sergio Perez, which, after the podium in his home race, the third in three races, immediately overtook Sainz and Bottas to join his teammate, and race leader Max Verstappen.
A yellow flag was issued during Lap 6 due to a contact between Lance Stroll and Yuki Tsunoda, the only driver starting on softs, which left the latter without his front wing, in order to remove the debris. Williams' George Russell immediately took the opportunity of an extra pit stop. Nothing changed at the restart, with the Red Bulls, Mercedes, and Ferrari keeping their positions. Notable overtake attempts were Leclerc on Hamilton and Hamilton on Perez, all unsuccessful.
Mick Schumacher lost his wing on the track after making contact at Turn 1 with Raikkonen, and was forced to pit for a new one, issuing a virtual safety car to remove its remains, which allowed Nicholas Latifi to pit, while AlphaTauri's Tsunoda received a 10 seconds time penalty for his earlier accident.
On lap 18, Hamilton tried to overtake Perez on the outside for P2, but didn't manage to keep the position at the first attempt, but finally got his position at the beginning of the 19th lap, still on the outside, while McLaren's Daniel Ricciardo completed a pass on Vettel for P8.
LAP 18/71— Formula 1 (@F1) November 14, 2021
After briefly swapping positions, Lewis Hamilton passes Sergio Perez to take P2 - and makes it stick
He's now off in pursuit of title rival Max Verstappen
We told you this might be pretty good, didn't we? 😉#BrazilGP 🇧🇷 #F1 pic.twitter.com/cN6xGKjh7Y
His teammate Lance Stroll opened the pit stop sequence on Lap 23, swapping his mediums for hards, followed a couple laps later by Gasly. Hamilton was the first to pit among the leading drivers, changing for hards in 2.4 seconds, Sainz stopped as well, but restarted on mediums, and Verstappen as well, managing to exit the pit lane ahead of the British driver. The other Ferrari driver went with the two stops strategy as well, and Perez pitted too, leaving Bottas to lead the Brazilian GP on lap 30.
The Finn had an unexpected help by a virtual safety car, issued on lap 31 due to debris left on track by Stroll's Aston Martin. The Mercedes driver returned on track just behind his teammate in P3 and stole at that moment the fastest lap point to Verstappen, while Gasly and Ricciardo battle for P8 and Leclerc gains a position on Alonso, who was in P5 yet to pit. The Spaniard suffered then on lap 35 from a slow stop, and returned on the grid in P14.
At the half race mark Verstappen is still in the lead, with almost two seconds of advantage on his main title competitor Hamilton, and the other Mercedes driver Bottas to complete the podium, who has another five seconds on Perez. On lap 41, in order to avoid the undercut, Red Bull decided to stop Verstappen again for hards, who then exited the box at the same time as Latifi.
A Mercedes driver quickly followed him to the boxes, but it was Bottas, who then rejoined the grid in P5 behind Leclerc, with Verstappen's teammate going for another stop as well. Three laps later, Hamilton swapped his hards for a fresh set, returning on track two seconds behind Verstappen.
Hamilton tried for the first time on lap 48 to pass Verstappen, but the Red Bull driver accompanied him slightly off track. The FIA, after noticing the accident, stated that no further action was going to be taken, while Lance Stroll and Daniel Ricciardo were both forced to pit and retire, the first as a consequence of his accident with Tsunoda and the latter due to a power loss while he was holding on to P8, which could be a turning point in the constructor's championship fight for P3, considering that the Ferrari boys are both in the top 6.
There is only 1/4 of the #BrazilGP left and it's HEATING UP 🔥@LewisHamilton is all over race leader VER whilst @ValtteriBottas is doing a fantastic job holding P3 for a @MercedesAMGF1 double podium 🙌— PETRONAS Motorsports (@PET_Motorsports) November 14, 2021
We can't sit still! This is gonna be a tense end 😬#TheEnergyWithin #F1 pic.twitter.com/BTms5W35cn
On Lap 59 the seven times World Champion overtook Verstappen for the lead of the race, a move that was gladly saluted by the cheers of the Brazilian fans, with the Dutchman receiving also a black and white flag for excessive oversteering. At the same time, Gasly touched Ocon while fighting for P8.
It was an impressive recover for the only McLaren driver remaining, as Norris managed to return in the points after his puncture at the start, while Perez was pitting once again and pulled the fastest lap, stealing the point from Hamilton.