Hamilton’s Brazilian brilliance sets up spicy F1 title showdown

Hamilton’s Brazilian brilliance sets up spicy F1 title showdown

Three races in the next four weekends will determine whether Lewis Hamilton wins his eighth Formula One world title or Max Verstappen claims his first after the Briton produced a stunning victory in Sao Paulo on Sunday.

Trailing by 19 points going into the weekend and hit by an engine penalty and disqualification from qualifying, Hamilton’s championship hopes looked to be fading fast.

But one of the best wins of the 101 in the 36-year-old’s career, from 10th on the grid and including a clinical pass on his Red Bull rival, has put Hamilton just 14 points behind going into Qatar this Sunday before the Saudi Arabia-Abu Dhabi double-header concludes matters in December.

“I don’t remember another weekend like this,” said Hamilton. “Did I think we could come from last?

“I don’t know what was possible but I just gave it everything and this has definitely been probably one of the best weekends, if not the best weekend I have experienced in probably my whole career.”

Hamilton started last in Saturday’s sprint, made it up to fifth and dropped back five places for Sunday’s race for taking a new engine.

But the juice supplied by Mercedes in the power unit propelled Hamilton into contention in no time and he ruthlessly pursued Verstappen until making a late pass and cruising to victory.

Hamilton was sanguine about being run off the track by Verstappen at his previous attempt when he looked to have the edge around Turn 4 of Interlagos.

“I didn’t think too much of it – obviously I have to watch the replay – but I mean, it’s hard battling and I wouldn’t expect anything else, really,” he said. “We didn’t touch wheels, which was good.”

Hamilton’s quick reaction when Verstappen missed the apex attempting a defense which did not seem to be on prevented a repeat of the contact between the pair in Britain and Hungary.

“I mean we both of course tried to be ahead into the corner so I braked a bit late to get that position,” said Verstappen. “I was on the edge of grip.

“That’s why I think I was already on the apex and it’s a safer way of running a bit wide there. In a way I was happy stewards decided we could keep on racing.”

The sporting acknowledgement between the drivers was not matched by Mercedes motorsport chief Toto Wolff, who branded the decision by stewards not to investigate the incident “laughable.”

“That was just over the line – should have been a five second penalty at least – and probably Max knew that,” he said. “Just brushing it under the carpet is just the tip of the iceberg.”

Wolff, as witnessed by his celebration at Hamilton passing Verstappen, felt wronged all through the weekend.

“I think we’ve just had many, many punches in the face this weekend with decisions that could have swung either side against us or for us,” he said.

“It’s just something that I’m just angry about and I will defend my team, my drivers to what comes. I’ve been always very diplomatic in how I discuss things, but diplomacy has ended today.”