Bottas wins sprint qualifying in Brazil

Valtteri Bottas made a great start to take pole position off Max Verstappen after winning the Brazilian sprint qualifying race. Yet the star performer was Lewis Hamilton who was rapid in the Mercedes. From last to fifth position.

At the start, Bottas’s soft tyres appeared to give him considerably better grip off the line, as he powered alongside Verstappen despite appearing to react slightly slower to the five red lights going out.

Valtteri was alongside the polesitter at the apex of Turn 1 and moved ahead, as Verstappen quickly came under pressure from Carlos Sainz, who was also on the softs for the start and used them to pass Sergio Perez for third position at Turn 1.

Sainz was all over Verstappen down the second straight and at the Turn 4 right at the end the pair went side by side, with the latter having to go off track and rejoined behind the Ferrari, Verstappen hitting the kerbs at the edge of the runoff hard as he did so, kicking up a plume of dirt.

But he was able to chase after Sainz as Bottas moved clear in the lead, shadowing the Ferrari for a few laps before using DRS to move back into second with an easy move to the inside of the first corner at the start of the fourth tour of 24.

Verstappen chased after Bottas, setting a string of fastest laps as he closed the Mercedes driver’s lead, which had at one stage with Sainz behind reached 2.5 seconds, to under two seconds as they quickly raced clear of the Ferrari – the leading pair the only drivers able to lap in the one minute, 12 seconds bracket.

The Red Bull driver continued to chip away at Bottas’s advantage as the race went on, getting within DRS range by the start of lap 15.

But he was unable to get much closer over the next couple of laps and dropped back beyond one-second adrift as Red Bull told him to “bide your time”.

Heading into the final tours, which featured heavy clouds building up behind Turn 4, Verstappen did surge back to briefly run within the DRS range, but he never got close enough to make a move and he finished 1.1 seconds adrift, as Bottas claimed his second Formula 1 sprint race win of the season.

Bottas will therefore start Sunday’s main race from pole ahead of Verstappen – the reverse of how they lined up in this event.

In third, Sainz fended off the attentions of Perez for the rest of the event, coming home 18.7 seconds behind Bottas.

In the pack behind, Hamilton, on the medium tyres, gained five places on the first lap alone, with the world champion immediately getting into P14 at the start of the second lap.

He made steadier progress from there, using DRS to dispatch AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda and then passing Antonio Giovinazzi and Fernando Alonso to reach the edge of the top ten by the start of lap nine.

But with Daniel Ricciardo running ahead in tenth, much as was the case for Bottas in last Sunday’s Mexico City race, Hamilton struggled to pass the customer Mercedes-engine-running McLaren.

At the end of lap 12, Hamilton got close enough to Ricciardo to close in with DRS and steam ahead on the outside line to Turn 1 at the start of the next lap, quickly pulling clear to chase Sebastian Vettel’s Aston Martin in ninth position.

After a couple of laps trailing Vettel, Hamilton powered by in near identical fashion to his pass on Ricciardo and then easily raced by Esteban Ocon and Pierre Gasly on the grid hatchings in successive laps to reach seventh place at the start of the 17th lap.

From there he had a few laps in clear air closing the gap to Charles Leclerc, unlike Sainz the second Ferrari driver was running the mediums, with Hamilton reaching the one minute, 12 seconds just as far ahead the leaders had slipped back to the one minute, 13 seconds.

At the start of lap 20 Hamilton was right with Leclerc, using DRS to blast by on the inside line into Turn 4 to rise to sixth and head off after Lando Norris, who had earlier muscled his way past Leclerc on his rise from seventh on the grid.

Hamilton roared up to his countryman’s rear over as the final laps ticked down, eventually seizing fifth with a bold lap move to Norris’s inside at the start of the final lap.

He eventually finished just 20.8 seconds behind Bottas, with Norris, Leclerc, Gasly, Ocon and Vettel completing the top ten in the order Hamilton had passed them.

Hamilton will start P10 for Sunday’s Sao Paulo Grand Prix as a result of his grid penalty for taking a new internal combustion engine for this event.

The only incident of note concerned the two Alfa Romeo drivers, who collided at the Turn 1 apex at the start of the race’s second lap, after they had gone either side of Alonso (who finished P12) in an early scrap over P11.

Raikkonen locked up as he swung towards Giovinazzi on the inside of the right-hander, with the Italian’s right-front touching his teammate’s left-rear and spinning him around and into the runoff at the edge of the track.

Over the rest of the race, Raikkonen recovered two spots to beat the Haas drivers to P18.

So an entertaining sprint qualifying race, helped by Lewis Hamilton getting disqualified over a DRS technical issue following Friday’s qualifying, by starting last and making amazing progress.

As for his Mercedes teammate, Valtteri Bottas did a superb job to jump Max Verstappen at the start and held off the championship leader to win pole position.

Sprint race results:
1 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 29:09.559
2 Max Verstappen Red Bull-Honda 1.170
3 Carlos Sainz Jr. Ferrari 18.723
4 Sergio Perez Red Bull-Honda 19.787
5 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 20.872
6 Lando Norris McLaren-Mercedes 22.558
7 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 25.056
8 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri-Honda 34.158
9 Esteban Ocon Alpine-Renault 34.632
10 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin-Mercedes 34.867
11 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren-Mercedes 35.869
12 Fernando Alonso Alpine-Renault 36.578
13 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 41.880
14 Lance Stroll Aston Martin-Mercedes 44.037
15 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri-Honda 46.150
16 Nicholas Latifi Williams-Mercedes 46.760
17 George Russell Williams-Mercedes 47.739
18 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 50.014
19 Mick Schumacher Haas-Ferrari 1:01.680
20 Nikita Mazepin Haas-Ferrari 1:07.474

2 thoughts to “Bottas wins sprint qualifying in Brazil”

  1. Sprint qualifying review as reported by

    Valtteri Bottas won the Sprint in Brazil to take pole position for the Sao Paulo Grand Prix ahead of Max Verstappen and Carlos Sainz, as Lewis Hamilton recovered from last place to fifth with a scintillating drive.

    Bottas, starting on soft tyres from P2, began with a huge launch off the line to pry the lead off medium-shod Verstappen, who went wide in the opening lap but rescued P2 by re-passing Sainz soon afterwards. As those soft tyres began to drop off, Verstappen closed in on Bottas but ended up 1.1s off the Finn for P2 at the flag. Sainz, meanwhile, held off Sergio Perez for the final point by a second.

    There was plenty of drama well before the Sao Paulo Sprint with Verstappen €50,000 out of pocket for touching and examining Hamilton’s wing in Parc Ferme – while the defending champion was disqualified from qualifying, relegating him from P1 the back of the grid. Mercedes later tweeted that they would not be appealing the decision, adding: “We want to win these World Championships on the race track.”

    And so attention turned from the stewards’ office to the track on Saturday evening: 24 laps of Interlagos, with three world championship points on the line for the winner. Verstappen would lead the field, Valtteri Bottas starting from second, Sergio Perez third on medium tyres and Hamilton 20th and last on mediums for the final Sprint of 2021.

    The lights went out and it was Bottas who had the advantage on his used soft tyres, Sainz storming from fifth to second on his used softs to push Verstappen out wide on Lap 1. The Dutchman – ruing a gear issue off the line – rejoined in third ahead of Perez. Further back, Hamilton had made it from last to 16th by the end of Lap 1 – taking P14 as Lap 2 began.

    Would the soft tyres hang on for the next 22 laps? Bottas, with a then-two-second lead, prayed that was the case; Verstappen hoped otherwise, passing Sainz for P2 at the end of Lap 3 as Hamilton swept past Tsunoda in a similar DRS-assisted fashion for P13, taking P12 off Antonio Giovinazzi soon after. The seven-time champion was clearly on a mission, and that new Mercedes engine was certainly up to the task.

    The caveat is that a five-place penalty awaits him for the Grand Prix on Sunday.

    Hamilton’s scythe through the pack continued as he went wheel-to-wheel with Alpine’s Fernando Alonso for P11 from Laps 6 to Lap 8 when he finally passed the two-time champion down the main straight, but Daniel Ricciardo proved a tougher obstacle.

    It was on Lap 13 that he pried P10 off that McLaren on the straight, Sebastian Vettel’s Aston Martin falling into his clutches in a carbon-copy-move on Lap 15. Esteban Ocon was next a lap later, then Pierre Gasly, as Hamilton was up in P7 behind Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, who was picked off into Turn 4 for P6 with four laps remaining. And on the final lap, Hamilton secured P5 off Lando Norris braking late into Turn 1 to cap off an unforgettable display. “It’s not over yet,” he said over the radio on the cool down lap.

    A little further up front, Sainz took the final point in P3 having withstood unrelenting pressure from Perez, who could not pass the Ferrari despite getting within a car’s length into Turn 1 a couple of times, and the Mexican therefore starts fourth on Sunday.

    Ferrari’s Leclerc was up to P5 at the start but lost the place to McLaren’s Norris, who passed him in a stunning battle through the esses that culminated tn the straight up to Turn 4 on Lap 9. Leclerc finished seventh at the end, Norris sixth.

    Pierre Gasly started fourth but fell to seventh on his brand-new medium compounds at the start, losing another place to Hamilton for P8 overall.

    Esteban Ocon finished ninth for Alpine having made it to eighth from 10th on Lap 1 with his new soft tyres, while Sebastian Vettel rounded out the Top 10. He kept McLaren’s Ricciardo behind in P11 while Fernando Alonso fell from P9 to P12.

    Alfa Romeo’s Kimi Raikkonen started on a new set of softs but lost his advantage, spinning after contact with fellow soft-shod team mate Antonio Giovinazzi, who finished 13th, at Turn 1 on Lap 2. The Finn soon passed Haas’s Nikita Mazepin (P20) for 19th then the other Haas of Mick Schumacher (P19) as he settled for 18th.

    Lance Stroll finished 14th from 15th for Aston Martin, while AlphaTauri’s Tsunoda couldn’t make use of his new soft compounds and fell three places in the Sprint.

    Behind Tsunoda were the Williams, Nicholas Latifi ahead of George Russell as the Canadian outqualified his team mate for the first time on Friday.

  2. After qualifying on pole position, Lewis Hamilton was disqualified following a DRS technical issue. The Mercedes driver was left feeling “devastating” ahead of sprint recovery. has the news story.

    Lewis Hamilton says the decision to disqualify him from qualifying ahead of Formula 1’s Sao Paulo Grand Prix was “devastating”, but could reset to perform a stunning sprint race recovery.

    Hamilton’s DRS flap was to adjudged to have opened beyond the 85mm maximum slot gap, and thus was disqualified from his first-place start in the sprint race following a breach of the technical regulations.

    Starting from the back, Hamilton was able to swashbuckle his way through the order in the 24-lap race, dispatching three-quarters of the field to climb up to fifth place in the sprint.

    Hamilton admitted that the decision to send him to the back of the grid was difficult to deal with, but explained that he was able to “reset” his mind and focus on making up ground in the Saturday race to improve his grid spot for Sunday.

    “It was definitely tough,” Hamilton told Sky F1.

    “While the team were working away, delegating with the stewards, I was just trying to focus on my work with my engineers and keeping the morale with my mechanics high and just focusing on the job at hand and not thinking about it.

    “Of course, just before I heard about the result, it was devastating. But you can’t let that hold you back, keep your head down, I’ve got to keep going.

    “And so I quickly reset, got my mind focused on doing what I could do you know, and just given it my everything.”

    Hamilton’s rapid ascent through the order will yield a 10th-place start in Sunday’s race at Interlagos, following an earlier penalty for taking a new Mercedes internal combustion engine.

    The seven-time F1 champion admitted that he didn’t know how far up the order he could get in the sprint before the race began, but explained he used a number of the options available behind the wheel to enact his recovery.

    “Honestly, I had no idea what was possible,” Hamilton said.

    “I didn’t set a limit or maximum. I think when I was at the back of the grid just before the start, before we pulled away for the formation lap, I think I might have been able to see like 10th.

    “And I was like, ‘Okay, that’s my goal, we’ve got to try and get as far up as possible’.

    “But then all of a sudden I was now chipping away at it much faster. And I really used a lot of different things for fuel today.

    “But you know, you can’t give up you got to keep pushing.”

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