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Hamilton conjures vital victory with brilliant last-to-first São Paulo weekend

Hamilton conjures vital victory with brilliant last-to-first São Paulo weekend

Hamilton conjures vital victory with brilliant last-to-first São Paulo weekend

Hamilton conjures vital victory with brilliant last-to-first São Paulo weekend

Lewis Hamilton rescued his São Paulo Grand Prix weekend from the ashes of his qualifying disqualification with a vital victory to retain his hopes of a record-breaking eighth F1 world title.

The despondency felt by Hamilton and Mercedes after he was thrown to the back of the grid for Saturday's sprint following a technical infringement was eased by a stellar drive in the 24-lap event as he made up 15 places.

Starting from 10th on the grid for the main race after taking a new internal combustion engine, Hamilton soon scythed his way up to second and so began a pursuit of Red Bull's Max Verstappen.

The first attempt on lap 48 almost ended in another collision between the two, with Verstappen escaping a penalty despite forcing Hamilton off the track.

Hamilton had to wait another 11 laps before being offered up a second opportunity, and on this occasion, he made the move stick to claim his 101st win and move to 14 points adrift of the Dutch driver with three races remaining.

With Valtteri Bottas finishing third and Sergio Perez fourth, there is a 11-point cushion between the two constructors in favour of Mercedes.

Ferrari claimed fifth and sixth, with Charles Leclerc ahead of Carlos Sainz to increase the team's grip on third place in the constructors' championship as McLaren again only collected a point courtesy of Lando Norris' 10th, with Daniel Ricciardo retiring with a power unit problem.

AlphaTauri's Pierre Gasly, and Alpine duo Esteban Ocon and Fernando Alonso in his Alpine completed the top 10 in an enthralling 71-lap race.

As Bottas attacked Verstappen off the start line in the sprint, aided by soft tyres on that occasion, so the Dutch driver gained revenge on the Finn once the five red lights disappeared for the grand prix.

Verstappen managed to head into the Senna S with his nose in front, forcing Bottas to run wide on exit which then left him vulnerable to Perez.

On the run to the sweeping left-hander at turn four, Bottas took too acute a line and again ran wide, allowing Perez to cut through to second and complete a dream start for Red Bull.

Behind the leading trio, however, Hamilton again made up four places on the first lap, as he did in the sprint, passing Ocon into turn one initially, with another position made up due toNorris sustaining a puncture.

That was due to the driver ahead of him in former Sainz suffering a slow getaway in his Ferrari.

Norris immediately moved to the right of the Spanish driver but in believing he had cleared him, sustained the puncture to his rear-left tyre that clipped the front-right of the SF21, leading to a long crawl to return to the pits for a change.

As the opening lap unfolded, Hamilton cut his way past Gasly and Sebastian Vettel in his Aston Martin.

Along the pit straight on each of the next two laps, Hamilton breezed past first Sainz and then his team-mate Leclerc before Bottas pulled to one side on the following lap to allow the Briton through into third.

Soon after, AlphaTauri's Yuki Tsunoda attempted an audacious move on Lance Stroll on the inside into turn one, sustaining considerable damage that was strewn across the track, and which earned him a 10-second penalty for causing a collision.

FIA race director Michael Masi eventually called a safety car to allow marshals to clear the track, resulting in the field filing through the pit lane for two laps.

Once that ended, just as Hamilton was then poised to attack Perez soon after, a virtual safety car was called after Mick Schumacher lost parts of his Haas front wing following contact with the Alfa Romeo of Kimi Raikkonen.

Following two laps of the VSC, Hamilton had to wait until lap 18 before passing Perez into turn one, only for the Mexican to immediately counter in the second DRS zone on the approach to turn four.

At the following lap, Hamilton again made a move on Perez into turn one, and on this occasion managed to pull away out of the Senna S to ensure there was no repeat counter move into turn four.

At that stage, Hamilton was left with a 3.9s gap to leader Verstappen which remained stable until he was pitted at the end of lap 26, with Mercedes turning him around in a solid 2.4s, switching him from the opening-stint medium compound to the hards.

Verstappen followed a lap later to cover, with Red Bull matching Mercedes in terms of pit stop time, but as the duo crossed the line next time around, the gap was 1.607s.

Following a short VSC, after Stroll lost bits of bodywork on the main straight as a result of the earlier collision with Tsunoda, Mercedes took advantage to pull in Bottas who was able to jump Perez for third place.

But there was no soaring past Verstappen as Hamilton had done with many of the other drivers over the two days for while the Mercedes had the edge in the fast first and third sectors, the Red Bull was comfortably quicker in the slower middle sector.

Instead, Red Bull hauled in Verstappen again for another set of hard tyres with 30 laps remaining, surprisingly followed by first Bottas and then Perez, with Hamilton left out until lap 43, with his final set of rubber three laps fresher.

Hamilton immediately put in the fastest lap to close to 1.317s, followed by another to move to within 0.6s until on lap 48 Hamilton had the pace with DRS to attack into turn four.

Verstappen, however, forced Hamilton wide, leading to both running off the track such was the aggressive nature of the former's move, and following a look from the stewards they decided no investigation was necessary.

On lap 59, the critical moment arrived, with Hamilton close to Verstappen out of the Senna S before using the tow to sweep past, and on this occasion early enough that the latter could not defend through turn four.

Hamilton eventually took the chequered flag by 10.496s from Verstappen.

Red Bull had one last card to play as the team hauled in Perez on the penultimate lap for him to then set the fastest lap on the final lap and take a point away from Hamilton.

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