Bottas holds off Verstappen to take Brazilian Grand Prix pole

November 14, 2021

Lewis Hamilton recovers to P5 from the back of the grid after DRS infringement disqualified him from qualifying.



Valtteri Bottas did his teammate a world of good as he took pole position at the Sprint qualifying at the Interlagos circuit, fending off a charging Max Verstappen.

After putting in a phenomenal drive on Friday, Lewis Hamilton was disqualified from Friday’s qualifying just an hour before the start of the Sprint for a technical infringement on the rear wing of his car, which left him starting the Sprint right from the back of the grid.

Verstappen, who was seen handling Hamilton’s car in Parc Ferme, was fined €50,000.

Hamilton though, once again put in a sublime drive to charge through the field with some vintage Hamilton moves to finish P5. Given his engine penalty, it means the defending World Champion will start the race P10, something he would have happily taken after being disqualified from qualifying.

Behind Verstappen, Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz also put in an impressive drive, which saw him finish P3; he will start on the second row ahead of Verstappen’s teammate, Sergio Pérez, who lost out on a place from his starting position.

Bottas’ pole is all the more crucial as it helps Mercedes maintain a lead over Red Bull in the Constructors’ Championship and limits Verstappen from increasing his lead over Hamilton.

A frantic start saw Verstappen struggle to get away well. Bottas, who started P2 after Hamilton’s disqualification, breezed off the line, and starting on the softer compound tyres compared to Verstappen’s mediums, the Finn was in the lead and zoomed away even before we could get into Turn 1.

Right behind the top two, Carlos Sainz attacked Pérez, and Sainz, who was another one starting on the softs like Bottas, used his momentum to even dive past Verstappen.

Like his teammate up front, Hamilton also made up places at the back of the grid, and by the second lap he was already up to P14.

The action did not stop as the Alfa Romeos of Antonio Giovinazzi and Kimi Räikkönen came together, with the Italian making contact with the 2007 World Champion that left the Finn falling down to the bottom of the grid.

Up front, Bottas sped away and made the most of the cooler temperature and his soft set of tyres, opening up a two-and-a-half-second gap to Sainz. Verstappen, though, managed to get past Sainz on Lap 4, sweeping past the Ferrari on the main straight.

Verstappen’s championship rival kept his charge ongoing behind as he picked off Giovinazzi and Alonso by Lap 8. Like a man on a mission, Hamilton was hunting down the pack one by one, and the 24-lap Sprint seemed like 24 laps too many for Verstappen to retake the lead.

Verstappen managed to bring the two-second gap in front down to just over a second, but the Dutchman just didn’t have the pace to catch Bottas’ Mercedes that had superior top speed.

At the back, that top speed was being used perfectly by Hamilton, who broke into the top 10 by zooming past the McLaren of Daniel Ricciardo on Lap 13. The seven-time World Champion had already made up an incredible ten places within the half distance of the Sprint and knew he had to push further up given that he had an incoming grid penalty for Sunday.

After Ricciardo, it was the Australian’s former Red Bull teammate and Hamilton’s former championship rival Sebastian Vettel up front, and although the German didn’t have the pace that Hamilton had, the four-time World Champion managed to hold off Hamilton for a couple of laps before the Brit put in a similar move on Vettel as he did on Ricciardo.

Further up, just as Verstappen was struggling to catch Bottas, his teammate, who was within DRS range of Carlos Sainz since the fourth lap, just couldn’t get past the Ferrari, even though the Spaniard was on the radio multiple times, complaining about his tyres falling off.

By Lap 20, Hamilton was up to sixth place, making easy work of Esteban Ocon, Pierre Gasly and Charles Leclerc, and he wasn’t done yet. Lando Norris, the McLaren driver who was celebrating his 22nd birthday, didn’t have the best present one could ask for — a Lewis Hamilton charging behind you. The young Brit did manage to hold off his compatriot for a couple of laps, but on the final lap, Hamilton put in an incredible move on the main straight going into Turn 1 to sweep past Norris on the inside of his McLaren.

Meanwhile, his championship rival was struggling to stay within DRS range of Bottas, and as the final few corners came in, Bottas was comfortably ahead.

Sainz held off the other Red Bull brilliantly to take P3 and a point, which will definitely help them in their Constructors’ battle with Ferrari.

Bottas eventually took the chequered flag first to take pole, and with Sainz splitting the two Red Bulls, it wasn’t too bad a result for Mercedes.

Hamilton’s supreme drive from the back of the field means his P5 will see him start P10 after his engine penalty, and given the pace and performance Hamilton showed on Saturday, he is more than in with a shot of not only a podium but maybe more as well.


Starting Grid

Valtteri Bottas

Max Verstappen

Carlos Sainz

Sergio Pérez

Lando Norris

Charles Leclerc

Pierre Gasly

Esteban Ocon

Lewis Hamilton*

Sebastian Vettel

Daniel Ricciardo

Fernando Alonso

Antonio Giovinazzi

Lance Stroll

Yuki Tsunoda

Nicholas Latifi

George Russell

Kimi Räikkönen

Mick Schumacher

Nikita Mazepin

*Engine penalty


Aditya Chaudhuri

Hailing from the City of Joy, the things that bring me joy are cricket, a good non-tilt CS:GO session, F1 and movies.

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