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Sunday, December 5, 2021

10 issues we realized from 2021’s Brazilian Grand Prix

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Interlagos has hosted its fair proportion of Method 1 classics by way of the years, however Sunday’s Brazilian Grand Prix was one that can dwell lengthy within the reminiscence.

It proved to be a dramatic weekend each on and off the observe, but it surely was Lewis Hamilton who took victory to chop Max Verstappen’s lead at high of the drivers’ championship all the way down to 14 factors.

Hamilton did it the laborious manner, recovering from a qualifying exclusion on Friday that left him final on the grid for the dash race earlier than preventing his manner up the order, capping off his restoration with one other spirited wheel-to-wheel battle in opposition to Verstappen.

It stoked the hearth not solely between the 2 world championship rivals, but additionally between their respective Mercedes and Purple Bull squads as F1’s high groups renewed their political rivalry.

Listed here are 10 issues we realized from the 2021 Brazilian Grand Prix.

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Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, 1st place, celebrates on the rostrum along with his trophy

Photograph by: Steve Etherington / Motorsport Images

1. Interlagos was certainly one of Hamilton’s biggest F1 victories (Luke Smith)

Hamilton has at all times thrived within the face of adversity, however the vogue during which he fought again in Brazil final weekend certainly makes this certainly one of his biggest F1 victories.

The tempo of his Mercedes was undeniably a minimize above that of Verstappen’s Purple Bull. However to have handed each single automobile within the subject – and a few of them twice, because of the five-place grid penalty applied for the grand prix for taking a fresh engine – within the house of two days is an astonishing achievement, it doesn’t matter what manner you take a look at it.

Hamilton deliberate his strikes correctly, which means he prevented getting caught up in any incidents or drama which will have unfolded. He was significantly wise when passing the 2 Purple Bulls, backing out of a potential transfer across the exterior of Verstappen at Flip 4 earlier than finishing the overtake one lap later, having realized a lesson from being pressured off-track earlier (which we are going to get to later).

PLUS: How a Mercedes “Achilles’ heel” cost Verstappen in Hamilton’s Interlagos masterclass 

Hamilton might have simply let the setbacks all through the weekend weigh heavy on his shoulders. As an alternative, as he has such an inclination to do, he channelled it into giving himself extra to struggle for, making it among the best of his 101 grand prix wins.

Hamilton breezed through the pack from last on the sprint race grid to finish fifth

Hamilton breezed by way of the pack from final on the dash race grid to complete fifth

Photograph by: Jerry Andre / Motorsport Images

2. Mercedes’ straightline tempo benefit has piqued Purple Bull’s curiosity (LS)

The important thing swing between Purple Bull and Mercedes at Interlagos was the straightline speed advantage that Hamilton – armed along with his new engine – loved.

It made Flip 1 a simple spot for Hamilton to get his overtakes executed, with the extra assist of DRS permitting him to take pleasure in a velocity benefit of over 25km/h in opposition to different automobiles earlier than hitting the brakes.

All weekend lengthy, although, Purple Bull had been expressing intrigue in how Mercedes was attaining such an enormous high velocity. Technical chief Adrian Newey met with the FIA to debate the Mercedes rear wing earlier within the weekend, whereas Verstappen’s fine-inducing touches on Hamilton’s rear wing in parc ferme was motivated by a desire to see “how much the rear wing was flexing at that time”.

Purple Bull boss Christian Horner mentioned the tempo distinction was one thing for Purple Bull to try to perceive, however that the team would “keep an eye” on Mercedes’ rear wing amid its “mind-boggling” velocity.

Ought to Hamilton and Mercedes be capable of carry the tempo over to the ultimate three races, it might be a decisive swing within the title race if Purple Bull can not reply.

Wolff was outspoken in his criticism of decisions that went against his team in Brazil

Wolff was outspoken in his criticism of choices that went in opposition to his crew in Brazil

Photograph by: Steve Etherington / Motorsport Images

3. The political drama is much from over in F1 this 12 months (LS)

Toto Wolff said after Sunday’s race in Brazil that “diplomacy has ended” following a fraught weekend that noticed Mercedes spend as a lot time within the stewards’ room because it did with automobiles on-track.

Mercedes referred to as the choice to exclude Hamilton from qualifying “harsh”, noting how damaged parts can typically be fixed under parc ferme conditions – one thing Purple Bull has executed with its rear wing on the final three races – and that it didn’t have the prospect to analyse the harm as a result of the half was impounded.

Purple Bull, predictably, noticed it in a different way, saying that it was a black-and-white binary case of a component both complying with the technical checks or not.

Wolff made clear that Mercedes would now be conserving an much more eagle eye on its rivals within the occasion of any breaches.

“If the modus operandi is completely different now, you perhaps want to have a look at others additionally with a extra strict eye and extreme eye,” he mentioned on Saturday earlier than making reference to Purple Bull’s current parc ferme wing modifications on Sunday.

After all the back-and-forth between Mercedes and Purple Bull earlier this 12 months over flexi-wings and the Hamilton/Verstappen clashes, this seems set to be the ultimate spherical of fireworks to shut out the season.

Verstappen's forceful defence against Hamilton at Turn 4 wasn't investigated

Verstappen’s forceful defence in opposition to Hamilton at Flip 4 wasn’t investigated

Photograph by: Charles Coates / Motorsport Images

4. Verstappen pushed the restrict – and crossed a line – in his Flip 4 defence (Tom Howard)

In a weekend not wanting flash factors, the most important of Sunday’s race centred round Verstappen’s sturdy defence whereas battling Hamilton at Flip 4.

Within the eyes of tv commentators, Mercedes and a swathe of followers, Verstappen had crossed the road and was fortunate to keep away from a penalty for operating himself and Hamilton huge onto the run off at Flip 4 whereas defending Hamilton’s tried move across the exterior.

Curiously, it didn’t warrant an investigation by the stewards as race director Michael Masi took a “let them race” approach – regardless of admitting after the race that the incident virtually warranted a black and white flag, which appears considerably of a contradiction.

The choice to not award a penalty, described as “laughable” by Mercedes boss Wolff, was taken with out race management seeing onboard imaginative and prescient which might decide if Verstappen had tried to make the nook. Verstappen blamed his Turn 4 wash out on worn tyres.

A warning was issued to Verstappen for weaving in his defence on the straight in direction of Flip 4, outlining the sturdy nature of his defensive driving, however the name was once more baffling when no investigation was referred to as for the sooner close to miss.

Perez wasn't willing to try a risky pass on Sainz in the sprint and potentially lose valuable track position for the Grand Prix from contact

Perez wasn’t prepared to attempt a dangerous move on Sainz within the dash and doubtlessly lose invaluable observe place for the Grand Prix from contact

Photograph by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

5. Followers stay unconvinced regardless of F1’s finest dash but (LS)

The third and closing dash race of the 2021 season provided much more motion than both Silverstone or Monza – however a lot of that was due to Hamilton’s cost, not the format itself.

The very fact this was a dash weekend definitely helped Hamilton’s restoration (even when critics might argue it additionally denied the total fightback coming within the race), and he proved that it’s potential to have the sort of flat-out overtake-fest that F1 so dearly need the sprints to be.

However that each one will depend on automobiles being out of place. Sergio Perez spent many of the dash race lurking simply behind Carlos Sainz Jr, however admitted afterwards he did not feel he could take a risk to make a pass as he would within the race as a result of there may be an excessive amount of to lose.

F1 definitely has tweaks to make to the format because it seems to develop it to extra races subsequent 12 months, however the ‘success’ of Saturday shouldn’t be taken as an awesome win for the format as an entire. If something, Hamilton’s struggle by way of the sector lends larger power to the argument that – whisper it – reverse grids would offer the sort of Saturday pleasure desired, albeit artificially.

Following the stewards' ruling against Verstappen, Vettel would be advised not to continue inspecting rivals' machines in parc ferme

Following the stewards’ ruling in opposition to Verstappen, Vettel can be suggested to not proceed inspecting rivals’ machines in parc ferme

Photograph by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images

6. ‘Inspector Seb’ is now sadly a factor of the previous (Megan White)

His antics in parc ferme have a whole Subreddit devoted to them, however Inspector Seb – Sebastian Vettel’s post-session, car-snooping alter-ego – could also be no extra after this weekend’s controversy.

Whether or not it’s testing Hamilton and Perez’s automobiles after qualifying in Monaco this 12 months, or peering below the Mercedes’ entrance wing on the Russian GP in 2019, Vettel has lengthy been famed for investigating different automobiles.

However Verstappen’s €50,000 fine for touching Hamilton’s wing prompted the FIA to say it will be strictly policing such strikes in future, spelling the top for everybody’s favorite meme.

Vettel himself even joked about it over his radio, telling his Aston Martin engineers that he was “going to the touch Hamilton’s rear wing” after the dash race, to which they responded: “Do not you dare! Very costly”.

Ever the joker, the four-time world champion replied: “I am joking! I will attempt the entrance wing, perhaps it is €25,000…”

Gasly kept the Alpines at bay to keep AlphaTauri in the hunt

Gasly stored the Alpines at bay to maintain AlphaTauri within the hunt

Photograph by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

7. Gasly is conserving AlphaTauri’s P5 hopes alive single-handed (Haydn Cobb)

With Yuki Tsunoda enduring a troublesome studying curve in his rookie F1 marketing campaign, it has been left to Pierre Gasly to guide the AlphaTauri cost in opposition to Alpine for fifth place within the constructors’ standings.

For the second race in a row, each groups go away the circuit on equal factors – Alpine forward on countback because of Esteban Ocon’s Hungarian GP win – however in fact it’s Gasly’s one-man siege which has the higher hand with three races to go.

The AlphaTauri package deal has been in a position to problem even the likes of Ferrari and McLaren in current races, Gasly as soon as once more proving that truth by qualifying as ‘better of the remaining’ behind the Mercedes and Purple Bull drivers at Interlagos.

PLUS: Brazilian Grand Prix Driver Ratings 

Whereas the dash didn’t fairly comply with swimsuit, with Gasly dropping to eighth on the highway which turned seventh on the grid for the grand prix following Hamilton’s grid penalty, the Frenchman held his personal by ending seventh to match the factors haul of the 2 Alpines.

Gasly was significantly spectacular preventing tag-team duo Fernando Alonso and Ocon, with each Alpines choosing an aggressive one-stop technique to achieve observe place on the AlphaTauri driver, earlier than slipstreaming one another with DRS in an try to maintain Gasly at bay.

However the 2020 Italian GP winner assessed the scenario, adjusted his attacking traces and made mild work of passing each Alpines on consecutive laps.

As Yuki Tsunoda continues to journey over himself or his rivals, his newest fake pas coming in contacting Lance Stroll, AlphaTauri might be determined for Gasly to take care of his present type over the ultimate three races to complete off a shocking one-versus-two win.

Mazepin gave emotional interview after another Q1 elimination

Mazepin gave emotional interview after one other Q1 elimination

Photograph by: Andy Hone / Motorsport Images

8. Mazepin’s emotion highlighted his rookie problem (HC)

It’s usually laborious to really feel sympathetic to Nikita Mazepin. The son of a Russian billionaire, he is a Method 1 driver with an detached document on the observe and a good worse fame away from it.

Loads of remorse and repentance got here from Mazepin amid the fallout from a video, posted to his personal social media account, of him grabbing a mates’ breast. It made him F1’s new villain earlier than even making his race debut, and crashing on the third nook of his Bahrain bow hardly helped issues.

Since then the 22-year-old has made progress, albeit in a woefully underdeveloped and laborious to deal with Haas VF-21, however has frequently been at conflict with team-mate Mick Schumacher whereas additionally turning into a nuisance by merely getting in the way in which of his rivals.

The pressures of his rookie 12 months within the F1 highlight, exacerbated by a recent Mexican nightclub incident, lastly informed on the Brazilian GP as his normally steely outward look cracked. Mazepin was visibly emotional in front of the media after one other robust qualifying in final place, the revealing second displaying him at first as a human being.

It’s true that Mazepin has been given a a lot harsher therapy by followers and onlookers in comparison with his fellow rookies Schumacher and Tsunoda, who’ve additionally made their fair proportion of errors this season. However, whereas most of it’s justified, it doesn’t detract from the very fact Mazepin remains to be making an attempt his finest and discovering his manner within the brutal lifetime of an F1 driver. He isn’t the primary nor will he be the final to expertise it, but it surely would possibly act as a turning level for him.

Delays in freight arriving at the circuit from Mexico meant a long night to be ready for action on Friday

Delays in freight arriving on the circuit from Mexico meant an extended night time to be prepared for motion on Friday

Photograph by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

9. This triple-header has been F1’s hardest up to now (MW)

It’s been an extended few weeks in F1. Starting in Mexico, earlier than travelling to Brazil and heading onto Qatar, groups could have coated over 12,000 miles by the top of subsequent weekend’s inaugural race within the Gulf state neighbouring Bahrain.

Drivers themselves have criticised the gruelling schedule, with Gasly describing it as “brutal,” whereas Alonso said it was “on the limit” for teams. They after all could have variety flights in top notch and one of the best resorts potential, a luxurious not afforded to lots of their colleagues who burn the midnight oil to get the crew from race to race.

Freight delays forward of the Sao Paulo Grand Prix didn’t assist issues, with the late arrival of automobiles forcing teams to work into the night to ensure they were prepared in time for Friday’s FP1 session. And it doesn’t look set to get any simpler subsequent 12 months, with a document 23-race calendar deliberate.

Szafnauer faced questions over a move to Alpine

Szafnauer confronted questions over a transfer to Alpine

Photograph by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images

10. Intrigue stays over Szafnauer’s Aston Martin future (TH)

The way forward for Aston Martin crew principal Otmar Szafnauer stays a sizzling matter as news of shock switch to Alpine broke over the weekend.

Szafnauer tried to brush off the story first on social media earlier than then dealing with a barrage of questions from the media, however he got here throughout like an ungainly politician not prepared to straight reply a query.

Whereas he tried to deflect questions, his strongest reply was “I have been on the crew for 12 years, I have no intention of leaving.”

When straight requested to rule out a transfer to Alpine sooner or later, his reply was telling: “I realized an extended, very long time in the past that predicting the long run is an impossibility. And if I might try this, I might be in Vegas now.”

The {old} saying ‘there is no such thing as a smoke with out hearth’ seems to use right here. Time will inform if he certainly makes the change from inexperienced to blue, as Alpine seems to restructure for 2022.

Szafnauer maintained that he was staying at Aston, but his answers weren't convincing

Szafnauer maintained that he was staying at Aston, however his solutions weren’t convincing

Photograph by: FIA Pool



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