Hamilton tops Brazil qualifying, gets 5-place grid penalty

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The Brazilian Grand Prix will be the third event of the season with a qualifying sprint race on Saturday to set Sunday’s grid.

Lewis Hamilton beat rival Max Verstappen in qualifying and take pole position in Saturday’s sprint race ahead of the Brazilian Grand Prix, although the engine change means the British rider will face a five-seat penalty on Sunday’s grid.

Hamilton beat his rival from Red Bull on November 12 in Interlagos qualifying by more than 0.4 seconds, and also showed the best time in the morning practice. This means that he will start first in the sprint race on November 13, which will determine the starting grid for the Grand Prix on Sunday.

However, the solution Mercedes Changing the car’s engine means the British rider doesn’t start above sixth in Sunday’s race, even if he wins the sprint.

“Today was a really good qualifying session and I’m very happy with it,” Hamilton said. “We have a penalty, but we will do everything we have. It’s not easy to follow, but I think Max starts at the pole [Sunday] now, so it will be very difficult to catch him, but I will do my best to try to get through the field. “

The seven-time F1 champion is 19 points behind Verstappen in the four-race standings to the end of the season.

This is the second time a Mercedes driver has exceeded the limit of three engines per season, and the penalty will make it even more difficult to close the gap with Verstappen.

Valtteri Bottas of Mercedes finished third in qualifying, 0.014 ahead of Sergio Perez of Red Bull, who was faster in training hours earlier.

The Red Bulls were faster than Mercedes cars in recent races, but Verstappen said Hamilton’s November 12 performance was not a “big shock” after the engine change.

“I’m just happy to be second. This is a good place to start, ”he said. “You always want to be closer, but sometimes you just need to be realistic.”

Hamilton received a 10-seater fine for a new engine in Turkey… Bottas faced similar problems, which raised doubts about the reliability of the engine.

Mercedes team chief Toto Wolff said the Hamilton engine was replaced due to performance degradation, adding that the problem “will continue for the rest of the season.”

“We have not yet figured out why this is so, but we are only seeing it gradually decrease,” Wolf said.

The Brazilian Grand Prix will be the third event of the season with a qualifying sprint race on Saturday to set Sunday’s grid. The previous two sprint races took place at Silverstone and Monza.

Weather can still play a role in Interlagos, although light rain will fall on some sections of the track on 12 November, but this is not enough to affect the performance of the pilots.

The rain will certainly not affect the mood in the stands of Interlagos as the crowd cheers loudly for the riders during Friday sessions. In the three days of racing after last year’s Grand Prix was canceled due to the pandemic, a total of 1.70,000 fans are expected to attend. Health restrictions on sporting events in Brazil were lifted on November 1.

Brazil has reported more than 610,000 coronavirus deaths, but the rate has dropped sharply across the country.

Eugenio Silvano (54) came from the capital of Brazil to enjoy all three days at Interlagos. Wearing a “Ayrton Senna Forever” T-shirt in Portuguese and a Brazilian green and yellow mask, he said that coming to the race in Sao Paulo was the highlight of his year after losing two friends to the virus.

“One of them would probably like to come here too, he was 63 years old and a big fan of racing,” said Mr. Silvano. “I know the pandemic is not over yet. This is the first trip I have undertaken in almost two years, but I had to come, both for myself and for those who could not. “



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