Grand Prix of Brazil – Qualifying & Sprint


The Grand Prix of Mexico was only a few days ago, and freight shipping problems have meant a hectic couple of days for many of the mechanics; the stewards have given special dispensation for the teams to work late on preparing the cars.

A quick reminder on the World Championship standings: VER is 19 points ahead of HAM, but there’s 29 points available this weekend and then 3 more races to go; Mercedes are just one point ahead of Red Bull, with Ferrari now third.

Also, a reminder of the sprint format they’ll follow this weekend (same as they did in Silverstone and Monza):

Day Morning Afternoon
Fri FP1 Quali (sets grid for the sprint)
Sat FP2 Sprint (sets grid for the race)
Sun Race

Free Practice 1 (FP1):
Risk of rain during FP1 = 60%
Mercedes confirm they’ve replaced the internal combustion engine (ICE) in HAM’s car, so that means he’ll drop 5 places on the grid for the race
Radio from STR reporting it’s drizzling a bit
Radio from HAM, “The front (tyres) are bouncing across the track”
Big lock up for RIC
RAI locks up and runs wide
Top 10: HAM (1:09.050), VER, PER, BOT, GAS, SAI, LEC, OCO, ALO, STR

Qualifying session 1 (Q1):
Chequered flag; bottom 5 are STR, LAT, SCH, GIO, MAZ
LAT P15, relegating RUS to P16
SCH P18
STR P13, LAT to P16
MAZ P20
GIO P6, RAI P16
RAI P13, OCO P16
OCO P12, STR P16
RUS P18
Back of the grid: STR, LAT, RUS, SCH, MAZ

Qualifying session 2 (Q2):
Chequered flag; bottom 5 are NOR, TSU, VET, RAI, GIO
VET P12
NOR P7, OCO P11
HAM 1:08.068
RAI P14
Middle of the grid: OCO, VET, TSU, RAI, GIO

Qualifying session 3 (Q3):
Top 10 shootout is between HAM, LEC, GAS, PER, SAI, ALO, BOT, VER, NOR and RIC
LEC 1:09.403
SAI 1:08.986
ALO P2
GAS 1:08.965
PER 1:08.838
HAM 1:08.107
BOT P2
VER P2
Order after first run: HAM, VER, BOT, PER, GAS, SAI, NOR, ALO, RIC, LEC
Everyone heading out for a final run
ALO P8
LEC P5
Chequered flag
SAI P4
GAS P4
VER P2
PER P4
HAM 1:07.934
NOR P8
RIC P8
Front of the grid: HAM*, VER, BOT, PER, GAS, SAI, LEC, NOR, RIC, ALO
*HAM’s 5-place penalty will drop him to P6 for the start of the race (not the sprint)

Provisional grid for the Sprint: HAM*, VER, BOT, PER, GAS, SAI, LEC, NOR, RIC, ALO, OCO, VET, TSU, RAI, GIO, STR, LAT, RUS, SCH, MAZ

“Lewis Hamilton could be at risk of a further penalty at this weekend’s Sao Paulo Grand Prix after his car was referred to the stewards for a technical infringement after qualifying.” [FIA]
However, the stewards announced there would be no decision until Saturday morning.
Just after that announcement, the stewards confirmed they’ll be calling VER to see them in the morning for an “alleged breach of Article 2.5.1 of the FIA International Sporting Code”. That article states that “in the Parc Ferme, only the officials assigned may enter. No operation, checking, tuning or repair is allowed unless authorised by the same officials or by the applicable regulations.” A fan’s video shows VER approaching HAM’s car in Parc Ferme, apparently showing him touching the rear wing of the Mercedes.

Free Practice 2 (FP2):
McLaren celebrated NOR’s 22nd birthday this morning
Mercedes have been given the OK to change HAM’s rear wing; no word from the stewards about the infringement but Mercedes need to ensure it is legal for the rest of the weekend
RAI 1:14.584
PER 1:13.359
PER 1:13.219
VER 1:12.102
20mins into FP2; the media scrum parts to let HAM exit the garage
LEC’s lap time was deleted for exceeding track limits
ALO 1:11.238
Radio from OCO, concerned about a noise he heard as he left the Alpine garage
Radio from GAS describing his AlphaTauri as “undrivable”
Top 10: ALO (1:11.238), VER, BOT, OCO, HAM, PER, GIO, SAI, LEC, RAI

The stewards have fined VER €50,000 for touching and examining the rear wing of HAM’s car in Parc Ferme [FIA]

BBC report “Lewis Hamilton disqualified from qualifying at the Sao Paulo Grand Prix over a rear-wing infringement.” [FIA]
HAM will start today’s sprint from the back of the grid, and then tomorrow will have his 5-place penalty applied to the grid for the race.
Mercedes tweeted to say they won’t appeal HAM’s penalty

Sprint (don’t call it a race):
Grid: VER, BOT, PER, GAS, SAI, LEC, NOR, RIC, ALO, OCO, VET, TSU, RAI, GIO, STR, LAT, RUS, SCH, MAZ, HAM
Air temperature 16°C; track 35°C; chance of rain 0%
VER leads everyone away on the formation lap
Looks like most are on mediums; BOT, GAS, SAI on softs
Interesting to see HAM is on mediums

01/24: BOT leads into Turn 1
HAM already up to P16
VER runs wide, rejoins P3

02: BOT, SAI, VER, PER, LEC, NOR, GAS, OCO, VET, RIC; HAM=P14
RAI spins; rejoins P20

03: BOT fastest lap 1:12.973 (No point for f/lap in Sprint)
Radio from VER reporting a problem with the gear sync; engineer calmly says there’s a long way to go
HAM still stuck behind TSU

04: BOT f/lap 1:12.833
VER inside SAI for P2
HAM past TSU for P13

05/24: BOT, VER, SAI, PER, LEC, NOR, GAS, OCO, VET, RIC, ALO, HAM, GIO, TSU, STR, LAT, RUS, SCH, RAI, MAZ
VER f/lap 1:12.393
HAM past GIO for P12
No investigation necessary for the RAI-GIO incident on lap 2

06: HAM f/lap 1:12.357 – he’s closing on ALO

07: VER f/lap 1:12.187
HAM has DRS behind ALO, but ALO has DRS too

08: VER just under 2sec behind BOT
HAM’s passed ALO for P11
NOR all over LEC’s rear wing

09: NOR takes P5 from LEC

10/24: BOT, VER, SAI, PER, NOR, LEC, GAS, OCO, VET, RIC, HAM, ALO
VER f/lap 1:12.114
HAM lining up to pass RIC but they both have DRS and they’re both on medium tyres

12: PER takes a look inside SAI but the Ferrari hangs on to P3

Half distance; track temp has dropped 2°C since the start of this sprint

13: HAM around the outside of RIC to steal P10
HAM looks outside then inside VET

14: BOT’s lead barely over 1sec so VER will soon get DRS to attack

15/24: BOT, VER, SAI, PER, NOR, LEC, GAS, OCO, HAM, VET
HAM around VET to take P9
Radio from STR whining about “no traction”

16: HAM takes P8 from OCO

17: VER fills BOT’s mirrors
HAM sweeps past GAS for P7
Radio from SAI complaining his soft tyres are going off; he’s 15sec behind VER
Radio for VER telling him to bide his time

18: Radio for PER telling him there’s 6 laps to go, SAI’s tyres “have got to be hurting”

20/24: BOT, VER, SAI, PER, NOR, LEC, HAM, GAS, OCO, VET
HAM breezes past LEC for P6

21: The clouds are looking ominous but it’s too late to affect this race sprint
HAM closing on NOR

23: VER closes up, he’s now inside DRS range

24 = final lap: HAM lunges up the inside of NOR to take P5

BOT takes the chequered flag; “Pooooooooole in Brazil!” 🙂

Provisional result = grid for the race: BOT, VER, SAI, PER, HAM*, NOR, LEC, GAS, OCO, VET, RIC, ALO, GIO, STR, TSU, LAT, RUS, RAI, SCH, MAZ
*HAM’s 5-place penalty will drop him to P10 for tomorrow’s grid

Interviews:
BOT: “The start was key for me, to have a great start. We gambled on the soft tyre. It was tricky in the end but Max struggled to follow in certain corners.”
VER: “The start itself wasn’t the best but we were also on the harder compound which didn’t help. The pace felt good but around here once you close up you can’t really pass. We try again tomorrow.”
SAI: “The start was great, I needed one – starts have been an area I wanted to improve. The first three corners I just wanted to attack, it was tight with Checo and Max but we made it work. I managed to keep Checo behind, the pace was good and we managed on the tyres.”

[2021 calendar] [2021 line-up] [Points standings]