Brazilian GP FP1 Report: Lewis Hamilton Handed 5-Place Penalty in Blow to F1 Fight Against Verstappen

Published 11/12/2021, 11:30 AM EST
Formula One F1 – Brazilian Grand Prix – Jose Carlos Pace Circuit, Sao Paulo, Brazil – November 12, 2021 Red Bull’s Max Verstappen in action during practice REUTERS/Amanda Perobelli


Lewis Hamilton topped the timesheets over the first F1 practice session to gain an early advantage ahead of qualifying at the Sao Paulo Grand Prix.

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Max Verstappen clinched P2 for Red Bull ahead of his own teammate, Sergio Perez, who is certainly looking to extend his Mexican GP form into Brazil. Meanwhile, the other Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas looked quite shaky throughout the session, struggling to keep up with the top 3.

How the F1 session unfolded

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Struggles for Verstappen & Hamilton

Even before the lights went green, a lot of cars rushed to the pit exit to gain track advantage. And why wouldn’t they, considering it’s the sprint weekend and the fact that the teams have to get their cars’ set-ups to absolute perfection in less than 4 hours, every minute of the 60-minute session was crucial.

Formula One F1 – Brazilian Grand Prix – Jose Carlos Pace Circuit, Sao Paulo, Brazil – November 12, 2021 Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton in action during practice REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes

As expected, complaints started falling into the ears of the race engineers, and it was Verstappen who started off the proceedings. The Dutchman raised vibration issues with the tires. But, David Croft reckoned the vibrations might have something to do with Pirelli’s tire weight issues amidst the time crunch due to the freight delay.

But, Verstappen wouldn’t worry much, as another announcement consequently arrived – a 5-place grid penalty for Hamilton for a new ICE at the back of the Mercedes. What’s more, the Briton also complained of a “poor front“, possibly due to stiff suspension, causing the car to bounce a bit too much.

Why Lewis Hamilton only receives a 5-place grid penalty instead of 10

This is a question many of you would be wondering, why does Hamilton only receive 1 5-place grid penalty, considering it was 10-place in Turkey for the same ICE change?

Formula One F1 – Brazilian Grand Prix – Jose Carlos Pace Circuit, Sao Paulo, Brazil – November 12, 2021 Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettel in action during practice REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes

Well, according to the rulebooks, when a driver exceeds the limit of 3 for any engine part, they would have to take up a 10-place grid penalty, which Hamilton served at Istanbul.

However, for every follow-up change with respect to that particular part, the punishment is minimized to just 5-place. Hence, the Briton will start as high as P6 for Sunday’s main race.

Runs on medium/hard tires – how the F1 drivers fared

Well, all eyes were obviously on Mercedes and Red Bull’s pace. Although too early to infer, Verstappen was miles ahead of his rival; The Dutchman posted a lap time of 1:10:189, 0.8s quicker than the 7-time world champion.

But, then arrived the runs on lower fuel load. And yet again, Verstappen topped the charts with a 1:09:417, 0.075s ahead of Perez, 0.35s ahead of Hamilton, and 0.45s ahead of Bottas.

While the Dutchman controlled the pack with his blistering lap times, Hamilton produced a late charge to snatch the lead. Furthermore, he ended up being over 0.3s quicker than Verstappen by the end of the session. How the tables turned in a matter of minutes!

But, were Red Bull on a different programme? Possibly, something that had to do with significantly higher fuel loads or a less aggressive set-up? Well, we’ll know the truth by the time F1 flags off qualifying.

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Formula One F1 – Brazilian Grand Prix – Jose Carlos Pace Circuit, Sao Paulo, Brazil – November 12, 2021 Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz Jr. in action during practice REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes

Meanwhile, let’s look at the rest of the pack. Behind the Red Bull and Mercedes drivers, Leclerc, Alonso, Tsunoda, Sainz, Norris, and finally, Gasly closed out the top 10.

Interestingly, Aston Martin look much like the underdogs this weekend, as both Stroll and Vettel were quite strong through the FP1 session, lapping as quick as the rest of the mid-field.

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Overall, a rather busy 60 minutes come to an end as we head into the qualifying session which is due in a couple of hours’ time. So, who do you think will snatch the Speed King award at Interlagos?

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Rohit Kumar

1426 articles

Rohit Kumar is an F1 author at EssentiallySports. He has been an ardent follower of the racing series since 2007, with his love for the sport coinciding with his love for Kimi Raikkonen. He is also an ardent follower of Sebastian Vettel and Aston Martin Racing.

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