Hamilton Defies the Odds as Russell’s F1 Streak Broken: Best Moments from Qualifying at Brazilian GP

Published 11/12/2021, 3:07 PM EST
Formula One F1 – Brazilian Grand Prix – Jose Carlos Pace Circuit, Sao Paulo, Brazil – November 12, 2021 Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas in action during qualifying REUTERS/Amanda Perobelli


Lewis Hamilton fended off a resilient Max Verstappen to clinch the second ‘Speed King’ award of his F1 career at the Sao Paulo Grand Prix. The Dutchman just couldn’t match Hamilton’s lap times and had to settle for P2, sandwiching himself between the two Mercedes drivers.

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How the Sao Paulo GP qualifying unfolded

Q3- Hamilton vs Verstappen for F1 pole

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It was down to the final showdown of the qualifying session. Hamilton pulled off an amazing lap time of 1:08:107. Crucially, Verstappen managed to sneak his Red Bull into P2, something the team desperately needed amidst Mercedes’ pace since the start of qualifying.

Formula One F1 – Brazilian Grand Prix – Jose Carlos Pace Circuit, Sao Paulo, Brazil – November 12, 2021 Red Bull’s Max Verstappen in action during qualifying REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes

But, Verstappen still had the task of securing his P2 from Bottas through the final Q3 run. And he did, in the end. Neither Verstappen nor Bottas managed to improve on their lap times.

Hamilton, meanwhile, further improvised on his previous best to complete a dominant display at Interlagos, ending up 0.4s quicker than the fastest Red Bull driver.

Q2- Tsunoda’s brief Q3 appearance streak ends

Hamilton was still flying in Q2 and even posted an incredible lap time to claim P1. However, the Briton failed to adhere to the track limits around the exit of turn 4, as the stewards had to scrape off his lap time. Subsequently, Verstappen snatched the lead with a 1:08:567.

But, how long was the Dutchman going to keep the lead? Not for long, as Hamilton in his second lap on the same set of tires, managed to go 0.1s quicker. Nevertheless, the top 3 looked pretty much safe compared to the rest of the grid. Hence, only 12 cars returned to the track for the final Q2 run.

Formula One F1 – Brazilian Grand Prix – Jose Carlos Pace Circuit, Sao Paulo, Brazil – November 12, 2021 Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas in action during qualifying REUTERS/Amanda Perobelli

In the end, Ocon, despite briefly seeing himself in the top 10, missed out on Q3 and will start the sprint from P11. Behind the Frenchman arrived Vettel, Tsunoda, Raikkonen, and Giovinazzi. Tsunoda, for the first time in 4 races, failed to qualify into Q3.

Q1- Aston Martin F1 heartbreak

Verstappen provisionally topped the sheets with a 1:09:329 while his teammate, Sergio Perez, ended up 0.2s; Norris split the two Red Bull drivers to slot his McLaren in P2. However, then arrived Hamilton with an insane lap of 1:08:824, placing his Mercedes in P1 and over 0.5s ahead of the second-placed Verstappen.

Formula One F1 – Brazilian Grand Prix – Jose Carlos Pace Circuit, Sao Paulo, Brazil – November 12, 2021 Red Bull’s Max Verstappen during qualifying REUTERS/Amanda Perobelli

Crucially, the track was evolving as well with each passing minute. Hence, pretty much every single driver chose to leave their lap times a bit late. Unfortunately, Stroll took quite a beating, as the Aston Martin driver failed to qualify into Q2.

His compatriot, Latifi, Russell, Schumacher, and Mazepin, also failed to make it into Q2.

Best moments from F1 qualifying

Alfa Romeo F1 drivers’ late comeback in Q1

The clock was ticking, and it almost looked like neither of the Alfa Romeo drivers were going to make it into Q2. However, then arrived shockingly pacy laps from Raikkonen and Giovinazzi.

The latter, who is amidst a rather bitter-sweet relationship with his team, managed to boost his Alfa Romeo up to P7. Meanwhile, the soon-to-retire Raikkonen missed the Q1 exit by a whisker, as he clinched P15.

Russell finally loses out to Latifi

When it comes to qualifying, Russell is definitely the go-to man. And moreover, the Briton earned the badge, ‘Mr.Saturday’ for his ecstatic qualifying outings with a much inferior Williams car in hand. However, every streak has to end at some point, and so did Russell’s at Interlagos.

Russell, for the first time, found himself out-qualified by his teammate, Latifi. The Canadian starts the sprint from P17, while the future Mercedes driver will line up in P18.

Hamilton’s comeback despite lap deletion

At the start of Q2, Hamilton pulled off a stunning lap time to go P1, way clear of the rest of the grid. However, the Briton failed to keep his car within the track limits around turn 4. But, did that stop Hamilton from clinching the lead in his second attempt?

Well, not at all. The Briton posted another lap on the used set of soft tires, and still managed to beat Verstappen by 0.1s, proving Mercedes’ blazing pace around the Interlagos circuit.

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Hamilton secures F1 speed king award

One might wonder why this particular event ended up under the ‘best moments’. Well, if you noticed FP1, Mercedes were hardly a threat to Red Bull, with Verstappen visibly holding the upper hand over the rest of the grid.

But, then arrived qualifying where the tables turned so dramatically. It was Hamilton at the top and not just by a fine margin. The Briton indeed secured the speed king award after putting up a dominant display against Verstappen through Q1, Q2, and Q3, altogether.

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Overall, an ecstatic qualifying session comes to an end on a ‘Friday afternoon’. And we’ve got more action lined up on Saturday evening amidst the third and final sprint qualifying of the 2021 season. So, who is going to clinch the crucial pole position at the Sao Paulo Grand Prix?

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Rohit Kumar

1420 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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