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Lewis Hamilton

Hamilton recalls heated Brazil 2021 Verstappen fight: I can't let Max do this again

The 2021 Brazilian Grand Prix weekend produced one of the most iconic fights of the season between title contenders Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen.

Bottas Verstappen sprintrace 2021 Brazil
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To news overview © XPBimages

The 2021 Brazilian Grand Prix was one of the classic Lewis Hamilton comeback drives.

After he was disqualified from qualifying due to an illegal rear wing, the Mercedes driver had to climb back through the field during the final Sprint weekend of the year.

Despite finishing it in fifth, he elected to take a new combustion engine which resulted in a five-place grid penalty.

With nine cars between him and pole-sitter Max Verstappen, it seemed like an impossible task for Hamilton to catch up to the Red Bull driver.

Verstappen had just dominated at the previous race in Mexico and led the championship by 19 points, which meant only a win would suffice for Hamilton to stay in the title hunt.

"I was just sitting [on the grid] thinking, 'That is a lot of cars ahead of me', but I'm just going to go out and give it absolutely everything," Hamilton recalled, speaking to F1.com.

"What people don't realise is that there is a lot of risk trying to navigate through people in these races.

"Anything can happen; a car could move over and you touch [them], you could get a flat tyre, or lose a front wing. So you have to be really clean and concise when you overtake."

Hamilton: Red Bull had a crazy fast engine in 2021

As Hamilton eventually passed Sergio Perez for second place, he was surprised to see that he could gain time on Verstappen.

"I could see Max up ahead and I was thinking, 'Is Max saving his tyres, or is he just not that fast? Because I'm catching up'," Hamilton said.

"Little by little I got closer. Red Bull had a crazy fast engine in 2021, certainly the fastest of them all."

Once Hamilton got close enough to make a move, Verstappen put up an aggressive defence. The pair even went off the road a couple of times, as the Dutchman did his best to stop the points gap closing.

"The first time I tried to overtake him, Max braked and went super, super deep," recalls Hamilton.

"I would have made it into the corner if he hadn't gone off the track. I had to recollect myself. I thought, 'I can't let him do that again'."

"The next time I was behind him, I 'dummied' him into Turn 1. I made Max think I wanted to dive up the inside so he defended, which meant he had a tighter corner though Turn 1 and I could take a nice wide line and position my car in a much better position.

"So when I came out onto the straight I slingshot past him. I was then able to slot in and take the position [for the lead]."

The race result was his third at Interlagos, recently earning Hamilton an honorary citizenship of Brazil.

He added: "Maybe one of the best races I've ever done, at least that I can remember.

"It was amazing and one of the races I'm most proud of, looking at the setbacks we endured that weekend it proves that you should never, ever give up."

Also interesting:

Video: F1 pit-stops under two seconds are allowed (and THIS is why)

At the Mexico City Grand Prix, McLaren became the first team to complete a sub-two second pit-stop since the introduction of the new F1 pit-stop regulations, changing all four tyres on Daniel Ricciardo's car in 1.98 seconds.

So how did the team do this, and what changes have been made to F1's pit-stop procedure in the last couple of years?

F1 2022 Brazilian Grand Prix RN365 News dossier

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