How Mercedes and Red Bull’s strategic fight produced a thrilling Sao Paulo showdown

2021 Sao Paulo Grand Prix

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Lewis Hamilton claimed victory in Brazil from 10th on the grid, only the fourth time in his Formula 1 career he has won after starting from outside of the top five.

His fight with title rival Max Verstappen over the lead of the Sao Paulo Grand Prix became the focal point of attention in a race that had until that point been a tactical contest between Mercedes and Red Bull.

Mercedes had a clear pace advantage that which Hamilton wielded to superb effect as he turned a potentially tricky weekend into victory and a reduced points lead for Verstappen.

Pit wall decisions dictate lead battle

At least half of the grid started Sunday’s race aiming for a one-stop strategy, but as temperatures rose at Interlagos that gradually moved away from being the most attractive option as tyre degradation was expected to increase.

Start, Interlagos, 2021
While Verstappen passed Bottas, Norris picked up a puncture
Every driver bar soft-shod Yuki Tsunoda started the race on mediums, and many planned to take it as far as possible before switching over to the hards. This promised to be a step into the unknown for many drivers who hadn’t run the hard tyre in practice.

Uncertainty over how well the tyres would last it opened up the possibility that Mercedes and Red Bull could go different ways on strategy. However running at a similar pace to each other and in identical conditions meant that soon went out of the window and they were solely responding to each other’s tactical moves.

The order of the race was initially shaped by the positions Valtteri Bottas lost from pole. While his start wasn’t bad, Verstappen had the inside line and then used up all the road at the exit of the first corner to leave Bottas in the dirt. He backed off and tucked in behind Verstappen to avoid a crash, but dirty tyres meant he ran wide and lost second place to Sergio Perez.

Hamilton meanwhile moved from 10th to eighth off the line, then went around the outside of AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly at the Curva do Laranjinha right-hander and Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettel at the end of the lap. He cleared both Ferraris on lap three, and then two laps later Bottas went two-and-a-half seconds slower than his pace up until that point to allow team mate Hamilton through.

Valtteri Bottas, Max Verstappen, Start, Interlagos, 2021
Bottas fought Verstappen too hard, and lost out to Perez
From then on it was a Red Bull one-two pursued by Hamilton, but a safety car and a VSC period enabled him to pass Perez – going around the outside at turn one on two occasions but getting passed back at turn four on attempt one – after 13 laps of chasing.

Mercedes had already pulled their strategic trigger with the position swap, and it was also first to act in pit lane as it pitted Hamilton on lap 26 of 71. Red Bull immediately responded with Verstappen, with Perez coming the lap after that as they were too close to double-stack, and then Bottas stayed out a further two laps before he finally replaced his mediums.

However Bottas was going for the one-stop for Mercedes at this point, and brought his first pit stop forward to coincide with a Virtual Safety Car period that would reduce the time loss of pitting. It worked, as it brought him past Perez to third place.

Mercedes could have split their strategy to try to jump Bottas past Verstappen, who had muscled past him at the start, but the team wasn’t so convinced of the risk.

“We were talking about [one-stopping], and Valtteri said that he felt that it would work,” said Mercedes’ trackside engineering director Andrew Shovlin.

“And you gamble. The problem is, if you gamble wrong, then we could have risked a podium with Valtteri. And with Lewis, when you think you can beat Max on the same strategy, you do that, because we felt that we had the car pace to really attack, if we could get a bit of a tyre offset. So the option on going on an oddball strategy was discussed, but wasn’t that attractive because there’s doubt and if you get it wrong, you can’t win the race.

The title contenders fought for victory after the final pit stops
“But you look at how Max dropped off on that hard tyre and it would have been very difficult and you’ve got to incorporate a lot of management.”

In the second stint of the race it was clear that Hamilton was faster than Verstappen, but the Red Bull driver had track position in the lead. Hamilton’s advantage was primarily through the first and third sectors where the slipstream was available, while in the twisty middle sector the Red Bull was fast enough to match the chasing Mercedes when it needed to.

“Max at least had much higher degradation and ran out of tyres early,” Shovlin said. “One of the key factors was that Lewis could follow. He could push Max. Max wasn’t able to save his tyres, and really, that was the deciding factor was the tyre degradation and Max dropping.”

The top two pushing each other, rather than Verstappen managing the pace up front, guaranteed the race would now become a two-stop contest.

Verstappen triggered the second pit stop cycle, and Mercedes responded with Bottas rather than Hamilton. Only 11 laps were done on Bottas’s first set of hards before he took on another, and he immediately accosted the team for “throwing away an easy one-two” while he had been closing in ever slightly on second place.

Perez pitted the lap after him, and dropped behind Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, while Hamilton was summoned last and asked which tyres he wanted. He requested mediums, knowing how strong his Mercedes W12 was on a lower fuel load with that compound.

However when it came to the stop, Mercedes matched Red Bull by selecting a second set of hards. It didn’t please Hamilton, but the visual analysis of the tyres from the first stint suggested they would lose performance too quickly over what was to be the longest stint of the race.

Verstappen controversially parried Hamilton’s first attack
This was likely what won Mercedes the race, as Hamilton’s overcut meant he had a three-lap tyre life advantage already for what was the most difficult section of the grand prix to manage.

It took five laps to clamp himself onto the rear of his rival, and on lap 48 he used the DRS to close in on Verstappen on the run to the turn four left-hander. Hamilton chose the outside line and was ahead into the corner, but Verstappen braked later and like he did to Bottas he used up all of the asphalt.

That put dirt on the tyres of both drivers, and it took another 10 laps for Hamilton to attempt a move again as this time Verstappen weaved in defence. Mercedes’ strategy choice was working because Hamilton had more late-race pace than Verstappen, and next time by he forced Verstappen deep into turn one and then cleared him on the next straight.

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff was soon telling Bottas to “go get him” on Verstappen as the team got pumped up by executing the strategy with their lead car.

Bottas couldn’t manage it, but in the final few laps Verstappen dropped 10 seconds back from Hamilton, while Bottas finished only three seconds behind him.

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Ferrari show off strength in numbers

The only other drivers to finish on the lead lap were Ferrari’s Leclerc and Carlos Sainz Jnr. The team has now moved 31.5 points clear of McLaren in the battle for third in the constructors standings.

Ferrari look unlikely to lose third in the championship after Brazil
Sainz and Lando Norris made contact at the start, sending the McLaren driver to last place with a puncture. But otherwise it was a clean and consistent run for the two drivers who may have both finished around 50 seconds behind Hamilton but were the only drivers to stay on the medium tyres for the second stint and stretched that stint to roughly twice what the cars ahead were doing on the hards.

“Very happy. Today was all about trying to manage the gap with the people behind,” Leclerc said after finishing fifth.

“Obviously I had Carlos behind, but after that we were quite clear compared to the others, which was good to see. Happy with the pace today, especially happy with the improvement I’ve done in driving from yesterday to today. Yesterday was a difficult day for me. I worked hard yesterday night, I worked hard this morning, and I managed to drive a lot better during this race. Happy to finish this difficult weekend.”

Sainz, meanwhile, was distracted by his slow start from third on the grid, his joint second-best starting position in Formula 1, which led to his contact with Norris and then losing a position to Leclerc he was never able to reclaim.

“These two consecutive weekends in a row that I’m very fast. Faster than Charles, but because of the start, I have to do a whole race behind him,” he said. “It’s frustrating, I’m not going to lie.”

They finished 2.303 seconds apart, a near-identical gap to the previous weekend’s Mexico City Grand Prix where there was 2.430 seconds between them on the last completed lap they both did.

Alpine has pace to overcome poor start twice

Even more closely matched-than the Ferrari drivers were Alpine’s pair, as Esteban Ocon pipped Fernando Alonso to the line by 0.491s.

Esteban Ocon, Alpine, Interlagos, 2021
Ocon led a double points finish for Alpine
They were 10th and 11th in qualifying, with Alonso ahead, but had to work hard to get that high up the order. The A521 seemed to come alive in the race, however, and Ocon moved up to ninth while Alonso ended up 12th on the grid for the grand prix after losing two places in the opening two laps.

He then rose from 12th to ninth on Sunday, which could have been eighth had Ocon not passed him on their last lap.

“I think the car was very fast on the race conditions,” said Alonso. “We felt this already in FP2, and yesterday on the sprint race. I don’t know why, but the car felt much better on high fuel and race pace.

“We were not too poor again on the start and on the restart, we lost one place with [Lance] Stroll that compromised a little bit the first part of the race, but we overtook Stroll. We catch the cars in front. Then we got unlucky again with a bit of safety car because we could not stop both cars together. So I had to stay out and I lost a little bit of ground there.

“But again, we recovered one more time and then we tried to defend from [Pierre] Gasly. It was not possible, but we try, and then at the end finishing in the points with both cars was a target we achieved today. We keep fifth in the constructor and we go again.”

AlphaTauri’s Gasly finished in seventh, meaning he matched Alpine’s points tally and the two teams go into the final three race weekends matched on points.

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Raikkonen’s rocket stint

It didn’t look good for Kimi Raikkonen when he started from the pit lane after changing rear wing, and the first half of his grand prix suggested he would be finishing towards the back of the field.

Raikkonen rose to 12th despite behind hit by Schumacher
He climbed to 15th before making his first pit stop, but the switch to hard tyres enabled him to rise even further up the order and he sat in 12th when he pitted for a second time. Unlike those around him, he switched back onto the medium tyre for the final stint.

At that point he was five seconds ahead of his team mate Antonio Giovinazzi, a gap gained entirely by overcutting him, but then in the remaining 20 laps his advantage grew to an astonishing 29.474s.

“Today we were a lot more competitive compared to yesterday, but decided to start in the pit lane to do some changes for the car,” he said. “Definitely the right decision, but just fell a little bit short in the end, we were catching up to Seb [Vettel] and the McLaren but we ran out of laps and tyres.”

Vettel finished 5.794s ahead, a gap that actually remained fairly constant through the final stint, while both were really closing in on Norris’s 10th place late on. Had the race gone a few laps further, Raikkonen could potentially have mirrored Hamilton’s climb up the grid.

Mercedes re-fire title hopes

There was no reward for Alfa Romeo or Raikkonen from his performance, but Hamilton’s charge from last on the sprint qualifying grid to fifth, and then from 10th to first in the grand prix netted him 25 points. It would have been 26 had Perez not pitted late on to snatch the fastest lap point from him.

But it still means Hamilton has reduced the gap at the top of the standings to Verstappen down to 14 points. Mercedes has also stretched their lead to 11 points with three races to go. That remarkable turnaround has breathed new life into their hopes of retaining the championship silverware.

2021 Sao Paulo Grand Prix

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Author information

Ida Wood
Often found in junior single-seater paddocks around Europe doing journalism and television commentary, or dabbling in teaching Photography back in the UK. Currently based...

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50 comments on “How Mercedes and Red Bull’s strategic fight produced a thrilling Sao Paulo showdown”

  1. Bottas was complaining they should have had a 1 / 2, and they might have done had he been driving closer to the leading cars. Verstappen was driving to preserve his tires he wasn’t running away with it. After his set-to with Hamilton, he had no tires left, Bottas with the fresher tires should have been there abouts to capitalise on that extra effort expended by Verstappen.

    1. can someone explain to me what was bottas doing after the 2nd stop cause he only started pushing after lewis got passed max

    2. Agreed. Bottas can be fast, but hes too passive. He should have been super-aggressive with Max, because Max has more to lose in that situation. He wouldve kept the lead of the race if he did.

      1. Precisely, although Bottas has driven well this year, his passivity and general lack of racing skill have simply confirmed Mercedes made the right decision to switch to Russell. There’s no way George would have let Max by into turn one without a hell of a scrap. It’s a real pity VB didn’t return Max a ‘favour’ and apply his own cede-or-crash formula to him. Nobody has done that yet this season, save for Hamilton, more or less, at Silverstone.

        1. Bottas probably though, no biggie, I’ll blast past him into turn one. But then he messed up t4. Yeah he should not have gone off the track at t2. It should have been slow down or hit me, I’m on the track. It was lap one so the rule that car in the outside has to yield was not going to mean a penalty.

        2. @david-br, I also feel that the ‘one stop would have needed a lot of management’ is implicitly a dig at Bottas, bc. clearly he hasn’t really been able to do that most of the time; had Hamilton been in that position he might well have (but as the team says, he was plain faster on the same strategy, so no need to go different and risk that).

          1. @bosyber Pitting Hamilton for a second stop seemed the right call at the time, but I thought Mercedes pitting both drivers handed the strategy advantage to Red Bull. I guess Mercedes were looking at the constructor’s championship too and thought it was too risky keeping Bottas out in terms of staying ahead of Perez. I’d have been tempted to risk it though, worth it for the potential extra points for Hamilton in the WDC if it worked and they got a 1-2. If Bottas came 4th, it wouldn’t be that damaging to the WCC.

          2. @david-br, yeah, I see what you mean, but Mercedes have traditionally been risk-averse and tend to choose the ‘safe’ strategies, right?

          3. @bosyber Definitely so. It wasn’t surprising. But Bottas wanted to stay out, so why not go with his preference? Given the amount of carbon fibre flying around, there was always a chance he could get lucky again with a VSC and pit later anyway.

      2. Bottas is so poor, it makes me shout at the TV. Not that I could do better but he seems to have no natural racing instinct. If only there was racing by yourself sport.

  2. Just to add, a win here was crucial, as otherwise Verstappen would only have needed to come 2nd in the coming races to secure the championship. As i say, Verstappen and Horner have already done the maths, they have already rolled the dice prior to max’s high risk, big gamble manoeuvres. Let them race – indeed.

  3. I dont have the data and I am not an expert, but I think that red bull should have boxed again Verstappen aproximently 17-18 laps before the end for mediums. It was pretty obvious that he wouldnt be able to keep Hamilton behind. I think they didnt do it because they were afraid of not being able to pass Bottas, but in my opionion he would and he could take also the bonus of the fastest lap. Even if Lewis had followed the next lap, the deficit of the red bull was smaller with medium than with the hards and he would have better chances to keep him behind.

    1. @Cosan I wondered something similar. I think Bottas was their worry. They didn’t fancy losing 2nd for risk of ending 4th. A non-championship contender could have tried that and would have been amazing finale.

  4. I did not really understand the timing of the second stops of Mercedes. First of all stopping Bottas after only 11 laps on his tyres. Were they worried about Perez executing the undercut? From the timing charts article it seems he was 5 seconds clear of the second Red Bull. And if he had been given a longer second stint to use up that set of tyres and then have a shorter final stint, he might have put pressure on Verstappen for second place.

    Also, I did not understand the timing of Hamilton’s second stop. His laptimes were steady were steady at 13.5, and even though Bottas and Perez were around a second a lap quicker on their new tyres, there was no immediate risk of being undercut by Perez, as he had enough of a lead in hand to do another two or three laps. As it was, his three-lap tyre offset on Verstappen proved sufficient, but at the time I partially agreed with Bottas: I felt they had thrown away the win (even though the 1-2 seemed unlikely).

    1. In retrospect what happens was by pitting earlier they caught verstappen trying to ease into the hard tires and expected Hamilton to do the same. Remember Horner was on an interview during Hamilton’s outlap and remarked that’s not tire saving. All of a sudden the fight was on while they were thinking of later in the race.

  5. The pace advantage the Mercedes had there over not just the Red Bull but the entire field was incredible. Like no doubt Hamilton’s a great driver but that car’s a rocketship! I read there was nearly a 30-40kph difference going into turn 1 for the Mercedes, that straightline speed is phenomenal – nothing could fight that. Don’t get me wrong, impressive to watch but at times it looked like watching the computer game with the AI set on easy.

    1. FIA stats say Hamilton was fifth on the list at 333.2, behind a Ferrari, and Alfa, and others. Verstappen however was near the bottom at 318. This probably reflects drs and tows but we can assume everyone got both at some point.

    2. Isn’t that 30-40 kph difference with slipstream and/or DRS?

      1. Possibly, versus verstappen, who was particularly slow on the straight. But just noting that Hamilton’s top speed or potential top speed with drs and tow was not even the highest in the field yesterday. The idea that he won because the car was faster than any other car in a straight line is just not in evidence. He had a high top speed plus traction in s2 to be right on people’s wings coming onto the straight.

      2. @rockgod, yes the quoted “30-40kph” (it goes up every time I read it!) is with a tow and DRS. It was reported on Sky during the race that the difference when both Verstappen and Hamilton were in clear air was in the 5-7kph range. Much less dramatic, but that doesn’t make for good headlines.

  6. I think Mercedes will take engines at every race and turn it up, you can’t defend against that straight line speed even with grid penalties.

  7. I think Bottas was right. Track position on verstappen was worth as much as tire life with Mercedes speed. And getting a 1-2 would have been huge for the title fight. worth the risk.

    1. @dmw While it worked for Bottas in the sprint (even on softs vs Verstappen’s mediums), the race conditions were much hotter and tyre wear was much higher. If Bottas had only one-stopped, it’s very likely he would have been a sitting duck for Verstappen and Perez in the last few laps.

      IMHO, the only way Bottas would have finished P2 is if he’d put up much more of a fight into T1 & T2 and not just let Verstappen push him off.

  8. I am not sure this was a thrilling showdown. RedBull had no other choice than to prevent the undercut and try to hang on as long as possible to track position. Clearly Mercedes has been the car to beat all year (as in previous 8 seasons). Given Mercedes can overcome a grid penalty as a result of having a fresher engine, the season is now over. Word is that Lewis again will take new engine next race. The advantage is simply worth it if you subsequently can cruise towards Verstappen. We can be thankful for 2 things this year though: 1. Max being the first driver after Rosberg to actually bring some kind of competition to Mercedes. 2. Mercedes going into panic attach mode after finding out 1 out of the 18 remaining cars could actually occasionally challenge Lewis. These two elements gave us at least something more than the last 8 horrible seasons.

    1. Indeed, it would almost be stupid of Mercedes not to take a new engine for one of the next races.
      Only 5 places penalty which can be easily gained back during the race on the straights.

      They are saying with this performance the engine will last only 2500km instead of 7500km, but that’s not really important anymore.

    2. So salty but you’ll be fine.

      But fix that dodgy memory – the previous 8 seasons include 2013. I’m pretty sure Red Bull dominated that season with the Merc up there on one lap pace but chewing up tyres at a frightful rate.

    3. The dominant team this season has led for three times as many laps as the next team and has three more race wins.

      Of course the downside to taking another engine is that Hamilton would have to somehow overtake Verstappen in the race without allowing Verstappen to just crash into him. He only just managed it in Brazil.

  9. Think this is a huge moment in the title fight. Merc being that much faster here, having essentially a free engine change as well – they will feeling confident they can win all the remaining races.
    Not only is the car now probably decisively faster, it was a mental blow for Verstappen for sure. He was suckered by Hamilton into defending a move that was never on, and it left him unable to defend into turn four. That’s the sort of thing he would never have let happen, but it did. Hamilton has him by the short and curlies.
    Only one outcome now.

    1. Your overdramatizing on that mental blow.
      If it had been a last lap move…
      Max knew there was no defence against that rocketship.

      I think Max can be satisfied with his race again. Clearing Bottas at the start.
      If he finishes 2nd with Lewis 1st in every of the remaining races, while Merc has similar pace advantage, I am sure he can live with that.
      All Max can do is maximising his performance, and that is what he has been doing whole season.

    2. Not sure about that. Next track is a unknown factor for everyone.
      Honda could always try the quali setting Mercedes now uses for the entire race and accepting a engine damage.
      I do not think valteri has the same settings he just had to defend the wcc.

    3. I agree. it’s over. Reliable sources indicate Lewis will take a new engine again next race to repeat Brasil situation where he can storm forwards. Well, at least we had a decent mid season for the fist time in 9 seasons

  10. That feint move from Hamilton was absolutely amazing not gonna lie. Verstappen’s body language after the race showed that he was very affected by it. Absolute masterclass. I don’t think Verstappen is gonna get drawn too much on it though.

    I am unsure about how the cars fare in the remaining tracks, to be honest. The first seems slightly suited to Red Bull and the rest 2 slightly more towards Mercedes.

    1. I think the body language might have been more to the realization that his car is absolutely no match for the Mercedes with a new engine revved up to 11.
      And that Lewis can take again a new engine, drop 5 places and make them up easily in the race.

      Verstappen’s move was a bit stupid because Lewis would have passed him later without issues, such was the speed difference.

    2. Verstappen’s body language after the race showed that he was very affected by it.

      As of the moment ver was passed he went in damage limitation mode and sounded that way.
      Just accepting there was no answer on that rockets hip.

  11. Lewis is a super champion, no doubt; but he easily wins in Brazil thanks to the new endothermic unit which gave a clear advantage; without taking anything away from Lewis, almost all the drivers on the grid would have won yesterday starting tenth with that engine, it wasn’t yesterday that Hamilton’s mythology was written.
    Just 5 penalty positions on the grid were not a significant obstacle.
    Now it seems advantageous to think of a strategy of using ICEs with penalties, because the increase in power deriving from engines that last less races seems more relevant.
    Why wasn’t it like that before?
    The change is due to the recent that prevents the ICE mapping from being changed in the race.
    Before, you could make more thrusting engines and run them safely for a long time during the race when you didn’t need them; now no longer; you need to choose a mapping that is as powerful as possible, compatibly with reliability.
    What we saw in Brazil is the same old power that Mercedes had before in the race by changing the mapping; it’s a potential edge they still have there.
    It is now clear that it is better to make a strategy with many more ICEs, taking the penalty; this cannot be accepted, the very rule of the limit on PUs would become ridiculous.
    Therefore, the regulation has to be changed and when the ICE is changed you have to start at the bottom of the group.
    This is a logical consequence of the change in mapping regulations, not of Mercedes’ superiority over engines

    1. Too little too late for people who would like to see some other team win than the ones from the last 8 years

    2. I think Mercedes set party mode for the whole race it was so much power difference. I wonder Honda can do the same…

      Lewis can take a new engine again and put the engine on full power that and i am afraid of Honda can’t do that.

    3. Yeah, it’s ironic that in the beginning the rule was to always have 10 places penalty and it was dialed down to 5 because of the issues Honda had and now Mercedes is using that to probably win the championship

  12. Too little too late for people who would like to see some other team win than the ones from the last 8 years

  13. I disagree with the article. What we witnessed was that Max needs every ruling to go his way or he can’t beat the true champion.

    1. @jimfromus

      I disagree with the article. What we witnessed was that Max needs every ruling to go his way or he can’t beat the true champion.

      Max didn’t need any rules going his way for Lew to put it into the wall at Imola, to underperform in Monaco, to fluff his restart at Baku, to get the kerbs wrong in Austria II and to attempt a silly strategy in Turkey, just to cite blunders in which he lost more than 6 points at least in the WDC because of each one this season. In all those moments where was your “true champion”?

  14. Great race and tactical genius from Lewis and from merc but missed most of the nuance and race psychology due sky/FOMs abysmal presentation, Anyone else sick of david crofts his moronic juvenile commentary and constant mistakes(He said Hamilton locked up when everyone watching could see it was clearly the Ferrreri behind.)? How does he still have a job? At least when he started at sky he kept his mouth shut and let Martin do the talking now he is unbearable, why is he forced to say “brought to you by amazon aws” and pimp Sky Q / sky glass every 5 minutes ??

    Also hate his clueless armchair tactics, one example was when he suggested Lewis pit for softer rubber when he was 4 tenths behind Max and had drs..wat?
    I feel sorry for Martin Brundle who who can hear get vocally annoyed babysiting his inept commentary partner

    crofty and his ‘dumbed down’ commentary style being the “voice” of F1 really cheapens the product for Liberty media and sky. Replace him for 2022

    1. Great race and tactical genius from Lewis and from merc

      Nonsense. That Mercedes with its new engine was so much faster than the rest that even Mazepin should have won it from 10th on the grid.

  15. AJ (@asleepatthewheel)
    15th November 2021, 14:50

    Off topic. But what prevents Mercedes from fitting a new engine in Ham’s car at each of the remaining 3 rounds, starting P6, and running it to the max? Worked wonders yesterday

  16. Congrats Champ.

  17. Masi is a joke. He never had any international racing experience (only in Australia, probably with kangaroos), and he’s caused all manner of cock-ups since Whiting died. But his Brazilian GP bias towards Red Bull should be the last straw. Get rid of him, FIA.

  18. Footage has surfaced where it looks an awful lot like Lewis has DAS on the car and uses it… Can’t believe they would stoop THAT low…. Sure hope they are caught the next race if they do it again.. but those people cannot be trusted to play fair, that’s for sure.

    1. @w0o0dy Yeah, I’m sure FIA would never spot DAS fitted in the car.

  19. All these years talking about the dirty air effect, the pursuing car should have been in a big disadvantage. Pushing lap after laps, its tyres should have suffered a lot more than the leading car’s. Well, apparently they didn’t. The pass was as easy as they come, with DRS, slipstream and a huge straight speed advantage. Don’t speak aboiut masterclass please, my meerkat would have done it eyes blinded.

    1. hyoko

      All these years talking about the dirty air effect, the pursuing car should have been in a big disadvantage. Pushing lap after laps, its tyres should have suffered a lot more than the leading car’s. Well, apparently they didn’t.

      That’s because DRS is something that was supposed to equally allows overtaking possibilities, but as the performance delta is too big across the field, it works as a free waiving past slower cars for the most powerful machineries. In a track that overtaking is naturally easier it becomes shockingly difficult to defend against a faster car, to the point that it actually detracted from racing action and compromised strategy variables. It became too predictable that certain attacking strategies would work.
      And Lewis even said that overtaking in Interlagos was not that easy shortly before the racing weekend begin. Well, either he was intentionally lying, trying to set the bar low and then “surprise” his fanbase later, or he was being plainly dumb. Very unlikey to be the latter case, as well as to think he was simply being pessimistic about things, it doesn’t quite make sense. Once he has a car fast enough to dominate the field and finish any true opposition (those guys who dare to compete in equal terms against him, something which he and Wolff deeply hate), any pessimism coming from him is over.

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