Randa herangg

In overcoming two grid penalties to triumph against all odds, Hamilton has added a new chapter to his personal legend

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Tiga balapan tersisa, 14 poin memisahkan juara bertahan. Dimana uangmu? Dengan dorongan terbesar dalam karirnya, dan mungkin sepanjang masa, Lewis Hamilton membawa gelar yang dia pikir akan terlepas kembali dalam genggamannya setelah kemenangan mengejutkan di Grand Prix Brasil.
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What must Max Verstappen be feeling? Yes, he still leads the championship but to finish second here to a driver clobbered with not one but two grid penalties that required him to make up 25 places to take his 101st grand prix victory was devastating.

Though the stewards disqualified Hamilton’s pole time, sending him to the back of the sprint grid for a rear wing infringement, and then imposed a further five-place penalty for a change of engine after he had raced to fifth, they could not take away his fighting spirit or his outrageous talent.

The move that finally reeled in Verstappen with 12 laps remaining sent the Brazilian fans wild, the Mercedes garage wilder, and team principal Toto Wolff wilder still, finger-jabbing at the camera stationed in that very spot to capture the emotion of it all. Wolff was not done there. “Go get him,” he urged Valtteri Bottas in third, eyeing the one-two that would rub salt in the Red Bull wound and keep Mercedes ahead in the constructor championship.

He did not quite get his wish, Bottas unable to sack Verstappen. Not many can. The result was still an outcome way better than he thought possible when Mercedes arrived at Interlagos following successive beatings in Mexico and the United States. Felipe Massa, who Hamilton beat to land his first title at this circuit in 2008, led the accolades on behalf of a Brazilian public almost as enamoured with Hamilton as the Silverstone crowd. “You were not just driver of the day, but the whole weekend. Just incredible,” Massa said in his role as the master of podium ceremonies.

Hamilton agreed. “What a race. I was pushing, but from last on the [sprint] grid plus another five-place penalty [on the grand prix grid] it was hardest race I have ever had,” he said. “I never thought we would be able to close the gap like we did today and things kept going against us. But this shows you should never give up and never stop fighting.”

Verstappen’s only consolation after finishing second was the point for fastest lap his Red Bull teammate Sergio Perez denied Hamilton with a late burst. “We tried everything we could but we just lacked a bit of pace today,” Verstappen said, maintaining a remarkably calm exterior. “I’m confident that in the coming races we will bounce back.”

Hamilton, starting 10th, claimed four scalps in the opening lap. By lap 20 he was chasing down Verstappen from second. Mercedes pitted Hamilton on the 27th lap for the hard tyres. Red Bull covered the move a lap later and emerged just a second and a half ahead.

 

It was already an extraordinary performance by Hamilton, who across the whole weekend demonstrated the attributes that make him special. Few gave him an earthly given the dominance of Verstappen in the preceding races. Importantly he gave himself a chance and, powered by a new engine, backed himself to overcome despite the impediments put before him.

Red Bull membawa Verstappen untuk kedua kalinya di lap ke-41 untuk melawan potensi undercut Mercedes. Mercedes memang membawa pembalap satu putaran kemudian, tetapi bukan Hamilton, yang tertinggal untuk mengukir keunggulan di udara bersih dibandingkan dengan mengarungi jejak Verstappen.

Verstappen langsung mencatatkan lap tercepat sehingga membuat Mercedes mengadu domba Hamilton di urutan ke-44. Baik Hamilton maupun Bottas tidak setuju dengan pilihan ban keras, pembalap Finlandia itu mengklaim di radio bahwa tim baru saja unggul 1-2. Dinding pit Mercedes meyakinkan Hamilton bahwa ban keras adalah pilihan yang tepat dan bannya tiga lap lebih segar dari Verstappen.

 

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