Lewis Hamilton caps stunning comeback with F1 victory in Brazil over Max Verstappen

Lewis Hamilton Verstappen Brazil
Mark Thompson/Getty Images
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SAO PAULO — Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton ended “the hardest weekend I’ve had” with a stunning victory in Brazil, gaining momentum Sunday in his Formula One title fight with Red Bull driver Max Verstappen.

Hamilton, a seven-time world champion, beat Verstappen despite starting from 10th position on the grid due to a penalty — the second Hamilton faced this weekend in Sao Paulo.

Verstappen, the winner of the race’s previous edition in 2019, finished second and saw his lead in the driver’s championship shrink to 14 points, with three races left. The winner of a race gets 25 points.

“Let’s keep pushing,” Hamilton said on team radio after his sixth victory of the season. He took a Brazil flag to celebrate his win in the car and on the podium, just as his idol Ayrton Senna did.

Hamilton’s teammate, Valtteri Bottas finished third and Red Bull’s Sergio Perez was fourth with the Mexican clocking the fastest lap of the race. The Ferraris of Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz were fifth and sixth, respectively.

Verstappen led most of the race after the first turn, when he overtook polesitter Bottas. But Hamilton, who rose from 10th to third position in just six laps, went ahead of Verstappen on Lap 59, putting a raucous crowd on their feet at Interlagos.

Hamilton finished the race with a 10-second advantage over Verstappen and said he felt like he had won his first race before a joyous crowd at Interlagos.

“I was pushing as hard as I could,” an emotional Hamilton said after his 101st victory. “From last on the grid (for Saturday’s sprint race), and then another five-place penalty — I think that’s the hardest weekend I’ve had. Things kept going against us, but it just shows, never give up, keep fighting. Never, ever stop fighting.”

Verstappen also will leave Brazil 50,000 euros ($57,200) poorer. He was fined after being seen touching the rear wing of Hamilton’s Mercedes on Friday.

“We were just missing a bit of pace, but we gave it our all and had fun,” the Dutchman said. “We still have a good points lead, today was a bit of damage limitation. The coming races we will bounce back.”

Organizers at Interlagos celebrated the return of the series to the traditional track, which will host the race for nine more years. All 170,000 tickets were sold for the three days of action, with thousands of fans gathering in front of the podium — many of them unmasked despite health protocols.

Formula One cut Brazil from its 2020 calendar because of restrictions in place for the COVID-19 pandemic. The Sao Paulo Grand Prix, renamed for this year, was allowed to open for full capacity only weeks ago when the state government eased restrictions for November.

Qatar will play host to the next race on Nov. 21, followed by Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi.

Seattle Supercross by the numbers: Three riders separated by 17 points

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Three riders remain locked in a tight battle with 17 points separating the leader Cooper Webb from third-place Chase Sexton and these are only a few Supercross numbers to consider entering Seattle.

Seattle Supercross numbers
Chase Sexton made a statement in Detroit with his second win of 2023. – Feld Motor Sports

For the fifth time in 10 rounds. Sexton, Webb, and Eli Tomac shared the podium in Detroit. Between them, the trio has taken 23 podiums, leaving only seven for the remainder of the field. Jason Anderson, Ken Roczen and Justin Barcia have two each with Aaron Plessinger scoring the other.

Webb and Tomac won the last four championships with two apiece in alternating years, but they were not one another’s primary rival for most of those seasons. On the average, however, the past four years show an incredible similarity with average points earned of 21.0 for Webb and 21.3 for Tomac. With five wins so far this season, Tomac (23 wins) leads Webb (19) in victories but Webb (43) edges Tomac (41) in podium finishes during this span.

Tomac has won two of the last three Seattle races and those two wins in this stadium are topped only by James Stewart. Fittingly, if Tomac gets a third win this week, he will tie Stewart for second on the all-time wins’ list. Tomac tied Ricky Carmichael for third with 48 wins at Oakland and took sole possession of that spot with his Daytona win.

Sexton still has a lot to say and after winning last week in Detroit, he is speaking up. The Supercross numbers are against him entering Seattle, however, because a points’ deficit this large after Round 10 has been erased only once. In 1983 David Bailey was 47 points behind Bob Hannah, and like Sexton he was also in third place. Bailey took the points’ lead with one race remaining.

The seven points Sexton was penalized last week for jumping in a red cross flag section in Detroit could prove extremely costly.

In fact, it has been a series of mistakes that has cost Sexton the most. In the last two weeks, he lost 10 points with a 10th-place finish to go with his penalty. Erase those, and all three riders hold their fate in their hands.

Plessinger’s heartbreak in Detroit is still fresh, but the upside of his run is that was his best of the season and could turn his fortunes around. Prior to that race, he led only seven laps in three mains. He was up front for 20 laps in Detroit with five of those being the fastest on the track.

Last week’s win by Hunter Lawrence tied him with his brother Jett Lawrence for 17th on the all-time wins’ list. With the focus shifting to 250 West for the next two rounds, Jett has a great opportunity to pull back ahead. The real test will be at the first East / West Showdown in East Rutherford, New Jersey on April 22.

Last Five Seattle Winners

450s
2022: Eli Tomac
2019: Marvin Musquin
2018: Eli Tomac
2017: Marvin Musquin
2014: Ryan Villopoto

250s
2022: Hunter Lawrence
2019: Dylan Ferrandis
2018: Aaron Plessinger
2017: Aaron Plessinger
2014: Cole Seely

By the Numbers

Detroit
Indianapolis
Daytona
Arlington
Oakland
Tampa
Houston
Anaheim 2
San Diego

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How to Watch Seattle Supercross
Dylan Ferrandis may return before SX finale
SMX develops “Leader Lights”
Power Rankings after Detroit
Hunter Lawrence defends Haiden Deegan
Results and points after Detroit
Chase Sexton wins in Detroit, penalized seven points