Brazilian Grand Prix: Lewis Hamilton declares ‘it’s not over’ after finishing fifth in sprint race

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Brazilian Grand Prix: Lewis Hamilton declares ‘it’s not over’ after finishing fifth in sprint race
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Lewis Hamilton insisted his world championship title hopes are still alive after a brilliant drive to finish fifth in the sprint race at the Brazilian Grand Prix.

The Mercedes driver started Saturday’s race last, after a rear-wing infringement resulted in his disqualification from qualifying, but he showed his class to bounce back from the major setback.

Hamilton’s punishment promoted Max Verstappen to the front of the grid but Valtteri Bottas beat the Red Bull man off the line to win the 24-lap dash and claim pole position for Sunday’s Grand Prix.

Verstappen finished runner-up to claim two points and extend his lead from 19 to 21 points. Carlos Sainz took third for Ferrari.

With the result of Saturday’s sprint determining the order for Sunday’s main event, Verstappen will join Bottas on the front row. And he will start eight places ahead of Hamilton - demoted to 10th following a five-place grid drop for taking on his fifth engine change of the campaign. Only three are allowed.

Indeed, Hamilton’s dreams of winning a record-breaking eighth world title are now hanging by a thread, with Verstappen in the driving seat to extend his championship lead. Just 78 points are available following Sunday’s Grand Prix.

Following the race, Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff told Hamilton over the radio: “Lewis, brilliant job, damage limitation. F*** them all.”

Hamilton replied: “Copy. It’s not over yet.”

Hamilton can take some comfort from his own superb performance and his team-mate’s triumph.

 (Pool via REUTERS)
(Pool via REUTERS)

Bottas, criticised by Hamilton at the last round in Mexico City for leaving the door ajar for Verstappen, raced away from his marks here to take the lead at the opening corner, with the championship leader then falling behind Ferrari’s Sainz.

At the back, Hamilton made up four places before the opening corner, and finished the first lap in 14th. By the start of lap 13 he made his way past Daniel Ricciardo to break into the top 10 before navigating his way round Sebastian Vettel and Esteban Ocon respectively on laps 15 and 16.

Hamilton then swooped past Pierre Gasly for seventh, with Charles Leclerc 3.5 seconds up the road and seven laps remaining.

Verstappen, who overtook Sainz on lap four, moved to within half-a-second of Bottas but failed to mount a serious challenge for the lead, while Hamilton picked off Leclerc on lap 20 to take sixth and then Lando Norris on the final lap.

Additional reporting by PA.

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