How Hamilton’s sublime rescue mission leaves the f1 title race as open as ever


his season had always been designated as the moment Formula One would reignite.

But such aspirations appeared to be put on the back burner when the wide-ranging raft of regulation changes aimed at closing up the pack and improving the racing spectacle were delayed until 2022 amid the Covid uncertainty.

And yet this year has provided an unexpectedly captivating precursor with Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes’ dominance finally at an end. Quite how it ends, no one knows. In fact, trying to ascertain how events will unfold from one weekend to the next are nigh-on impossible.

In Brazil, Hamilton had every obstacle imaginable thrust in his way. First came the news he needed a new engine, paving the way for a costly five-place grid penalty. Then his rear wing was deemed illegal – albeit by just 0.2millimetres – so he was sent to the back of the grid for the sprint race.

He scythed his way through the field from last to fifth so smoothly that McLaren’s Lando Norris suggested he needed to be on three wheels to give the rest a chance.

Come the main event on Sunday, Hamilton made his way from 10th – with that five-place penalty applied – to take the win, impressively avoiding contact as he was driven off the track by Max Verstappen, the legality of which was still being discussed long after F1 had packed up in Sao Paulo and turned its attention to Qatar this coming weekend.

Despite another near coming together on track, there were no barbs exchanged between the championship protagonists. Listening to Hamilton’s race radio, it was clear he was riled by the stewards’ decision not to take any action.

But outside the cockpit, and with that moment 23 laps from the end proving inconsequential in the eventual race result, he remained sanguine. His overwhelming outlook on a thrilling race was simply that this is how an F1 world championship should be.

As for Verstappen, he felt not remotely in the wrong, the pair leaving it to their team bosses to take up the squabbling.

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