Stewarding shambles and championship moves: Brazilian GP what you missed


Controversy and cunning in Brazil made for one of the best races of the 2021 Formula 1 season


Hamilton overcame penalties to take a miraculous and potentially crucial victory in the '21 title race

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From start to finish, the Sao Paulo Grand Prix weekend delivered in spades with a helping of drama and divisiveness in equal measure.

Fans of one championship contender will have been disappointed and the others enthralled by one of Lewis Hamilton’s best race weekends perhaps in his career.

He certainly rated his sixth victory of the 2021 season as one of his finest. It means the gap in the championship is now just 14 points having looked for all the world that Max Verstappen’s advantage would increase post-qualifying penalties.

But that battle was far from the only one that took a crucial turn at Interlagos.

Ferrari took full advantage of McLaren’s misery while AlphaTauri and Alpine still can’t be separated with three rounds to go.

Here are a few bits you might have missed from a brilliant Brazilian Grand Prix.


Consistently inconsistent


Another controversial chapter in the Hamilton/Verstappen title fight

Clive Mason - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images

It was the moment most talked about from the race and fans are split either side depending on who they want to see win the championship but Max Verstappen’s ‘robust’ defence of the lead against Lewis Hamilton was borderline.

Both Red Bull and Mercedes were on the blower to FIA race director Michael Masi in the aftermath pleading their cases but the most surprising thing about the incident is that it wasn’t formally investigated.

Post-race, Masi revealed to media that the decision was reached without arguably the most crucial piece of evidence available to the stewards: Verstappen’s front-facing TV camera.

A similar incident in Austria this season between Sergio Perez and Lando Norris resulted in a penalty for the latter, having run the former off the road and not leaving sufficient room for the car on his outside.

Though the crucial camera angle was not available to race stewards at the time the decision was made, there is no appeal on the cards for Mercedes due to the incident never formally being investigated.

Should the Brazil TV footage have emerged, Mercedes could’ve theoretically take a page from rivals Red Bull, which protested Hamilton’s Austrian qualifying lap ahead of the 2020 race.

Hamilton was handed a grid penalty pre-race after a 360-degree camera angle unavailable to stewards at the time showed he had not lifted for yellow flags; the fresh evidence prompting stewards to re-open the investigation.

Any penalty for last weekend’s Brazil episode may have proven pivotal in the championship. With Valtteri Bottas finishing less than five seconds adrift of Verstappen in third, a five-second sanction would have cost the Dutch driver a further three points.

Will this incident decide the championship?


A lot of live action


TV cameras had to be pointed in every direction but replays prevented all the action from being seen

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Hamilton pulled off a lot of overtakes throughout the weekend but there were a few that TV direction missed.

It has been a common theme in recent races cutting to a replay of the start or a snap of oversteer for someone halfway around a lap and missing some overtaking live.

So when Hamilton was fifth before an over-analysis of the start, you could only hear the cheers as he overtook Charles Leclerc and then we rejoined the action as he was handed third by Bottas.

With a drivers’ championship fight so closely-contested and every moment counting for the battles between McLaren and Ferrari for third and AlphaTauri and Alpine for fifth in the constructors’, missing moments is unforgivable with the tech Formula 1 can employ.


Game of patience


Gasly made moves on both Alpine drivers stick to secure valuable points for AlphaTauri

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Pierre Gasly salvaged the Brazilian GP weekend for AlphaTauri after team-mate Yuki Tsunoda’s clumsy move on Lance Stroll left him well out of contention.

Locked in a direct fight with Alpine, both entered the weekend equal on points and have left Interlagos equal on points, thanks in no small part to Gasly’s expert dissection of both of the French cars in the latter phase of the race.

Behind Esteban Ocon for several laps, Gasly finally got the DRS tow he needed to clear the Frenchman with a robust move into Turn 1. It took a few laps to clear Ocon but once he’d gotten the taste for it, Fernando Alonso proved easy prey.

One lap later and he forced the Spaniard onto the inside of Turn 1 and on a defensive line to set up his move. Out of Turn 3, Gasly had the much better run into the DRS zone and towed his way by for P7.

It could be a pivotal result for the Faenza team by the end of the season.