Bottas on pole, Hamilton on a charge in Brazil

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SAO PAULO (Reuters) -Valtteri Bottas won a sprint race to put his Mercedes on pole position at the Sao Paulo Grand Prix on Saturday as Red Bull’s Max Verstappen extended his Formula One championship lead to 21 points.

Seven times world champion Lewis Hamilton made a sensational, aggressive charge from last on the grid, after being disqualified from a qualifying session he dominated on Friday, to fifth.

The Mercedes driver will start 10th on Sunday after a five place penalty for an engine change.

“It’s not over yet,” Hamilton said over the team radio after gaining 15 positions in 24 laps.

He finished with a flourish, sweeping past the McLaren of fellow-Briton Lando Norris on the last lap as the crowd stood and cheered.

“I honestly had no idea what was possible. I didn’t set a limit or a maximum,” said Hamilton, who would have started at the front but was demoted to the back after his car’s rear wing failed a technical check.

“Then all of a sudden I was chipping away at it much faster…you can’t give up, you’ve just got to keep pushing.”

Bottas took three points for the sprint win, stretching Mercedes’ lead over Red Bull in the constructors’ standings to two points.

Verstappen, who had lined up at the front of the grid, lost out to Bottas at the start and had to settle for second place and two points.

“The start was the key thing for me,” said Bottas. “We gambled a bit with the soft tyre, we knew it would be a benefit at the start and it worked.”

Carlos Sainz was third for Ferrari and took the final point available.

Sunday’s race will be three times longer and Hamilton, with a fresher engine than those ahead of him, will be targeting the podium.

“Brilliant drive. Damage limitation,” said Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff.

Reuters

Photo Finnish Valtteri Bottas (R) of Mercedes competes during the sprint of Formula One Grand Prix of Brazil at Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace in Sao Paulo, Brazil, 13 November 2021. The race will take place on 14 November. EPA-EFE/Sebastiao Moreira

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