Confusion for Lewis Hamilton over Sao Paulo GP grid penalty

Lewis Hamilton took P1 in Brazil qualifying, but he appeared to think his grid penalty will be applied in Saturday’s sprint, rather than Sunday’s grand prix.

A quirk of a sprint qualifying weekend means that any pre-existing grid penalties are applied after the sprint and before the grand prix, as the sprint does not technically qualify as a ‘race’ due to it setting the provisional grid.

Hamilton will take a five-place grid drop after Mercedes changed his Internal Combustion Engine at Interlagos, but this will happen on Sunday after the grid is fully set after sprint qualifying, meaning he will start the race no higher than sixth.

This ruling will inevitably be communicated to the Mercedes driver to clear up any confusion surrounding the issue – for drivers and fans alike – but he was enthusiastic about his session overall.

“I loved today, for sure,” Hamilton told reporters after qualifying fastest for the sprint. “We’ve been working so hard to try and get this car right, and it’s been tough.

“So to finally get the car feeling like it did today, it feels great – it’s just a testament to all the great work that everyone’s doing in the garage, and also back home, just all the work that’s going back home to try and pull everything we can out from the car.

“Of course, the last two poles I’ve had, I’ve had a penalty. It’s a bit unfortunate to have a penalty tomorrow, but it is what it is, and I’ll try and fight back from there.”

Sprint qualifying grid positions for Lewis Hamilton this season:

Silverstone – P1
Monza – P2
Sao Paulo – P1#BrazilGP 🇧🇷 #F1

— PlanetF1 (@Planet_F1) November 12, 2021

Regarding the penalty itself, Mercedes had been coy about whether or not Hamilton would take a new ICE ahead of the weekend, but the World Champion clarified when he was told about his latest penalty.

“I think it was yesterday,” he said. “I think right until the last minute they were trying to say, ‘we’ve got to make a decision on whether we should be able to make it to the end [of the season], so it was a decision that the team took; I trust their judgement.”

Hamilton beat Max Verstappen to P1 by a significant margin in qualifying, with the Briton almost half a second faster than the rest of the field at Interlagos on Friday.

He reflected on previous efforts to overhaul Red Bull in terms of raw pace and was pleased to see Mercedes succeed in qualifying, but is not yet sure if that will repeat itself on Sunday.

“I don’t know if that translates in the race, but I’ve been going from P3 and sitting there for the whole hour [in practice] trying to make the right setup change, and the anxiety you get is crazy,” Hamilton admitted.


“A lot of the times, we get it wrong, I get it wrong, and today I got it right and the car was really nice to drive, so it was everything I wanted.

“It enabled me to just keep pushing, and you saw purple, purple, purple [sectors], so I was just gaining each time.

“I don’t know how we can go from one track where they’re half a second ahead to then being behind, but anyway, they’ll be very strong in the race tomorrow and I hope Valtteri gets a good start.”



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