What we like about the famed British spy James Bond is that 007 has the license to kill. To a large extent it’s what draws us to the Bond paradise where fast cars, girls with smouldering good looks, and high-tech gadgets join forces to unfurl a cavalcade of globetrotting espionage operations.
Truth be told, the 2021 Brazilian GP was no different to a Bond film with 007 in command to pull up an ace over his detractors and those he fights.
Just that instead of a beaming Aston Martin, the agent here had the imperiously quick Mercedes #44 Black Arrows. And that instead of Daniel Craig, it was Hamilton, Lewis Hamilton firing the right shots on a circuit laden with topsy turvy corners but one that’s ultimately a highway of speed.
Told to actually ‘screw them all’ by a passionate team principal Toto Wolff, who rallied around his mega field agent much like M does in the spy-series, Lewis Hamilton did fire bullets. But that was only to execute a damage-control operation executed to great effect at Interlagos, the home of the Brazilian Grand Prix.
Having been disqualified earlier from the qualifying battle to gathering a 5th on the grid from the rear-end of the grid in the sprint race to eventually bag a prized race win having started from tenth, Lewis Hamilton was hero of a Spectre where nothing was fundamentally stacked in his favour.
And the mere thought that Max Verstappen, his arch-rival- if not necessarily nemesis- was actually out in the lead, hence with the upperhand, was additionally damaging.
Not that if affected one of England’s national treasures who delivered a new career high in the form of his 101st Grand Prix victory.
That’s not to say that Lewis Hamilton’s tenth-to-first charge through the field, one wherein he picked out cars with ominous ease, wasn’t peppered by controversial decisions that pointed to acerbic indifference as one might quote.
So adverse, one might say, were the decisions of the stewards and their supposed harsh treatment extended to F1’s defending world champion that even in the aftermath of the race, Hamilton was called in for a seat-belt gaffe. It’s one of those ongoing but debatable post-race examination that threatens to suspend a much-loved sport to the gallows of needless scrutiny.
Not that Max Verstappen’s devoted ‘Orange Army’ would dread that one bit. But Lewis Hamilton delivered what might have even been his most important, if not the greatest, race performance on Sunday, November 14, 2021 at Brazil.
Hamilton was helped by the deployment of the safety car that resulted from Tsunoda and Stroll coming to blows early on in the race. That slowing down of the grid especially cars out in the front helped the Briton’s cause.
Later, a bold pass over the driver in the other Red Bull, Sergio Perez on the inside in the approach to a tricky right-hander allowed Hamilton to sneak in into the top three.
Ever the faster of the trio out in the front, Lewis Hamilton was also assisted by Valtteri Bottas, who was ahead of the car#44, the Finn deliberately slowing down (as per team orders) to let the man with a mission to waltz ahead.
Not that the ever-gracious Briton didn’t thank the teammate whom he’s most loved working with so far at Mercedes, Hamilton was all praise for Valtteri who’s not for once, doubted the efficacy of the team orders in 2021.
But the moment that defined the contest with unmatched boldness was the late lunge Lewis Hamilton executed on Max Verstappen, though not before two previous attempts, one of which saw the battling duo going far too wide off the tracks.
Calling it the hardest weekend “I’ve ever had,” much like Bond notching up triumph but not after an excruciatingly demanding spy operation, Lewis Hamilton became third time lucky after two failed bids at passing the Red Bull, arguably the quicker car in corners at Interlagos.
Denying his challenger, i.e., RB 16B any possibility whatsoever of clawing back to the race lead, Hamilton didn’t just keep Verstappen tucked in behind his Mercedes’ rear. He actually overcame with mountainous courage the odds that would so easily have triggered a loss in from and in turn, confidence had he lost out to Max Verstappen on Sunday.
And isn’t that the mark of true great achievers that the harder the circumstances they find themselves at, the harder they push.
So did Lewis Hamilton, for would’ve been for him twelve absolutely backbreaking laps winning which he, at least, revived hopes of what was fast becoming a fledgling attempt to gather another world title.
Where the two fighting drivers stand, then Max, despite his loss to Lewis, stands out in the lead with a fifteen point advantage over Lewis.
But the win at Brazil and the staunch defensive drive that denied a driver as maverick and gifted as Verstappen to return to track position would surely have given Hamilton the fighting impetus he so badly needed.
What remains now to be seen is how the two will contest in the final troika of F1’s most gruelling recent season.
Must it be said, what we have ahead of us is the prospect of experiencing something mighty and great once again in F1 with none knowing how might it all end?
Will it be the eternal battler who’ll sign of his mission firing with red-blooded passion the “Bull’s” eye or will it be the pretender to the throne who’ll mark his extraordinary triumph?
May F1 succeed with every remaining race in the end!
At the end of the race, here’s how Lewis thanked Valtteri!
“What a race. The team did a great job, Valtteri did a great job. With the penalties, it’s the hardest race weekend I’ve had,” said Hamilton, before adding further, “I never thought we would close the gap like we did today – just never give up and never stop fighting. It feels like a first as I haven’t had a win for a long time.”