Lewis Hamilton says he “never gave up” despite being hit with both an engine penalty and a disqualification across the Brazillian Grand Prix weekend, with a defiant performance on Saturday. Hamilton fought back from 20th to 5th during the sprint qualifying session after being disqualified earlier in the day for a rear wing infringement from Friday.
His five-place grid penalty for an engine change means the seven-time world champion will start 10th on the grid for Sunday’s race, after passing 12 cars in 16 laps, to eventually make it 15 in 24.
Speaking after the session to Sky Sports F1, Hamilton admitted it had been a tough 24 hours for Mercedes, but added he refused to give up.
“Honestly, I had no idea what was possible. I didn’t set a limit or maximum,” said Hamilton. “Think when I was at the back of the grid just before the start, before we pulled away for formation lap that place, I could see I think I might have been able to see 10th, and I was like okay, that’s my goal.
“We’re gonna try and get as far up as possible but then all sudden, I was chipping away at it much faster and I really used a lot of different things for fuel today.
“But you know, was just like, you can’t give up, you got to keep pushing.”
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After a lengthy investigation regarding his drag reduction system (DRS), Hamilton was thrown out of qualifying ahead of the sprint session, with the seven-time world champion starting from the back of the grid.
Already trailing Max Verstappen coming into the weekend, Hamilton added that it was a tough pill to swallow.
“It was definitely tough,” continued the 36-year-old. “I think whilst the team were working away, delegating with the stewards, I was just trying to focus on my work with my engineers and keeping the morale with my mechanics high and just focusing on the job at hand and not letting it not thinking about it.
“And of course just before I heard about the result, and it was devastating, but you can’t let that hold you back
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“Keep your head down and sort of keep going and so I quickly reset my mind focused on doing what I could do and just giving it my everything.”
Hamilton’s team-mate Valtteri Bottas starts on pole after sweeping past a struggling Max Verstappen on the opening lap, who was complaining of gear shift issues.
Speaking afterwards, Verstappen said: “The start itself wasn’t the best and then we were on the harder compound, that didn’t help.
“I think the pace was quite good but around here once you close up you can’t really pass. But it’s ok.”
Bottas added: “The start was the key thing for me.
“We gambled a bit with the soft tyre, we knew it would be a benefit at the start and it worked.
“It was quite tricky at the end but Max still struggled to follow through some of the weekend and I’m glad it worked out.”
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