Sao Paulo Grand Prix sprint: Valtteri Bottas wins as Lewis Hamilton fights back

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Mercedes driver Valtteri bottas defeated Red Bull's Max Vertappen in sprint qualifying. He will be starting the Sao Paulo Grand Prix on pole position.

Lewis Hamilton, Verstappen's title rival, started at the back of Verstappen's race after a technical problem was discovered on his car. He recovered brilliantly and finished fifth.

Hamilton will start at 10th, with a penalty of five places on the grid for excessive engine parts.

Verstappen's second-place finish pushed his points lead to 21 more than Hamilton.

Hamilton gave a stellar performance, cutting through the field with clinical aggression and demonstrating a remarkable pace in his Mercedes.

Hamilton will be proud of what he did after one of his most impressive performances of the season, even though it was an extremely difficult weekend.

Verstappen was beaten to the lead by Bottas at the beginning

What was Bottas' winning strategy?

Bottas won because Mercedes chose to run the sprint, which is one-third of the distance of main grand prix, on the'soft' tire. Red Bull and Verstappen chose the medium.

Bottas was able to pass Verstappen in the first corner, and gain a slight advantage over him over the rest of the laps thanks to the extra grip provided by the tyres.

Verstappen was able to come back to him after Bottas' less durable tyres started to fade. However, after coming within 0.4 seconds of Finn, Verstappen lost a bit and settled for second.

Carlos Sainz of Ferrari was the one who won the race by gambling on soft tyres. He swept past two cars at the start and moved up to the third position at the first corner. He drove well and held the position all the way ahead of Sergio Perez's second Red Bull.

Bottas won the sprint event by giving Hamilton points. Verstappen was deprived of the maximum three and Bottas was limited to two.

Verstappen was severely penalized for touching Hamilton's rear wing.

It was a great performance. But what was the drama?

Hamilton took McLaren's Lando norris' final place at the start the final lap. This was after an extraordinary drive under difficult circumstances.

Hamilton knew going into Friday's qualifying session that he would be in trouble with his penalty of five places on the grid after Mercedes took out a fifth engine.

Each driver can only drive three times in the season, but Mercedes is struggling with reliability so they needed another driver to give Hamilton the best chance of winning the remaining four races.

Hamilton won qualifying by more than 0.4%. Red Bull noticed something strange with Hamilton's rear wing, and complained to race officials.

Officials discovered that Hamilton's wing was not closed when the DRS overtaking aid was applied.

Mercedes presented more evidence and the stewards delayed their final decision for an overnight, but they finally decided that he should be disqualified a few hours before the sprint.

Verstappen was fined for touching Hamilton's rear wing, presumably to assess the situation himself.

Hamilton was in last place on the grid, so he started from there. But he went about his mission with vengeance.

On the first lap, he gained five positions and continued to make great progress through the midfield cars before moving into the top 10. He passed cars lap by lap.

Many of the moves were DRS-assisted passes. However, the Norris dive at the Senna S corner was beautiful.

Hamilton appears to be in contention for a podium finish Sunday after the pace he displayed on Saturday.

Verstappen, the seven-time champion, is likely to continue his journey to Brazil, with his title hopes taking a significant hit.