By Robert Haile
In what has been the tightest season for years, Lewis Hamilton’s run as Formula One champion could becoming to an end.
Brazil’s Autódromo José Carlos Pace in São Paulo welcomed the F1 circus and the final sprint of the season.
With the sprint race acting as qualifying for the main Grand Prix on Sunday, the amount of practice the teams have is reduced with qualifying for the sprint race taking place on Friday.
Mercedes and Red Bull continued there battle with Hamilton taking pole with teammate Valtteri Bottas in third, championship leader Max Verstappen in second and Sergio Perez in fourth.
After the qualifying session there is limited work that can be done to the cars, Parc Ferme, Verstappen was seen touching and checking the Hamilton’s Mercedes’ rear wing.
Hamilton’s Mercedes’ was in breach of the rules and resulted in him being disqualified and starting from the back of the grid for the sprint.
Verstappen was fined €50,000 (£42,300) for touching the car.
So to the sprint race with Bottas fighting two Red Bull with his resurgence since the announcement of his leaving Mercedes bringing his tenth Grand Prix win could the Finn spoil Red Bull’s party?
A tactical decision from Mercedes to use the soft compound seemed to do the trick as the Finn launched into first with Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz jumping to third as they took advantage of the medium compound Red Bull’s.
Bottas stayed in front claiming another surprise pole, Verstappen fought back for second with Sainz holding third to claim a point.
Two times sprint winner Bottas said: “Today the start was the key thing for me and I got a good one.
“We gambled a little bit with the soft tyre. We knew that it would be a benefit for the start and it worked and it was all about trying to survive until the end.
“It was quite tricky in the final laps but Max still struggled to follow in the corners, so I’m glad it worked out perfectly.
“The support here from the fans has been amazing here, so thank you as well to everybody who came out today.”
Hamilton showed his and the cars ability cutting through the field to finish fifth, meaning he will start tenth due to the five place penalty for taking another engine.
The question now is can Bottas hold off Verstappen to give Hamilton a chance going into the final three races or will Verstappen finally be favourite for the title.