• REUTERS

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Seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton chased down Max Verstappen to win the Sao Paulo Grand Prix on Sunday and cut his rival's lead in the standings to 14 points with one of the greatest drives of his career.

Verstappen finished second with Hamtilon's teammate Valtteri Bottas third for Mercedes after a controversial, roller-coaster weekend in Brazil.

"I don't remember another weekend like this," said Hamilton, whose dream of a record eighth title is still alive with three races remaining. "It's quite overwhelming, to be honest."

"This has been probably one of the best weekends, if not the best weekend, that I have experienced since … probably in my whole career."

The Briton was the fastest in Friday qualifying at Interlagos for Saturday's sprint, and then demoted to the back of the field after his car's rear wing failed a technical inspection.

He went from 20th to fifth on Saturday, dropping back to 10th on Sunday's grid after an engine penalty.

The rest was history as the 36-year-old drove to his third win at Interlagos and set the record for the lowest grid position by a winner, breaking the mark set by Italian Giancarlo Fisichella, who from from eighth in 2003.

"Lewis, that's how you overcome a 20-place disqualification," Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff told him over the radio after he took the checkered flag in front of a cheering crowd.

"It was actually 25, but you're right," Hamilton replied.

The win was Hamilton's sixth of the season and the record-extending 101st of his career.

"That was one of the best drives I've ever seen in F1. By anyone. Utterly awesome," 1996 world champion Damon Hill posted on Twitter.

"I feel like Lewis was in his own league today," said Bottas.

Red Bull's Sergio Perez finished fourth, pitting at the end for fresh tires to set the fastest lap and deny Hamilton a precious bonus point.

Mercedes moved 11 points clear of Red Bull in the constructors' standings.

Bottas started on pole but lost out to Verstappen in the first corner and then to Perez while Hamilton was already up to seventh.

The reigning champion was third by lap five, with Bottas letting him through as expected.

Perez's 3.5-second advantage was closed a lap later when the safety car was deployed after a clash between AlphaTauri's Yuki Tsunoda and Aston Martin's Lance Stroll left debris strewn across the track.

Perez was then passed on lap 18, after a further virtual safety car period when the front wing on Mick Schumacher's Haas detached and left more debris.

Then it was game on, with Hamilton pitting before Verstappen and closing the gap.

The Dutch 24-year-old was determined to not be undercut again and jumped first for the second stop on lap 41, with Hamilton coming in three laps later and then closing in with the advantage of fresher tires and a newer engine.

Both battled wheel-to-wheel on lap 48.

Hamilton got ahead but Verstappen closed him out and both cars ran wide, with Mercedes complaining their man was pushed off unfairly, with the stewards ultimately deciding to take no further action.

Hamilton tried again before making the move stick third time around while marshals waved a black and white flag at Verstappen for weaving on the straight, drawing a sarcastic response: "Yeah, perfect. Say hi".

"It was a good battle but at the end we just missed a little bit of pace," Verstappen said. "We gave it our all today, it was a lot of fun.

"We still have a good points lead. Today was a bit of damage limitation on a weekend that was difficult for us. I'm confident that the coming races we will bounce back."

Two of the remaining three are circuits new to F1 — Qatar and Saudi Arabia — before the finale in Abu Dhabi.

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