George Russell Takes First Victory After Thrilling São Paulo Grand Prix

George Russell can now call himself a race winner after taking victory in Brazil on Sunday afternoon. The Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula 1 Team driver started on pole position for the São Paulo Grand Prix after impressively overtaking Max Verstappen and winning Saturday afternoon’s Sprint Qualifying event. Russell was able to get a good start against his teammate and lead the pack for the majority of the race.

An incident between Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton at the first Safety Car restart dropped the pair down the pack, leaving Russell to control the race from the front.

The number forty-four driver was under pressure from the double World Champion going into Turn One and had to defend the inside line. Verstappen opted to put his car around the outside of Hamilton, but ran out of space as Hamilton took the apex for Turn Two (as he was marginally ahead). In an incident very similar to Verstappen’s collision with Esteban Ocon at the same corner in 2018 – but with the roles reversed – the Dutchman received a five second penalty for the incident and also had to pit for a new front wing, dropping him to the back of the field. Hamilton had mild damage to the floor of his Mercedes W13but was able to continue after dropping to eighth.

Hamilton was able to catch up to his teammate and follow behind in second after some impressive overtakes through the field, but ultimately did not have the pace to catch the number sixty-three in the final twelve-lap sprint after the final Safety Car.

Damage likely played a part in this, but a one-two finish for the Silver Arrows is certainly welcome for the team after what has been a disappointing season overall. Mercedes now find themselves nineteen points behind Scuderia Ferrari in the Constructors’ Championship battle for second place, which will be decided at next weekend’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Sainz keeps podium despite Leclerc’s team order push

Carlos Sainz took the final spot on the podium in São Paulo, after what was a very different strategy to the front-runners. The Spaniard pitted considerably earlier than Russell, Hamilton and Sergio Perez, but was still able to take advantage of a fresh set of tires at the final Safety Car restart to pass the number eleven Red Bull car. Unfortunately for Sainz, he was unable to challenge the two Mercedes cars in the dying laps, but crossed the line to take a very deserving third place.

At the other side of the Ferrari garage, Charles Leclerc had a much trickier race. After being spun into the barriers on the first Safety Car restart by Lando Norris, the Monégasque found himself at the back of the pack with Verstappen. Leclerc was able to recover back to fourth place with some late-race moves on Pérez and Alonso, and asked Ferrari to switch him with his teammate. Leclerc’s thought process was to help maximize his points for his second place battle in the Drivers’ Championship with Pérez. Ferrari declined to let the number sixteen driver through, as Sainz would have lost his well-deserved podium.

Image: Scuderia Ferrari Press Site.

A great result for Alpine

Fernando Alonso had an excellent recovery after a disappointing Saturday afternoon to finish the race in fifth place. The Spaniard made a lot of overtakes throughout the afternoon and even passed the Red Bull Racing car of Pérez in the dying laps of the race. Fifth place is certainly a good result for BWT Alpine F1 Teamin their battle against McLaren F1 Team – who failed to finish the race with either car.

Esteban Ocon made it a double points finish for Alpine, bringing his car home in eighth place. A fifth and eighth place finish is an excellent result, especially for Alonso, who was able to finish ahead of both Red Bull cars.

Red Bull team orders drama costs Pérez valuable points

Max Verstappen controversially finished ahead of Sergio Pérez at the end of the seventy-one lap race, despite being told to move aside by his race engineer if he couldn’t get past Alonso on the last lap. As a result of Verstappen keeping sixth place, Pérez’s seventh place means he will go into the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on equal points to Charles Leclerc in the Drivers’ Championship. The two points Pérez missed out on could be the difference between the Mexican finishing second or third in the Drivers’ Championship next weekend.

After being blamed by the FIA ​​for his incident with Hamilton, and charging his way back through to sixth place, Verstappen explained his reasoning behind not moving aside to his engineer on the radio:

“I told you already last summer, you guys aren’t to ask that again [of] me. OK? Are we clear about that?

“I gave my reasons, and I stand by it.”

While it is unclear what ‘reasons’ Verstappen is referring to, many have speculated that Pérez’s crash at the end of Qualifying Three in Monaco that cost Verstappen a chance at pole was the motive behind not helping his teammate, despite Pérez moving over for Verstappen earlier in the race. Pérez was understandably not happy with the situation:

“Thank you for that guys. Thank you said Pérez. After receiving an apology from Christian Horner and being told by his engineer that the team will discuss the incident in the debrief, the number eleven said “Yeah, it shows who he really is.”

The rest of the grid

Valtteri Bottas put in an excellent performance all race to finish ninth. The Alfa Romeo F1 Team ORLEN driver was running around sixth place for a good portion of the race while Verstappen and Leclerc were at the back, but ultimately did not have the pace to compete with them as they charged through the field, nor could he match the speed of the Alpine cars. Bottas certainly finished the highest he was capable of today (with the assistance of Norris retiring) and scored two extra points for the team.

Meanwhile, Guanyu Zhou, came close to the points with a twelfth place finish. The Chinese driver has had an impressive debut year in the FIA Formula 1 World Championship.

Lance Stroll took the final point of the race with a tenth place finish, ahead of teammate, Sebastian Vettel, who finished eleventh. As was the case with Bottas, this was the best case situation for them Aston Martin Aramco Cognizant Formula One Team drivers, who were fighting in the middle of the top ten at one point of the race, but were unable to hold position as the faster cars approached.

Mick Schumacher was the only finisher for Haas F1 Team on Sunday, after Kevin Magnussen was involved in a first lap collision with Daniel Ricciardo on the opening lap of the race. Magnussen, who impressively took his career first pole position on Friday and managed to keep his car in the points position in Saturday’s Sprint event, saw his good weekend come to an early end, after Ricciardo bumped the back of his car and spun him around at Turn Eight. Facing backwards, the Danish driver rolled his car back onto the grass to avoid oncoming traffic, but caught the rear-left wheel of Ricciardo’s car with his own rear-left wheel, breaking both cars’ suspension and putting the pair out of the race.

Meanwhile, Schumacher, who started twelfth after an impressive Sprint Qualifying race, dropped one position overall in the race to finish thirteenth. While it certainly seemed as if the Haas car was capable of a points finish, the pace between the midfield was very similar and points were a tough ask for the German.

Pierre Gasly finished fourteenth in what continues to be a disappointing season for Scuderia AlphaTauriwho didn’t have the pace to keep up with the point-scoring drivers during the race. Yuki Tsunoda also had a disappointing end to his race, dropping to the back on the final restart due to an issue with his car.

Alexander Albon once again out performed his teammate, Nicholas Latifi in a race where Williams F1 Team were completely off the pace. The pair would cross the line in fifteenth and sixteenth respectively, in what has also been a disappointing season for the team.

McLaren would also leave Brazil disappointed, with both cars failing to finish the race. Following Ricciardo’s first lap retirement, Lando Norris, showed good pace and was challenging the Alpine cars for fifth place, but went into Anti-Stall on lap fifty-three, putting him out of the race. Sunday was certainly a day to forget for McLaren, who are now nineteen points behind Alpine, with just one race to go.

You can find the full race results below, data courtesy of Formula 1:

POS NO. DRIVER TEAM NAT TIME/GAP
1 63 George
Russell
Mercedes-AMG
Petronas
Formula 1
Team
GBR 1:38:34.044
2 44 Lewis
Hamilton
Mercedes-AMG
Petronas
Formula 1
Team
GBR +1.529s
3 55 Carlos
Sainz
Scuderia
Ferrari
ESP +4.051s
4 16 Charles
Leclerc
Scuderia
Ferrari
MON +8.441s
5 14 Fernando
Alonso
BWT Alpine
F1 Team
ESP +9.561s
6 1 Max
Verstappen
Oracle
Red Bull
Racing
NED +10.056s
7 11 Sergio
Pérez
Oracle
Red Bull
Racing
MEX +14.080s
8 31 Esteban
Ocon
BWT Alpine
F1 Team
FRA +18.690s
9 77 Valtteri
Bottas
Alfa Romeo
F1 Team
ORLEN
FIN +22.552s
10 18 Lance
Stroll
Aston Martin
Aramco
Cognizant
Formula One
Team
CAN +23.552s
11 5 Sebastian
Vettel
Aston Martin
Aramco
Cognizant
Formula One
Team
GER +26.183s
12 24 Guanyu
Zhou
Alfa Romeo
F1 Team
ORLEN
CHN +29.325s
13 47 Mick
Schumacher
Haas
F1 Team
GER +29.899s
14 10 Pierre
Gasly
Scuderia
AlphaTauri
FRA +31.867s
15 23 Alexander
Albon
Williams
F1 Team
THA +36.016s
16 6 Nicholas
Latifi
Williams
F1 Team
CAN +37.038s
17 22 Yuki
Tsunoda
Scuderia
AlphaTauri
JAP +1 lap
18 4 Lando
Norris
McLaren
F1 Team
GBR DNF
19 20 Kevin
Magnussen
Haas
F1 Team
DEN DNF
20 3 Daniel
Ricciardo
McLaren
F1 Team
AUS DNF
Data courtesy of Formula 1.

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