Front row lock-out for Mercedes as Russell battles to Brazil sprint win | The Financial Express

Front row lock-out for Mercedes as Russell battles to Brazil sprint win

Lewis Hamilton said, “Hopefully we can work as a team and keep those guys behind. We will have a good fight on our hands tomorrow; a win here would be incredible.”

Front row lock-out for Mercedes as Russell battles to Brazil sprint win
George Russell Mercedes leads Max Verstappen of Red Bull on track during the Sprint ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Brazil.

Mercedes’ George Russell emerged victorious in an intense Sprint race at the Interlagos as he gained two positions to secure a pole for Mercedes after finishing P3 during Friday’s qualifying.  

It will be a season-first front row lock-out for the Silver Arrows as Lewis Hamilton was promoted to P2 as Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz Jr will be serving a five-place grid penalty for his sixth engine change during the campaign. 

Magnussen, who secured a shocking pole position in Friday’s qualifying, held on to his advantage at Turn 1 and led the first lap under pressure from reigning champion Max Verstappen, who started the race on a set of mediums, ahead of Russell. Meanwhile, Sainz made a move on McLaren’s Lando Norris at the start of Lap 2 to take the fourth position.

By the start of Lap 3, Verstappen had taken the lead against Magnussen while Russell and Sainz did the honours on the following lap. Meanwhile, Hamilton had passed Ocon and Norris and soon demoted Magnussen to fifth.

After a long period and several attempts within the DRS range of Verstappen, Russell finally took the lead during Lap 14 as he moved past the Dutchman at the braking zone for Descida do Lago.

Sainz passed Verstappen for P2 during Lap 18, meanwhile making contact with the RB18 at Turn 2, as the Red Bull driver came off worse with a broken front wing endplate. Hamilton followed suit and passed Verstappen to finish P3, just under half a second behind Sainz to finish inside the podium brackets.

Sergio Perez, who’s battling Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc for a second place in the driver’s championship, asked to swap positions with his teammate but it seemed Red Bull prioritised the champion’s sprint race position over the Mexican’s position in the 2022 championship.

Leclerc finished sixth, ahead of Norris as poleman Magnussed dropped to eighth to pick up a point.  It is, by far, the best opportunity for Mercedes to taste victory in what has been a humbling season for the side. And on Saturday, both the Mercedes boys showed they’d be going all guns blazing at the Interlagos as they gained two and five places to finish P1 and P3, respectively.

Hamilton, who received Brazil’s honorary citizenship recently and has a widespread fanbase in the country, said, “To be on the front row is incredible. Hopefully we can work as a team and keep those guys behind. We will have a good fight on our hands tomorrow; a win here would be incredible.”

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First published on: 13-11-2022 at 14:18 IST