Mercedes’ George Russell converted his pole position from Saturday’s sprint race to seal his maiden Formula 1 victory at the Grand Prix of Brazil. The Brit was joined by his compatriot Lewis Hamilton at P2 as the Silver Arrows put up a no-nonsense performance to clinch their first win since the Saudi Arabian GP in 2021.
Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz Jr, who was serving a five-place grid penalty on the race day put up a stellar fight to finish inside the podium brackets.
As the lights went out at the Interlagos, Russell led his teammate at the start with Red Bull’s reigning champion Max Verstappen on the chase. However, the race saw an early deployment of a safety car as McLaren’s Daniel Riciardio collided with Friday’s poleman Kevin Magnussen, which forced both the drivers to retire due to extensive damage to their cars.
The Lap 7 resumption of the race had more drama in store as 2021 foes Hamilton and Verstappen made contact at turn 2 as the Dutchman made an unsuccessful move on the Brit. The Red Bull driver pitted to get a new wing while the seven-time World Champion dropped to P8.
During the same lap, Ferrari’s Leclerc went crashing into the barriers at Turn 7, courtesy a heavy contact from Lando Norris. However, surprisingly, the Italian managed to resume the race after pitting for repairs.
The stewards slapped a five-second penalty on both Verstappen and Norris for their collisions during Lap 7.
A Lap 25 pit stop for Russell meant that Hamilton had taken the lead at the Brazilian GP after a quick recovery from P8. However, the Mercedes driver boxed during the Lap 30 to come out at P4 as Russell, Perez, and Sainz led the way.
McLaren’s Sao Paulo misery touched its peak as Norris pulled over during Lap 55 due to mechanical issues, thereby forcing a virtual safety car which was eventually followed by a full safety car.
At the restart, Russell managed to keep his advantage as his teammate chased him following a ‘go ahead’ for a racing spree from the Mercedes pit. Meanwhile, Ferrari boys Sainz and Leclerc blasted past Perez, demoting the Mexican to fifth.
Leclerc asked to swap positions with Sainz, but to no avail. His rival second position rival for the championship, Perez, asked the same favour from Verstappen but the Dutchman turned a deaf ear despite having both titles wrapped up for Red Bull.
Alpine had a day to remember as Fernando Alonso and Esteban Ocon gained 11 and 8 positions to finish fifth and eighth, respectively. Verstappen finished sixth ahead of teammate Perez. Alfa Romeo’s Valtteri Bottas and Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll grabbed the last available points.
In the post-race conference, Perez didn’t hold back against his teammate as he said, “I’m very surprised, I don’t know what happened, especially for everything I’ve done for him. I think if he has 2 championships it’s thanks to me.”