until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

Formula 1

Russell battles to Brazil sprint win, Verstappen only fourth

by Josh Suttill
3 min read

George Russell passed Max Verstappen to win his first Formula 1 race in a thrilling Interlagos sprint, as Verstappen’s tyre gamble and contact with Carlos Sainz led to him falling from first to fourth.

The real fight at the front became clear when Verstappen and Russell passed first-time F1 polesitter Kevin Magnussen on successive laps on the main straight on laps three and four of 24.

Soft-tyre shod Russell was able to stick with Verstappen who was one of only two drivers in field to opt for the medium tyres.

He quickly closed to within DRS range and mounted his first attack at the halfway stage of the race by pulling alongside Verstappen on the outside of the Turn 4 left-hander but couldn’t make the cutback work.

Russell tried again on the lap after but once again couldn’t find his way through on the exit of Turn 4 and fell too far back on lap 14 to make a proper attempt.

But Russell was able to make it stick on lap 15 by tucking behind Verstappen on the exit of the opening corners and slipstreaming his way passed a defenceless Verstappen – who had mentioned on team radio that he had run over debris – on the run down to Turn 4.

Russell was able to kick away in the race lead and that dropped Verstappen into the clutches of Sainz and Lewis Hamilton who had charged from fifth and eighth respectively.

Sainz passed Verstappen four laps after Russell did at Turn 1 but the rear of his Ferrari collided with Verstappen’s front wing and gave the 2022 drivers’ champion minor damage.

Verstappen’s wing ejected carbon fibre as Hamilton lined him up on the run to Turn 4 and passed him for third on the main straight at the end of the lap.

Sainz and Hamilton couldn’t make any impression on Russell who claimed his maiden F1 race win and pole position for the Brazilian Grand Prix, leading home Sainz and Hamilton.

A question mark remains over Hamilton’s third place as the stewards will be investigating Hamilton, Daniel Ricciardo and Zhou Guanyu for a grid infringement.

Sainz’s grid penalty for Sunday’s grand prix will result in an all-Mercedes front row if Hamilton keeps his third place finish.

A wounded Verstappen had to settle for fourth place ahead of his Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez who rounded out the top five ahead of Charles Leclerc who began his recovery from a dismal qualifying to climb from 10th to sixth.

McLaren’s Lando Norris continued his battle with the food poisoning he suffered on Thursday – unable to do a full run without a break in FP2 – and finished seventh from fourth on the grid.

Magnussen ended up dropping to eighth place to secure Haas a sole point from its maiden F1 pole.

The top 10 was rounded out by Sebastian Vettel – via an inspired charge from 13th – and 2023 Alpine driver Pierre Gasly.

Neither driver scores point as only the top eight drivers get points in F1’s sprint races.

Alpine suffered a disastrous race as its drivers Esteban Ocon and Fernando Alonso collided twice on the opening lap, first touching while side-by-side at Turn 4 and then in more dramatic fashion on the main straight as Alonso picked up wing damage when he clipped Ocon’s rear.

That wasn’t the only intra-team clash as Lance Stroll forced his Aston Martin team-mate Sebastian Vettel onto the grass on the run to Turn 4 and received a 10-second time penalty for it.

Mick Schumacher’s charged from last to 12th in what is likely to be his penultimate weekend with Haas.

Alex Albon was the sole retirement from the race when his Williams ground to a halt on lap 13, the marshals were quickly able to recover his car and avoid a safety car.

Sprint Qualifying Results

Pos Name Car Gap Best Time
1 George Russell Mercedes 1m14.233s
2 Carlos Sainz Ferrari +3.995s 1m14.522s
3 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes +4.492s 1m14.317s
4 Max Verstappen Red Bull +10.494s 1m14.507s
5 Sergio Pérez Red Bull +11.855s 1m14.699s
6 Charles Leclerc Ferrari +13.133s 1m15.236s
7 Lando Norris McLaren-Mercedes +25.624s 1m15.38s
8 Kevin Magnussen Haas-Ferrari +28.768s 1m15.11s
9 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin-Mercedes +30.218s 1m15.451s
10 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri-Red Bull +34.17s 1m15.29s
11 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren-Mercedes +39.395s 1m15.385s
12 Mick Schumacher Haas-Ferrari +41.159s 1m15.771s
13 Guanyu Zhou Alfa Romeo-Ferrari +41.763s 1m15.765s
14 Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo-Ferrari +42.338s 1m15.98s
15 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri-Red Bull +50.306s 1m16.413s
16 Lance Stroll Aston Martin-Mercedes +50.7s 1m15.425s
17 Esteban Ocon Alpine-Renault +51.756s 1m16.097s
18 Fernando Alonso Alpine-Renault +53.985s 1m14.764s
19 Nicholas Latifi Williams-Mercedes +1m16.85s 1m16.525s
Alex Albon Williams-Mercedes 1m15.998s
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