(Motorsport-Total.com) – In 2022, Mercedes won a race under its own steam after all! George Russell secured victory in the F1 sprint at the Sao Paulo Grand Prix in Brazil on Saturday evening and thus not only eight points for the drivers’ championship, but also first place on the grid for the Grand Prix on Sunday.
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George Russell secured Mercedes’ first win of the season in Brazil
Russell triumphed after a remarkable duel with world champion Max Verstappen (Red Bull), whose tire gamble didn’t work out and who dropped back to fourth place by the end of the race.
Carlos Sainz (Ferrari) was second, four seconds behind Russell, with Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) third. However, the latter is still under investigation because of a possible violation of the rules during the starting procedure.
Sergio Perez (Red Bull) finished P5, followed by Charles Leclerc (Ferrari), Lando Norris (McLaren) and pole setter Kevin Magnussen (Haas), who clinched the final point.
Sebastian Vettel (Aston Martin) was ninth, Mick Schumacher (Haas) 12th.
On the subject:
Result F1 Sprint
World Cup stand
F1 live ticker: Voices on the F1 sprint
F1 Live Stream: Analysis of the F1 Sprint
How long was Magnussen able to defend the lead?
Magnussen had the advantage of the soft tires at the start. Verstappen in P2 and Nicholas Latifi (Williams) in P16 were the only drivers who didn’t start with soft, but with medium. Verstappen felt that: he lost a few meters to the Senna-S, but was just able to maintain second place.
Verstappen was then briefly under pressure from Russell, but on lap 3 the spook seemed to be over: the Red Bull had the better top speed at the start and finish, allowing Verstappen to pass in front of the Senna-S. A lap later Russell was through, too, in the same place.
Did Verstappen have an easy time afterwards?
Not at all. When he was in the lead, and with the supposedly more durable tyres, hardly anyone believed that another opponent could pose a threat to him. And indeed, after a few laps, Verstappen managed to shake Russell out of the DRS second for the first time.
But Russell didn’t give up. He picked up the pace and the Mercedes proved its qualities as a “tyre whisperer” in sunny weather. On lap 12 Russell attacked the lead for the first time, and for the rest of the laps the two dueled in the Senna-S and at Turn 4 in a tough but always fair duel.
On lap 15, Russell made short work of it: this time, before turn 4, his excess speed was large enough to overtake Verstappen.
Russell is happy: “We thought we could finish second today. I was able to attack Max at the beginning, but I was sure that he would pull away as soon as he got his tires up to temperature. There was only one extra point for the win , so I wanted to be careful.”
What happened to Verstappen then?
At the same time, Sainz and Hamilton came closer and closer from behind. When Sainz tried to pass Verstappen in the Senna-S, there was a slight contact. Verstappen suffered damage to the front wing. The end plate on the left became independent, which cost performance.
“It was tight,” admits Sainz, when asked about his maneuver by ‘Motorsport-Total.com’. “If you want to overtake a Red Bull, you know that you have to take risks when braking. It was fair, that’s part of racing.”
So Verstappen could not defend himself against Hamilton for long and fell back to fourth place, fighting with blunt weapons. By the time he crossed the finish line after 24 laps, he was 10.5 seconds behind Russell.
Was it only the fault of the medium tire?
“He was the wrong choice,” admits Red Bull motorsport consultant Helmut Marko. At Mercedes, however, one suspects that this was a conscious decision: “We knew that the medium was not a great tire and I’m sure they knew that too. But I think they wanted the two softs that they still have , save for tomorrow’s race,” suspects Mercedes operations manager Andrew Shovlin.
For Russell, the choice between the soft and the medium “wasn’t clear cut. We all knew that the soft is the best tire. But if you take it today, you’ll have a set less tomorrow. That’s for Max in terms of an advantage tomorrow.”
It’s not that easy, Marko believes, at Red Bull: “Our weakness was in the middle sector. We lost almost a second there at times and just weren’t fast enough. Also on the straights. It’s going to be tough troubleshooting overnight “We can’t change much. Mercedes was strong, we have to acknowledge that without envy.”
What happened between Ocon and Alonso?
Already in the first round it almost cracked between the two. Esteban Ocon drifted wide at Turn 4, leaving Fernando Alonso out of space. The Spaniard skidded on the curb, and it was a little bit lucky that he didn’t shoot his team-mate in the process.
A few laps later, the two met again on the track, and now Alonso’s collar burst: “I lost the front wing, thanks to our friend. He pushed me into turn 4 and then again on the straight. Good job!”
Team boss Otmar Szafnauer had a different perception: “I didn’t see any back and forth from Esteban. I rather think Fernando was a bit too close. But as for turn 4 on the first lap: Esteban would probably have him a bit can leave more space.”
Both Alpines were damaged in the incident at the start and finish. While Ocon continued, he lost positions by not being able to match the pace of his immediate competitors. Alonso had to come in for a repair stop, change the front wing and tires, and resumed the race in last place.
Alonso finished the F1 sprint in 15th, Ocon in 18th.
What happened between Vettel and Stroll?
It was P11 between the two when Vettel got faster and faster during the race and attacked his team-mate at the Senna-S exit. However, Lance Stroll showed little cooperation and moved far to the left.
Vettel, a bit incredulous, acknowledged the dangerous action only briefly and concisely on the pit radio: “Okay.” The race director came to a clear verdict: ten seconds stop & go because of a “dangerous manoeuvre” against Stroll.
A lap later the spook was over. The German used his much better speed and sucked his way past Stroll in front of the Senna-S. A little later, he was on course for points for the first time, snagged Gasly on lap 20 and finished ninth.
It was almost enough for a point. At the finish line, Vettel was just 1.5 seconds behind Magnussen.
Are there grid penalties?
Sainz had the engine changed before the start of the weekend. That means a setback of five positions. On an F1 Sprint weekend, the penalty will not be applied on Saturday, but will only be applied to the main race on Sunday. This means that Sainz slips backwards from P2 to P7 – and both Mercedes are in row 1.
What are the broadcast times for the Formula 1 evening on Sunday?
Sao Paulo is the fourth and final race of the 2022 Formula 1 season to be shown on German free TV. RTL broadcasts live as a sub-licensee of the official broadcaster Sky. The Cologne private broadcaster starts at 5:45 p.m. with preliminary reports. The race starts at 7 p.m. German time. The pay-TV channel Sky reports from Interlagos at 5:30 p.m. (Click here for the complete overview of the TV times for Formula 1 in Sao Paulo!)
After the end of the race and follow-up reports, a special treat awaits all German Formula 1 fans. Because ten years ago Michael Schumacher ended his career in Brazil. On this occasion, RTL will show the Netflix documentary “Schumacher” from 9:15 p.m. and another documentary from 11:35 p.m., namely “Michael Schumacher – His Hardest Fight”.
(AD: If you don’t have a Sky subscription but want to see the race without commercial breaks, you can watch Formula 1 live at short notice on Sunday via the WOW streaming service. By the way: If you book WOW between November 14th and December 4th for six months, you can get the sports offer with a 50 percent discount for only 14.99 euros per month!)