Despite starting from the second place, Valtteri Bottas managed to beat championship leader Max Verstappen, as reigning champion Lewis Hamilton charged to fifth from the back of the grid.
The third-ever F1 Sprint took place at the Autódromo José Carlos Pace ahead of the Sao Paulo Grand Prix with Valtteri Bottas coming out on top in a fierce battle with championship leader Max Verstappen, scoring three points in the 24-lap race.
Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton found out directly ahead of the sprint race that he had been excluded from the qualifying which meant a last-row start for the Briton. In fact, the penalty was not surprising cosidering that the FIA consistently acts very strict when a competitor fails to pass a technical inspection.
The Briton was in anger, and he used his mood and the power of his fresh Mercedes internal combustion engine to work his way up to P5 which will mean a tenth starting position for the Sao Paulo Grand Prix.
At the front, the Briton’s team mate Valtteri Bottas beat Verstappen at the start thanks to his softer tyres with the Dutchman unable to regain the lost place despite being clearly faster.
Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz caused a stir at the start as the Spaniard executed a brilliant getaway from the grid, making up two positions into the Senna esses to improve his position from P5 to P3. The Madrid-born even overtook the championship leader on the first lap, but he lost the position later on. However, he fended off Red Bull driver Sergio Perez’s attacks to cross the finish line in P3 which saw him score a championship point.
Red BullMax Verstappen, started 1st, finished 2nd
“We started on the harder compound and as soon as I saw Valtteri was on the softs I knew it would be quite tricky to keep position, especially in these colder track temperatures. After the first lap we had good pace but it’s hard to overtake here and the tyres overheat a lot so there’s not much you can do so I ended up sitting behind.
“At the end of the day I always try to do the best I can and it was good to score a few points today. Tomorrow is the important day and it will be different when we have more options with pit strategies. Let’s see what happens tomorrow, it’s going to be quite a bit warmer so hopefully that will be better for us but it’s difficult to say at the moment.”Sergio Perez, started 3rd, finished 4th
“It was difficult to get past Carlos Sainz today, I thought I was going to get him quite easily, but I couldn’t get the exit right in the final corner and that effected my ability to pass him. We were expecting to hold them back at the start but that wasn’t the case in the end. The main issue I was having today was that Sainz was always getting a good exit out of the final corner while my tyres were overheating. The straight-line speed of the Ferrari was quite strong too. Tomorrow is the race that matters, there is still a lot to play for and we can take more risks than today. I could have made up that position today but it would have involved taking too many risks, more than I would like.
“I would like to move forwards in the race tomorrow, we will be pushing from the start and try to make the progress we want. It’s important to have a good starting position tomorrow and then work from there, I hope I can get through the Ferrari quickly and have good pace from lap one. We will learn from what we have done today and be stronger tomorrow.”
FerrariCharles Leclerc, started 6th, finished 7th
"We still have some work to do ahead of the race to understand why we could not reproduce the good pace that we had on the mediums this morning. The softs may have been a small advantage at the start, but we expected the Mediums to be better later on. Unfortunately, the temperatures dropped at one point and we started struggling, especially with the fronts. The race is tomorrow though, so our full focus is on that and we will work out where we can improve to fight our way up the order."Carlos Sainz, started 5th, finished 3rd
"That was a very good Sprint for me after one of my best starts of the season. I feel starts are one of my strengths, and I have been working a lot this year to nail them with this car. Going for the soft tyre was a 50/50 choice. We knew they would be good for the first two or three laps but from then on tyre management and defense would be critical.
“I managed to find the right balance between pushing at the start and maintaining a stable pace after that. The slightest mistake and the Red Bull could have overtaken us easily as they had a much faster pace. It was very difficult to keep Checo behind, but I’m happy I managed it, because it gives us an extra point and a good opportunity tomorrow. The race will be tough, but I’ll try to keep up this pace and let’s see if we can hold on and bring home a good result."
MercedesLewis Hamilton, started 20th, finished 5th
"Honestly, I had no idea what was possible today - I didn't set a limit or a maximum. When I was at the back of the grid at the start before we pulled away for the formation lap, I think I might have been able to see like, 10 and I was like 'okay, that's my goal, I've got to try and get up as far as possible' but then all of a sudden I was chipping away at it much faster and I really used a lot of different things for motivation today.
„I just never give up, you can't ever give up. It has been tough today: while the team was working away, talking with the stewards, I was just trying focus on my work with my engineers and keeping the morale with my mechanics high and just focusing on the job at hand. Not thinking about it. Of course, it was devastating when I heard about the verdict but you can't let that hold you back. You've got to keep your head down and keep going. I quickly reset, got my mind focussed on doing what I could do and just giving it my everything."Valtteri Bottas, started 2nd, finished 1st
"Today the start was the key thing for me and I got a good one! We gambled a little bit with the soft tyre. We knew that it would be a benefit for the start and it worked and it was all about trying to survive until the end. It was quite tricky in the final laps but Max still struggled to follow in the corners, so I'm glad it worked out perfectly. The support here from the fans has been amazing here, so thank you as well to everybody who came out today!"
McLarenDaniel Ricciardo, started 8th, finished 11th
“The start itself was alright but the inside line into Turn One got a bit bottled-up and the positioning wasn’t so good. I’ll have a look at that and make sure I get on top of it for tomorrow. We want to try to move forward, so we'll see what we can do. I’ll learn from today and come back fighting in the race.”Lando Norris, started 7th, finished 6th
“A good day for us with two positions gained. One on a very important competitor, which is the Ferrari, and one on the AlphaTauri, so we’ve given ourselves the best opportunity to score some big points tomorrow. There were some positives and negatives from today in terms of how the car was and how confident I was pushing the car.
“We’ll try to make improvements overnight and see if we can come out even stronger tomorrow. We did everything we could. Even though we didn’t quite have the pace of the Ferraris, we still managed to get ahead of one of them. We’ll try even harder tomorrow.”
Pierre Gasly, started 4th, finished 8th “We had a terrible start today, I lost three positions into Turn 1 and just didn’t have the pace to come back at the Ferraris and McLaren. It clearly wasn’t the start of the race we expected, so we’ll look at what we can do better for tomorrow. That wasn’t the easiest day for us, especially as the last few laps on the soft tyre were really difficult. As you know, it’s never over until the chequered flag, so we’ll look at the strategy tonight and do everything we can to come back stronger tomorrow.”Yuki Tsunoda, started 12th, finished 15th
“I’m not happy with today. I lost too many positions on the first lap and after that I couldn’t maximise the performance from the soft tyre. Due to the format this weekend, I haven’t completed that many laps here, but I learnt a lot from today that I can take away and look at tonight ahead of the race tomorrow.”
AlpineEsteban Ocon, started 10th, finished 9th
“Today was good and I think we had a strong Sprint. I was happy with how the whole Sprint unfolded and we’ve put ourselves in a solid position on the grid for tomorrow. After a mega launch off the line we gained a few places through Turns 1 and 2 and then we were putting pressure on the AlphaTauri ahead for most of the race.
“It was very positive today and it’s promising signs ahead of tomorrow. The car felt competitive so the aim will be to carry that forward for the main race. Our race pace looks strong, we have another free choice on starting tyre for tomorrow so we’ll assess our options and see what we can do in the race.”Fernando Alonso, started 9th, finished 12th
“We started with the medium tyres and maybe it wasn’t the best for the race start, but we decided as a team to split the strategy. We lost a few positions into turn one and then found ourselves stuck in traffic for the rest of the Sprint. It’s difficult to overtake here and you need quite a big advantage to make progress. I think when you put the cars in performance order it’ll finish how you expect.
“And seeing Hamilton charge through the field it was perhaps more exciting for the fans to watch and shows what potentially could be done with the format. The points are on offer tomorrow so we can’t be too disheartened with the result today. What is clear is we need to make sure our start is good as that can make a big impact on the race.”
“I made a good start and gained a couple of places, but we had to fight hard to stay there with fast cars, such as the McLaren [of Daniel Ricciardo], behind us. I was in the train of cars, benefiting from the DRS, which certainly helped. The race pace was decent but starting on the medium meant that we were faster towards the end [compared with those on softs]. I think it will be similar tomorrow. It is a long race, and we will need to fight hard to score points because there are some quicker cars, including Lewis [Hamilton], behind us.”Lance Stroll, started 15th, finished 14th
“We have moved up a place for tomorrow’s race, which is a positive. There was not a lot of action around us at the start, so we were still P15 after the first lap. Then, at the end, [Yuki] Tsunoda started to suffer on the softs in front of us, while we had managed our mediums pretty well. He lost DRS from the car in front of him and we got him on the last lap, so I think it was probably the right thing to do [starting on the Mediums].
“It was tough to overtake today, but it is a long race and anything can happen at this circuit, so maybe there will be a few opportunities for us tomorrow. We will see what we can do from P14 and aim to make up a few places.”
"I had a bit of a battle out there but unfortunately it was a pretty processional Sprint session for us today. In these short stints, it’s hard to gain a big tyre difference that gives you a chance to overtake. I think there will be some different strategies tomorrow which will offer opportunities, but we’re struggling for pace overall this weekend so we will have to see."
Nicholas Latifi, started 16th, finished 16th
"We were lacking pace today in the Sprint so I couldn't really challenge anyone ahead. If there had been one more lap, I could've possibly caught Yuki Tsunoda ahead but, having said that, we were struggling slightly with our tyres too. It will be a long race tomorrow but a lot can happen here in Brazil, so we'll have to see if any opportunities present themselves and be ready to take advantage of them."
HaasMick Schumacher, started 18th, finished 19th
“Maybe in hindsight there was a faster strategy but we wanted to make sure we had a good start and a good first lap, which we still had, but we didn’t get by anybody. It didn’t pay off this time, but we have another go. Overall, it was a lesson in learning how the soft tyres handled, and we know what we need. Nothing’s lost, the race is tomorrow.”
Nikita Mazepin, started 19th, finished 20th
“We went with the C4 tire, which was a bit of a gamble. I think the first few laps were quite good. I had the opportunity to come very close to Mick, we were battling for four corners side-by-side, I really felt that was the right time to react but unfortunately the rear tyres were struggling by that point onwards. I tried to use my chance, it didn’t really work, but in the grand scheme of things it’s quite difficult for us at this track to battle with the likes of the Williams and the Alfas.”