Russell takes maiden victory as Mercedes celebrate 1-2 finish at Brazil

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F1 Grand Prix, GP Brazil, Autódromo José Carlos Pace, Interlagosbr

The Brazilian Grand Prix was dry but that didn't make it any less spectacular than the sprint or qualifying earlier this weekend. The eventful race was controlled by the Mercedes drivers, followed by the Ferrari duo and Alonso who fought back from 18th on the grid.

When the lights went out Russell launched like a rocket and gave Hamilton no other option but to follow up in second. Verstappen and Perez also maintained position while Norris gained one on Leclerc. The McLaren driver looked threatening on Perez as well but the latter held on round the outside of Turn 1.

Leclerc and Sainz followed up in 6th and 7th as both were the only ones in the top 10 to start on the medium Pirelli tyres. Vettel, Gasly and Schumacher completed the top 10.

Worse off were Ricciardo and Magnussen. In the sharp right hander it was Ricciardo who slightly bumped Magnussen, causing the Haas the spin around and hit Ricciardo backwards leaving both cars stranded with terminal damage. Both drivers were fine but a Safety Car was necessary to clear the cars.

On lap 8 the race kicked off again with Russell opting to get back on the throttle very late, in fact near the pit entry. This brought Hamilton into trouble as he had to defend to both Red Bulls who were very very close. Verstappen went round the outside on the left hander that is Turn 1 but then was so aggressive into Turn 2 that he bumped into Hamilton. The incident broke Verstappen's front wing, forcing him into a 10s pitstop while Hamilton seemed to have no damage and went on from 8th place, soon overtaking Schumacher and Gasly to recover.

Verstappen was later also handed a 5s penalty for causing that collision, as well as Norris for causing a collision. The latter punted Leclerc off track at Turn 5, leaving the Ferrari driver to pit as well and start a recovery race like Verstappen.

By lap 17 Hamilton had moved up into 4th place after a bit of trouble getting past Vettel as he was enjoying DRS from Norris just ahead. In lap 20 he moved up another spot when Sainz pitted to change his mediums to a fresh set of soft.

On lap 27 Vettel was one of the last ones to pit, leaving only Stroll to continue on mediums from the start in 5th place and Hamilton out in front with soft tyres from the start. Hamilton then pitted at the end of lap 29, returning to the track in 4th. Stroll also pitted that same lap and returned in 15th place, just ahead of Verstappen.

Meanwhile Alonso moved up into 5th but then again was pitted as one of the first. Having been already the first to make a first stop, his second stop on lap 38/71 is a switch from medium to medium. The Spaniard rejoined in 15th place, enabling Bottas to move up into 5th with Vettel and Ocon reasonably closely behind him.

Varying degradation on the soft and the medium tyres caused a large difference tyre strategies across the field. Some seemed to aim for two stops like the Mercedes and Ocon, Sainz and Alonso are on three stop strategies and Leclerc actually already made three stops by lap 47.

In lap 48 then Bottas, Vettel and Norris pitted simultaneously, followed by Hamilton and Verstappen the next lap. Hamilton loudly reported his tyres were good but still obeyed to his race engineer when asked to box again. Hamilton later enquired again why he had to pit and got told they want to prevent the undercut from behind while the soft tyres were the better tyre.

Russell pitted the next lap and just like Hamilton switched to used set of soft. Russell maintained first place, followed by Sainz, Hamilton, Perez and Alonso.

One lap later Norris crashed out, resulting in a virtual safety car. Alpine immediately called in Alonso who managed to make a quick stop and returned to the track in 9th place, just behind Ocon and ahead of Verstappen. Sainz also pitted and returned to the track in 4th place.

As it appeared Norris's car was stuck the safety car was sent out, bringing the entire pack together.

When they restarted the top 6 maintained their positions while Ocon immediately passed Vettel. Alonso did the same in Turn 4 and towards the end of the lap also passed Ocon after the latter had been told by his team "Esteban, I do not want to see you fight with Fernando".

While Sainz got past Perez, Alonso was catching up with Leclerc to try to get that sixth place. Perez was obviously in a difficult position as he ran mediums compared to soft tyres all around him. Leclerc passed the Red Bull in the next lap while Alonso followed that up the next lap ahead of Turn 4.

Meanwhile Verstappen made similar progress and ran about 2s behind Alonso, similarly passing everyone that Alonso cleared. In the closing laps Alonso had trouble getting close enough to Leclerc while Verstappen got closer and closer to Alonso, even getting into DRS range of Alonso.

Eventually Verstappen finished behind Alonso, ignoring his team's request to let Perez by if he couldn't make it past the Alpine driver.

As Alonso sealed a recovery drive from 18th to 5th, George Russel secured his first Formula One victory, crossing the finish line 1.5 seconds ahead of his team mate to make this an unbelievable success for the Mercedes AMG F1 Team.


163George RussellMercedes711:38:34.04426
244Lewis HamiltonMercedes71+1.529s18
355Carlos SainzFerrari71+4.051s15
416Charles LeclercFerrari71+8.441s12
514Fernando AlonsoAlpine Renault71+9.561s10
61Max VerstappenRed Bull Racing Rbpt71+10.056s8
711Sergio PerezRed Bull Racing Rbpt71+14.080s6
831Esteban OconAlpine Renault71+18.690s4
977Valtteri BottasAlfa Romeo Ferrari71+22.552s2
1018Lance StrollAston Martin Aramco Mercedes71+23.552s1
115Sebastian VettelAston Martin Aramco Mercedes71+26.183s0
1210Pierre GaslyAlphatauri Rbpt71+26.867s0
1324Zhou GuanyuAlfa Romeo Ferrari71+29.325s0
1447Mick SchumacherHaas Ferrari71+29.899s0
1523Alexander AlbonWilliams Mercedes71+36.016s0
166Nicholas LatifiWilliams Mercedes71+37.038s0
1722Yuki TsunodaAlphatauri Rbpt70+1 lap0
NC4Lando NorrisMclaren Mercedes50DNF0
NC20Kevin MagnussenHaas Ferrari0DNF0
NC3Daniel RicciardoMclaren Mercedes0DNF0

Note - Russell scored an additional point for setting the fastest lap of the race.