Verstappen dominates in Brazil as Alonso draws the spotlight

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

Max Verstappen had a fairly quiet race and was never under any threat to win the Brazilian Grand Prix. Lando Norris similarly sailed to second place while Fernando Alonso put up a strong fight to return to the podium by fighting off Sergio Perez.

The warm-up lap immediately sprung a huge disappointment for Ferrari and Charles Leclerc as in Turn 5 the driver suddenly lost control of his car. Charles reported he lost hydraulics, and even though he could get out of the tyre wall, he only did so to park his car at a nearby marshall post, allowing the track to be clear and the race start to go ahead as planned, albeit with an empty starting slot for P2.

When the lights went out Verstappen maintained the lead but behind him several cars were fighting for second place. Lewis Hamilton opted for the outside and went ahead of both Aston Martins. Lando Norris had a similarly strong start and went for the left side of the track while the Astons were struggling to get off the line.

Norris took second place and Hamilton third as Alonso passed his team mate to maintain second place. Stroll followed up in fifth and then Russell, Perez, Sainz and Ocon.

Kevin Magnussen and Alexander Albon meanwhile came together before Turn 1 and both ended up retiring from the race. Lots and lots of debris was out on track and a loose tyre was actually rolling over the circuit as other drivers negiotated Turn 1, bumping on the rear end of Daniel Ricciardo's AlphaTauri. The safety car was quickly brought out on track, resulting in a red flag.

As Leclerc calmly walked his way back to the Ferrari garage, Oscar Piastri was told to retire due to a power unit issue. Daniel Ricciardo parked in the box rather than queuing up with the other cars to enable the mechanics to fix damage from the tyre that struck his rear wing.

Half an hour after the original race start the race got going again with the safety car leaving the pits with the competitors behind it. This included Piastri and Ricciardo who were lucky to rejoin the race. Both men started from the pitlane, one lap down.

The second start was more clean but again it was Verstappen who easily went into the lead. Norris fllowed in second after a brief battle with Hamilton through Turn 1. Alonso was fourth but managed to get a nice slip stream on Hamilton and got ahead in Turn 4. Stroll lost another two positions and slotted into 7th while falling behind Russell and Perez.

Lando Norris held on well and a few laps after the start the McLaren driver turned into a menace for Verstappen. On lap 8 Norris was in DRS range and came close to a pass for the lead in Turn 4. When that failed, Verstappen appeared to push a bit more and in 6 corners pulled 1.2s on Norris, breaking his DRS for the next pass on the main straight.

Meanwhile it became obvious that just like in the sprint on Saturday the tyres of the Mercedes were wearing off rapidly, leading to a bit of a train including Hamilton, Russell, Perez, Stroll, Sainz and Gasly. Alonso consistently lapped more than half a second a lap faster and remaining within 2 to 3 seconds from Norris.

Russell fell victim to Perez' better pace in lap 14 with Stroll soon having a look to try to make it past the Mercedes one lap later as well. As Hamilton slowly pulled away from Russell, Perez was faster still and passed the Mercedes in lap 18. The Mercedes driver was pitted at the end of that lap and switched to medium tyres. Russell pitted the next lap and rejoined about 1.5s behind his team mate. Red Bull tried to cover Hamilton's stop another lap later but despite a 0.7s better pitstop saw Perez return to the track in between both Mercedes cars.

Perez sorted that situation two laps later and rapidly distanced Hamilton. One lap later the other Mercedes of Russell also lost a position to Stroll as the Aston Martin came back up to speed after a change to medium tyres two laps earlier. Stroll went on to pass Hamilton as well, dropping the latter into the path of Russell.

Alonso got pitted on lap 26 and still returned to the track comfortably ahead of Perez. When the remaining soft starters had pitted the next two laps, Verstappen was leading by 5s and another extra 5s to Alonso. Perez followed at 13.6s, then Stroll another 5s further down and the Mercedes duo.

As Russell continued to discuss being stuck behind his team mate, Sainz rapidly closed in on the duo and passed Russell on lap 35. Hamilton at the same time reported to be "stating to struggle with the tyres". Sainz went on to pass Hamilton two laps later in Turn 4.

Further ahead, Norris and Verstappen exchanged fastest laps while Alonso also did several consecutive personal bests to try to keep Perez at bay as long as possible. Though Alonso's laps were a full second off the pace of the two cars ahead of him, Perez did not get closer than within 1.2s of the Spaniard before losing ground again.

As Russell continued to retrograde behind Gasly and then was close to be passed by Tsunoda, Russell was called in to change to a used set softs. Perez and Hamilton did the same switch one lap later. Gasly also pitted and took on a fresh set of softs. Alonso also had a fresh set left which he took one lap after Perez. On the softs Perez appeared stronger and started to close in on Alonso again.

Gasly appeared very strong on his new soft tyres and after being let past by Ocon the Frenchman set the fastest lap and went on to overtake Lewis Hamilton quickly.

When Perez set the fastest lap with 15 laps remaining he came to within 0.3s of Fernando Alonso. At the same time Verstappen pitted while Norris stayed out. The latter pitted from the lead three laps later when it looked clear that staying out would not work to take the win against a challenging Verstappen.

Perez meanwhile kept on challenging Alonso but the Spaniard outsmarted the Mexican with a better line through Turn 12. At one point Perez was even told to mimic Alonso's line and eventually, two laps from the end Perez got past the Aston Martin on the main straight. Alonso however stayed very close throughout the lap and looked to find the podium back. It failed at Turn 1 where he was still too far but a great Turn 1 meant he had a wonderful drive towards T4 that allowed him to take third place back. Perez got back and aside of Alonso on the main straight, and passed again, but only after the finish line, enabling Alonso to take third with just 0.053s ahead of the charging Mexican.


11Max VerstappenRed Bull Racing Honda Rbpt711:26:07.13625
24Lando NorrisMclaren Mercedes71+8.277s19
314Fernando AlonsoAston Martin Aramco Mercedes71+34.155s15
411Sergio PerezRed Bull Racing Honda Rbpt71+34.208s12
518Lance StrollAston Martin Aramco Mercedes71+40.845s10
655Carlos SainzFerrari71+50.188s8
710Pierre GaslyAlpine Renault71+56.093s6
844Lewis HamiltonMercedes71+62.859s4
922Yuki TsunodaAlphatauri Honda Rbpt71+69.880s2
1031Esteban OconAlpine Renault70+1 lap1
112Logan SargeantWilliams Mercedes70+1 lap0
1227Nico HulkenbergHaas Ferrari70+1 lap0
133Daniel RicciardoAlphatauri Honda Rbpt70+1 lap0
1481Oscar PiastriMclaren Mercedes69+2 laps0
NC63George RussellMercedes57DNF0
NC77Valtteri BottasAlfa Romeo Ferrari39DNF0
NC24Zhou GuanyuAlfa Romeo Ferrari22DNF0
NC16Charles LeclercFerrari0DNF0
NC20Kevin MagnussenHaas Ferrari0DNF0
NC23Alexander AlbonWilliams Mercedes0DNF0

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