Analysis: Things we learned from the Sao Paulo Grand Prix

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Freshly-crown three-time world champion Max Verstappen has won the third edition of the Sao Paulo Grand Prix, but its was Fernando Alonso, who stole the show last Sunday as the Spaniard fought an incredible duel with Sergio Perez and managed to cling on to the last place on the rostrum despite the pace advantage of the Mexican's car. F1Technical's Balázs Szabó analyses the Sao Paulo Grand Prix.

Drivers of the Day - For the third race in a row, Lando Norris was voted as Driver of the Day at the Sao Paulo Grand Prix. The McLaren racer yet again proved to be the only driver capable of getting anywhere close to Max Verstappen and he also set a blistering fastest lap of the race on his way to P2 in Brazil.

While Norris received 26.1 per cent of the votes, Fernando Alonso finished right behind him with 24.7 per cent. Sergio Perez received the third-highest percentage of the votes, followed by Verstappen and Yuki Tsunoda.

Additional point - He was not only the only driver to get anywhere close to Verstappen in Brazil, but Lando Norris was only the driver who set the fastest lap of the Sao Paulo Grand Prix. The Bristol-born driver clocked in a 1m12.486s on Lap 61 on Pirelli's soft tyres. Verstappen set the second-fastest lap with a 1m13.422s on Lap 68 with AlphaTauri's Daniel Ricciardo posting the third-fastest lap of the race.

After 20 races, Max Verstappen enjoys a healthy lead not only in the Drivers' Championship, but he has set the highest number of fastest lap as he clocked the best lap in eight races. Hamilton has posted the fastest race lap on four occasions, followed by Perez (2). Zhou Guanyu, George Russell, Fernando Alonso, Oscar Piastri, Yuki Tsunoda and Lando Norris have secured the DHL Fastest Lap Award on one occasion apiece.

Track limits - Track limits were less of a problem at the Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace. The Sprint race saw Williams driver Logan Sargeant lose a lap time, but it did not have any consequences, as drivers receive a five-second penalty only after exceeding the track limits on four occasions. Curiously, there was no track limit infringement in the 71-lap Sao Paulo Grand Prix.

Records - The Sao Paulo Grand Prix saw Max Verstappen score his 52nd career win which meant that he passed Alain Prost and moved into fourth on the all-time list. The Dutchman extended his own record with his 17th win of 2023.

Red Bull are now tied with Mercedes with both outfits having claimed 19 wins in a single season. Mercedes won 19 races in 2019, and there are two grands prix left for Red Bull to beat that record, too.

Teams – Red Bull, Aston Martin and Aston Martin were the only teams in Sao Paulo to score with both cars. Mercedes gained points only courtesy of Lewis Hamilton as George Russell retired from the action in the closing stages due to the cooling issues.

McLaren scored big points with Lando Norris, but Oscar Piastri finished down in P14. Ferrari endured a difficult race in Sao Paulo after Charles Leclerc crashed out on the warm-up lap, which meant that only Carlos Sainz scored for the Scuderia. AlphaTauri continued their upwards trajectory as Yuki Tsunoda finished in P9 and gained two points following a lowly starting position.

Changes – There were no changes at the sharp end of the Teams’ Standings with Red Bull leading ahead of Mercedes, Ferrari, McLaren, Aston Martin and Alpine. Ferrari has closed in on Mercedes with the two teams now separated by 20 points with two rounds to go.

However, the fight is ramping up at the bottom half of the standings. Williams now lead the fight for P7 in the Constructors’ Championship, sitting on 28 points with AlphaTauri following suit seven points behind. Alfa Romeo has scored a total of 16 points, with Haas bringing up the rear of the field with 12 points.

DNS – Following a difficult sprint race on Saturday, Charles Leclerc was not even able to start on Sunday after an electronic issue saw him crash out on the formation lap. That marked the second time that the Monégasque was unable to start a race after he was also forced to sit out the 2021 Monaco Grand Prix with driveshaft-related issues.

Return – Securing his ninth podium finish in Brazil, Fernando Alonso took P3 for Aston Martin, beating Red Bull’s Sergio Perez to the line by 0.053s.

The Spaniard has had a very difficult time recently as he retired from action both at the United States and the Mexico City Grand Prix. He scored his last podium finish back in August in the Netherlands. He has secured a total of eight podium finishes so far in 2023 – five third places and three second places.

Fastest in the pit lane - While Mercedes secured a one-two finish in Brazil last year, Red Bull bounced back last Sunday, by controlling both the Sprint and the Grand Prix at the Sao Paulo Grand Prix. The Milton Keynes-based outfit was quickest in the pit lane as well as their mechanics produced a blisteringly fast tyre change when they serviced Max Verstappen's car in just 2.22 seconds.

McLaren performed the second-quickest tyre change with a 2.25-second service with Sergio Perez's 2.27-second stop being the third fastest. Not one of the Red Bull stops took longer than three seconds. Ferrari and AlphaTauri were quick as well with the Scuderia performing a 2.35-second stop and the Faenza-based squad delivering a 2.29-second stop.