George Russell won his first race as well as the first win for Mercedes this year
Summary of the race
George Russell started in Sao Paulo on pole after finishing first in the sprint race. This was the first Mercedes front row lockout of the year. Daniel Ricciardo hit Kevin Magnussen at the very beginning and they both were out of the race. A safety car didn’t end up with much action besides Alex Albon pitting and it ended on lap 6.
On the restart, there were multiple collisions leading to a mix up at the top. Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen collided on lap 7. They both took the off-road and joined the track in lower positions. Charles Leclerc and Lando Norris also collided on lap 7. Leclerc hit the wall, but reversed and rejoined the track. They didn’t give each other enough space so a five second time penalty was given to both Verstappen and Norris for causing a collision. Max and Leclerc had to box the following lap with front wing damage. This meant they were both at the very bottom and needed to work their way up.
Hamilton managed to easily recover by overtaking Pierre Gasly on lap 10, Sebastian Vettel on lap 14 and Norris on lap 15. Carlos Sainz had a slow pit stop on lap 18 with his right rear brakes smoking. A tear off was stuck in his brakes which is why he had this early pit stop. Sainz also easily climbed to the top, passing Lance Stroll lap on 21 and Mick Schumacher on lap 22.
Between laps 29-35 Verstappen and Leclerc passed slower cars to enter the top 10. After catching him for a while, Hamilton overtook Sergio Perez on lap 45. Norris stopped on track on lap 53 due to an electrical issue. A virtual safety car was deployed first but then a safety car had to be introduced. Lapped cars overtook on lap 58, but they forgot to tell Yuki Tsunoda so he was awkwardly near the front.
At the restart, Leclerc passed Valterri Bottas on lap 60 into 5th. Fernando Alonso overtook Esteban Ocon with a clean move after their contact in the sprint race where they were told off by team boss Otmar Szafnauer. Alonso had really good pace and managed to pass Bottas into 6th. Sainz overtook Perez on lap 63 who was losing time on the medium tires. Leclerc then overtook Perez on lap 64.
Verstappen overtook Perez on lap 67 and didn’t give him the place back besides team orders to do so. George Russell had his maiden win after winning the sprint race and also managing to get the fastest lap. He got maximum points this race weekend. Hamilton finished in 2nd as driver of the day and Sainz got in 3rd. Lastly, Gasly got a five second time penalty speeding in the pit lane, but no penalty points.
I would rate this race a 9/10 because of the overtakes throughout the field and on several different corners. It was good to depart from the usual Red Bull dominance and see a Mercedes win. Personally, I was really happy to see Russell take his first win after having to be in a backmarker team with Williams for 3 years. He fully took the chance of being a Mercedes driver and made no big mistakes. I look forward to hopefully more wins from him and how the team performs next year.
Red Bull had their worst result since the summer break, finishing in 6th and 7th. The collision between Hamilton and Verstappen was worse for Verstappen since he had more damage and was at fault for the contact. It was surprising to see that he couldn’t go up higher in the field as his car is the fastest on the straights. Perez had a poor last stint of the race being on medium tires compared to others who were mainly on soft tires.
Ferrari found themselves on the bottom step of the podium, unable to challenge Mercedes for the race win. Sainz really had a great race with good pace on all the tires, but especially the medium tires which other drivers struggled on. Leclerc had an excellent comeback race with the F1-75 performing much better in Brazil than in Mexico. Had it not been for the collision and the mistakes in qualifying, he may have been able to challenge the Mercedes for the win.
Mercedes were the clear winners of the race with a 1-2. Russell had an excellent start, which had been an issue in Mexico. He was constantly able to leave a gap between him and second place, often just enough to not enable DRS for the driver behind. The updates on the W13 from Austin suited the track and it’s impressive to see how the team has developed. Hamilton was unable to challenge Russell, with the collision also having a slight impact. The team is now only 19 points behind Ferrari in the constructors.
McLaren had their worst performance of the race with a double DNF. Both drivers were responsible for separate incidents, so they can’t be feeling great after a good sprint race for Norris who started in 4th. Alpine had a double points finish, the opposite of McLaren. Alonso showed why he is a double world champion and still in the game after finishing in 5th. Both drivers made the most of their poor qualifying and had a quite fast car at Interlagos.
Williams didn’t have a great race weekend with neither car finishing in the points. Albon simply fell down as the speed of the car was too slow. Haas had the same outcome, despite Magnussen being on pole for the sprint race and starting in 8th for the main race. Alfa Romeo managed to score some points with Bottas in 9th, having a better first stint in the race. Aston Martin saw Vettel in the points for the first couple laps, but after a poor safety car restart, neither finished in the points. Lastly, Alpha Tauri were also too slow, despite Gasly starting in the top 10.