Russell takes home maiden win in Brazil

Russell takes home maiden win in Brazil

November 14, 2022

George Russell scored his maiden Formula One victory as Mercedes took home their best-ever result of the season, finishing one-two, with Lewis Hamilton in second place. Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz finished third ahead of his teammate Charles Leclerc. Fernando Alonso finished fifth in front of Max Verstappen, Sergio Pérez, Esteban Ocon, Valtteri Bottas and Lance Stroll, who rounded up the top-ten places in that order.

Russell’s maiden win came following his first-place finish at the Sprint on Saturday, and the young Brit nailed it on Sunday as the ones behind him were involved in an incident-filled race. The Red Bull pair of Verstappen and Pérez had their late-race moment, Hamilton tangled with Verstappen, and Leclerc and Lando Norris also had a moment among many others. Ferrari’s third- and fourth-place finishes keep them just ahead of Mercedes in the Constructors’ Standings, while Leclerc and Pérez are now tied on 290 points in the Drivers’ Standings for the second place with one race to go. 

There was drama right off the line as Russell led from Verstappen. Haas’ Kevin Magnussen, who scored his maiden pole position on Friday in Qualifying, was hit from behind by McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo, which spun both of them out of the race and brought out an early Safety Car.

The Safety Car came in on Lap 6, as Russell was overtaken by Verstappen, who then tried to take the second place from Hamilton, but the double World Champion got a bit too aggressive and, in his attack on Hamilton, pushed him a bit too wide, which led to the Dutchman not only getting front-wing damage but also receiving a five-second time penalty.

Lando Norris and Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc also came together on Lap 9, as the McLaren driver steered right into the Monégasque, though luckily both drivers were able to continue. Norris, though, was handed a five-second penalty for clashing with Leclerc. 

By Lap 15, Russell led from Sergio Pérez and Carlos Sainz, while Hamilton, who was second, fell to eighth.

Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz was the first of the front-runners to pit on Lap 19, and with him pitting, Hamilton, who was making up places through the field, moved up to third. Sergio Pérez pit from P2 on Lap 23, which saw Hamilton move up yet another spot to second. He was, at this point, almost 10 seconds behind his teammate.

Hamilton did eventually take the lead of the race when Russell pitted on Lap 25. Russell re-joined 11 seconds behind Hamilton, who did eventually pit on Lap 30, re-joining in P4, with Russell retaking the lead of the race from Sergio Pérez and Carlos Sainz.

Further down the grid, Verstappen was making up places and was up to P15 following his five-second penalty, which saw him fall right to the bottom of the grid.

Hamilton eventually overtook Pérez for P2 on Lap 45, while Russell was more than 10 seconds clear ahead. The seven-time World Champion pitted for a second time on Lap 49 and re-joined in P3 behind Sainz.

Lap 53 saw the third retirement of the race as McLaren’s Lando Norris stopped on the track after losing power. A Safety Car was brought out, with the race resuming on Lap 60. The Safety Car bunched up the entire pack, however, nullifying Russell’s hard work, but the young Brit wasn’t going to let that hamper his race. He sped off once again, and within three laps of racing resuming he was almost two seconds ahead of Hamilton.

Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, who had had a quiet race up until then, slowly made his way through the field and attacked Pérez on Lap 64 for P4 and was behind his Spanish teammate. Verstappen, meanwhile, had made his way up to P7 by Lap 65. He kept pushing as he took sixth from his teammate on Lap 67, while Russell cruised up front. 

Russell eventually sailed to his maiden Formula One win, almost two seconds clear of his veteran teammate Hamilton, while the Ferrari pair finished third and fourth behind the Mercedes duo. Alpine’s Fernando Alonso finished a stunning P5 after starting a lowly P17 from the Sprint, and with both Alpine drivers finishing in the points and neither McLaren driver finishing the race, Alpine now find themselves having a 19-point lead over the Woking-based team for P4 in the Constructors’ Standings. 

With the Brazilian Grand Prix wrapped up, this season has one final race left, in Abu Dhabi in a week’s time, and there are still plenty of things to fight for. While Charles Leclerc and Sergio Pérez are still engaged in the battle for P2 in the Drivers’ Standings, the fight between Mercedes and Ferrari for P2 in the Constructors’ will also go to the season finale in Abu Dhabi. McLaren and Alpine and Aston Martin and Alfa Romeo will also take their respective Constructors’ fights to Abu Dhabi as the teams look to finish the season on a high. 

Aditya Chaudhuri

Hailing from the City of Joy, the things that bring me joy are cricket, a good non-tilt CS:GO session, F1 and movies.

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