George Russell tasted the victory champagne for the first time at the Brazilian GP as a drama and overtake-packed race ensued at the Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace. His teammate Lewis Hamilton came “home” 2nd after a weekend of sheer domination by the Silver Arrows, quenching their win drought of the season with the first 1-2 since Imola 2021.
Carlos Sainz of Ferrari grabbed yet another podium in 2022 even after taking an engine penalty. Charles Leclerc also drove an amazing recovery, finishing a magnificent 4th from last after hitting the barriers on lap 7.
Race Results of the Brazilian GP:
Fernando Alonso gobbled up 12 places and took the chequered flag at P5 using his Alpine’s sheer pace at the later stages of the race. Max Verstappen finished P6 ahead of teammate Sergio Perez, the former defying last lap team orders and not letting Perez finish higher to aid in his battle for P2 with Leclerc.
Esteban Ocon crossed the line at P8 ahead of Valtteri Bottas and Lance Stroll in the final points’ places. Daniel Ricciardo and Friday’s pole-sitter Kevin Magnussen were both taken out by each other after their lap 1 contact. Ricciardo has since been handed a 3-place grid drop for the next and final race at Abu Dhabi for this incident. Lando Norris was the last of the non-finishers of the Mexican GP after a power unit failure made him stop by the track.
Russell and Mercedes’ near-flawless execution:
George Russell rendered what can only be considered his career highlight. From a qualifying spin to a near-perfect sprint victory, his performance was leaps and bounds ahead of anyone else on track. Lewis Hamilton came close to challenging the no. 63 Mercedes but was once again held back by a sub-optimal tire strategy. Russell performed wherever was asked of him, while capitalising on the W13 miracle that the Brackley-based team had spelled. After almost an entire season’s worth of top 5 finishes, ‘Mr Saturday’ George Russell was rewarded well with this victory going into the 2023 season.
Verstappen’s revengeful rebellion:
It is not that often that Max Verstappen catches the headlines with a sub-par performance. His Brazilian GP was essentially thwarted after the lap 7 scuffle with Lewis Hamilton, requiring the no. 1 driver to pit for a new nose in addition to being given a 5s penalty for the same. Emerging last, the Dutchman could only do so much to make up to the front runners, while the RB18’s rare lacklustre pace making matters even worse. Thus both of its drivers were merely left to survive as even Perez started to trickle down the order on his final medium tire stint.
By the last lap, Verstappen had already overtaken Perez for P6 after the Mexican’s pace drop-off. Controversy ensued when Max was asked to let Perez by on the final lap for P6, thereby gifting the latter two more points. Verstappen outright denied the move, with both Red Bull and Perez openly disapproving of him. Had the situation played out otherwise, Perez wouldn’t have been level-pegging with Leclerc at 290 points going into the final race.
Essentially garnering most of the media headlines, Verstappen’s rebellious act was not particularly received with open arms, as the rightfully-annoyed Perez even remarked “Obviously I’m disappointed, especially after all I have done for him. This shows who he really is”. The 2022 world champion claimed “I gave my reasons about why I didn’t do it, about something that happened in the past”, implying a certain incident that made him snub team orders. Whisper in the paddock is that Max was referring to Perez’s Monaco GP qualifying crash this year that forced the former to abort his pole-worthy lap. Although when asked, Perez quipped he had “no idea” what incident Max was referring to.
McLaren’s demise at the Brazilian GP:
McLaren’s absolute devastation of Sunday’s performance meant they suffered yet another major blow in their P4 battle with Alpine. Ricciardo’s accident aside, the relatively more reliable MCL36 could not get Norris the necessary points to survive the French team’s wrath. Albeit, even if not for the DNF, McLaren’s pace didn’t seem competitive at all. Going into the final race, only 18 points separate the blue and orange teams, with both nursing problems of their own (some driver drama in case of Alpine, in particular).
An honourable mention for the weekend surely goes to Kevin Magnussen. The Dane shocked the entire F1 world at the Friday Brazilian GP qualifying with a lap that no one was even given the chance to beat. Deciding to gamble on red-striped softs right at the onset of rain meant they could set their representative time whereas everyone else had to settle for final Q3 runs on intermediate tires, post the session restart after Russell’s spin. Magnussen’s perfect lap and the celebration at the Haas garage was indicative of the sweat and tears that went into for a day like that. Yes of course his race was far from ideal, but Haas’ improvement is something to be really commended of.
Also slipping under the radar amidst all of these drama is the well decorated recovery both the Ferrari drivers could make. A podium from P7 for Sainz, in addition to a P4 for Leclerc despite being spun around in the opening stages of the race, the Scarlet Scuderia managed to keep their act clean, unlike most of their recent performances.
The 2022 Formula 1 season comes to a close next weekend at Abu Dhabi. There are essentially two main battles going on, the fight for P2 in drivers’ championship among Leclerc and Perez, and the fight for P4 in the constructors’ between Alpine and McLaren. On the sadder side of things, Yas Marina will host Sebastian Vettel for the last time, the German bound for retirement after a gorgeously illustrious career. On the other hand, fans could be seeing Daniel Ricciardo on the grid for the last time, the Honey Badger set for an early departure from McLaren. Trust me when I say, I am writing this with teary eyes 🙂