Brazil was home to the final sprint weekend of the season. The wet conditions early in the weekend allowed for a mixed bag of results anyone would approve of.
Although the Constructors’ Championship is wrapped up, the order isn’t. Teams are still playing for positions, with the top half of the table still yet to be decided.
The penultimate weekend of the season at the famous Interlagos Circuit was home to fortune and downfall, as well as firsts and falling outs.
George Russell hustles to maiden win, Hamilton completes 1-2
George Russell had a fortunate weekend, following a promising opening season with Mercedes.
Despite spinning out and causing a red flag in Friday’s qualifying session, Russell claimed P3 for the sprint race. No one was able to improve their times due to the rain that began to sprinkle.
Russell climbed to the top during the sprint race, securing a front-row lockout with teammate Lewis Hamilton. Mercedes – who were still without a win for 2022 – had its best chance of doing so in the second-to-last race of the season.
Russell led from start to finish in a drama-filled race, from which he seemingly stayed away from. Mercedes played a perfect strategy, allowing him to comfortably take the chequered flag, with Hamilton close behind, completing the 1-2.
Russell became the 113th different Grand Prix winner in Formula One history and the 20th Englishman to take the top step of the podium.
The victory was Mercedes’ first of the season and the first of Russell’s career. The win was much needed for Mercedes’ fight with Ferrari for second in the Constructors’ Championship.
Just 19 points separate third-placed Mercedes and second-placed Ferrari in the battle for second in the Constructors’ Championship.
Hamilton completed the 1-2 in style, climbing back after early troubles with rival Max Verstappen. Following the restart from the safety car, Verstappen collided with Hamilton into turn two.
Both drivers filed down the order as they began to find their feet. Hamilton came away unscathed, yet down the order. While Verstappen had to pit for repairs.
Mercedes’ pace was unmatched and it was proved by the recovery of Hamilton, who powered through the midfield. He settled in P2, helping the Silver Arrows to an infamous 1-2.
Kevin Magnussen takes first career pole position
The Friday qualifying session had fans on their seats as an exciting session ensued. With wet weather predicted at the beginning and end of the session, something special was bound to happen.
Kevin Magnussen crawled out of Q1 and Q2 to have a crack at Q3, with more wet weather approaching. He set an early time of 1:11.674 before Russell spun and found himself beached in the second sector.
Russell’s incident caused a red flag. The timer was paused and the clouds began to cover the circuit.
As the remaining nine drivers waited for the green light, it began to sink in on Magnussen that due to the slippery conditions, no one would beat his time.
Magnussen became the fourth driver this season to take pole position for the first time in their career, after Carlos Sainz, Sergio Perez, and Russell did so earlier in 2022.
Unfortunately for ‘K-Mag’, his would be the high point of his weekend as he expectedly fell down the order in the sprint race, finishing in P8 ahead of the main event.
It got worse for the Dane when he was spun on the opening lap by Daniel Ricciardo. The damage sustained was enough to withdraw both drivers from the race.
Despite the sour ending, it will be a weekend that Magnussen will never forget. The trials and tribulations of F1 got the better of him in the end, but nothing can take that pole position away from him.
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Back and ‘fourth’ battle
Alpine and McLaren have endured a back-and-forth battle all season.
With just one race to go, the battle for fourth in the Constructors’ Championship is still in the balance.
Alpine had the upper hand going into the weekend in Brazil, yet it looked as if McLaren might make the battle more interesting.
Lando Norris, Esteban Ocon, and Fernando Alonso all fared well in qualifying, making Q3. Daniel Ricciardo made Q2, but could only get as far as P14.
During the sprint race, the two Alpine drivers collided on multiple occasions which left them in tatters. Alonso lost his front wing on the pit straight, forcing both cars to the back of the grid.
Ocon and Alonso would start the main race from P16 and P17 respectively. Meanwhile, the McLaren boys improved their position overall. Norris started in P6 and Ricciardo moved into P11.
However, the race was a completely different story.
It began when Ricciardo tagged Magnussen on the opening lap, ending both of their races immediately. Thus, leaving Norris to defend for McLaren from Alpine.
Ricciardo received a three-place grid penalty for the next race as a result of causing the collision.
Alonso and Ocon began their comeback, picking off drivers and slowly climbing the order.
With just under 20 laps to go, McLaren was struck with another issue – involving Norris.
His McLaren was left stranded after a loss of power. Norris was struggling with steering since the start of the race after his entanglement with Charles Leclerc.
McLaren had no hopes of drawing back the deficit it already had to Alpine. Meanwhile, Alonso and Ocon were closing in on the top 10.
Alonso charged into P5, while Ocon settled for P8, extending their lead over McLaren for P4 in the Constructors’ Championship.
A rollercoaster of a weekend left Alpine with a 19-point advantage over the Papaya team, with one race remaining.
Disharmony at Red Bull
In an attempt to snag more points, Red Bull asked Sergio Perez to let Max Verstappen through with the chance he might overtake upcoming cars.
Verstappen didn’t make any late moves when given the chance, so Red Bull asked him to let Perez back through, as he was in front for the majority of the race.
Verstappen refused, opening a can of worms no one really expected. Perez sounded disappointed over the radio.
It was revealed during Red Bull’s debrief that it had resolved the issue, yet questions loom over the teammates’ relationship.
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