George Russell climbed from third on the grid to win an eventful Brazilian Grand Prix sprint race at Interlagos.
It was a strong race from Mercedes, with Russell coming home 3.995 seconds clear of Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz, while Lewis Hamilton finished third but faces a post-race investigation for a potential grid box infringement.
After securing his first-ever pole position in Friday’s qualifying, Kevin Magnussen maintained the lead for the first two laps while Red Bull’s Max Verstappen had to fend off Russell for second.
Verstappen took the lead at the start of lap three, with Magnussen soon losing further places to Russell and Sainz. Hamilton made early progress from the fourth row, picking off Alpine’s Esteban Ocon and McLaren’s Lando Norris before sweeping past Magnussen for fourth. But Fernando Alonso dropped the back after pitting for a new front wing following lap one contact with team-mate Ocon.
As one of only two drivers running the medium compound tyre, Verstappen controlled the first half of the 24-lap contest against his soft-shod rivals.
Following close behind, Russell finally mounted a challenge at the halfway mark, moving to the outside of Verstappen through the first four corners with the Dutchman remaining in front.
It was a similar story on the next lap before Alex Albon retired his Williams at turn two, with the resultant yellow flags in the first sector briefly halting the pair’s battle.
With the track clear next time by, Russell resumed his attack, this time sweeping by before turn four to snatch the lead. From there the Briton pulled out an unassailable advantage, as Verstappen came under pressure for second.
With six laps to go. Sainz pulled off a feisty lunge into turn one, with contact damaging a front-wing endplate on Verstappen’s car. Hamilton then easily passed the ailing Red Bull, with the top three remaining in position until the finish.
Verstappen trailed home a distant fourth, while his team-mate Sergio Perez and Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc climbed from the fifth row of the grid to finish fifth and sixth. McLaren’s Lando Norris slipped back to seventh, having ran fourth early on, while Magnussen came home eighth.
Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettel made up ground to finish ninth, having been pushed onto the grass at one stage in a battle with his team-mate Lance Stroll, who was handed a 10s penalty for the incident.
Pierre Gasly was 10th for AlphaTauri ahead of McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo, who was also placed under investigation for the same offence as Hamilton. Mick Schumacher was another to have a strong race, charging from 20th to 12th for Haas.
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