Formula 1

Formula 1: Russell leads Mercedes 1-2 in eventful Brazilian Grand Prix

Featured image credit: @f1 official twitter

George Russell scored a maiden victory an incident-filled Brazilian Grand Prix that included a clash between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen.

Hamilton fought back from the collision to finish second behind his Mercedes team-mate Russell, with Carlos Sainz completing the podium for Ferrari. But Verstappen was embroiled in further controversy at the finish, ignoring team orders to beat Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez to sixth.

Having won Saturday’s sprint race ahead of Sainz, Russell lined up from pole ahead of Hamilton, with a five-place grid penalty putting Sainz back to seventh.

Both Mercedes drivers made great starts, with Russell leading from Hamilton, while Verstappen held off Perez for third into turn one. The fast-starting Lando Norris moved ahead of Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc and challenged Perez into the first corner, but backed out having ran out of space and settled for fifth.

The safety car was deployed before the end of the first lap due to a collision which put Daniel Ricciardo and Kevin Magnussen out of the race. Ricciardo ran into the back of the Haas driver, who spun and then rolled backwards into the McLaren which then was sent crashing into the barriers.

There was immediate controversy when racing resumed on lap seven. Verstappen got a run on Hamilton at the restart and braked later to sweep around the outside into turn one. But the pair collided at turn two, with Hamilton slipping down to eighth and Verstappen to the back of the field after pitting for a new front wing.

A few corners later there was another collision between Norris and Lerclec, the latter spinning into the barriers but was able to continue. Verstappen and Norris were soon both handed 5-second penalties for the respective incidents.

Russell led from Perez over the next few laps,  as Hamilton fought back up to fourth behind Sainz, who was the first of the leading cars to stop for new tyres on lap 17. The Spaniard left the pits with a smoking right-rear brake, having had a visor tear-off removed from the brake duct, but soon the temperatures returned to normal once his Ferrari was up to speed.

Perez came into switch from soft to medium compound tyres on lap 24, but his chances of undercutting Russell for the lead were hampered by having to fight his way past Alfa Romeo’s Valtteri Bottas on his out-lap. Russell came in on the next tour, making the same tyre switch, emerging from the pits just in front of the still-to-stop Vettel in second and, crucially, ahead of Perez.

Hamilton briefly led before making his first stop on lap 30 and came out in fourth behind Sainz. He then went on a charge to close in on the Spaniard, who made an early second pitstop. That freed up Hamilton to go after Perez for second and, after ramping up the pressure, eventually took the place away from the Red Bull driver at the start of lap 45.

Perez stopped two laps later for another set of medium tyres, with Hamilton responding by coming into the pits next time by and returning to track on softs still ahead, with Sainz now back into second.

Russell was soon in for fresh tyres, maintaining the lead until the second safety car period. Norris stopped on track after his car lost power, causing an initial virtual safety car intervention. Sainz used the opportunity to pit for soft tyres, before officials decided to deploy the safety car.

That set up a 12-lap sprint to the chequered flag when racing resumed, with Russell control proceedings from Hamilton to lead home a Mercedes one-two.

Still on medium tyres, Perez quickly came under pressure in third from Sainz, who eventually got by with DRS before turn four. The recovering Leclerc soon demoted Perez to fifth, with the charging Fernando Alonso also passing the Mexican driver.

Having ran 10th at the restart on soft tyres, Verstappen charged up the order to pass his team-mate for sixth.  Having been unable to make up any further positions, Verstappen was asked by the team to hand sixth back on the final lap to Perez, who is still fighting for second in the points. But the Dutchman openly refused on the radio and remained ahead until the finish.

Esteban Ocon came home eighth for Alpine ahead of Bottas, while Lance Stroll pipped his Aston Martin team-mate Vettel to 10th.


Featured image credit: @f1 official twitter

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