Formula 1

Formula 1: Verstappen wins final sprint race of 2023

@F1 X

Max Verstappen comfortably wins the sprint race in Sao Paulo from 2nd on the grid, followed by Norris just 4 seconds behind.

Off the start, Verstappen was able to get the better launch and overtook Norris into turn 1. Norris would then go on to lose another position as Russell would make his way up into 2nd place by making a move on the inside of turn 10.

Sergio Perez had a poor start to the sprint, finding himself fall behind into 5th place on the first lap behind both Mercedes cars. However, his pace looked decently strong, and was able to pass Hamilton on lap 4 to get back up to 4th place, with the overtake providing a small opportunity for Leclerc to steal 5th, though thinks better and backs out of the move.

One lap later and the other Mercedes of Russell would lose out to Lando Norris, with about a second separating him from Verstappen in the lead. Unfortunately for Norris, this gap would begin to extend, being 1.6 seconds ahead by lap 7.

Lap 8 would see Perez make his first attempt in passing Russell. This was initially successful, swinging his car round the outside of the Mercedes, though Russell was able to make use of the DRS on the run down to turn 4 to retake the position. Perez would try once again on lap 10, and this time was able to make the move stick.

Ricciardo found himself fighting with the Ferraris as he looked to make a move for 8th going into turn 1 on lap 12. However, he would fall victim to the same issue that Perez faced, as he would be re-overtaken down into turn 4. This same issue would hit Ricciardo once again on lap 14, but this time Piastri had been brought closer, to the point where the McLaren driver was able to dive to the inside of his fellow Australian on the inside of turn 8, a rather unconventional overtaking spot.

Just behind this fight was Alonso trying to make the overtake on Gasly into turn 12. However, Gasly was not willing to let go of the position that easily, and would stay with the Aston Martin all the way up to turn 4 on the next lap, by which point he had to finally concede.

By this point Perez began to fall adrift of Norris and Verstappen ahead, whilst both Mercedes cars were falling adrift of Perez. Norris however was keeping up with Verstappen’s pace, threatening to get into that crucial 1 second gap to gain use of DRS. However. he would soon begin to pull away and Verstappen would find himself with over 3 seconds of a buffer to Norris by the end of the race.

Lap 21 saw Leclerc get close enough to Hamilton to pass him and move into 5th position. Hamilton was struggling for pace by this point in the race, falling behind Tsunoda just one lap later to take 6th place. All whilst this was happening, Tsunoda’s teammate Ricciardo moved back into 9th place with a move round the outside of Piastri. Piastri would then find himself under threat from Alonso in the final lap, but positioned himself well to hold onto 10th place.

This race would end up as Verstappen’s 4th sprint win of the season, and sets him up in good stead for tomorrow’s race, where he will start from pole position. It is also Perez’s first top 3 finish since the Italian Grand Prix, a much needed result for a driver that has found themselves under a lot of pressure over the last couple of months.



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