Formula 1

Formula 1: Verstappen eases to victory for the Sao Paulo Grand Prix

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Max Verstappen wins the Sao Paulo Grand Prix with relative ease as he leads home Lando Norris, with Fernando Alonso beating Perez to the line to take his first podium since Zandvoort.

Drama before lights even went out as Charles Leclerc crashed his car on the formation lap due to a hydraulics issue with the car. He was fortunately able to get into an escape road, meaning the race could start as normal.

However there would be even more drama as soon as the race started, as Albon would make contact with both Haas cars, taking himself and Magnussen out of the race. Both Ricciardo and Piastri would suffer rear wing damage as a result of the commotion, but due to the red flag that came out as a result of the incident they were both able to repair their damage and continue, though both would be a lap down and effectively unable to compete.

When the race got properly underway, Lando Norris made an attempt to stay with Verstappen as long as he could, at points being close enough to get DRS off of the reigning world champion. Norris would then begin to close in on Verstappen, to the point where he would eventually attempt an overtake round the outside of turn 4 on lap 8. Norris appeared to give everything he could into this move, as he would quickly fall to 2 seconds behind and would not get another opportunity like that for the rest of the race.

Mercedes had quickly established that they had pretty poor race pace, with Hamilton heading a DRS train down to 10th place. Russell was behind Hamilton, and was under threat from Sergio Perez, with the Red Bull driver being able to dispatch of the first Mercedes on lap 14, going on to then overtake Hamilton just 4 laps later.

However, Hamilton would find himself getting back ahead of Perez after performing an undercut with the first round of pitstops. Whilst frustrating for Perez at the time, it proved to be a temporary setback, as he was able to retake 4th just a few laps later.

Zhou Guanyu would be the next driver to retire from this race, having been asked to do so by his team on lap 24.

Lance Stroll would demonstrate the improved pace of Aston Martin this weekend as he would cause Russell to fall even further back on lap 27. Russell would then look to see if he could pass Hamilton, though such a move would never materialise. Instead, Carlos Sainz would catch up to Russell and take 7th place from him. Sainz would then go on to overtake Hamilton for 6th on lap 37.

Alfa Romeo’s weekend would end early after Valtteri Bottas was also forced to retire on lap 39, having at one point fought for a point that could have lifted the team back up to 8th in the constructor’s championship.

Mercedes’ woes continued as Pierre Gasly would ease his way past Russell on lap 43. It would take the Frenchman just 7 laps before Hamilton would also be overtaken. Mercedes’ weekend would then get even worse after an oil temperature problem forced Russell to retire, as there was an imminent risk of failure for the car’s power unit. Fortunately for them, this would be as it got for the silver arrows as Hamilton would finish the race in 8th.

Pressure had been building on Alonso as Perez slowly but surely got closer and closer to him over the course of over 30 laps, but it wouldn’t be until lap 70 that Perez would finally go for the overtake. Whilst he would make the move stick, he would be re-overtaken just one lap later, with this battle culminating with a drag race to the end, which Perez would only just lose out by half a tenth of a second.

This race would be Alonso’s 106th podium in Formula 1, his first since the Dutch Grand Prix in back in August. Lance Stroll, who has struggled with form as of late, scored his best result of the entire season with 5th place.

The penultimate race of the season will be the inaugural Las Vegas Grand Prix, taking place in two weeks time.

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