Formula 1

Russell beats Verstappen in Sprint thriller to secure P1 grid slot for the Sao Paulo GP

George Russell battled his way to victory in the third and final F1 Sprint of the 2022 season in Brazil, ahead of Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz and Mercedes team mate Lewis Hamilton, ensuring that he will start the Sao Paulo Grand Prix from first place.

Friday’s rain-hit qualifying session set the grid for the Sprint, with Haas driver Kevin Magnussen claiming a shock pole position to start in P1 ahead of Max Verstappen’s Red Bull, the Mercedes of Russell and McLaren man Lando Norris.

After the paddock had caught its breath from the drama, the main pre-Sprint question surrounded which tyre compounds drivers and teams would opt for across the 24 laps – or 100km – of racing. Who would go with the softest tyres, and who would play it safe on the mediums?

As the tyre blankets were removed on the grid amid bright and warm conditions, those questions were answered. Intriguingly, Verstappen was one of only two runners to opt for mediums, along with Williams driver Nicholas Latifi, with the rest going for the red-marked softs.

When the lights went out, Magnussen put his soft tyres to good use as he bolted off the line to defend his pole position advantage over Verstappen, who came under intense pressure from Russell through the opening sequence of corners, but just managed to hold on to P2.


Sprint results

1  George RUSSELL Mercedes 30:11.307 8
2  Carlos SAINZ Ferrari +3.995s 7
3  Lewis HAMILTON Mercedes +4.492s 6
4  Max VERSTAPPEN Red Bull Racing +10.494s 5
5  Sergio PEREZ Red Bull Racing +11.855s 4

Behind, Sainz came close to pulling a move on Norris, who was still feeling under the weather after his bout of suspected food poisoning, while Alpine pair Esteban Ocon and Fernando Alonso went wheel-to-wheel and made contact at Turn 4, before another close moment on the pit straight, which will be investigated by the stewards.

“I lost the front wing, thanks to our friend. He pushed me in Turn 4, and then on the straight,” said Alonso in a pair of frustrated radio messages, as he pitted for repairs. Speaking to Sky Sports F1 from the Alpine pit wall, team boss Otmar Szafnauer admitted Ocon “could have given him a bit more room”.

Having failed at the first attempt, Sainz cleared Norris into the Senna Esses at the start of Lap 2, with Verstappen again forced to carefully place his car to keep Russell – on the softer rubber – at bay as Magnussen logged the first lap Haas have ever led in F1.

Magnussen’s time at the front would be short-lived, however, as Verstappen built up some more temperature in his tyres to close in and breeze past along the main straight on Lap 3 – Russell and Sainz following suit one tour later.

Further back, Hamilton, Sergio Perez and Charles Leclerc set about making up for their low-key qualifying results by picking off a host of rivals over the opening laps to run P4, P5 and P6 respectively, further demoting Magnussen.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s