The Saturday in F1 Brazil GP was dry and Mercedes were strong on pace where they looked much better than Red Bull and Ferrari.
It was dry on Saturday of F1 Brazil GP at Interlagos as the Mercedes pair set the stage on fire with George Russell winning the sprint race after making a bold pass on Red Bull’s Max Verstappen. His pace was so strong that he managed to pull away comfortably.
His teammate Lewis Hamilton too came back from eighth to end up third and will start from the front-row on Sunday due to grid penalty for Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz, who was able to defend well. The biggest to lose was Verstappen due to tyre and damage.
He ended up fourth from teammate Sergio Perez, who gained places. He brought along Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc with the Top 3 F1 teams of 2022 season bunched up together after Saturday pole-sitter Haas’ Kevin Magnussen dropped down the order.
Russell: “I think we were confident that we could finish second, and we thought Max would probably have quite an easy run to be honest. We knew that if we weren’t ahead of him at Turn 1, it was going to be very difficult to stay ahead of him. I started attacking in the early laps. And I thought once he gets some temperature in his tyres, he’ll be away. And it was a little bit tricky. You had to balance the risk and reward, because obviously, you know, there’s only one extra point… As much as I wanted to win this race today it’s only one extra point and obviously you’re setting yourself up for tomorrow. So you had to be a little bit careful. And you know, Max has got nothing to lose, really. So he was going to be driving aggressively. But you know, definitely, it was pleasing to get the move done in the end.
“Starting from first like Hungary, there we got pole position via a qualifying session. This is the first time we’ve crossed the finish line in first position in a race. It obviously is a little bit of a shame that this wasn’t the race tomorrow. But nevertheless, as I said, it really goes to show the work we’ve done and I think we’re definitely going to be very excited for tomorrow and obviously having Lewis and I one-two on the grid, is going to give us some options of the strategy. And I think we’re going to have to work together to do something different for one of us to try and get the victory for the team tomorrow.
“And as for the fight for the win, there definitely won’t be any team orders. But I think between the two of us we will definitely be strategic to try and get that win for the team. I think as we saw in Mexico that we both did the same strategy and ultimately it affected us both. Sitting here right now, we probably don’t know what the right strategy is going to be. So, you know, we’ll race each other fairly, for sure. And I’m sure we’ll probably be splitting the strategies tomorrow to try and cover all options. And, you know, hopefully one of us comes away happy tomorrow. But I think we, we both recognise based on recent experience, we’re probably going to have to go two separate ways.”
Hamilton: “I think we go to these different races and we get in the car and we… I think George and I, we don’t really know what we’re going to be expecting. And you can’t really read the team as well, the engineers, they’re kind of ‘this should be OK here’ and then it’s not. So they’re even cautious when they tell us whether we’re going to be good or not. So, yeah, our race pace was particularly strong today. So that’s what puts us in a really good position tomorrow. As for team orders, I think I’ll just say that getting a one-two either way, I’m going to be a happy person, just because of how hard everybody’s worked. But of course, George has done an amazing job this year, and he’ll be pushing for that win – but we’ll, of course, drive carefully and clean. And, yeah, we’ve just always got to just have at the core of it, at the front of our mind, it’s the team. Getting the result for the team. But of course, individually, we’ll do our best to try and get the best result.”
Sainz: “We are more on the pace but I would say that still Merc… We don’t know about Red Bull, no, because Max had the Medium and seemed to struggle. But after today Merc, it definitely seems they have the edge over us, especially in race pace again, and Lewis was putting a lot of pressure on me, George was pulling away little by little. So still some more to do in the race if we want to beat them, but at least today I managed to do a good race and get myself in the middle of them, split them. Unfortunately tomorrow I need to take the penalty, which is costly because it would be a lot better if we could start P2 tomorrow, you know, and try something but yeah, we will do our best tomorrow to make it back through the field.
“The fights in sprint race, I mean it was good but it was difficult I must say. We finished P2 but I spent 10 laps defending from Lewis. I made it past Max, which was quite difficult because of his top speed, but I feel like if tomorrow we will start P2 we would be vulnerable to the two Mercs because they seem to have a better deg, better race pace. But yeah, at least we will be in the mix. Unfortunately, I have to take a penalty, which is a bit the story of my season. Whenever I’m strong and whenever I’m on the pace, I have a setback that weekend, which is a bit the story of the whole season, as I said, but yeah, at least I feel confident. I feel comfortable. I feel like I did a perfect race today. So I’m up for the fight tomorrow.
“And as for the Verstappen tussle, it was tight. I mean, yeah, whenever you’re about to overtake a Red Bull, you know, you’re going to have to risk it on the braking. Because obviously on the straight it’s not like you can pull side by side. We were, both Mercs and I here, talking about it. That passing a Red Bull was probably the toughest thing to do. But, yeah, I had to send it a bit under braking, obviously locked up a bit and went a bit long, which ended up having a bit of contact with Max, but I think that’s also fair. I think it’s part of racing. In the end there was no main damages to both of us. And yeah, it reminded me a bit of the pass I did on Checo here in 2019, where I went very close to the inside wall, which was quite tight, but I made it stick. So quite happy about it.”
Verstappen: “It was way more difficult than we expected it somehow. I didn’t expect to have that [tyre degradation]. Then even on the soft we wouldn’t have been fast enough, so we are clearly struggling on keeping the tyres alive. So, this is something we need to try and fix for tomorrow. Even though of course there is not a lot we can do but it can’t get worse than this… At the moment [Mercedes] look unbeatable, but we will analyse everything. “It’s tiny. It broke my endplate and a little bit of the structure but luckily it didn’t fall down. At the end of the day, I would have finished fourth anyway with a complete front wing.”
Behind the Top 3 F1 teams, Haas’ Magnussen scored a point from pole as McLaren’s Lando Norris ended up best of the rest after the Alpine pair came together early on. Fernando Alonso was forced to pit after damaging his front wing during a pass at Turn 15.
He was handed a penalty which dropped him further as Esteban Ocon suffered damage on his sidepod after the Turn 4 collision with Alonso. Both were equally frustrated as was team boss, as McLaren go into F1 Brazil GP’s Sunday race with advantage.
The Alpine collision was not the only contact between teammates with Aston Martin pair almost coming together when Lance Stroll defended his place against Sebastian Vettel. The German went on the grass near the pit exit with the Canadian getting a 10s penalty.
Vettel will be in the mix for points along with AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly. The Frenchman recovered places along with Haas’ Mick Schumacher and the pair of Alfa Romeo cars after a bad Friday qualifying. Williams’ Alexander Albon suffered damage to retire.
Magnussen: “It was always going to be unrealistic to keep those guys behind and I didn’t want to try. I knew the battle was going to be around P7, P8, which ended up being right, and I didn’t want to lose any time with getting overtaken. And also, I’d look after my tyres, etcetera. A little bit of a boring phase of the race – of course I enjoyed getting away on the line and leading the first couple of laps, but I knew it was going to happen after that, that these cars would get ahead. Really happy to get a point, you know, can’t believe what happened yesterday still, and you know, got a point today, so, so far it has been a pretty good weekend. I don’t know, Seb was faster than me of course, but I don’t know. I’ll have to go and look at how his whole stint was because I was obviously getting overtaken a lot this race and that just hurts your tyre degradation, but tomorrow hopefully we’ll be in a better position to stay where we are and just manage the tyres and hopefully, we can stay where we are.”
Vettel: “Yeah, it was tight. Obviously, we don’t see as well as you do on the camera, so there’s a lot of guessing, but yeah, the gap then closed and then I was sort of half off the track, which was a bit hairy – but fortunately I was able to re-join, and then the lap after, we worked together. It was fun, obviously we were making progress – we started 13th and finished ninth. I was a bit stuck and then had a good couple of opening laps with Daniel, that was a lot of fun. After, it was a bit close with Lance, but I think in the end we worked together and, you know, I think it’s always tough. You lose time when you’re fighting, but I seemed to be stronger, and then I was able to pass Esteban [Ocon] fairly comfortably and even catch Pierre in the distance, and yeah, with a couple more laps, I think we could have overtaken Kevin [Magnussen, P8] as well. But maybe we’ll save that for tomorrow.”
Alonso: “There was a lot of too-close [fighting], unfortunately. It’s far from ideal when it’s your team mate, but it’s been a little like this [with him] all year long. It’s one more race and then it’s over, finally. I was very close to the wall in Jeddah with him, close to the wall in Budapest, today in Turn 4 now here… Sometimes it’s very competitive inside a team; it happened to him with [Sergio] Perez, with Verstappen here unlapping himself so… it’s one more race. I feel bad for the guys today, but I will try to have a good race tomorrow.”
Norris: “Tough day today but our main objective was to pass Magnussen, and we did that, so I’m happy. We didn’t really have a chance to compete against the top three teams and I really wasn’t expecting more than P7. I found it tough today. I’ve been unwell, it was hot and this track is hard work – but we had a good race. We’re in a decent position, and if we can get both cars into the points tomorrow, it could be a really good day for us. We’ll work hard tonight, and see what we can do
Ocon: “I mean, I guess the most difficult thing is what we’ve lost in this race, at the back. Unfortunately, this is costly for the team at the wrong moment. It is unfortunate what happened on Lap 1. I was trying to attack the McLarens, took my line into [Turn] 4 and Fernando came out of nowhere from the outside. So we touched and from there on, my race was pretty much over. We are going to need to be working together tomorrow to come back for the team, score some points – hopefully we can do that.”
Albon: “I don’t know what happened to be honest, but I think it was the debris caused by Fernando and Ocon on the main straight. Ultimately, from the start it was not good with low grip and front locking every corner for the first laps, so we really need to have a good look at the car overnight.”
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Here’s how F1 Brazil GP sprint race panned out