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Friday, February 3, 2023

Sao Paulo GP: George Russell’s Maiden F1 Victory Ends Mercedes’ Winless Streak

Russell finally ended Mercedes’ win drought in the 2022 season

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Aditya Saikrishna
Aditya Saikrishna
I am 21 years old and an avid Motorsports enthusiast.

BRAZIL: George Russell fended off his teammate Lewis Hamilton at the dying stages of the Sao Paulo GP to register his first F1 win. The 24-year-old timed a late safety car restart to perfection to build a gap with his teammate. He sustained the relentless pressure from Lewis Hamilton to come home in the first place. Russell finally ended Mercedes’ win drought in the 2022 season.

Photo Credit:Twitter /MercedesAMGF1

After early contact with Max Verstappen caused him to fall down the field, Lewis Hamilton finished behind his teammate to complete a Mercedes one-two. The seven-time World Champion made a strong recovery drive to regain second place.

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In a highly entertaining Sao Paulo GP, Carlos Sainz finished in the final in the podium position.

After a thrilling sprint on Saturday, the Sao Paulo GP started with an all-Mercedes front row, with Russell and Hamilton ahead of Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez of Red Bull at the start.

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Friday’s pole-sitter Kevin Magnussen was spun around by Daniel Ricciardo at Turn 8. The McLaren driver nudged the Haas’ right-rear tire on the corner entry. There were dejected scenes at Haas, who hoped for points finish in the Sao Paulo GP. 

Ricciardo’s car remained on Magnussen’s outside as he rolled back onto the grass. As a result, they collided, disqualifying both drivers from the race and bringing out the Safety Car on the first lap.

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The race restarted a few laps later, and George Russell timed it to perfection, making a sizeable gap to Lewis behind. 

Bringing back flashbacks of the controversial 2021 F1 season, Max Verstappen was able to get a run and braked late to pass Lewis around the outside of Turn 1. He carried a lot of speed going into the subsequent turn 2 and ran into the side of Lewis Hamilton. 

The Dutchman suffered damage to his front and had to make a pitstop. He was later slapped with a 5-second time penalty by the race director for causing the collision. 

Lewis Hamilton had a broken wheel cover from the impact, but he carried on. While the race officials investigated the incident, he charged back up the field from the eighth position. He overtook Mick Schumacher, Pierre Gasly, and Sebastian Vettel before chasing down Carlos Sainz and Sergio Perez.

Leclerc and Norris came together at Turn 6, moments after Lewis and Verstappen’s collision. Norris hit the inside kerb at the top of the turn and suffered an understeer. He went into the side of the Ferrari of Leclerc, who was trying to get past around the outside. 

The Monégasque driver vented his rage over the team radio, but even though he could get out of the barrier when he got going again, he was at the back. Lando received a 5-second time penalty for the incident.

Lando Norris’ McLaren triggered a late safety car after it suffered a power loss from an electrical failure, which initiated a flurry of pitstops. Ferrari pitted Sainz for a new set of soft tyres, which jeopardized the Mercedes 1-2 up ahead. 

Mercedes had nailed their strategy to create a sizeable lead ahead of Sainz and Perez, but the safety car would bunch up the field, allowing the drivers behind with newer tires to quickly overtake the duo.

Alpine was the first to employ team orders, firmly telling Esteban Ocon not to race hard against his teammate Fernando Alonso. Ocon was vocal in his response, telling the team to let him race and gain positions on Vettel ahead. 

George Russell timed the restart to perfection as the Mercedes duo pulled away from the pack. George Russell quickly pulled a one-second gap over Lewis Hamilton and managed it till the end to claim his first F1 race win, a day after coming first in the sprint race.

Behind the Mercedes duo, Carlos Sainz led his Ferrari teammate Charles Leclerc in 4th, who asked his team to swap positions with Sainz to aid him in grabbing P2 in the F1 drivers’ championship. Ferrari did not entertain his requests. 

The Alpine of Alonso came home in 5th position after starting from 18th. Verstappen finished 6th after disobeying team orders and declining to let Sergio Perez through. The Mexican could have gained crucial points in his fight for P2 in the F1 drivers’ championship had Verstappen let him gain the position. 

Ocon finished 8th after a brave fight back up the field after starting from 17th. Valtteri Bottas and Lance Stroll rounded up the points positions at 9th and 10th, respectively. Sebastian Vettel drove beautifully throughout the race but unfortunately missed out on points as he finished 11th behind his Aston Martin teammate. 

Also Read: Kevin Magnussen Secures First Formula 1 Pole in Dramatic Sao Paulo GP

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