George Russell may have won Saturday’s exciting Sprint Qualifying race, but it isn’t the same as winning a proper Grand Prix on Sunday. Mercedes finished 1-2 and therefore started on the front row of the grid for Sunday. Max Verstappen was expected to scoop up the sprint race after passing surprise pole-sitter Kevin Magnussen. However, Verstappen’s Red Bull seemed under the weather and he could only finish sprint qualifying in a lowly 4th. With the front row locked out, it looked as though the 2022 Brazilian Grand Prix proper on Sunday was a race only Mercedes could lose.
The opening lap of the race proper was marked by a collision between Daniel Ricciardo and Kevin Magnussen which brought out the safety car. At the restart, Russell darted away mid-way down the start-finish straight leaving Hamilton and Verstappen in his wake. Verstappen got a run on Hamilton in the run-up to turn-1 and saw his opportunity to take 2nd away from Hamilton. But the two touched.
Hamilton was forced wide off the track and dropped down the order, Verstappen sustained damaged and was forced to pit. Later, race stewards apportioned blame on Verstappen handing him a 5-second penalty. As the race settled into a pattern Hamilton put in a feisty recovery drive. Meanwhile, at the front George Russell looked secure and confident with Sergio Perez in the Red Bull keeping a 2-second watching brief.
A late safety car with 16 laps to go caused disruption and tension up and down the field. By now Mercedes were 1st (Russell) and 2nd (Hamilton). At the re-start, Russell held his nerve and kept enough of a distance to maintain a comfortable gap. In the end, Russell held his nerve to take a deserved first victory for himself and the first win of the season for Mercedes.
Record-breaking winner of most races in one season Verstappen eventually extracted himself from 16th to finish 6th after suffering battle damage in his fight with Hamilton earlier in the race. But the day belonged to George Russell. Russell’s victory is, in many ways, the beginning of a new era for Formula One.
For Mercedes, it marks the first victory of a very long and frustrating season spent catching up to the leading pack.
2022 Brazilian Grand Prix: Race Results
1 George RUSSELL Mercedes
2 Lewis HAMILTON Mercedes +1.529
3 Carlos SAINZ Ferrari +4.051
4 Charles LECLERC Ferrari +8.441
5 Fernando ALONSO Alpine+9.561
6 Max VERSTAPPEN Red Bull Racing +10.056
7 Sergio PEREZ Red Bull Racing +14.080
8 Esteban OCON Alpine +18.690
9 Valtteri BOTTAS Alfa Romeo+22.552
10 Lance STROLL Aston Martin+23.552
11 Sebastian VETTEL Aston Martin+26.183
12 ZHOU Guanyu Alfa Romeo+29.325
13 Mick SCHUMACHER Haas F1 Team+29.899
14 Pierre GASLY AlphaTauri+31.867
15 Alexander ALBON Williams+36.016
16 Nicholas LATIFI Williams+37.038
17 Yuki TSUNODA AlphaTauri +1 lap
18 Lando NORRIS McLaren DNF
19 Kevin MAGNUSSEN Haas F1 Team DNF
20 Daniel RICCIARDO McLaren DNF