Russell secure P1 in Sprint at the Sao Paulo GP 2022

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Russell secure P1 in Sprint at the Sao Paulo GP 2022

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.

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 a frustrated 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”.

George Russell
George Russell

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, Lewis 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.

After the scrap between the Alpine drivers, another battle of the team mates saw Lance Stroll pick up a 10-second penalty for an aggressive defensive move against Sebastian Vettel on the run between Turns 3 and 4, which forced the German to take to the grass.

Back up front, it was Russell’s turn to attempt a pass as he got within DRS range of Verstappen, who was struggling to make his medium tyres work, prompting several side-by-side moments between the pair as the Sprint reached half-distance.

After an initial try on Lap 12, and a slight delay to his attack when Alex Albon parked up his Williams, Russell eventually edged ahead of Verstappen on Lap 15, getting in the Red Bull’s slipstream out of the Senna Esses and expertly positioning his car around the outside of Turn 4.

From there, Verstappen dropped into the clutches of Sainz, who muscled his way past the Dutchman into Turn 1 on Lap 19, only for the rear of the Ferrari to clip Verstappen’s front wing mid-corner, inflicting damage that also opened the door for Hamilton to get ahead.

Russell kept his composure up front to bag the Sprint win, and P1 on the grid for Sunday’s Grand Prix, with Sainz managing late tyre degradation to beat Hamilton to P3, ahead of Red Bull pair Verstappen and Perez.

Leclerc managed to make his way up to P6 after his qualifying struggles, with Norris also getting in front of Magnussen, who claimed the final point on offer under the revised Sprint scoring format for 2022.

Vettel was ninth after his run-in with Stroll, followed by the lead AlphaTauri of Pierre Gasly, McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo, the other Haas of Mick Schumacher and squabbling Alfa Romeo pair Zhou Guanyu and Valtteri Bottas.

Hamilton, Ricciardo and Zhou are all set to be investigated after the race, with potential start procedure breaches being flagged, meaning there could yet be a change to the points-scoring positions if the Mercedes driver is penalised.

Alonso took a lowly 15th after his incidents with Ocon and trip to the pit lane, as Yuki Tsunoda (AlphaTauri), Stroll, Ocon and Nicholas Latifi (Williams) completed the order – Albon being the sole retirement.

FORMULA 1 HEINEKEN GRANDE PRÊMIO DE SÃO PAULO 2022 – SPRINT

POS NO DRIVER CAR LAPS TIME/RETIRED PTS
1 63 George Russell MERCEDES 24 30:11.307 8
2 55 Carlos Sainz FERRARI 24 +3.995s 7
3 44 Lewis Hamilton MERCEDES 24 +4.492s 6
4 1 Max Verstappen RED BULL RACING RBPT 24 +10.494s 5
5 11 Sergio Perez RED BULL RACING RBPT 24 +11.855s 4
6 16 Charles Leclerc FERRARI 24 +13.133s 3
7 4 Lando Norris MCLAREN MERCEDES 24 +25.624s 2
8 20 Kevin Magnussen HAAS FERRARI 24 +28.768s 1
9 5 Sebastian Vettel ASTON MARTIN ARAMCO MERCEDES 24 +30.218s 0
10 10 Pierre Gasly ALPHATAURI RBPT 24 +34.170s 0
11 3 Daniel Ricciardo MCLAREN MERCEDES 24 +39.395s 0
12 47 Mick Schumacher HAAS FERRARI 24 +41.159s 0
13 24 Zhou Guanyu ALFA ROMEO FERRARI 24 +41.763s 0
14 77 Valtteri Bottas ALFA ROMEO FERRARI 24 +42.338s 0
15 14 Fernando Alonso ALPINE RENAULT 24 +48.985s 0
16 22 Yuki Tsunoda ALPHATAURI RBPT 24 +50.306s 0
17 18 Lance Stroll ASTON MARTIN ARAMCO MERCEDES 24 +50.700s 0
18 31 Esteban Ocon ALPINE RENAULT 24 +51.756s 0
19 6 Nicholas Latifi WILLIAMS MERCEDES 24 +76.850s 0
NC 23 Alexander Albon WILLIAMS MERCEDES 12 DNF 0

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