F1 – Brazil GP – Race
Olá, MiniFans! No rain on the horizon for the race, but it doesn’t mean we have to forego an incredible racing afternoon in Interlagos. With Mercedes blocking out the front row for the first time in a year, Verstappen will need to fight tooth and nail to try and increase his number of victories in 2022, while his teammate is fighting to be the runner up against Leclerc and Sainz looks to get back on a podium where he tasted champagne for the first time in his career.
The first few corners were proof of the talent of Formula 1 drivers when it comes to driver close together at insane speeds, but only a handful of corners after the lights went off, what started as a very small contact between Ricciardo and Magnussen ended up as the first two cars out of the race. The safety car came out and the cars were retrieved. Before the accident, Norris had managed to get past Leclerc, whose medium tyres were harder to warm up.
The restart became chaotic very soon, as Russell dragged it on up until the last moment, leaving very little space for the cars behind him. Verstappen was very close to Hamilton and tried an overtake in the first corners, which ended up in a collision with Hamilton. Verstappen lost part of his front wing and had to pit for a new one, while Hamilton only dropped a few places, with some floor damage.
If that hadn’t been enough, just a couple of corners later, Norris and Leclerc also had a contact, sending Leclerc against the barriers and subsequently to the pits to do the same as Verstappen. They both dropped to the last places and settled for a comeback as the penalties came out: both Verstappen and Norris got 5-second penalties for their incidents. Meanwhile, Russell was still at the front, followed by Pérez and Sainz until the Ferrari pitted for fresh softs, as the mediums seemed not to be working for him, but the real reason was soon discovered: a tear-off had gotten stuck in his right rear brake ducts. It was removed during the stop and he rejoined the race.
The mediums were still a problem for Ferrari, as Leclerc soon pitted to get rid of them, as did Verstappen. In these same laps, the drivers at the front got rid of their softs for mediums, save for Hamilton, who lengthened his stint with softs up until almost halfway through the race, getting a fresh set of mediums to resume his hunt.
Once everyone had gotten at least one stop in, Russell was still comfortably leading, a handful of seconds away from Pérez and Sainz, but Hamilton was getting closer to Sainz, who pitted once again for mediums, getting a quick swap from his mechanics, unlike Alonso, who saw part of his hard work evaporate due to a tricky tyre. Battles came and went, but some remained and reappeared along the race thanks to different strategies and tyres, such as Alonso vs Stroll and Norris vs Leclerc.
Strategies were so varied that it soon became chaotic when trying to follow how many stops every driver had, as well as the age of the tyres and their type. This confusion wasn’t helped by a virtual safety car caused by Norris’ McLaren giving up and losing power. Sainz took advantage of the situation and pitted for new tyres, while Pérez didn’t, leaving him in a vulnerable position to the Ferrari when the virtual safety car turned into a fully fledged one. The surprise came courtesy of Russell, who asked his race engineer whether they’d keep the positions or fight for the win, getting permission to fight but with respect. In a similar wavelength, Ocon’s engineer explicitly told him not to fight Alonso, and the Frenchman complained before eventually relenting.
This second restart was cleaner then the first one, even if there were some visibly blocked tyres in the group. Russel and Hamilton easily got away from Pérez, while Sainz was glued to his rear wing until both he and Leclerc eventually got past, as did Alonso. The last handful of laps saw them protecting their positions, as well as the possibility of team orders, which was shot down by Ferrari claiming it was too risky while Red Bull did ask Verstappen to swap, but the Dutch driver didn’t do it, finishing in front of his teammate.
Interlagos never disappoints, even if the rain isn’t part of the equation. Incidents and collisions are something that you can always count on to make an appearance and last year’s rivalry between Verstappen and Hamilton came back full force, with both colliding as soon as they were beside one another. The strategies were varied in the group, providing something between confusion and excitement to the spectators, and the fight for the win went almost down to the wire for the first Mercedes 1-2 in a very long time, as well as George Russell’s first win in Formula 1.