F1 – Brazilian GP – Sprint
Olá, MiniFans! The last sprint weekend of the season is upon us, and we have landed in Brazil to celebrate it. After a very moody Friday, which included a red flag to finish qualifying, Saturday woke up warmer and the surprise didn’t lay in the weather, but rather in the shootout, as Norris edged Verstappen out to claim pole position for the sprint.
Norris’ first place lasted him only a few metres, as Verstappen took the interior line in the first corner and easily got past. Russell would soon get past him as well, having overtaken Pérez at the start in a similar move to Verstappen’s. The Mexican driver wasn’t having his best start, as Hamilton had gotten in front, but he’d eventually recover this position. A bit further back, both AlphaTauri had mostly kept their places, each having lost just one position to a Ferrari, taking advantage of their new softs.
As Verstappen started to drive off into the distance, Norris regained second place from Russell, kicking off a battle between the two young Brits. However, the fight would soon become for third place, between Russell and Pérez, trying to fulfil Red Bull’s desire of a double podium as Norris imitated Verstappen and started opening a gap to third place. Meanwhile, Alonso was slowly but surely passing drivers, after he hadn’t been able to complete as much of the shootout after being taken out by Ocon.
Once Pérez managed to make a move stick, he quickly opened up a gap to Russell big enough so that DRS finally became useless. As the top places started to settle, the battle between the Ferraris and the AlphaTauris picked up, creating a train behind them once Leclerc lost Hamilton’s DRS. An incredible fight for eleventh ensued between Gasly and Alonso, who kept passing each other until Alonso managed to remain in front after his last move.
In a completely different world, Verstappen asked his team about the tyre management, as Norris was faster than him in the fast corners. Getting an affirmative answer to pick up the pace, the gap grew to around two and a half seconds. Mercedes wasn’t having the same easy last laps, their tyre degradation affecting them so much that Hamilton lost places to both Leclerc and Tsunoda. Piastri was also having some problems, dropping back a place but managing to keep his top ten.
The last couple of laps saw a very comfortable Verstappen cruising to the end, as did the rest of the podium contenders and even Russell in fourth, despite his problems with pace towards the end, while behind them the battles were tough but clean. Piastri and Alonso overtook each other, with the rookie coming out on top despite his struggles, and Hamilton, Sainz and Ricciardo crossed the finish line almost in formation.
After the surprise came through in the shootout, Verstappen was not going to allow the same to happen in the sprint. Once he grabbed the lead of the race, he never once let go of it as the rest of the field got their knives out to fight for their lives. Tyre degradation affected some more than others, offering some surprising overtakes at the end of the race and making a few drivers grit their teeth to protect their positions. Many lessons were learned, which they will surely use on Sunday.
MiniDrivers – F1
2023 Sao Paulo GP