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Russell wins Sao Paulo Sprint


Ahead of today's Sprint, the air temperature is 22 degrees C, while the track temperature is 37 degrees. It is bright and sunny. Nonetheless, there is a 10% chance of rain.

The big question today is what can Kevin Magnussen and Haas take away. In all honesty, nobody expects the Dane to win, but a decent haul of points is up for grabs.

As Max Verstappen has made clear, most of the teams and drivers fear the Sprint concept because they risk so much for so little reward since a technical issue, or worse, a crash, puts them on the back foot for the following day's Grand Prix.

Therefore, the likes of Verstappen, Russell and Sainz have a lot more to lose than the Dane, while Norris, Ocon and Alonso will also be willing to take a risk.

Points are only available to the first eight finishers, and while the likes of Red Bull and Mercedes might look down their noses at what's on offer, those battling for fourth, like McLaren and Alpine, not to mention that four-way fight for sixth, will be aware that every single point counts.

The pitlane opens and the drivers make their way to the grid.

Though Sainz picks up a five-place grid penalty for taking on his sixth ICE of the season, this applies to tomorrow's grid not today's.

"If we get him into Turn 1 that will be great," says Verstappen, "if not we'll get him later on."

All are starting on softs, bar Verstappen and Latifi who have opted for mediums. All bar the Aston Martins are on fresh rubber.

We know from this morning's session that the softs will last the 24-lap distance, but then there's the question of pace in the latter stages.

They head off on the formation lap. "Good luck Kev, have fun," the pole-sitter is told.

The grid forms.

They're away! Magnussen gets away cleanly whilst behind the rest are battling for position. Rather than attacking the Haas as promised, Verstappen has his hands full defending against Russell and Norris as they head into Turn 1.

Indeed as they round the left-hander they are three abreast, Norris on the inside, Russell on the outside and Verstappen the meat in the sandwich.

As the get through the opening complex and head towards the back straight Verstappen is ahead of Russell and Norris while Sainz is all over the back of the McLaren.

On the run to Turn 4 Norris and Sainz are side by side with Ocon challenging. The Frenchman attempts to go through on the inside but loses ground, and as they round Turn 4 forces his teammate wide.

Alonso's car has a mighty wobble and in the process almost hits the other Alpine.

On the run up the hill onto the start finish straight, Alonso makes a move on Ocon, but at the last moment the Frenchman pulls across and as a result they touch.

"I lost the front wing thanks to our friend," says Alonso. "He pushed me in Turn 4 and then finally at the straight."

At the end of Lap 1, it's: Magnussen, Verstappen, Russell, Norris, Sainz, Ocon, Alonso, Hamilton, Perez and Leclerc.

With Russell all over his rear, Verstappen cannot fully concentrate on the leading Haas.

As Hamilton passes Ocon for sixth, Verstappen the race leader as they head into Turn 1.

Alonso has pitted for a new front wing and as a result rejoins the race in last position.

At the start of Lap 4, Russell passes Magnussen as the head into Turn 1, with Sainz following through in Turn 4.

Hamilton passes Norris for 5th, much to the delight of the crowd. Both Mercedes are setting a blistering pace.

Next up for Hamilton is Magnussen the seven-time champion making short work of the Dane who drops to 5th in the process.

Ricciardo, Zhou and Hamilton have been noted for a starting procedure infringement.

"Esteban could have given a bit more room," admits Otmar Szafnauer, as the Frenchman drops down the order having seemingly incurred damage also.

Perez passes Norris for sixth and sets about closing the 2.3s gap to Magnussen.

"Track limits Turn 4," says Russell of the race leader.

As Perez passes Magnussen, Stroll forces teammate Vettel on to the grass as the pair battle for 11th. "OK," says the German.

Next time around the four-time champ makes no mistake and passes his teammate for 11th.

Race Control has noted the incident involving the Aston Martin pair.

After 10 laps, Verstappen leads Russell by 0.541s, with Sainz a further 1.9s behind.

Vettel passes the struggling Ocon for 10th.

At the start of lap 12, Russell makes a move on Verstappen into Turn 1, but the Dutchman keeps the position. The Mercedes driver continues to challenge the Red Bull and makes another attempt on the run to Turn 4, but Verstappen holds him off.

Next time around Russell tries it again, seeking to go around the outside of the Red Bull in Turn 1. The battle continues, much to the crowd's delight, Verstappen's mediums under pressure.

Meanwhile Albon has stop by the side of the track at Turn 2.

Russell takes a breather for a lap or two before mounting another attack. This time, at the start of lap 15, with the aid of a helping tow, the Mercedes passes the Red Bull heading into Turn 4.

Stroll is under investigation for a dangerous manoeuvre.

As Verstappen falls 2s behind Russell, Sainz is 0.9s down on the Red Bull with Hamilton just 0.510s behind.

Stroll gets a 10s penalty for his move on Vettel.

Leclerc has passed Magnussen, which means the Dane has now dropped to 8th, with points only available for the first eight.

As Sainz and Hamilton close in on Verstappen, the Dutchman appears to have gone the wrong way in terms of tyre choice.

Indeed, Sainz makes a move in Turn 1, they touch and though the Spaniard is through, the Red Bull has clearly incurred endplate damage after clashing with the rear tyre on the Ferrari.

Hamilton subsequently passes the damaged Red Bull as they head into Turn 1, demoting the world champion to fourth.

Norris passes Magnussen with ease, demoting the Dane to the last of the point-scoring positions.

"I'm running out of tyres," reports Sainz. "Do your best," he is told.

Vettel passes Gasly for ninth.

The Lap 1 incident involving the Alpines has been noted.

"Am I going to have his position," asks Perez of his teammate, "I need the points."

Another incident involving Stroll - and Schumacher - is under investigation, this time for "driving erratically".

Russell takes the flag, ahead of Sainz, Hamilton, Verstappen, Perez, Leclerc, Norris and Magnussen.

Vettel is ninth, ahead of Gasly, Ricciardo, Schumacher, Zhou, Bottas, Alonso, Tsunoda, Stroll, Ocon and Latifi.

Check out our Saturday gallery from Interlagos here.


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