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Russell claims maiden Grand Prix win


Looking around the various websites and mainstream media, one would be forgiven that thinking that Red Bull is on the back foot and that it is Mercedes that currently dominates F1.

This, of course, is based on the fact that George Russell won yesterday's Sprint and teammate Lewis Hamilton, who finished third but is promoted to the front row courtesy of Carlos Sainz's grid penalty, while Max Verstappen could only manage fourth.

What they appear to forget however is that other than starting on the (considerably slower) medium tyre, in the days leading up to the Sprint the Dutchman continued to question the value of the events especially as he is often told not to push for fear of an incident and causing damage - an argument given added weight when you look at where the Alpines start today.

Consequently, we can confidently predict that - barring the intervention of the Weather Gods, which looks likely at this time - it will be business as usual for Max and the Red Bull juggernaut.

In all honesty, yesterday's Sprint was a lot better than some we have witnessed, but we remain sceptical, a situation not helped by those ludicrous medals.

It is speculated that the Mercedes pair will head into today's race on different strategies, which could force Red Bull's hand and cause the Austrian team to adopt a similar tactic.

For some time Toto Wolff has insisted that the W13's performance is track specific, and Interlagos does appear to suit the car, though time will tell if it is good enough to really challenge the Bulls and possibly leapfrog Ferrari in the team standings.

The Ferraris of Leclerc and Sainz sandwich the McLaren of Norris, the Woking outfit having been handed something of an open goal courtesy of the silliness of the Alpine duo yesterday.

Sadly - or interestingly, depending on your point of view - Ocon and Alonso start from 16th and 17th this afternoon so there is every likelihood of more silliness.

Talking of Ocon, the Frenchman has been allowed a 'free' engine change following a fire yesterday following a fuel leak. The replacement engine comes from his pool and therefore no penalty is incurred.

However, new parts fitted to Tsunoda's car overnight, including a new floor, rear wing and nose assembly mean the Japanese will start from the pitlane.

Starting from eighth is Magnussen, who is likely to be heading the mother of DRS trains for much of the afternoon, what with the big guns all starting ahead of him, and his well-honed elbows out approach to those behind.

As ever, this could well be decided as early as the first corner, though let's hope that common sense prevails.

Following the non-event that was Mexico and the strategic screw-up on Friday, one team that really needs a good race is Ferrari, though the reality is the Leclerc is now finally beginning to realise what Alonso, Vettel and many more before him went through with this team.

Based on yesterday's evidence, Pirelli admits surprise at the lack of difference in pace between the mediums and softs, though one feels that Verstappen would disagree.

That said the Italian manufacturer admits that it wasn't possible to truly evaluate the performance of the medium tyre, but suggests a wide variety of strategies this afternoon.

There are four strategic options. The first two, which are very close, each consist of a two-stopper. One is to start on the soft tyre before two medium stints to the end. An alternative is to start on soft before going onto medium and then finishing the race on soft again. Track temperatures and conditions will be the decisive factor.

For those looking to a one-stopper, the choice is to start on medium or soft before switching to the hard for a longer final stint. Those two options are also very close but starting on the soft is perhaps better in order to take advantage of its performance in the early stages of the race. As always, it's the details that make the difference, with the risk of traffic and safety cars also a factor.

The pitlane opens and the drivers begin to head out. Air temperature is 24 degrees C, while the track temperature is 51 degrees. It is warmer than yesterday, which, as we said earlier, could be a deciding factor.

There's an early excursion for Ocon, who goes off at Turn 4, just as countryman Gasly is warned of a strong tailwind at that particular corner.

Ahead of the formation lap, though it is bright and sunny, race control warns of a 10% chance of rain.

All are starting on softs bar Leclerc, Sainz, Magnussen, Schumacher, Stroll, Alonso, Latifi and Tsunoda who are on softs and Albon who is on hards. All are on fresh rubber bar Stroll who is used mediums.

So, no split strategies as far as the big gun teams are concerned.

They head off on the formation lap. "It's going to be a busy afternoon," Perez is warned.

The grid forms.

They're away! Great start from Russell and as they enter Turn 1 Hamilton tucks in behind, as Norris and the Bulls are three abreast, the McLaren on the inside and Perez in the middle. Through the Senna S, Verstappen gets ahead of Perez who leads Norris who is under pressure from Leclerc.

On the run to Turn 4, Norris is under pressure from both Ferraris, but the Briton holds his line.

Further round, at Turn 8, Ricciardo makes a move down the inside of Magnussen and clips the Haas sending it into a spin. As the Dane completes a full 360, his car rolls back on the incline only to collect the McLaren. Both cars are out on the spot, as the Safety Car is deployed

Behind the Safety Car it's: Russell, Hamilton, Verstappen, Perez, Norris, Leclerc, Sainz, Vettel, Gasly and Schumacher.

"Sorry guys, I'm out, I got a push," Magnussen tells his team. "Damned shame," he is told, "it was looking good."

The incident is under investigation.

Race Control confirms that a recovery vehicle is on track at Turn 10.

Leclerc is assured that an engine issue that is giving him cause for concern is actually "not a problem".

Albon pits at the end of lap 4 and switches from the hards to mediums.

The Safety Car is withdrawn at the end of Lap 6.

Russell leads the field into Turn 1 and as Perez takes a look at Verstappen the Dutchman makes a move on Hamilton attempting to go around the outside of the Mercedes in Turn1. Hamilton gives no quarter, and as they head into Turn 2 they touch sending shards of carbonfibre flying.

Hamilton goes off track and actually uses the pitlane exit while Verstappen loses a number of positions.

"He left me no space," says the Dutchman, "I've got front wing damage." "We saw, Max," he is told.

Shortly after Leclerc and Norris clash at Turn 10 as the Briton tries to go through on the inside, sending the Ferrari off across the tarmac run-off where is lucky not to hit the barriers.

Check out our Sunday gallery from Interlagos here.


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1. Posted by Spindoctor, 14/11/2022 10:28

"Well done George & well-done Mercedes.
Verstappen reprised his driving "style" of previous seasons. When not driving the outright fastest car, it seems he loses all sense of proportion or caution. From the onboards it looked suspiciously like he wasn't trying that hard to go round the corner....

Assuming the Merc maintains this pace, things are nicely set up for Abu Dhabi."

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2. Posted by Chester, 13/11/2022 23:06

"Happy to see Russell win! Bravo, George!!"

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3. Posted by Jet Jockey, 13/11/2022 21:31

"Congrats George, good race and I'm sure more to come too.

As for Crashtappen, today proves yet again how immature, selfish and arrogant he is... No respect from me for that bloke (and I am been polite)... Hope Sergio remembers today and returns the favour sometime at a latter race."

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4. Posted by Anthony, 13/11/2022 20:58

"Delighted that George has his first Grand Prix win - well deserved from (hopefully) a future champion.

I have a huge amount of respect for Max but am a little disappointed by his refusal to help Checo……"

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