George Russell won the final F1 Sprint of the year, heading Ferrari's Carlos Sainz and his Mercdes team mate Lewis Hamilton, with all three drivers using new sets of the P Zero Red soft. Red Bull driver Max Verstappen was fourth, using P Zero Yellow medium.
There were two strategies seen during the race, with the majority of drivers using the soft tyre. The exceptions were Verstappen, who started from second on the grid and Williams driver Nicholas Latifi in 16th, who both opted for new medium sets at the start. The battle between the soft and medium compounds was showcased with Verstappen leading the race and then battling against Russell and Sainz, before subsequently losing his advantage.
Alpine's Fernando Alonso was the only driver to make a pit stop, following contact with his team mate Esteban Ocon. He took on another set of softs during his stop (this time a used set) before finishing 15th at the flag. Haas driver Kevin Magnussen, who had started from pole, made an excellent getaway but later slipped down to eighth, nonetheless securing a valuable point.
Despite predictions of rain this morning, the Sprint took place in sunny conditions with ambient temperatures between 22 and 23 degrees centigrade and track temperatures between 31 and 34 degrees.
The performance gaps between the compounds were as expected. Considering track evolution, the difference between P Zero White hard and medium was around 0.7s while the gap between medium and soft was 0.3 seconds.
Today's free practice session was used by some teams to prepare the strategy for the Sprint, while others concentrated on tomorrow's grand prix. Alpine's Esteban Ocon was fastest on the soft tyre with a time of 1m14.604s, followed by Red Bull's Sergio Perez and Russell on the same compound: 0.184s and 0.312s behind Ocon respectively. Track temperature was between 48 and 50 degrees centigrade.
There are four strategic options tomorrow. 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, with the race starting at 15:00 local time.
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 in F1, it's the details that make the difference, with the risk of traffic and safety cars also a factor on the fast and compact Interlagos circuit.
Mario Isola: "It was an action-packed Sprint, especially with all the overtaking that took place throughout the race. The excellent performance of the P Zero Red soft in free practice prompted the teams to select this compound for today's race, with a total of 18 cars choosing the soft, which showed plenty of pace here in Brazil. The battle between Max Verstappen and George Russell, on different compounds, was one of the highlights. Today's short race means that it wasn't possible to evaluate the performance of the medium tyre, which nonetheless seems very close to the soft. As a result, there's a wide variety of strategies possible for tomorrow, which should lead to a great show."
Check out our Saturday gallery from Interlagos here.