Formula 1 in Brazil: Russell saves the honor of Mercedes – Sport
It took a little longer this year for the Mercedes team to let their competitors feel a fresh breath of their long-fading strength. A total of 21 races and eight months. But when the time came, on Sunday in São Paulo, there was a choice Lewis Hamilton the perfect moment With 16 laps to go, he shot past Sergio Perez’s Red Bull, who couldn’t resist him any longer, of course at the level of the packed grandstands. The spectators jumped from their seats and cheered Sir Lewis Hamilton, the seven-time world champion, who was also made an honorary citizen of Brazil this week. Who will most likely end a season without a win for the first time in his long career.
Because when, shortly after the manoeuvre, one of the most entertaining races of the year ended with the first victory of a Silver Arrow, and a double victory for Mercedes at that, the spotlight naturally turned to his teammate George Russell, who was 13 years his junior. Starting from pole position, the 24-year-old Briton had achieved the first race win of his career in a spotless manner – and after a final safety car phase on eleven long final laps he did not let Hamilton’s gasping breath on his neck unsettle him. Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc crossed the finish line in their Ferraris in third and fourth place – followed by the fabulous Fernando Alonso, who both left Red Bull behind.
Russell had a mixture of tears of happiness and hardship in his eyes as he stepped in front of the cameras. “All the memories of my beginnings in karting” came to mind after crossing the finish line, he said. “It was a tough race, I had everything under control, but Lewis was so quick…” And he announced: “That was just the beginning.”
Verstappen refuses to hand his place over to Perez
There was also one at Red Bull, albeit the beginning of a possibly serious Zoff with a longer half-life. Because when his team asked world champion Max Verstappen shortly before the finish to pass his sixth place on to Perez so that his teammate could still secure second place in the drivers’ championship – Verstappen refused. “Don’t ask me that again,” he snapped back over the radio, “is that clear? I have my reasons.” Unfortunately, Verstappen did not reveal the reasons for this unprecedented selfish tour. “Something happened,” he said later on Sky, without going into detail. Perez reacted disillusioned and said “that shows who Max really is”.
the formula 1 had extended the starting places in Brazil with a mini race, the so-called “sprint”. Russell and Hamilton had already grabbed the most coveted places. And so it was almost forgotten that Mick Schumacher’s teammate Kevin Magnussen had sensationally set the fastest lap the day before in the actual qualification in the defeated Haas, while the son of the record world champion was last. Haas wants to announce the decision as to whether Schumacher can keep his cockpit or whether it will be passed on to the experienced reservist Nico Hülkenberg in the course of the week.
For the German, who finished 14th on Sunday, there are growing signs that he will have to vacate his place. His time in a Formula 1 regular cockpit would at least be interrupted after only two seasons. Theoretically, it is still conceivable that the Formula 2 driver Logan Sargeant, who is scheduled by Team Williams for the coming year, will not get the necessary points for a super license. If the American misses at the season finale in Abu Dhabi, Schumacher could come back into play. If not, he should at least try to find a place as a reserve driver in the coming season, with Mercedes or Alpine. To get a regular cockpit for 2024 from this position.
The traffic lights went out in São Paulo, the leaders made the first turns without touching. Further back, however, there was a bang when Daniel Ricciardo pushed his McLaren into the back of Magnussen and spun both race cars off the track. The safety car was deployed – and the Haas team’s hopes no longer rested on Friday’s pole setter, but on Schumacher, who had moved up two positions to tenth place.
“You race against each other, but please be respectful”
Six laps later, Bernd Mayländer had only just released the race again when the next racing car parts sailed through the air. First, Verstappen collided with Hamilton, for which the Dutchman received a five-second penalty, then Lando Norris and Charles Leclerc crashed into each other. Verstappen and Leclerc had their cars patched up in the pit lane and found themselves at the back of the field; Hamilton and Norris initially continued, but had lost places. And Schumacher was suddenly seventh – two positions behind Sebastian Vettel.
The German TV viewer was now overcome with melancholy at the sight of two speeding Teutons, one of whom is guaranteed, the other very likely will not be there in the coming year.
Unlike the Silver Arrows, who offered a possible preview of their strength in Brazil next season: Hamilton soon snapped up Norris and Vettel and reclaimed third place, with Russell easily keeping his pursuer Perez at a distance at the front. After 24 laps, Perez came into the pits, Russell followed immediately – and Hamilton temporarily inherited the lead. After all the pilots in the leading group had left the supply lane, Russell rolled ahead of Perez, Sainz and Hamilton, who soon fought his way up to second place.
When Lando Norris had to park his McLaren on the course due to a defect, the safety car was deployed for the last time. “You drive against each other, but please be respectful,” radioed Mercedes to its drivers. But then Russell pulled away so irresistibly that Hamilton probably had no chance of a duel.