Max Verstappen dominates and wins in Brazil, but the spotlight is on Fernando Alonso, who was victorious by just 0.052 in a fantastic duel with Sergio Perez. Lando Norris scored another podium for McLaren, putting together a brilliant race.
Among the protagonists, Charles Leclerc was absent. He was forced to retire on the formation lap due to a problem linked to the Power Unit systems. Carlos Sainz had a relatively quiet afternoon – finishing in P6 behind Lance Stroll – who helped secure a big points haul for Aston Martin. Mercedes were poor, struggling for performance and tyre management. George Russell was eventually forced to retire.
The Sprint on Saturday gave us an idea of what the Brazilian GP would offer in terms of top performance and tyre degradation. Tyre wear was a significant factor, with almost the entire field opting to fit soft tyres to start the race.
On paper, Leclerc could have benefited from having two Aston Martin cars behind him at the start. However, a hydraulics failure prevented him from even starting the race.
The twists are there right from the formation lap
Before hitting the barriers on the formation lap, Leclerc suffered a problem related to the control and safety systems of the engine. This is yet another unfortunate episode for the Ferrari driver, who was again cursing his luck at Interlagos.
The absence of Charles Leclerc allows Max Verstappen to calmly manage the first corner. The same cannot be said of Alonso and Stroll, who lost positions at the start with excessive wheel spin.
Behind the scenes, Alexander Albon was involved in an incident with the two Haas. Kevin Magnussen hit his teammate, Nico Hulkenberg, heading into Turn 1.
Oscar Piastri and Daniel Ricciardo were also accidentally involved, both forced to pit. The chaos created by the accident caused a red flag.
The Grand Prix resumed with a standing start, with Max Verstappen leading the group ahead of Norris and Hamilton. Norris couldn’t make any progress on lap 1, whilst Alonso made a crucial overtake in the early stages on the Mercedes driver. Verstappen held off an early attack from Norris to manage the pace.
Just as in the Sprint, the two Mercedes were the first to run into trouble on the soft tyres, and after being overtaken by Sergio Perez, they were forced to stop in the pit on the yellow tyres.
Sainz’s race was difficult. After being overtaken by Lance Stroll on the outside in turn one, he was unable to fight back and was forced into a painful first stint behind the Aston Martin.
Race leader Max Verstappen stopped on lap 27, followed closely by Lando Norris to fit the mediums. Mercedes, meanwhile, fell prey to Lance Stroll – whose pace was very competitive for Aston Martin.
Sainz’s Ferrari, after having mounted the harder compound, seems to have suddenly woken up and on lap 37, the Spaniard successfully attacks George Russel. The same fate met his teammate shortly afterwards. On the 40th lap came another retirement for Alfa Romeo – in a very disappointing weekend
On lap 47, the pit stop sequence began again. Alonso responded to Sergio Perez’s attempt to undercut him, with Sainz and Stroll stopping thereafter.
Sergio Perez and Fernando Alonso added excitement to the race in the final stages.
The Mexican was stuck behind the Spaniard for several laps, unable to make an overtake. At the penultimate lap, however, Perez passed the Spaniard into Turn 1. However, Fernando Alonso was determined to try and secure a result. He stayed within DRS for the final lap, executing a brilliant overtake on Perez at the end of Sector 1.
In the face of such an intense battle, it was yet another victory for Max Verstappen. Also noteworthy was Lando Norris‘s race, the only one capable of keeping Max Verstappen honest over the race distance.
It was also a memorable day for Aston Martin and Lance Stroll who drove well to finish in 5th and compliment Alonso’s mega podium. Sainz finished his race in sixth position, completing a weekend devoid of any highlights.
It was a disappointing weekend for Mercedes, with Hamilton unable to keep the Alpine of Pierre Gasly at bay. Despite a small mistake at the start of the Grand Prix, Tsunoda secured ninth position ahead of Ocon.
Author: Luca Vanzini
Translation: Jaden Diaz-Ndisang