Where on earth to begin!? Interlagos brought the sprint alive and provided the perfect race. It was challenging to top the thrilling qualifying session that gave Kevin Magnussen his maiden pole. However, the sprint decided it could do much better than that! Positions shifted up and down the grid throughout all 24 laps, reminding us why Interlagos is one of the best circuits on the calendar.Embed from Getty Images
Kevin Magnussen had a dream start, enjoying a brief stint in the lead, but he could not hold off the faster cars behind him. By lap three, Verstappen had overtaken the Haas, and it looked like we were in for another masterclass by the 2x World Champion.
Soon K-Mag was swallowed up by the incoming Ferrari and Mercedes, and with that, any hopes of a top-three finish were quickly dashed. Magnussen finished in P8, grasping the last of the points, crucial for Haas’s fight with Alpha Tauri in the Constructors Championship.Embed from Getty Images
Thankfully, the race did not end there! Max Verstappen was one of the few drivers who started on the medium tyres, perhaps hoping tyre degradation on the softs would give him an advantage later in the sprint. It seemed Russell could not catch him for a while, even when he was within DRS.
Yet, the Mercedes was surprisingly strong, George eventually overtaking Verstappen for his first race win. Struggling on the medium tyres, the Dutch driver was left vulnerable to Sainz. After Sainz’s manoeuvre on Max, there was contact between the two, which left Max with a damaged front wing and dropping back into Lewis Hamilton’s clutches.
Lewis Hamilton seemed dejected by P8 after qualifying but was rewarded with some neat overtakes and battling Verstappen for 3rd place during the sprint.
Mercedes enjoyed one of their most successful outings of the season, appearing ready to claim the win on Sunday. Aided by Carlos Sainz’s grid penalty, Hamilton will start 2nd behind Russell for the race tomorrow, Red Bull having to contend with a Merc 1-2 in front of them and Leclerc behind.
Sainz also demonstrated remarkable pace during the sprint, quickly making the places necessary to wrestle at the front. Complaining about tyre wear towards the end, he did well to fend off a surging Lewis Hamilton and was probably glad that the sprint was only 24 laps long!
His teammate Charles Leclerc’s woes continued into the sprint race having a less eventful outing than Carlos. Starting in 10th after Ferrari’s rather embarrassing Q3 session, he did not demonstrate the same speed as his teammate and took a while to get to his eventual finishing place of P6.
The drama did not just surround the top teams but also the midfield. With most teams in tense constructor fights, elbows were out for the final points and all-important prize money. Notably, there was a lot of team-on-team action.
The first incident occurred between Fernando Alonso and Esteban Ocon, leading to some unhappy team radio from the former World Champion and one mighty headache for the Alpine team.
Forced to pit, Alonso finished in P15, with Ocon also slipping out of the points ending the race in P18. Alternatively, their rival Lando Norris finished best of the rest in P7. The sprint has not helped Alpine in their quest to beat McLaren in the Constructors Championship, and they need to have a good day on Sunday to stay in contention for 4th place.Embed from Getty Images
Similarly, Aston Martin drivers Sebastian Vettel and Lance Stroll collided, the latter not offering the appropriate racing room for his teammate. Stroll earned a ten-place grid penalty finishing 17th, whilst his teammate enjoyed another top-ten finish in 9th. Once again, Lance Stroll has displayed dangerous driving on track, a trait that may get him into trouble with Alonso, his teammate for 2023.Embed from Getty Images
The sprint has transformed the complexion of the race tomorrow. Mercedes have proven how quick they are and have the advantage of a 1-2 at the start. However, you can never count out Max Verstappen.
Red Bull will be difficult to beat with an extra pair of soft tyres at their disposal and unmatched straight-line speed. With the possibility of changeable weather conditions thrown into the mix, the Brazilian Grand Prix shows no signs of becoming boring.Embed from Getty Images
Ultimately, the true star of the sprint was Interlagos. After the snoozefest that was the Mexican GP, it was fascinating to see racing in its purest form on a circuit built for overtaking. Instead of a dull FP3 session, F1 gifted us with one of the season’s best races and has saved the reputation of the often-criticised F1 sprint race.
And for that, Interlagos, we love you.
Who do you think will take the victory at the Brazilian Grand Prix? Let us know below in the comments!