Mercedes have started their hunt for back-to-back Brazilian Grand Prix victories in dominant fashion, George Russell comfortably claiming his maiden win in Formula 1 over Carlos Sainz by over 4 seconds.
You could be mistaken for assuming you’re looking at the wrong year’s statistics with a Mercedes front row lockout tomorrow, Lewis Hamilton finishing third but boosted to the front row tomorrow after Sainz receives a five place grid penalty for a new ICE.
Red Bull lockout the second row after world champion Max Verstappen finished fourth and Sergio Perez fifth. The Dutchman was the early leader after a Lap 3 overtake on Kevin Magnussen but was quickly caught by Russell.
The two engaged in a fierce battle over the race mid-stages, the Brit getting the better of the Dutchman on Lap 15 and quickly pulling away.
Verstappen was then caught by Sainz who also made his way past, however contact with his left rear on Verstappen’s front wing saw the Red Bull’s end-plate fly off and left the world champion vulnerable.
Hamilton pounced on this, working his way into third the very next lap and began to chase down Sainz in second. The Spaniard held on to take second by just .3sec.
Perez didn’t quite make up the ground to catch Verstappen, but will start alongside him after befitting from Sainz’s penalty.
It’s also a lockout on the third row, Charles Leclerc working his way forward after his qualifying strategy implosion, finishing seventh to start alongside Sainz.
The team will be pressured by Lando Norris, the Brit dropping back after starting fourth today to come home in seventh, one place ahead of Magnussen.
It wasn’t the fairy tale of a Magnussen win many had hoped for following his shock pole position yesterday, but the Dane still impressed to show Haas has the race pace to compete for a double points finish come race time tomorrow.
Magnussen was the better of the starters up front and led two early, the first time Haas has led a lap since their inception into the sport.
Teammate Mick Schumacher was also the biggest mover of the race, gaining eight places over just 24 laps to come home 12th after starting last.
There were wars between teammates from both Alpine and Aston Martin, beginning with Lap 1 contact between Esteban Ocon and Fernando Alonso at Turn 4 and then again entering the straight.
Alonso lost part of his front wing as a result and had to box for a change. This saw him relegated to the rear of the field early before he worked his way back to 15th. Ocon also received damage, a hole in his sidepod implicating his performance and seeing him finish 18th.
His car catching fire in pit lane post-race is perhaps the perfect metaphor as to how the race went for the team.
Lance Stroll and Sebastien Vettel were the other two in the wars, the four-time world champion attempting a pass on the Canadian who veered left late and forced the German onto the grass.
Stroll was awarded a 10 second penalty for unsafe driving, dropping him to 17th while Vettel held on for ninth.
AlphaTauri ran a quiet race which saw Pierre Gasly come home in 10th, whilst Yuki Tsunoda has work to do tomorrow after finishing 16th.
Gasly will start just in front of Daniel Ricciardo, the Australian, also moving forward to finish in 11th. A points finish is on the cards for the eight-time race winner tomorrow as he aims to finish what could be his final season in the sport on a high.
He’ll have both Alfa Romeos behind him, Guanyu Zhou and Valtteri Bottas also running quiet races to finish 13th and 14th respectively.
Finally, the tough season for William continues, Alex Albon the only non-finisher after coming into difficulties on Lap 13. He’ll start last alongside teammate Nicholas Latifi, who is also without a drive next year.
The Brazilian Grand Prix starts at 7am tomorrow and is live on Spark Sport.