F1: Five Takeaways from the Sao Paulo Grand Prix (Interlagos)

2022 Sao Paolo Grand Prix (Interlagos), Sunday - Jiri Krenek

A very chaotic Sunday afternoon brought more than just exhilarating racing. Here are 5 takeaways from the Sao Paulo Grand Prix at Interlagos.

The diehard Brazilian fans gathered this weekend for Formula 1’s penultimate race, the Sao Paulo Grand Prix. Fans saw a familiar team return to winning ways, loads of drama, and a weekend filled with nonstop action. Adding to the legacy that Brazil and Interlagos hold within Formula 1.

1) George Russell and Mercedes Masterclass Weekend

It started with an eventful qualifying session that saw his Mercedes beached at turn four, but retained his third place on the grid. But it would become a historic weekend for George Russell. A strong performance during Saturday’s victorious Sprint Race laid the blueprint for the remainder of the race weekend. The Mercedes was swift on the soft tires and for the first time was able to overtake Verstappen on track.

After eighty-one F1 entries, Russell finally recorded the maiden win of his career in a dominant fashion. He fended off Lewis Hamilton during the final stages of the race displaying high levels of concentration at the final restart and in the closing laps. Russell had his best drive of the season and marked the first win for Mercedes.

It has been some time since Mercedes had a 1-2 – the 2020 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix. Their winless streak came to a close and regained some ground on Red Bull. The pace from the Silver Arrows in Brazil is a positive sign for the eight-time Constructors Champions. From start to finish, they were the dominant force in Brazil. It gives Mercedes a positive outlook for next season and their chase back to the top of the pedestal.

2) Max and Checo’s relationship won’t be the same

During the last two years, the addition of Sergio Perez to partner Max Verstappen has brought Red Bull instant success. The relationship between the two was a well-oiled machine, as Perez gladly took the role of the team player to assist Verstappen. With both Drivers and Constructors wrapped up, Perez is still fighting for second in the standings and was hoping his teammate would return the favor. Verstappen was given a team order to give the position back to Perez at the end of the race but completely ignored the request. Perez expressed over team radio that he was not happy Verstappen did not give back the position. After the race there was an exchange of words both in the cars and in post-race interviews. Verstappen claimed he had ‘already given his reason’ and for Red Bull to ‘not ask him that again’. While Perez immediately responded with ‘that just shows who he is’ and later noted that without his efforts Max likely isn’t a 2-time F1 Champion.

Fans and media outlets quickly voiced their opinion regarding the situation calling Verstappen a selfish teammate. If the title race was ongoing, this would be a different conversation. Sadly, it looks like an eye-opener for Perez. This will tarnish the relationship between the two going into Abu Dhabi and even into next season. Team orders already have a bad reputation. Verstappen ignored the message and did not hold back on his decision. The race debriefs amongst the team shall be quite interesting following this decision. As for Perez, he may have to think twice if he wants to be a team player going forward.

3) Alonso and Leclerc’s recovery drives

What seemed like a long day in the office turned into a divine day for Alpine’s Fernando Alonso and Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc. Alonso had issues of his own from his collision with his teammate during Saturday’s Sprint Race that left him finishing 18th. During the Grand Prix, Alonso did what he does best and made his way up through the field with pace. With the help of other drivers falling back down the order, Alonso secured a top-five finish. A bonus to his weekend was having both McLarens DNF and may have possibly secured fourth in the Constructors Championship.

Leclerc’s issues on the other hand came about on race day when an early incident with Lando Norris that sent him into the wall. His race looked over, but a new front wing and he came back with a blistering pace to finish fourth. This result now leaves Leclerc tied with Perez for second in the Drivers’ Championship and he holds the tiebreaker with three wins to Perez’s two. Normally a Ferrari mistake leads to frustration, but Leclerc managed to save his race and turn it into a sensational drive.

4) Cinderella heartbreak for K-Mag

Sometimes this sport can take away smiles within a blink of an eye. Kevin Magnussen stole the show to begin the weekend with a surprise pole position for the Sprint Race. This was the first time in his career he started on pole and marked the first pole for Haas (143 GPs). He started 8th for Sunday’s race, and everything looked his way to be in the hunt for points. Unfortunately, a careless lunge from Ricciardo on the opening lap put an end to his day. Magnussen walking away disappointed left a sour taste to end his weekend at Interlagos. A heartbreaking end, but years from now his weekend will be remembered for the pole and not the incident.

5) Brazil produces another instant classic

Brazil brought along another great race that had a bit of everything. From watching a seasoned veteran achieve his first-ever pole position to non-stop action in the Grand Prix to a first-time winner to teammate drama following the race. These are the types of races fans want to experience every weekend. Of course, while it does not always happen, fans know they can rely on Brazil to put on a show. Countless storylines were created throughout the weekend and many will most certainly be continuing into the off-season. This has to go down as a perfect 10 for what went down in Sao Paulo, and fans will surely be anticipating next year’s race already.

Featured Image Credit: Jiri Krenek