George Russell, Mercedes and Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Interlagos, 2022

Russell passes Verstappen to claim first F1 win in sprint race

2022 Brazilian Grand Prix

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George Russell passed Max Verstappen to win the Brazilian Grand Prix sprint race, while team mate Lewis Hamilton will start alongside him on the front row.

Russell used his soft tyres to catch and pass the world champion to win the 24-lap sprint race, with Carlos Sainz Jnr taking second ahead of Hamilton but will drop five places on the grid after a power unit penalty.

Ahead of the race, Max Verstappen was the only one of the front runners to opt for medium tyres for the 24-lap race, with pole winner Kevin Magnussen and the rest of the top ten all taking soft rubber. When the lights went out, Magnussen got a good getaway to arrive into the Senna S ahead of Verstappen and retain the lead, while Russell maintained third place ahead of Lando Norris in fourth.

Russell fought hard to get by the Red Bull, but Verstappen held firm. At the end of the second lap, Verstappen tucked into Magnussen’s slipstream and passed the Haas to take the lead into the first corner, before Russell used DRS at the end of lap three to relieve Magnussen of second. Sainz passed Norris for fourth place, before taking third from Magnussen soon after.

Fernando Alonso was forced to pit for a new front wing when he clashed with Alpine team mate Esteban Ocon twice in the opening laps. Alonso appeared to clip the rear of Ocon’s car as he slipstreamed his team mate and fell to the very back of the field as he recovered to the pits.

Russell kept in touch of the leader, getting within DRS range of Verstappen by lap 11. The Mercedes kept the Red Bull under heavy pressure, through the Senna S and down on the run to Descida do Lago, but Verstappen held firm. The next lap, Russell was even closer and fought hard to take the lead once again, but Verstappen again repelled the Mercedes through the first sector.

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By the end of lap 14, Russell was yet again close enough to attempt a pass on the leader and managed to use DRS to draw alongside Verstappen into Descida do Lago. This time, Russell had enough momentum to clear the Red Bull before the corner and swept through into the lead. Now ahead, Russell pulled away from Verstappen who was complaining of a lack of front end grip.

Sprint race start, Interlagos, 2022
Gallery: 2022 Brazilian Grand Prix sprint race in pictures
Sainz caught and passed Verstappen into the first corner, but Verstappen clipped the rear of the Ferrari, damaging the left-hand endplate from his front wing which broke off along the approach to Descida do Lago. With his damaged car, Verstappen fell prey to Hamilton, who passed him into the Senna S to move up to third place.

As Russell maintained a gap of around four seconds to Sainz, Hamilton began slowly catching Sainz ahead as the laps counted down. Russell crossed the line to take the chequered flag and claim the sprint race victory, with Sainz holding onto second place by just under half a second. With Sainz demoted five places for Sunday’s grand prix, Mercedes will enjoy a front row lock-out for the first time this season.

Verstappen finished ahead of team mate Sergio Perez in fourth, with Charles Leclerc taking sixth in the second Ferrari. Lando Norris claimed seventh, which will become sixth after Sainz’s penalty is applied, while Magnussen finished eighth to claim the final sprint race point. Sebastian Vettel and Pierre Gasly rounded out the top 10.

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2022 Brazilian Grand Prix

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Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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35 comments on “Russell passes Verstappen to claim first F1 win in sprint race”

  1. I expect Verstappen to have had aero issues because of debris. Otherwise, that pace on Mediums will make it too easy for Hamilton and Russell to win tomorrow. There is no way that a harder tyre does not perform better over distance.

    1. Love me a bit of Sprint, it mixes things up. What happened to the Sprint haters?

  2. The downside of good racing throughout the field is that several passes didn’t get broadcasted.

  3. So Magnussen got a pole that isn’t really a pole and Russell now has a race win that isn’t really a race win.

    How long before Liberty introduce a nascar chase type system to give us a champion that isn’t really a champion?

    1. You must have missed last season. We have that latter already.

      1. LOL, good one!!

    2. Despite the funny burn above, you’ve got a point. What Liberty is doing to F1 is abysmal IMO. From the little things as numbers for drivers instead of cars to hogwash stream series to those fakeish results at sprints.

    3. I saw it as a sprint race pole and a sprint race win, which is what it was, adds a great new element to a racing weekend. Accept it already. It is reality not fake news. Conservative views don’t apply to an evolving sport. Move on instead of feeling sore, it’s not good for the ego.

  4. Okay, now that was epic.

  5. People talk abou Spa and Suzuka, but if there’s a track that NEVER let us down is Interlagos.
    I wish they could make it longer. 400 km would be great.

    1. You should see the old layout. It was a lot better with more cool corners.

      1. @krichelle – Now that’s a proper racing track!
        It’s saddening to look at all of those legendary tracks hampered by whatever, as it’s also the case with the Red Bull Ring, Imola, Spa and Silverstone. Not to mention the likes of Donington and Fuji, or Albert Park.

        All of those could have a better layout.

      2. Yep, the midsection of Interlagos leaves a lot to be desired with a sucession of slow curves and no overtaking spots. But it is a great circuit in spite of that. A little too short. also, it gets crowded with backmarkers early in the race.

    2. Best F1 track, by far. I actually rather like the fact that it’s short and we consequently get a lot of racing laps.

    3. I sustain Interlagos is just as heritage as any of’em.

  6. Question: Is Red bull allowed to fix Max’s car now, without incurring any penalty.

    1. Yes, for same spec

    2. Sumedh, good question. I think that a car can be repaired for race damage, but they have to submit the list of repairs to the stewards and have to do the repairs under supervision, so that they cannot make other changes which would be against parc ferme rules. I would guess that the wing has to be the same spec as the damaged one, for instance. I think they also have to do it within certain hours, so you no longer get what you had in the past, where a team worked most of the night rebuilding a wrecked car. I’m not certain of that though, the rules seem to change every year.

    3. On a normal weekend a car damaged in qualy gets repaired prior to the GP.

  7. A bit of silliness? or immaturity? Two juniors damaging WC team partners? Silliness from Red Bull? Mediums? And killer stupidity from Sky . . . their broadcast prior to the start was all noise, people trying to lean into other peoples’ ears, microphones – useless. This has been a growing problem; the “show”, good looking girls, musicians, trumps motor racing — but easily fixed: I used to set my timer for “Sky program time”, now set for “start time minus 3 minutes.” Only the advertisers will lose.
    On a more positive note, some good overtakes, happy to see Magnusson stick in the points.

    1. Go Hamilton go!

    2. Haha, I also do start time minus 3 minutes. Liberty has made F1 unbearable to watch. It has little to do with a sport event. I feel sorry for Hamilton and Max who deserve much more recognition for the talents they are. Their achievements do however mean little as there is an overwhelming scripting going on.

  8. Apart from being of any importance for the standings, they still gave us a great show. Loved it. Cannot wait for tomorrow’s race.

  9. This Sprint thing is awesome, wish it was every race weekend!

    1. Imagine a sprint race at Monaco lol

  10. Was a good sprint indeed, great track, and even better when it rains!

  11. Russel won a sprint race before hamilton

    1. Randomised qualy.

      And let’s not get started on who prevented anyone else from improving!

  12. Is it a win? He won the sprint. I wouldn’t call the sprint an f1 race.

    1. Yes, it’s a win in a F1 sprint race.

    2. Sunday will gives us a GP winner. Proper F1.

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