Formula One

George Russell took a sensational first win in Brazil with Lewis Hamilton just behind to make it a Mercedes 1-2

sao paulo gp: george russell is an f1 winner!
sao paulo gp: george russell is an f1 winner!
sao paulo gp: george russell is an f1 winner!

It’s like when Pokemon evolve isn’t it? Mr Saturday has become Mr Sunday at last, with George Russell taking his first ever victory in F1 with a supreme drive from pole at the Brazilian Grand Prix to end a Mercedes’ win drought stretching back to December last year.

It’s been a long time coming for the 24-year-old from Kings Lynn, who spent his first three years in the sport at the back of the field with Williams and agonisingly missed out on a maiden victory in 2020, subbing in for an ill Lewis Hamilton at the Sakhir Grand Prix.

Back then a dodgy pit stop and a puncture robbed him of a stunning win, and history very nearly repeated itself at Interlagos as the McLaren of Lando Norris came to a halt in the closing stages, bringing out the safety car and costing Russell his comfortable lead.

But at the restart teammate Hamilton – who recovered from an early collision with Max Versrappen, for which the double world champion was handed a five second-penalty – had no answer to Russell’s pace, and had to settle for securing the team an unlikely 1-2. Remember this is the “brutal” W13 that was porpoising like, well, a porpoise at the start of the season and leaving both drivers in significant pain.

“What an amazing feeling,” said Russell afterwards. “A huge thank you to the whole team for making this possible. It’s been an emotional rollercoaster, this season, this race.

“On the in-lap, all of these memories came flooding back, starting off with my Mum and Dad in go-karting, and all the support I’ve had from the rest of my family, my girlfriend, my trainer, my manager. I can’t thank everyone enough.”

Behind him of course there was more action than you could shake a stick at: McLaren had a day to forget as both drivers took out other cars and eventually retired, with little hope now of overhauling Alpine in the standings. There were tasty wheel-to-wheel battles throughout the field, and at the end Verstappen caused a stir by refusing to hand P6 back to Red Bull teammate Sergio Perez to aid the Mexican’s bid to finish second in the drivers’ championship. It’s fair to say that left Perez rather annoyed: “It shows who he really is,” he said on the radio.

And let’s not forget the minor footnote that, um, KEVIN MAGNUSSEN PUT A HAAS ON POLE for the Saturday’s Sprint race (which itself was full of action). The Dane wasn’t even meant to be on the grid this year and yet he emerged from a chaotic qualifying session in Brazil as the only driver to nail a lap on slicks in Q3. What a bunch of legends.

ABSOLUTE SCENES!!!!!!!! pic.twitter.com/rM3bRHONJh

— Haas F1 Team (@HaasF1Team) November 11, 2022

There’s one race left to go: bring on Abu Dhabi next weekend.

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