George Russell and Lewis Hamilton deliver a commanding onetwo at Interlagos. Are Mercedes well and truly back?

The Sprint Qualifying format in Brazil coupled with heavy downpours threw a refreshing new look to the Sao Paulo grid on Saturday

author_img Ajit Devadason Published :  19th November 2022 07:32 PM   |   Published :   |  19th November 2022 07:32 PM

With Lewis Hamilton finishing runners-up to Max Verstappen in the last two rounds, Mercedes AMG was beginning to resemble the championship outfit they’ve been the last eight seasons. But it was his 24-year-old British teammate George Russell who snatched a stunning maiden victory for the German giants. Hamilton sealed second place for the third consecutive race, to record Mercedes’ first onetwo finish in 2022!

Also read: Max Verstappen and Red Bull Racing wrapped up the 2022 Constructor’s title in Texas as Mercedes and Ferrari put up a thrilling fight

The Sprint Qualifying format in Brazil coupled with heavy downpours threw a refreshing new look to the Sao Paulo grid on Saturday. Thanks to a red flag caused by the spinning W13 of Russell, followed by rain, the rest of the final 10 in Qualifying 3, could not challenge Kevin Magnussen’s provisional pole position lap.

It was the Dane’s first ever Formula One pole in 100 race starts. A first pole followed by a first win was not what the experts had predicted for the sell-out a u d i e n c e. Re d B u l l Racing was expected to dominate with its highstraight-line speed package. Verstappen was meant to go for victory number 15 unchallenged. But the young champion was in for a horrid weekend that saw him lose out to the mighty Mercedes recovery. His RBR18 was experiencing high tyre degradation all weekend offering both rivals, Ferrari and Mercedes, a genuine shot at victory finally.

Verstappen ran into Russell during the sprint qualifying race while trying desperately to defend on medium tyres and on Sunday seemed even more desperate to keep arch-rival Hamilton behind causing a collision into Turn 2 for which he was penalised by the race stewards.

He ultimately ended up in P6 after turning down a request from his team to let teammate Sergio Perez through for championship points. All ears were on the Red Bull radio exchanges and reactions between the teammates. Although this became much of the talking point post-race, the weekend truly belonged to George ‘Mr Saturday’ Russell.

Also read: Championship leader Max Verstappen denies Ferrari and Charles Leclerc a home win at the Italian Grand Prix in Monza

He earned this nickname last season for qualifying the Williams FW43 in positions higher than it deserved to be. And in Brazil, winning the Sprint on Saturday gave him a lights-to-flag maiden win on Sunday.

He put in a flawless drive controlling the field through Safety Car restarts and staying just out of Hamilton’s reach in the end. Can he do it again in Abu Dhabi this weekend? Expect fireworks at the season finale!