Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Sao Paulo GP: Max Verstappen beats Lando Norris as Fernando Alonso pips Sergio Perez to third at Interlagos -Dlight News

Nigel Chiu

Sports Journalist

Max Verstappen took his second win in Brazil after overcoming an early charge from Lando Norris, who was the Red Bull driver’s closest challenger again; Fernando Alonso and Sergio Perez had an epic battle which ended in a photo finish in favour of the Aston Martin driver

Max Verstappen beat Lando Norris for a second day running with a dominant victory at the Sao Paulo Grand Prix as Fernando Alonso snatched a podium from Sergio Perez on the last lap of the race.

Verstappen led from start to finish after a chaotic opening part of the race where Charles Leclerc crashed on the formation lap and the Grand Prix was red flagged due to a collision between Alex Albon, Nico Hulkenberg and Kevin Magnussen at the first corner.

The Dutchman’s 17th win of the 2023 season was also his 52nd in Formula 1, which moves him ahead of Alain Prost to go fourth in the all-time Grand Prix winners’ list – only Sebastian Vettel (53), Michael Schumacher (91) and Lewis Hamilton (103) have more.

Alonso was back on the podium for the first time since the Dutch Grand Prix in August and delivered a defensive masterclass against Perez in a thrilling duel in the final 15 laps.

Perez was in Alonso’s DRS for several laps and eventually overtook the Aston Martin driver on the penultimate lap. However, Alonso didn’t give up and got back ahead on the last lap going into Turn Four and held off Perez by 0.053s in a photo finish.

Lance Stroll took fifth in Aston Martin’s best result since the early part of the season, with Carlos Sainz in sixth and Pierre Gasly seventh.

Mercedes had a dismal day as Lewis Hamilton finished down in eighth and George Russell retired from a low points position. Yuki Tsunoda recovered from 16th on the grid to take ninth and Esteban Ocon was in 10th.

At the front though, it was a masterclass from Verstappen, although Norris did get alongside the three-time world champion at Turn Four on Lap Eight, but that was as close as he got to the lead.

“The starts were very important today. Both of them were very good,” said Verstappen. “After that the whole race was about the management of the tyres. We were good on any tyre, but I think especially that middle stint we could create a bit of a gap, and I thought that was very strong there.

“It all looked quite good, but with the high degradation around here you were constantly correcting the car, so your focus always needed to be there, but luckily it worked out great today.”

Sao Paulo GP result
1) Max Verstappen, Red Bull
2) Lando Norris, McLaren
3) Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin
4) Sergio Perez, Red Bull
5) Lance Stroll, Aston Martin
6) Carlos Sainz, Ferrari
7) Pierre Gasly, Alpine
8) Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes
9) Yuki Tsunoda, AlphaTauri
10) Esteban Ocon, Alpine

Mercedes suffer miserable afternoon

All was looking well for Hamilton when the red flag was called as he was in third, with Mercedes team-mate Russell in sixth.

Alonso immediately pounced on Hamilton on the restart with a bold move down the inside into Turn Four and Perez was also through before the first round of pit stops.

A frustrated Russell felt he was faster than Hamilton as the pair ran nose to tail for most of the first half of the race, but both drivers began to struggle on the mediums during the second stint, so were overtaken by Sainz and Gasly.

Hamilton, who complained about his car in dirty air, eventually finished in eighth and was 63 seconds behind race-winner Verstappen, while Russell retired with 14 laps remaining due to high and worsening power unit oil temperature.

Chaos on formation and opening lap

One of the most dramatic moments took place before the lights even went out as Leclerc crashed on the formation lap at Turn Six due to an issue with his car.

Leclerc was due to start on the front row and yelled on the radio “why am I so unlucky” as he hit the barriers.

“When I lost the steering wheel. I went straight because I had no hydraulics anymore. I don’t think it’s a hydraulics problem. I know what it is but I cannot go into too much detail,” he told Sky Sports F1.

“Then there was an engine thing that made me lock the rear wheels then obviously I spun and hit the wall. I couldn’t do anything.”

Another incident soon followed as Hulkenberg clipped Albon’s left rear tyre on the run to Turn One, which sent the Williams driver into the sidepod of Magnussen.

Oscar Piastri was also hit in the incident, but carried on along with Hulkenberg. For a fourth time in 2023 there was a red flag, due to barrier damage and debris.

Next up for the F1 circus is one of the most-eagerly anticipated events of the year – the Las Vegas Grand Prix. Watch every session from the inaugural Las Vegas GP live on Sky Sports F1 from November 17-19. Stream F1 on Sky Sports with NOW

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