George Russell took his maiden Grand Prix title home in style at Sao Paulo, Mercedes taking their first win and one-two of the season with Lewis Hamilton finishing second over Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz.
The 24-year-old English driver resisted the pressure from compatriot Hamilton to finish 1.529 seconds clear of the seven-time champion. In third place for Ferrari, Carlos Sainz beat his teammate Charles Leclerc, and two-time winner Fernando Alonso finished fifth for Alpine.
Max Verstappen, a two-time champion, finished sixth for Red Bull after making a pit stop after colliding with Hamilton on the seventh lap, for which he received a penalty. Prior to Esteban Ocon of Alpine, Valtteri Bottas of Alfa Romeo, and Lance Stroll of Aston Martin, Sergio Perez finished eighth in the second Red Bull.
Courtesy of their Sprint result and Carlos Sainz’s five-place grid penalty, Russell led Hamilton away at the start, with the Safety Car quickly deployed for a collision between Daniel Ricciardo and Kevin Magnussen that sent both cars out at Turn 8, bringing out the Safety Car.
The Lap 7 resumption saw Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton collide at Turn 2 before Lando Norris sent Charles Leclerc into the Turn 7 barriers. Neither of the four cars retired but Verstappen and Norris both took five-second penalties for their incidents.
Hamilton recovered soon after his collision with Verstappen and the seven-time champion ran second behind Russell when a stoppage for Norris, on Lap 52, brought out a VSC-turned Safety Car.
Under immense pressure, Russell retained his lead over Hamilton on the Lap 60 restart and delivered his first win by a margin of 1.5 seconds over the seven-time champion.
Perez’s final stint on medium tyres therefore saw him settle for seventh ahead of Ocon, who had made it past Bottas in the final stages of the race. With Bottas ninth, Lance Stroll rounded out the top 10 for Aston Martin – the Canadian having begun on mediums but swapped to softs for his final stint, which gave him an advantage over 11th-placed teammate Vettel.
Vettel ran as high as fifth, even passing Norris early in the race, but fell back, having been undercut by numerous midfielders around Lap 25 – which left the four-time champion out of the points. Medium tyres for his final stint cost him during the Safety Car restart.
“What an amazing feeling. Just a huge thank you to the whole team for making this possible. It’s been an emotional rollercoaster this season. This race, a really tough race. I felt in control, Lewis was super-fast and when I saw the Safety Car, I thought, ‘Oh Jesus, this is going to be a really difficult end’, and he put me under so much pressure – but [I’m] so happy to come away with the victory,” Formula1.com quoted Mercedes’ race winner George Russell as saying.