Formula One: Verstappen wins in Sao Paulo GP
SAO PAULO—Red Bull’s triple world champion Max Verstappen took a record-extending 17th win of the Formula One season in Brazil on Sunday after leading a red-flagged and re-started Sao Paulo Grand Prix from pole position.
McLaren’s Lando Norris finished second, 8.2 seconds behind but with a bonus point for fastest lap, while Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso took third place on the final lap after a thrilling battle with Red Bull’s Sergio Perez.
Verstappen, now on 52 career wins, clinched the title in Qatar last month while Red Bull have also retained their constructors’ title. The champions have won 19 of the 20 races so far.
READ MORE: Formula One: World championship standings
“Well done Max, that was absolutely clinical once again,” said team boss Christian Horner over the radio as Verstappen took the chequered flag.
“The starts were very important today. Both of them were I think very good. After that the whole race was about the management of the tyres,” said Verstappen.
While the Dutch driver’s victory always looked inevitable, Alonso provided the late thrills with a dramatic battle with Perez in which he showed all the attacking fire and defensive skill of a double world champion.
The Spaniard crossed the finish line just 0.053 seconds ahead of the Mexican after Perez passed him on the penultimate lap and Alonso, the oldest man in the race at 42, grabbed the place back on the last.
“It was like 30 laps when I had the pressure from Checo (Perez),” he said. “When he passed me two laps to the end, I thought ‘okay, this is gone, the podium is not possible anymore’.
“This is a phenomenal result for the team. We have been struggling for a couple of months, especially the last two events with two retirements.”
Norris said his result was “as good as we can get nowadays and for the time being”.
The podium was the 13th of the Briton’s career, equalling Nick Heidfeld’s unwanted record of the most top-three finishes without a win.
Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll was fifth, ahead of Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz, Alpine’s Pierre Gasly and Mercedes’s Lewis Hamilton.
Yuki Tsunoda was ninth for AlphaTauri and Esteban Ocon took the final point for Alpine.
Ferrari suffered a blow before the race had even started when Charles Leclerc, who had qualified on the front row, crashed out on the formation lap.
Norris was the big beneficiary, powering from sixth to second into the first corner and speeding past the two Aston Martins on the inside while Hamilton did the same on the outside.
A collision into the first corner involving Haas pair Kevin Magnussen and Nico Hulkenberg and Williams’s Alex Albon triggered the safety car before the race was red-flagged for repairs to the tyre barrier.
Verstappen again led cleanly away from the standing re-start, with Norris holding second place and putting some initial pressure on the Red Bull driver, while Alonso passed Hamilton for third.
The red flags helped McLaren’s Australian rookie Oscar Piastri who was caught up in the first-lap carnage but whose mechanics then had time to repair the damage and get him back out from a pitlane start.
Compatriot Daniel Ricciardo, whose AlphaTauri’s rear wing was broken by a bouncing tyre at the first start, was also given a second chance.
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