George Russell wins Lewis Hamilton’s São Paulo F1 GP for his first victory | Formula One

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Russell and Lewis Hamilton embrace after the race
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Driven by a lifelong ambition that began in a pedal car, George Russell finally made the kid with big dreams a reality by claiming his first Formula 1 victory at the São Paulo Grand Prix. Indeed, if there were any doubts about the pedigree of this young man, he took victory by fending off no fewer riders than his Mercedes teammate and seven-time champion Lewis Hamilton, with magnificent pedaling.

Russell was impeccable at Interlagos, the promise he showed during his short career was confirmed in force by a win that means so much to him and his Mercedes team. “It’s just the beginning guys,” he said, a prediction that’s hard to argue with after a standout performance. Head in hands and visibly upset he confessed: “I’m going to need tissues”, so much the emotion overwhelmed him. It was a sportingly recognized feat by Hamilton who was second ahead of Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz. “Congratulations to George, he had an amazing race and he deserved it,” he said.

Russell started from pole and was unmatched up front, but he had taken advantage of perennial F1 antagonists Max Verstappen and Hamilton once again tangling in his wake. The pair clashed early in the race, dropping them on the pitch with Verstappen penalized for causing the incident.

This left Russell able to dictate in the clean air and drive a string of perfect laps to maintain his lead seamlessly until the final third, when he really had to work for it. With Hamilton back on the field, the pair were one and two, closed after a late safety car, and Mercedes made it clear they were free to race. The tension was palpable, the pressure immense and the slightest mistake would have cost Russell the victory but he was unfazed. He had 12 laps to go, metronomic and fast; the fastest lap followed the fastest lap and even Hamilton couldn’t challenge it.

With ice in his veins and the composure of a future champion, Russell took the unequivocal victory, which no doubt made it all the more memorable after a long journey to reach the top step. This 81st race in his fourth year in F1 after spending the previous three at Williams, was a huge result for the 24-year-old from King’s Lynn who had come to racing after following his brother to karting meetings and driving of his pedal car. around the paddock.

He grew up admiring Hamilton and in Brazil showed the skill, poise and precision of execution the seven-time champion has shown so often in the past. Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff is convinced that Russell is a future world champion in waiting and at Interlagos those credentials were on display. The victory is all the more remarkable as it comes after a brutal season where the uncompetitive Mercedes was not only off the pace, but a handful to drive and extremely physically demanding due to the rebounds and porpoises it suffered with. for most of the year. .

Russell and Lewis Hamilton embrace after the race. Photograph: Amanda Perobelli/Reuters

Pulling this out of the bag was therefore against all odds, and a testament to Russell and his team persisting in trying to maximize what they could from the car at every opportunity this year. They did so with all the skill they showed by taking advantage of the dominant periods, testimony to their operational precision, obviously not blunted by a difficult year.

This has been a long time coming for Mercedes. It is their first win in 21 races, their longest winless streak since the start of the turbo-hybrid era in 2014. Hamilton last won for the team at the Saudi Arabian GP in 2021 and they had wanted something positive, a trophy to take home. of this season. In this penultimate race of the year, Russell delivered.

The result is huge in terms of morale as the team looks to next season, with Red Bull having already secured the drivers’ and manufacturers’ double this year. So it’s a monkey on their back, but the moment belongs to Russell, an unforgettable achievement and surely the first of many to come.

Charles Leclerc was fourth for Ferrari, Fernando Alonso and Esteban Ocon were fifth and eighth for Alpine. Verstappen and Sergio Pérez finished sixth and seventh for Red Bull, Valtteri Bottas ninth for Alfa Romeo and Lance Stroll tenth for Aston Martin.

theguardian

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