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Sprint in Brazil: Max Verstappen Takes Fourth Sprint Victory In 2023

Written by Maria Fashchevskaya, Edited by Vyas Ponnuri

It was sprint time in Interlagos: Over 4.309 kilometres, with almost 43 metres of elevation along the track, and 15 turns, with two DRS zones, set to be tackled for 24 laps by 20 drivers.

Lando Norris would start the sprint from pole, followed by the Red Bulls of Verstappen and Perez, respectively. The biggest question mark revolved around tyre life, whether the soft tyres would last throughout the sprint, or wear out at some point. Everyone had started on soft tyres, except both Haas drivers and Williams rookie Logan Sargeant, at the rear of the sprint grid.

The opening meters of the sprint; Image Credits: Mark Thompson/Getty Images

As the lights went out, the drivers accelerated into turn one. Norris made a good start, but an even better one for Max Verstappen meant he caught the British driver at turn one, running on the inside. After them, a battle for third ensued between the Mercedes drivers and Perez. Russell caught Norris in the process, too, and tried to storm off in the distance, and hunt down Verstappen, who was leading.

Meanwhile, Lewis Hamilton and Sergio Perez battled for fourth place in the first five laps of the sprint race. As the Mercedes driver tried to overtake ‘Checo’, he almost was caught by the Ferrari of Charles Leclerc, who was in his DRS zone. With Perez’s DRS, Hamilton did not succeed in passing Perez, but kept pressure on the Mexican.

At the same time, Max Verstappen was leading comfortably at the front. Behind him, Lando Norris managed to snatch back second, passing Russell in lap five. The McLaren driver moved away quickly, and already had a gap of 1.5 seconds by lap six to his compatriot.

The weather at Interlagos led the drivers to cool their engines by lap seven, as the air temperature was around 25 to 30 degrees Celsius, and the track temperature kept rising.

Meanwhile, Fernando Alonso was charging up the field: The Spanish driver managed to move up from 15th to 12th in six laps of the sprint race, including a fierce interaction with Esteban Ocon, the duo having come together earlier in qualifying.

He joined another big battle in the middle of the grid, ensuing for the final point in eighth, including Daniel Ricciardo, Oscar Piastri, and Pierre Gasly. Carlos Sainz was leading a pack of drivers, each having a gap of around half a second to the other.

Battle of the Aston Martins and the Alpine; Image Credits: Clive Mason – Formula 1 via Getty Images

As Ricciardo got DRS to Sainz, he tried to surpass him around lap 12, and again in lap 14, initially being successful. However, he quickly lost the position to the Ferrari, which had the DRS into turn four.

Oscar Piastri was at the tail of the AlphaTauri the whole time, and made a cheeky overtake into turn six, on his countryman. Pierre Gasly defended mercilessly against Fernando Alonso, leaving the battle for eighth. However, in a spectacular move, the Spanish driver passed the French to move into 11th on the road.

In the front of the field, Sergio Perez was putting pressure on George Russell, who lost time to second-place runner Lando Norris. There was a gap of 2.5 seconds to him by lap 10. Competing for a podium finish, Russell and Perez battled for position with every passing lap. By lap 14, Sergio Perez had moved past the Mercedes and needed to clear a gap of more than six seconds to the McLaren of Lando Norris, which increased to eight seconds by lap 17.

Oscar Piastri led the new middle field pack, now joined by the other Aston Martin of Lance Stroll, each having a gap of a maximum of 0.6 of a second. A lockup of the inside front tyre of Esteban Ocon’s Alpine led Stroll past the Frenchman on lap 19, around turns one and two easily, moving up outside of the points range, to 12th place.

At the end of the race, not much led to a change in that middle field. However, on lap 22 Daniel Ricciardo surpassed Piastri, while teammate Yuki Tsunoda passed Lewis Hamilton, who had already lost fifth to Leclerc. With the gain of sixth place, it was the first time AlphaTauri gained points — even three of them — in a sprint race this season.

The sprint podium in Interlagos; Image Credits: Rudy Carezzevoli/Getty Images

It was Max Verstappen who won the sprint in Interlagos, followed by a rather disappointed \ Norris, four seconds, and Sergio Perez a further nine seconds behind. “It was important to get ahead at the start. Then it was all about management, 24 laps on one tyre set is very long,” the winner said after the sprint.

Lando Norris was optimistic in his words after the sprint: “I have to review it as my initial start was good - the second phase of the launch... things to improve for tomorrow. Caught sleeping a little bit with George [Russell] on Lap 1 but the pace was strong after, I just didn't have enough to go after Max [Verstappen].” In fourth place and with a gap to Perez of ten seconds George Russell completed the sprint, followed by Charles Leclerc.

Who will win the Brazilian Grand Prix on Sunday? What do you think: Let us know in the comments!


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