Written by Lucy Snape, Edited by Simran Kanthi
We went to Brazil for Formula One's 21st and penultimate round of the 2022 season. The Autódromo José Carlos Pace circuit debuted in F1 in 1973 and has a circuit length of 4.309km, with the current lap record of 1:10:540 set by Valtteri Bottas in 2018.
Friday: FP1 and Qualifying
On Friday, the 11th, FP1 went underway at 3:30pm UK time and we saw Sergio Perez top the timings and beat Charles Leclerc by 0.004s. Heading to qualifying at 7pm, starting with Q1, the bottom five who were eliminated were: Nicholas Latifi, Guanyu Zhou, Valtteri Bottas, Yuki Tsunoda, and Mick Schumacher. In Q2, the drivers eliminated were: Alex Albon, Pierre Gasly, Sebastian Vettel, Daniel Ricciardo, and Lance Stroll. Finally, Q3 got underway and the last ten drivers remaining fought to try and take pole position. The session was red-flagged as George Russell's Mercedes was beached. Q3 was back underway and then ended with Kevin Magnussen taking pole as he was the fastest to set a qualifying lap on slicks before the change in weather. This is Magnussen's and Haas' first-ever pole position in Formula One. Meanwhile, Max Verstappen claimed second, Russell took third, Lando Norris secured fourth, Carlos Sainz fifth, Esteban Ocon sixth, Fernando Alonso seventh, Lewis Hamilton eighth, Sergio Perez ninth, and Charles Leclerc tenth.
Saturday: FP2 and Sprint Race
The following day, Saturday, 12th November, FP2 went underway at 3:30pm and Ocon topped the session ahead of Perez by 0.184 seconds. A few hours later, the sprint race went underway at 7:30pm. Kevin Magnussen, lined up at pole position, was hopeful that he could keep it despite Verstappen being close behind in second. The sprint is a 100km dash which equals 24 laps at this track and all the teams can choose whichever tyre compound they want and pit stops are not mandatory. Lights out and away we go! Magnussen had a great start and led the sprint. Meanwhile, the two Alpines were fighting on track and Ocon made Alonso run wide but luckily no damage had occurred. Verstappen chased Magnussen and took the lead from him on lap 2. However, Alonso had been called into the pits for a front wing change as it appeared he was carrying some damage after the incident with Ocon, which had caused him to run last. On lap 4 Russell manages to overtake Magnussen and so does Sainz.
Sadly for Magnussen, more overtakes occurred on him as it seemed he was struggling in the front. Yellow flags came out as Albon got a problem and was parked at turn 2. Russell and Verstappen came alongside each other on lap 15 and Russell went on to lead the Sprint. Sainz was ready to make a move on Verstappen and in doing so, the two had contact causing Verstappen to lose half of his front wing. Russell won the Sprint! Sainz came second but had a five-place penalty due to a new ICE (Internal Combustion Engine) taken, so will be starting seventh instead. Hamilton claimed third and because of Sainz's penalty, it meant a front-row lockout for Mercedes - that was just what they needed! Verstappen came fourth, with his teammate Perez fifth, Leclerc sixth, Norris seventh, and Magnussen taking the last of the points in eighth.
Sunday: Race Day
On Sunday, 13th November, we all sat excited in front of our TVs for the penultimate round of F1 to commence at 6pm. Lights out and away we go! A great start for Russell meant he was in the lead but Hamilton was close behind. The grid seemed to get away cleanly until there was contact further back between the Haas of Magnussen and the McLaren of Ricciardo. Ricciardo punted into Magnussen causing his Haas to spin and then was hit by the spinning Haas. The Safety Car was out on track, and Magnussen and Ricciardo were out of the race. On lap 5, Albon used the safety car to his advantage to come into the pits to put on the mediums. The safety car came back in and the racing began once again. Russell kept the lead on lap 7 but behind him, Hamilton and Verstappen were side by side and made contact - both seemed to be carrying some damage. Further back in the field, Leclerc and Norris also made contact as it seemed Norris caught the Ferrari and Leclerc went into the wall but luckily got moving again. Norris managed to continue without going to the pits, yet Leclerc had damage and needed to get back to them. Verstappen also returned to the pits but Hamilton stayed out. Based on those incidents, the stewards decided that Norris would get a five-second time penalty and so would Verstappen.
As drivers started to come into the pits, Sainz came in on lap 18 but unfortunately had a slow stop causing him to return onto the track in P12. Russell, who was still leading the race, came in on lap 24 and got back onto the track in second place behind Hamilton. Hamilton was leading the race but was yet to pit. Hamilton then pitted on lap 30 which meant Russell was back in the lead. Hamilton caught up to Perez in the fight for second and got past him going into turn 1 on lap 45. Russell was leading with a gap of about ten seconds between him and Hamilton - the question was would they fight if they got close? Lap 53 and the yellow flags were out. Norris had come to a stop at turn 10 which meant he was the second McLaren to retire from the race - what a shame. The Virtual Safety Car was out but not for long as a full Safety Car got called. This meant that the field would be bunched up and Hamilton was going to be closer to his teammate. Russell, over the radio, wanted to know whether they were going to secure a 1-2 finish but was told that they were allowed to race. The Safety Car was still out on lap 59 as Alpine were asking Ocon to let Alonso pass as he had a tyre advantage but Ocon didn't want to do that. Eventually, Ocon agreed to it.
Lap 60 and they were back racing once more. Russell got away well but Hamilton was still with him trying to get the opportunity to get past. After putting up a bit of a fight on the track, Ocon eventually let Alonso through. Sainz was all over the back of Perez and managed to get past on lap 63. One lap later, we saw the Red Bull showing its power as Verstappen pulled off a double overtake on Ocon and Bottas down the straight. Meanwhile, Leclerc got past Perez and was now behind his teammate. On lap 67, Verstappen got past his teammate as the team told him to take points off of Leclerc. Both Mercedes were still free to race but it seemed that Hamilton just couldn't get close enough. Verstappen was told to let Perez through as he needed the points for his second-place battle with Leclerc in the championship standings. Yet, Verstappen refused to let him pass which was quite disappointing of the Dutchman. GEORGE RUSSELL TAKES THE WIN! Russell has taken his first Formula One win and it is very well deserved - what an outstanding performance from him! It was a 1-2 finish for Mercedes as Hamilton claimed second. Sainz took the final podium position as he came third, Leclerc took fourth despite pleading with his team to let him go past Sainz, Alonso fifth, Verstappen sixth, Perez seventh, Ocon eighth, Bottas ninth, and Stroll tenth. The race was so exciting from the start till the very end, and the outcome was phenomenal.