Mercedes Finally gets a Victory

Brazil was a very interesting weekend of racing.  There were two key firsts for two drivers.  First, Kevin Magnusson earned Haas’s first ever pole for the sprint race.   Second, after winning the sprint race on Saturday, George Russell wins his first ever Formula 1 race today.


Mercedes 1-2 Victory!

Mercedes has been steadily working on getting their car better each and every race weekend.  They closed the gap with Ferrari by 36 points two weeks ago.  This week they chipped 17 more points off.  Ferrari is holding on to second place by only 19 points.

The race for Mercedes didn’t start well.  George Russell and Lewis Hamilton got away from the grid nicely.  Then Daniel Riccardo spun Kevin Magnusson out on turn 9.  Instead of clearing the Magnusson’s car he plowed right into him as Magnusson’s Haas drifted backwards.  The yellow flag flew for 6 laps until it lifted at the beginning of lap 7.  Once again Russell took off away from the grid.  However, Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen tangled with each other right after turn 1 and Hamilton was spun off the track.  It looked like Verstappen’s corner but the FIA penalized Hamilton.  Lewis only dropped to 9th.  Great driving and strategy allowed Hamilton to finish second overall.


Ferrari’s Fortune.

Ferrari’s prediction for the day was uncertain.  Though Carlos Sainz finished 2nd in the sprint, he was forced to drop 5 grid spots due to an engine replacement penalty.  Still, by lap eight, he found himself in 4th where he remained much of the race.  Charles Leclerc also suffered misfortune when Lando Norris spun him out on lap seven a few corners after the Hamilton/Verstappen dustup.  Leclerc tumbled down the grid all the way to 18th.  He spent much of the race playing catch up.  But for his whining at the end of the race to switch positions with Sainz, I would have voted him driver of the day for driving all the way to 4th under the circumstances.

The conditions for Sainz to secure a podium for Ferrari were set when he was able to take advantage of a cheap pit stop under yellow flag during lap 54.  The race restarted on lap 60 and Sainz drove into his podium place when he passed Sergio Perez on lap 63, overtaking him on the long straight.


Notables and Criticisms

Fernando Alonso gets my vote for driver of the day.  Alonso started the race 17th on the grid.  He showed his championship savvy by driving all the way to 5th place.  Despite his whining to Ferrari, Charles Leclerc was able to tie Sergio Perez in the current drivers’ standings.  Verstappen defied team orders by not giving Perez the position at the end of the race.  He was apparently still upset about something that happened between him and Perez a few races ago.  Young and impulsive, Verstappen apparently can hold a grudge too.  That is unfortunate given that he has driven to two championships, one of which while always be deemed as controversial.  Perez has been a great teammate overall for Verstappen.  He should have given him the spot.  I enjoy Verstappen’s driving, but not his attitude.

The last race of the season is next week in Abu Dhabi.  Ferrari has their work cut out for them if they intend to earn 2nd in the Constructor’s championship.  If Carlos Sainz continues his late season heroics, he will lead the team and hold off Mercedes’s valiant efforts.


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