Russell beats Hamilton to win first grand prix
George Russell took a maiden grand prix victory – and a first for Mercedes in 2022 – as Max Verstappen was penalised for a collision with Lewis Hamilton in Sao Paulo.
Russell was in control of the race throughout after Verstappen and Hamilton came together as they disputed second place in the early stages at a safety car restart.
Hamilton dropped to ninth place after the collision with his 2021 title rival, but came back to secure a Mercedes one-two and seal the team’s recovery after a difficult season that the eight-time champions started with an uncompetitive car.
Russell’s accomplished drive included him surviving a late safety car that bunched up the field and put Hamilton right behind him heading into the final 10 laps.
The Mercedes drivers were told that they were allowed to race, but Russell held the lead at the restart and kept Hamilton at bay until the end.
Behind them, the final 10 laps were a frantic fight as a number of drivers who had had difficult races revived their afternoons.
Among them were Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc – who had been barged off the track by McLaren’s Lando Norris at Turn Five shortly after the Verstappen-Hamilton incident and dropped to the back – and Verstappen himself.
Leclerc was sixth at the restart, but moved up to finish fourth behind his Ferrari team-mate Carlos Sainz, as both passed the fading Red Bull of Sergio Perez.
Alpine’s Fernando Alonso also overtook the Mexican to take a strong fifth place after starting 18th.
The late caution period also helped Verstappen move up from the bottom of the top 10 to sixth place, just failing to pass Alonso on a race to the line.
Verstappen had been allowed to pass Perez a few laps earlier to chase Alonso, but was told heading into the final lap that he should let his team-mate back ahead if he did not pass Alonso by the final corner. But he did not comply.
Asked what happened, Verstappen said: “I told you already last time, you guys don’t ask that again to me, OK? Are we clear about that? I gave my reasons and I stand by it.”
Perez said over his radio: “It shows who he really is.” (BBC Sport)