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#1099 2023 São Paulo Grand Prix

2022-12-05 00:00

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#2023, Fulvio Conti, Nicoletta Zuppardo,

#1099 2023 São Paulo Grand Prix

The 2023 F1 World Championship is now at its closing stages, but there is still a lot to keep under attention in view of the last three race weekends.

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The 2023 F1 World Championship is now at its closing stages, but there is still a lot to keep under attention in view of the last three race weekends. Max Verstappen, after winning for the 16th time during this year in Mexico last Sunday and setting a new record for the most victories in one season, is not satisfied and will surely try to extend his lead in the standings further in Brazil. On the other hand, his teammate Sergio Perez is still fighting against Lewis Hamilton for the second place in the drivers’ standings; the Briton of Mercedes seems to be closing the Mexican in this battle as he is now just 20 points away from him. This means that this Sprint weekend may be crucial for determining the result of this fight. Regarding the Constructors’, now Mercedes join a 22-point lead over the third-placed Ferrari, which however are showing some signs of recovering from a bad season (one of them is surely the excellent qualifying they had in Mexico). Eyes are also on McLaren, who are in their best shape and now firmly ahead of Aston Martin in the fight for fourth. The São Paulo Grand Prix represents the 20th appointment of the season, one week after the dispute of the Mexican Grand Prix. This Grand Prix has been chosen as the sixth and last event of this championship to feature the Sprint format, a 100-kilometers race with free choice of tyres and no necessity to pit, whose result gives valid points for the drivers’ and constructors’ standings to the first eight classified. The São Paulo Grand Prix is the only event selected for three consecutive seasons for the Sprint race, after its debut in the 2021 season under the name Sprint Qualifying. 

 

The Federation, Liberty Media and the teams have reached an agreement for the number of Grand Prix where the Sprint format, experienced in 2021 and confirmed in 2022 both with three appointments, has to be held. However, from this year, the number of race weekends characterized by the Sprint format has been increased up to six. Starting from this Grand Prix, the Federation, in its own regulation, prohibits the obstruction of pilots to other competitors in the pit lane, after what happened during the Singapore Grand Prix and the previous Mexican Grand Prix. The drivers are not authorized to unnecessarily slow down or to stop the vehicle in the pit lane. They can create a space in the little section between the traffic lights at the end of the lane and the second line of the safety car. The drivers who want to take advantage of this section to create more space must drive as left as possible to allow the other riders to overtake them on the right side of the pit lane exit. For this Grand Prix, Pirelli, the sole tyre supplier, offers the choice between C2, C3 e C4 compound tyres, the type of tyre that characterizes the central range of the type of tyres made available by the Italian company. Since the 2021 edition of the Grand Prix, Pirelli has always established the same type of tyres for this event. It is established for the sixth time this season, the first since the United States Grand Prix, first appointment of the triple header of races which will be concluded with the Brazilian appointment. Mario Isola, Pirelli Motorsport Director, describes the features of the Interlagos circuit with a reference to the tyres chosen and the strategies the teams may put into place:

 

"The Interlagos circuit in the Brazilian city of São Paulo is well-known for providing thrilling races. The lap is only 4.309 kilometres long, making it one of the shortest of the year, with only Monaco and Mexico City being shorter. It's also run anti-clockwise and situated on a hillside, which gives it a unique character. The drivers face a steep downhill section after the first corner, followed by a long climb uphill with several winding turns, and then a long straight leading back to the finish line. The track has 15 corners - five right-handers and nine left-handers - with several direction changes. Interlagos has a bit of everything, featuring low as well as medium speed corners, and the cars running quite a high level of downforce. The forces acting on the tyres are reasonably balanced between lateral and longitudinal. The asphalt itself has a high level of roughness: typical of permanent tracks with a long history behind them. Degradation is mainly thermal, so the C2, C3, and C4 compounds have been chosen. A two-stopper is the most likely strategy, while a one-stopper would require plenty of tyre management; affecting race pace. The safety car has often featured during the grand prix, introducing another key variable, and we have also seen that weather conditions can vary rapidly and widely at this time of year as well. Interlagos will additionally host the final sprint round of the season, giving the teams and drivers another chance to assess tyre behaviour over long runs. Since sprint races came in for the 2021 season, Interlagos has always been one of them - a sure sign of how this track consistently delivers the sort of close racing that suits the sprint format".

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Max Verstappen is focused on obtaining his 17th win of the season:

 

"Looking ahead to Brazil, it's the final race of a triple header and the last Sprint race of the season. Coming off of a good race in Mexico we are confident going into this weekend but need to keep our focus. It's crazy to have achieved 16 wins so far this season, after last year I didn't think it would be possible to replicate that, so it just shows what an amazing season we’re having. I am appreciative of all of the hard work and effort everyone in the Team is putting in, I'm glad we can show that on track. Now the focus is on the 17th win".

 

Sergio Perez, after a devastating weekend in his country, is ready to give his best and is confident in the team’s possibilities:

 

"Mexico was devastating for me but in this sport these things happen, and you can’t afford to keep going over what could have been. I wanted to win my home race more than anything but that is gone now and my full focus is on finishing second in the Championship. We need to have a great weekend in Brazil and I feel confident in our ability to get results right now. It felt like things were coming together last weekend with the direction we are taking, I am more comfortable in the car, the work the Team and I have put in together is paying off in terms of set up and performance. Brazil is a totally different challenge to Mexico but it’s always a fun track and we have two opportunities to score points this weekend, so while Sprint weekends are a challenge on set up, we want to maximise this chance all we can".

 

Lando Norris is excited to be in Brazil, due to the history of this circuit, and hopes to continue obtaining the good results he enjoyed during the last races:

 

"Brazil, let's go! It's the end of the triple header and the final Sprint weekend of the season. There's so much history and heritage at this race, particularly with McLaren and Senna. I always enjoy coming here, so hopefully it's another opportunity for us to score some good points. The car had great pace in Mexico, allowing me to gain 12 places, which I'm pretty happy with. We know what we're capable of, we just have to go out there and do it".

 

Oscar Piastri is of the same advice:

 

"I'm looking forward to racing in Brazil. It's a Sprint weekend which I enjoy, and it gives us more chances for points. I've never raced here before, so I'm excited to get on track at such an iconic circuit. The last few races have been reassuring, especially considering where we were at the start of the season. Mexico was slightly tougher for me with the damage, but I've debriefed with the team, and I'll take the learnings into this weekend as we aim for more points".

 

Andrea Stella, McLaren’s Team Principal, thinks they can get the best considering the strong pace showed by the car in the last races:

 

"After a strong race to end our weekend in Mexico with points finishes for both cars, we turn our attention to Brazil. We keep being encouraged with the performance of our car and hope to be competitive once again. The team remain focused as we come to the final race of the triple header. It's been a very busy few weeks, but everyone continues to be motivated and perform at the highest level. With the final Sprint event of the season, there's a bigger prospect to score points and we aim to maximise our opportunities across the weekend".

 

Toto Wolff, Mercedes’ Team Principal, underlines the advantage they have over Ferrari. Then, he concentrates on the work the team still have to do in order to extract the maximum from the car:

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"We came away from Mexico with our advantage over Ferrari in the fight for second in the Constructors' intact. That is an important battle for us and one we are focused on winning. Leaving Mexico with a second-place finish, given the challenging start to the weekend and our grid positions, was positive. The car showed very good race pace however we know we've got more work to do to extract the maximum from the W14 across all three days. Lewis put in a very strong performance to score a podium and George gave it absolutely everything, even when his tyres had gone off at the end. We've got one last race in this triple header and it's in Brazil. We know we've taken a good step forward in recent races, but Mexico showed W14 can still prove tricky to master. We will look to arrive in Interlagos with a solid baseline to work with and we'll see what we can do from there. Of course, we have fond memories from Brazil, especially the past two visits with Lewis' spectacular win in 2021 and George's first victory in 2022. The fans are super passionate about F1, and we always get such an enthusiastic reception from them. Hopefully our package will run well there, and we can put on a good show for everyone".

 

Frédéric Vasseur, Ferrari’s Team Principal, on the other hand, talks about the good qualifying they made but clearly knows that it is no easy to reach Mercedes in the Constructors' World Championship:

 

"It’s time for the last leg of this American triple-header here in Sao Paulo, which features the final Sprint weekend of the season, the third out of the last four Grands Prix. At the past two rounds in Austin and Mexico City, we were outstanding in qualifying, taking pole both times with Charles and securing an all-Ferrari front row last Sunday. But in the races, it has been clear that we are still vulnerable to attack. Nevertheless, we have come away with two podium finishes and scored more points than the others fighting for second in the championship. But at the moment we still trail by 22 points so it’s no easy task that we face. What we can guarantee is that we are fully committed to doing our very best in Brazil. Mercedes will certainly be very competitive, but we must continue to focus on our own performance, to move forward and to do better in every area, especially when it comes to tyre management and race strategy. Carlos and Charles are very motivated, as indeed are the team at the track and back in Maranello. We will keep fighting all the way to the chequered flag in Abu Dhabi".

 

Carlos Sainz Jr. remembers his first F1 podium, obtained here in Brazil:

 

"It was here that I got my first Formula 1 podium so this circuit will always have a special place in my heart. I think six weekends run to this formula is the right number. But we should think about whether it’s worth changing something to make it more interesting, because at the moment, too often, Saturday reveals what one can expect on Sunday, because basically the Sprint corresponds to the first stint of the actual Grand Prix. Because it’s a Sprint, it will be vital to do a good job on car balance in the only free practice session we have. If we can do that then I think we have a good chance, otherwise, it could be a struggle. I believe we have prepared well back at the factory and now it’s up to us to go out on track and do our best".

 

Charles Leclerc remembers his idol, the Brazilian driver Ayrton Senna, and hopes to get another pole on Friday:

 

"Ayrton has always been my idol. I never had the chance to see him race, but thanks to my father, I grew up immersed in the legend, so it was very nice to meet Viviane and to see so many of his things, such as his helmet and the blue cap which are now so iconic. Of course I would be delighted to get another pole, but it would be even better to get a great result in the race, when the points are given out. Unfortunately, our race pace is where we are most vulnerable this season. We have learned a lot about how to run our car, but there is still work to do to fix this weakness, also in regard to next season. It is without a doubt one of the nicest of the season, where overtaking is possible and the races are really fun. I can’t wait to get in the car".

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Alex Albon admits that this can be an unpredictable race, but will keep trying to do his best also considering that this circuit is not suitable for the car:

 

"As we head to Brazil for the final round in the triple-header, we know it can always be an unpredictable race, with the weather playing a major part. It's a great track with a great flow, however it's not always great for our car but we've been on a good run of points, so we'll try keep our heads down as our rivals continue to build".  

 

On Friday, November 3, 2023, the first two places in the FP1 standing are occupied by the Ferraris. Sainz Jr. is first, ahead of his teammate Leclerc, and the two are followed by George Russell, who was on medium tyres, unlike the Italian Scuderia’s pair, whose performance was obtained on the soft compounds. The two Red Bull Racing and the two McLaren cars classified in the lower part of the ranking, as they took this session as a test for the hard tyres. The vehicles from Woking were on mediums, but aborted the fast laps after searching for performance only in the first two sectors of the track,  so much that Oscar Piastri was the fastest in that part of the circuit. At the end of Friday’s free practice session, Lando Norris and Nico Hülkenberg are summoned by the sports commissioners due to a collision between them at Turn 12. Both drivers don’t get penalties. Rain hits the track before qualifying, but at 3.00pm local time the sky is just cloudy with no signs of imminent rainfall. Due to some punctures suffered by the cars during free practice, the Federation choses to clean the track; for this reason the session will start 15 minutes later. Piastri sets the reference time with 1'11"494, ahead of the Williams pair, Albon and Sargeant. Lance Stroll takes the command with 1'11"420, while Bottas is P2. It’s Norris’ turn to take the first place, while Verstappen stops only three tenths from the time of the McLaren driver. Sainz Jr. and Leclerc are respectively eighth and ninth, while an incident between Gasly and Russell in the pit lane is noted, with the Briton slowing down the Alpine driver. Gasly and Daniel Ricciardo manage to recover and get P4 and P5, while Kevin Magnussen sets the seventh time. In the meanwhile, the forecast announces, shortly, the arrival of the rain. Charles Leclerc sets the new record for this session (1'10"472); Sainz Jr. is fourth. Alonso is now third, but is immediately defeated by Piastri, while Norris is placed just behind the Spaniard of Aston Martin. Pérez is now fifth and Stroll third. Verstappen gets the fifth time, while the Mercedes team tell Hamilton that his time is not sufficient to get into the second phase. Albon is fourth, at 0.149s from Leclerc. Two minutes to the end of Q1 and rain starts to fall on track, but the drivers are still able to improve their performances. 

 

Lewis Hamilton is fourth and Russell gets the lead (1'10"340). Nico Hülkenberg is third, while Magnussen sixth. The drivers eliminated are Tsunoda, Ricciardo, Bottas, Sargeant and Zhou. Even the start of the second phase is under the rainfall, but the track is still ok. Max Verstappen sets the reference time with 1'10"162, with the other Red Bull Racing driver Pérez who places two tenths behind. Stroll is third, ahead of Alexander Albon and Alonso. Hamilton is fourth; Norris manages to improve and places between the two Red Bull Racing cars. Russell is eighth, defeated by Leclerc a little after. Oscar Piastri is third. Lewis Hamilton is fourth, while the other Mercedes driver, Russell, second. Later, the Ferraris manage to improve, so much that Carlos Sainz Jr. gets the second place. The Ferrari driver’s time is defeated first by his connational  Alonso and then by Norris, who takes the command (1'10"021). Sergio Pérez is now third; the ranking is tight: Norris and Stroll, respectively in the first and tenth place, are separated by 0.354s. Albon’s time gets canceled and he goes back to the fifteenth position. Hülkenberg, Ocon, Gasly, Magnussen and Albon don’t manage to get into Q3. During Q3 Stroll immediately defeats Alonso, with 1'11"344; The Canadian’s time gets improved by Verstappen (1'10"727). Russell is fifth, before Leclerc gets the second place. Norris is seventh, ahead of Sainz Jr., who made a mistake at the start of his lap; Piastri goes out of track, forcing Pérez to slow down and close ninth. The heavy rain forces the race direction to stop the session, which will not be resumed anymore. At the end of qualifying, George Russell, Pierre Gasly and Esteban Ocon are summoned by the stewards for obstructing other drivers while they were exiting from the pit lane. Gasly and Sergio Pérez are summoned again for being obstructed respectively by Russell and other drivers when they were exiting from the pit lane. Russell, Ocon and Gasly are penalized by two positions on the starting grid. 

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Lance Stroll doesn’t receive penalties from the stewards for not having followed the instructions established by the race direction. The Canadian driver of Aston Martin has exceeded the time limit of one minute and 14 seconds between the second line of the safety car and the first, during the eighth lap in Q1. The race direction states that the drivers’ meeting, scheduled an hour and a half after the end of qualifying, is canceled. Max Verstappen is happy for being the poleman again, despite he was shocked about how the weather affected the car’s balance:

 

"Although today was quite tough with the weather, it was great to end up on pole. In Q1 and Q2, the gaps were small in between cars and we ended up using quite a few of our tyre sets. When we lined up to go out for Q3, you could see the sky was black. As we went out, the first sector was alright but the rain started coming in; the wind picked up and changed direction in the middle section which made it difficult to drive but the Team told me just to keep pushing. I have never experienced something that has had such a big influence on car balance, but ultimately it was still a great result and sets us up well for Sunday. For the Sprint race tomorrow, we will try and do the best we can as I think it will be close in the Sprint Shootout".

 

Sergio Perez continues to not obtain good results:

 

"It was very unfortunate today, I think we had the pace to qualify in the first two rows at least. We were on for P3, P2 maybe, my lap was very close to Max’s until the last corner but we had Piastri spin at the end of the lap and I had to back off. I also think we went out a little too late, the rain picked us up and the track temperate was cooling quickly. There are so many ifs but it is just the start of the weekend and there is still a long way to go, the positive is we seem to have very strong pace. I am looking forward to tomorrow now to see what we can do on Sprint day, I think we have some good opportunities to race from here".

 

Christian Horner, Red Bull’s Team Principal, is satisfied with Max’ performance and hopes Perez can recover on Sunday:

 

"A qualifying dominated by ominous weather and halted due to the treacherous rain it delivered. Ultimately, Max performed well through the session and in the varying conditions. He had one lap to deliver as we watched the clouds rolling in over the horizon, securing pole before the session was abruptly brought to a close. Checo was unlucky in his lap, falling victim to the yellow flag brought on by the Piastri incident. Unfortunately the weather set in before he had time to lay down another lap time but there is a wealth of opportunity at this track so plenty to come on Sunday".

 

Charles Leclerc didn’t know what to expect from the car during the session but is of course happy for his P2:

 

"It was a good qualifying. Q1 was smooth, we only used one set of Softs and put in a solid lap with a car that felt great, after we had made quite a few changes to the setup after FP1. In Q2, we pretty much just put a lap on the board. Then came a strange experience. In Q3, the wind change was really sudden, there was no grip from sector two onwards. I didn't know what to expect in terms of balance once I entered a corner, but I kept it tidy so P2 is not bad considering".

 

Carlos Sainz Jr., on the other hand, is disappointed:

 

"I am very disappointed as I was feeling good in the car, but we missed a good opportunity. The storm arrived very quickly, the wind picked up a lot and it caught me out during the lap. I tried to keep it together but it was extremely tricky and the lap was not good. We were one of the last cars in the queue in the pitlane and every second counts in these situations. It is what it is and now it’s time to focus on tomorrow".

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Frédéric Vasseur, Ferrari’s Team Principal, thinks they are really competitive and that the Sprint can be an opportunity to give all the can:

 

"Qualifying was very close up to Q3, when the rain played its part, but again today we saw that we are competitive over a flying lap. The position of our garage in pit lane worked against us in Q3 as we found a whole queue of cars ahead of us and that made life more difficult for our drivers when it came to managing tyre temperature. Everyone only got one run in, but Charles did very well to manage his car and secure a front row start. The fact he did not think he’d done a good lap as he crossed the finish line says a lot about how difficult it was to drive in these conditions. Carlos’ lap was not quite as good and so he will start from eighth. Tomorrow we will be focussing on the Sprint which will be our first opportunity to see how the car behaves in race trim, which is where we have suffered most in recent races".

 

Lance Stroll, second placed, is very satisfied with his result:

 

"It was a good result today - the car felt pretty good throughout the whole session so I'm very satisfied. With both cars starting from the second row, we will be aiming for a podium on Sunday but I think that the race will be tricky. All the teams are very close and it is difficult to know exactly where we stand. We were fortunate when the rain came but we also made the right calls - both Fernando and I were able to get our Q3 laps in early before the rain started to fall. The points are awarded on Sunday, so let's see what we can do from a good starting position".

 

Fernando Alonso is optimistic about this weekend:

 

"We needed that qualifying result today. We have experimented a little in the last few races and we were seeking a good result for both cars here in Brazil. I think we proved this weekend that we have understood a few things about our car in recent races. I hope we have a clean weekend starting with a good Sprint tomorrow. We have a very good position to start the race from on Sunday, so we are looking forward to that. Hopefully that is the last of the rain, and we will go again tomorrow in the Sprint".

 

Lewis Hamilton is not satisfied with his position and hopes to do better at the race:

 

"P5 is never going to feel that great. I did the best I could though and hopefully we will have a better race on Sunday. The car was showing signs of decent performance, but we did seem to be a couple of tenths off the guys right at the very front. We made a few changes ahead of qualifying and it did seem to make the car a little nicer to drive. In general though, it wasn't particularly fast. Having said that, the conditions and circumstances at the end of Q3 have maybe put us slightly further back than our true pace would have showed. It is difficult to say with any confidence though. Over the rest of the weekend, I think we've got a bit of a battle on our hands. Overheating with brakes and managing tyres will be important but if we can use our strategy to progress forward, then we will do that".

 

George Russell is surprised by the weather. He admits that the car felt good, but he hoped to start from a better spot on Sunday:

 

"The weather today was absolutely crazy! I've never seen it change so drastically as that during Q3. I was really disappointed with my final push lap. I was sliding around and had no grip. I didn't see that much rain on my visor, but I was one second off and I wanted to pit for new tyres as I was confident that I would be last. We ended up P6 though which, whilst the lap was disappointing and frustrating, it's not a bad place to start. The team did a great job, and the car has been performing well here. We also know race pace is more important than single lap pace here. We will still be aiming to get on the podium. Aston Martin have been quick today, and will start ahead of us, but I hope our long run pace is better than theirs. I expect there to be multiple pitstops during the race on Sunday, so it's all to play for. Let's see how we perform over the rest of the weekend".

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Andrew Shovlin, Mercedes’ Trackside Engineering Director, analyzes this particular qualifying session:

 

"We had a useful FP1 with plenty of focus on the long run. That is very important here and the car seemed to be working well although as always, it's tough on the tyres here when the track is hot. Qualifying was tight but that's normal with how competitive the entire grid is these days. Even so, we'd managed to get both cars through to Q3 with two new sets of soft tyres still available for each. It looked like we were in the hunt for the top three spots. For what turned out to be our final run, we left the garage early and queued at the end of the pitlane. It was clearly right to be at the front of the pack, but we'd lost too much tyre temperature whilst waiting for the green light. We therefore didn't have good grip opening the lap; that was particularly costly given that the circuit had started to get damp from the rain. It was frustrating to end up P5 and P6, but if we can get through the Aston Martins in the early stages of Sunday then we'll be in the fight for a podium. Before that though, we've got Saturday's standalone sprint format to get on top of and there are some useful points available. We will be working hard to maximise that opportunity".

 

Lando Norris is disappointed by the result and is ready to give his best at the Sprint race:

 

"Not at all the result we wanted. We showed strong pace in the dry, but we just didn't do a good enough job of getting on track at the right time with the rain coming in. A real shame, it's pretty disappointing for the team as it's a big opportunity missed today. A tough start to the weekend but we'll do our best tomorrow in the Sprint to score positive points".

 

Oscar Piastri says that he struggled a lot:

 

"P10 in qualifying this afternoon. Q3 was obviously not very good for us, especially with the session ended early because of the weather. I'm not sure what really happened with the grip, but we just struggled a lot, which is a shame as we had good pace. Things were looking alright until that point but anyway, we will try again tomorrow and see what we can do in the Sprint".

 

Andrea Stella, McLaren’s Team Principal, states that the problems began to show themselves during Q3, after a very competitive Q1 and Q2:

 

"We had a strong qualifying session from a car performance point of view, which saw us be very competitive in Q1 and Q2. Unfortunately, when it came to Q3, everything was decided in the couple of minutes at the start of the session as the conditions got rapidly worse. We weren't at the front of the group of cars, and actually the position and the time on track became the decisive factor. This meant we couldn't capitalise on the good performance on a day in which we could certainly have been at the front of the grid. Anyhow, we take the positive of a competitive car and the learning for the team on a missed opportunity. We still have Sprint Shootout Qualifying tomorrow, and the Sprint, before a Grand Prix in which it's possible to overtake and recover, that's the plan for Sunday".

 

Alex Albon admits he was struggling with the car in Q1, but looks forward to Sunday:

 

"My Q1 lap was very good but I think as a team, we know we're struggling, as it's so easy to overheat the tyres. Corner after corner there's no way for the tyres to rest, so as soon as you do one corner quickly, you lose it on the next as a result of overheating. There's a lot to learn and Sunday is going to be a big management race with the tyres not enjoying this kind of circuit. We've saved a set of Softs, so hopefully that will help us tomorrow".

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Simone Berra, Pirelli Chief Engineer analyzes the qualifying session with a look over the tyres used by the teams:

 

"The Friday of a Sprint weekend is always very frenetic with all the teams having just one hour to prepare for the rest of the programme, trying to fine tune the set-up and, at the same time, evaluate the three compounds available to them. On top of that, the Sprint format means the teams try to use their sets differently to usual, aiming for the most efficient use possible. Clearly, for Interlagos, we and the teams have a lot of data from previous years to call on, which will be useful in the coming hours, given that information acquired in FP1 is rather limited. From what we have seen, the C2 does not seem favourite for race use, because it has shown far from negligible degradation, triggered by the low level of grip leading to the cars sliding a lot. The weather changed for the worse between free practice and qualifying, with temperatures dropping pretty suddenly, the wind increasing in intensity and the threat of rain looming more and more, eventually producing the storm that led to qualifying ending early. This made life difficult for the drivers, who had to deal with very changeable track conditions, while the wind was changing direction and speed to complicate matters still further. The forecast is for better weather tomorrow with no rain. Last year in the Sprint here, 18 of the 20 drivers used the Soft and it's likely we can expect a similar scenario tomorrow, given that the temperatures should still be cooler than in this morning's free practice".

 

On Saturday, Verstappen and Pérez are the first to get on track, with the reigning world champion setting the best time, with 1'11"888. Pérez is three tenths away, while the slowest driver is Esteban Ocon, half a second behind. Regarding the Ferraris, Leclerc is second and Carlos Sainz Jr. is first. Hamilton takes back the second place, while Russell closes with the fourth best time, placing himself between Verstappen and Leclerc. Pierre Gasly is seventh, ahead of Piastri. Fernando Alonso takes the position away from the Frenchman and Norris is fifth. Seventh place also for Nico Hülkenberg; however, his Haas’ teammate, Kevin Magnussen, manages to do better and gets the fifth position. Daniel Ricciardo is ninth while Piastri doesn’t improve and remains fourteenth, but just 0"560 away from Sainz Jr.. Lando Norris gets the second place, just before the session is interrupted due to an incident involving Alonso and Ocon. Actually the session was interrupted due to a puncture in the Spaniard’s vehicle, which was then hit by Ocon. Apart from the latter, the eliminated drivers are Ocon, Stroll, Zhou, Albon and Sargeant. The second phase starts with a few minutes of delay, to allow the commissioners to clean the track in the point where the incident occurred. Alonso cannot run because his Aston Martin is damaged and it is impossible to repair it on time. Verstappen sets the reference time (1'11"449), with Sergio Pérez second, with 1'11"611. Lewis Hamilton and Russell are third and fourth, before Norris passes both. Piastri is third, Hülkenberg takes fourth and Magnussen sixth. Leclerc is third while Sainz Jr. is between the two Red Bull Racing cars. Verstappen takes the lead again; Yuki Tsunoda, instead, is sixth. His teammate Ricciardo manages to do better than him taking the second place. The first place continues to change, thanks to Pérez and his 1'11"230. 

 

Hamilton and Russell are back to the fourth and fifth place respectively, before Norris makes the best performance with 1'11"221. Alonso has set no time, and the other drivers eliminated are Magnussen, Hülkenberg, Gasly and Bottas. In SQ3 the drivers decide to make just one attempt, in order to save a set of softs for the Sprint race, given that during this qualifying session the mediums are required. Oscar Piastri closes with 1'11"189, defeated byNorris (1'10"622). Verstappen stops at 0"061 from the Briton’s time; Leclerc finishes third, defeated, a little after, by Tsunoda. The Japanese driver is in turn defeated by Pérez. Hamilton is fourth, behind his Mercedes’ teammate Russell. The first two times of the session are fastest than that of pole position of qualifying. At the end of the Sprint Shootout, Fernando Alonso and Esteban Ocon are summoned by the stewards due to their collision at Turn 3, during SQ1. Ocon is not penalized. Yuki Tsunoda and Lando Norris are summoned for failing to comply with the instructions laid down by the race direction. Both the drivers exceeded the time limit of one minute and 14 seconds valid between the second line of the safety car and the first of it, during the fifth lap of SQ1. Tsunoda and Norris receive a reprimand. George Russell, Oscar Piastri and Ocon don’t receive penalties from the stewards for the same reason. Russell exceeded the time limit twice, during the fourth and fifth lap of SQ1, Piastri during the sixth and Ocon during the fifth, always in SQ1. 

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Magnussen, Hülkenberg and Sargeant start the Sprint Race on Mediums, all the other drivers on Softs. Lights out and Max Verstappen passes Norris, while Russell makes a move over Pérez, who is overtaken also by the other Mercedes driver, Hamilton. On the first lap, George Russell passes Norris too, for the second place. On the same lap, the two Ferraris pass the two AlphaTauris, with Leclerc ahead of Tsunoda and Sainz Jr. ahead of Ricciardo. On lap 4, Sergio Pérez  steals Hamilton’s position; Also Charles Leclerc tries to get closer to the Briton but with no success. On the next lap, Norris takes P2 from Russell. Alexander Albon complains about the oil lost from Bottas’ Alfa Romeo. On lap 8, Russell and Pérez fight a lot, with the Red Bull Racing driver who has the best two laps later. At the front,Norris manages to reduce the gap from Verstappen. On lap 12, Daniel Ricciardo attacks Carlos Sainz Jr. at Turn 1, but the Spaniard regains the position at the end of the opposite Turn. Piastri tries to take advantage of the fight and remains behind his connational. The fight among the Ferrari and the AlphaTauri drivers starts again two laps later: also this time Sainz Jr. has the best, but Piastri manages to pass Ricciardo. Verstappen extends his advantage over Norris, 1.7s. Pérez is seven seconds away from the Briton; in turn, the Mexican driver is 27s ahead of Russell. On lap 21, Leclerc passes Hamilton, who on the next lap is also passed by Yuki Tsunoda. Ricciardo overtakes Piastri, who is put under pression also by Fernando Alonso, but with no success. Max Verstappen wins the seventh Sprint of his career after its introduction in the 2021 season, as well as the fourth of the championship. 

 

Lando Norris finishes second, and is now seven points away from Alonso in the fight for the fifth place in the drivers’ championship. Pérez is third, for the first time since the second place he obtained at the Italian Grand Prix. The Red Bull Racing Mexican driver earns four points over Hamilton in the fight for P2 in the general ranking. Russell is fourth for the third time this season during a Sprint.The Mercedes’ Briton has obtained three fourth places and three eighth places in the sixth Sprint of the championship. Leclerc is fifth and for the fourth time he is among the first five drivers in a fast race. With the sixth place of Tsunoda, the AlphaTauri earn their first points ever in a Sprint. The Faenza-based Scuderia were the last constructors who had not yet scored points in the short race. For Tsunoda, who gains two positions on the drivers’ ranking, this is the best result of the season in any format. The AlphaTauri is now ahead of Alfa Romeo in the Constructors’, and only nine points away from the Williams in the fight for P7. Hamilton is seventh for the third Sprint of the year, having finished among the first four just once (he was second in the Sprint of the USA Grand Prix) Sainz Jr. is eighth and is the third driver of the year who obtained more points in a Sprint after Verstappen and Pérez. At the end of the Sprint, lthe race direction communicates that, due to the sports regulation, all the cars must be covered and ready for the sealing within two hours of the display of the checkered flag. Max Versteppen is satisfied with the performance of his Red Bull:

 

"The start was key for us today: it was good to get the lead into turn one and it was important to keep the first few laps under control. Tyre management is incredibly difficult here because of the high degradation and I really had to look after them right from the beginning of the race. You can’t go flat out as it is a very long stint on the tyres, so you do need to pick your moments. Ultimately, I am happy with how we managed the tyres and we have had some successful Sprint races this year, which is positive. We will all learn a lot from today. Lando was also very close to me for the duration of the race so I expect it will be an even closer result tomorrow".

 

Sergio Perez had more diffculties than his teammate:

 

"It is definitely a good result, but I would have liked to have had a better start and have been in contention for first. We had a terrible start and first lap, losing position to both Mercedes so that meant things were not as we wanted, we had to push hard and I had to make use of my tyres early on, so I ended up paying the price later on in the race. Tomorrow is the main race, and everyone is going to learn from the Sprint, we expect a very high tyre deg, so everything is going to suffer, the engine, the brakes… It will be all about looking after the tyres, it will be a long race with a lot of competition but the race pace of the car should be good and the podium is my target".

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Christian Horner, Red Bull’s Team Principal, analyzes his drivers’ race:

 

"It was a very well executed race today. Max got a great start, allowing him to make that crucial pass into the first corner and then it was an exercise in managing his tyres. It’s a long stint on those soft tyres and he did well with them, enabling him to finish the race as he did. Equally, Checo had a very strong drive. It was good racing, he had great pace, passing those two Mercedes and making his way through the pack; well-deserved points for him today. It sets us up well for tomorrow. Checo will take a lot out of today. He’s starting a bit out of position but he has great pace so we look forward to seeing how it plays out".

 

Lando Norris is overall satisfied by the results the team are achieving:

 

"It was good fun today. My initial start was good but the second phase of the launch was maybe a little bit on the safe side. These are things to improve for tomorrow but nevertheless the pace was strong as we got into the race. I tried to go after Max - but just didn't have enough. I'm encouraged with how good our pace was today. We didn't expect to be fighting Max at a track which doesn't suit our car as much, so overall I'm pleased with my performance today. Tomorrow I'll try to work my way through the field again and work hard to secure good points for the team".

 

Oscar Piastri hopes to score more points tomorrow: 

 

"P10 today, there was some good racing out there but I struggled with tyre degradation from all the battling. Other than that, it was a fun race around a good circuit. We managed to get some important learning done ahead of tomorrow which will certainly help us in the Grand Prix. We'll work to see what we can do in the race and hope to score positive points".

 

Andrea Stella, McLaren’s Team Principal, concludes:

 

"A strong result for our team with a P2 in the Sprint race in Brazil. It's important for the entire team after a qualifying session yesterday in which we didn't capitalise on the potential of the car in Q3. Instead, today, the result was strong, with a pole position and a second position finish on Lando's side. We have also shown decent competitiveness compared to Verstappen, which, in a way, is a good surprise. Starting P10 with Oscar, it was always going to be difficult to score points, and we have to remember this was the first long run ever for Oscar in Brazil. Nevertheless, we got very useful information to help us prepare for tomorrow's Grand Prix. We'll aim for a strong race and look to progress through the field and score good points with both drivers".

 

Charles Leclerc explains why they didn’t use new tyres:

 

"We did a good job today and there was not much more on the cards. Not using new tyres for qualifying, preferring to keep them for the GP on Sunday, we knew we would be on the back foot for the Sprint. We did well anyway, finishing in P5 and getting ahead of Lewis, who qualified on a new set of Softs this morning. They are our main competitors for this year so it’s a good sign to be able to fight with them".

 

Carlos Sainz Jr. is confident about the race, despite nothing went as he wanted today:

 

"Today we suffered more than expected in the Sprint. Our main limitation came from having to manage the engine temperatures and the tyres. This implied a lot of lift and coast from very early on in the race, which obviously affected our overall performance. However, I'm confident that tomorrow it will be better and that we’ll be able to push the car and the tyres more to recover some positions".

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Frédéric Vasseur, Ferrari’s Team Principal, continues to explain a little their strategy for today and tomorrow:

 

"We decided to partially sacrifice today’s race, with a view to being in better shape for the Grand Prix, so we will have to wait and see if we have played our cards right. We didn’t use new tyres in this morning’s qualifying, so tomorrow Charles will have one set of new Softs, Carlos will have one that’s just done two laps and they will both have two sets of new Mediums. Therefore, I’d say that today overall, we got the best result we could have done, bringing home important points and that was mainly down to excellent tyre management and Charles’ pass on Lewis (Hamilton) towards the end. The good job this afternoon will be analysed carefully and we will try and be even better prepared for tomorrow when we start with Charles on the front row and Carlos all set to race aggressively".

 

George Russell is of the same advice of his Williams’ competitor. He hopes the track will be a little cooler on Sunday:

 

"I had a good first lap but after that, it was a struggle. We expected the tyre degradation to be less than it turned out to be. We certainly didn't expect to be outright quickest, but we were surprised by the pace delta to those ahead. That all came down to the tyres. Sometimes we seem to be able to get them to work, other times we struggle. It's a shame but we clearly got it wrong today where others didn't. We need to rectify that for tomorrow. The track will be a little bit cooler on Sunday which may swing things more into our favour. We will obviously learn things from today too and make some changes. It's likely to be at least a two-stop race, but I'm not as optimistic heading into tomorrow's Grand Prix as I was this morning".

 

Lewis Hamilton struggled with the balance:

 

"That was not an enjoyable race. We made a good start and managed to gain a position on Sergio Perez. After that though, we really struggled with the balance. We had a lot of understeer, then snap oversteer, and I was fighting the car from very early on. By the closing stages, I had run out of grip on the tyres, and I can only assume that we got the setup wrong. We will need to find a way to make some changes for tomorrow. I suspect it will be a long afternoon if we aren't able to make improvements. I will of course be fighting as hard as I can, and trying to manage the tyres a bit better than we were able to today".

 

Toto Wolff, Mercedes’ Team Principal & CEO, admits that this day was nothing short of difficult:

 

"That was a difficult day. We pushed very hard at the beginning of the race, and we suffered from that in the later stages. The car was not balanced optimally, with the rear end not strong enough to live with the front. You're having to drive the car on a knife's edge but it's almost impossible to do so. Both drivers were trying to hold on to the pace, but we didn't give them a car to do that today. They were both subsequently sliding around a lot more than they would want and that killed the tyres. We need to go away this evening and work through what we can do to improve it for tomorrow. There are no easy fixes, but we will do everything that we can".

 

Andrew Shovlin, Mercedes’ Trackside Engineering Director, continues:

 

"That was not a good race for us today. We likely pushed a bit too hard early on and it took a few laps to realise that we simply didn't have the pace to race for a top three position. That hurt the tyres and caused us to suffer from high levels of tyre degradation in the closing stages. We know that we've got what we've got in terms of the setup and that there are only a few tools to play with to make improvements. We therefore know that making a big step in performance for tomorrow is out of the question. However, there are a few things we can use to balance the car and there's clearly a bit to learn about how we use the tyres across the stint. It might be a little cooler tomorrow and that could help; not so much that the tyres will be in a drastically different operating window though. It's therefore imperative we can make progress overnight if we're to avoid another tough race on Sunday".

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Fernando Alonso is happy about the fact that the car seems competitive during this weekend, even if on this Saturday they didn’t score points:

 

"It was a fun Sprint today with a lot of wheel-to-wheel racing. Unfortunately, we didn't score any points after climbing a few positions, but the car felt competitive so that is a good sign for tomorrow. We've felt more competitive this weekend and it's going in the right direction. It will be close in the race tomorrow and we know there are a number of fast cars around us, so let's see if we can score some big points".

 

Alex Albon admits that it was terrible to drive this Saturday. He suffered a lot from degradation:

 

"It was a decent race for us today, despite being at the back. The pace was reasonable but the degradation for most drivers was massive, so it feels quite terrible to drive if I'm honest. It's a strange one as when you have that much deg, you'd think you'd just go on harder tyres, but the Hard tyres are so bad around here, with the Softs being the only tyre with reasonable grip. I think strategy is going to be quite interesting tomorrow with it ultimately being dependent on deg, so we'll see but hopefully we'll be okay".

 

Mario Isola, Pirelli Motorsport Director, as always analyzes this Sprint shootout and race, keeping attention on the tyres used and the strategies put into place by the teams:


"Interlagos is a track that always delivers a lot of battles and that was the case once again today, with plenty of overtaking, some of the moves being really spectacular. It was definitely a very interesting day from a tyre point of view. With temperatures around a dozen degrees or so higher than in the same session last year, one could have expected a more equal split when it came to the teams' choices between the Soft and Medium for the Sprint. However, the figures are pretty much the same as those seen in 2022. Furthermore, while it's true that the Soft required careful management from the drivers, the Medium suffered more with degradation, something we will now have to look at very carefully. Data from the Sprint will be even more useful than usual in defining strategy for tomorrow afternoon's race, when we can expect similar temperatures to today's. The two-stop is clearly the better option, running a mix of Soft and Medium. From what we saw this afternoon, the Soft has definitely shown itself to be a valid choice, even over quite a long stint, and so the key will be to find the right balance between the length of the various sections of the race and the order in which to use the different compounds. One should not rule out a three-stop strategy, even if, on paper, it's not the quickest, for those who want to try and push more without being too worried about tyre management on a track where overtaking is possible at several places. Finally, it's worth remembering that the undercut can be very effective here".

 

On Sunday, November 5, 2023, everyone is ready for the race. Difficult  day for Charles Leclerc, who goes off track during the formation lap due to an hydraulic issue. His spot on the grid is empty at the start. Verstappen maintains the lead, followed by Norris, who started sixth. Behind the McLaren driver is now Hamilton, followed, on his turn, by the two Aston Martins. At the back of the field, Alexander Albon, closed among the two Haas, hits Kevin Magnussen’s car. The two goes out of track, while a tyre of the Williams finishes on the rear wing of Daniel Ricciardo’s AlphaTauri. Also the other Australian driver, Oscar Piastri, has his car damaged. The race direction sends the safety car on track: on the following laps, it passes from the pit lane in order to allow the track to be cleaned. After one lap, the race direction shows the red flag, to allow the resetting of the barriers, in the point of the crash among the two vehicles. This allows the teams of Ricciardo and Piastri to fix the cars in order to give both the possibility to restart the race, but only from the pit lane and a lap later. The restart is set for 2:31 p.m.. Verstappen keeps the lead again, ahead of Norris, Hamilton and Alonso. The Spaniard of Aston Martin overtakes the Mercedes driver, at the end of Reta Oposta. Behind them, Stroll is passed by Russell and Pérez. 

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For some laps, it seems that Lando Norris can get first place, but Verstappen is able to stretch. Between laps 13 and 14, the duel between Sergio Pérez and George Russell for P5 is on fire. The Mexican, on lap 18, passes Hamilton too. One lap later, the former world champion pits for mediums, as Russell does after one lap. Pérez Makes the same choice, on lap 21. Lewis Hamilton’s undercut allows the Briton to pass again Pérez. On lap 23, the Red Bull Racing’s Mexican is able to take back Hamilton’s position. On lap 26, Alonso pits, followed by Russell, who stops for the second time. Two lapas later, it’s time to pit for Verstappen and Norris. The Dutchman and the Briton maintain the first and the second places. Behind them, there are Fernando Alonso, Pérez, Stroll and the two Mercedes. Sainz Jr. manages to get close to Russell, who asks the team if he can pass his teammate. Between laps 34 and 37, the Ferrari driver passes the two German cars. On lap 43, Russell is overtaken by Pierre Gasly too, and pits, after a few laps, for new tyres. On lap 47, Pérez, Hamilton and Gasly pit. One lap later, also Alonso stops. Hamilton is passed by Gasly, on lap 51. During the last laps, Pérez gets closer to Alonso, while it’s Verstappen and Norris’ turn to pit, even if nothing changes regarding the positions. Alonso manages, with different trajectories, to resist the attack of the Red Bull Racing driver, who don’t overtake the Spaniard, neither with the help of DRS. Pérez is able to pass on the penultimate lap, at Turn 1, but is passed again by the Spaniard, on the last lap, at Turn 4. The two remain close, while the Aston Martin driver gets the last podium spot. Max Verstappen wins the 52nd Gran Prix of his career, while Lando Norris, second, obtains the 13th podium of his career. Fernando Alonso, crosses the finish line ahead of Pérez for 0053s, and gets the podium at Interlagos for the ninth time without winning, setting a new record and beating the previous one of Kimi Räikkönen with eight podiums without winning on the Manama circuit. Max Verstappen wins yet another Grand Prix in this season monopolized by him and his team. At the end of the race, the Dutch driver said:

 

"It has been a good weekend in Brazil. It was a great race and we had good all-round pace throughout. Again, it was a really long stint on the tyres and it was important to save them throughout as we had high tyre degradation. Lando had a good race and I had to work to defend in the first lap and maintain the gap. He was close to me in stint one and pushed a bit harder on the newer compounds at the start but I stayed calm throughout the race, just relaxed and let the car roll into the corner. He did well and we had some good racing today. It has been quite a long triple header so looking forward to a few days break before preparing for Vegas. I am enjoying the moment and hopefully we can continue this success until the end of the year".

 

Sergio Perez had a challenging day, first because of the Mercedes and at the end due to the battle against Alonso:

 

"Let’s start from the beginning, it took me a while to get through the Mercedes and that damaged my race, after that we were always a bit on the back foot with Fernando. We were chipping away at him and towards the end we came really close to the podium. I have to say well done to Fernando because it was a great fight and really fair racing. Between us, whoever got the podium, it was well deserved, and he got it. I had the opportunity and went for it but he was really fast on the straights and I don’t think I could have done anything differently in the final few laps. I think that pace has been there for the last few weekends, but we haven’t been able to put it all together, it was a matter of time before it came. It was a good weekend for us in Championship, because we are getting closer to securing second spot, now we go to Vegas".

 

Christian Horner, Red Bull’s Team Principal, defines this race as superb:

 

"A superb race today on all counts. Max was fantastic. Got out in front early and managed the tyres well. It is a similarly stellar performance we have been seeing all season. Equally, Checo had a brilliant drive, back to the form we know so well. The form we have been willing him back to in the later stages of this season. He gave as good as he got against Alonso but unfortunately was just pipped at the post. Some great racing. It’s been a fantastic season for us and there are still two races to go. So our attention turns to Vegas in two weeks; racing down The Strip on Saturday night. It’s certainly going to be a week like no other".

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Lando Norris didn’t expect more than this, as he got the second podium spot:

 

"A very good day, it couldn't have gone much better to be honest. Good pace, similar to yesterday, which is the main thing, and a much better start at the beginning to get from sixth to second. P2 is as good as we can get at the moment and for the time being, but I'm very happy to consistently be challenging for podiums. Thanks for everyone's hard work both at track and the factory in what's been a long but enjoyable triple header".

 

Oscar Piastri, on the other hand, had a bad day:

 

"A difficult race for me today. Unfortunately, it was essentially over before it began, after the contact from behind that I couldn't avoid. The team did an incredible job getting the car turned around to get me back out after the red flag. 71 laps at a circuit I haven't driven at before is extremely useful for my learning, and I hope to see the fruits of the team's hard work today when we return next year. After that, we just needed a safety car to unlock us, which sadly never came. On to the next one in Las Vegas".

 

Andrea Stella, McLaren’s Team Principal, is overall satisfied with how the race went:

 

"After a challenging afternoon for the team, we come away with strong points and more silverware. On Lando's side, we have somewhat mixed feelings. On the one hand we can be satisfied that he was the only car quick enough to contend with Verstappen. But over the course of the race, we have to accept that he still has a little bit of a performance advantage and we still have some work to do to close that gap. Overall, an impressive drive from Lando and important points for the team. On Oscar's side, his race was unfortunately compromised after being caught up in someone else's incident at the start. The team did an exceptional job to repair the substantial damage to Oscar's car during the red flag and get him back out for the remainder of the race. Despite this, Oscar's car was still carrying damage to important aerodynamic components and carried a significant lap-time deficit throughout the entire race. Nevertheless, it was a useful exercise for him to gain experience at a track he has never raced at before. After this long triple header, my thanks go to the entire team, both trackside and at MTC, and to our colleagues at HPP for their dedication and continued support. We come away with 63 points from a selection of racetracks that we knew didn't necessarily suit our car, which is encouraging in terms of our general competitiveness. Time now to reset and prepare for the final double-header of the season, starting in Las Vegas in two weeks' time".

 

Fernando Alonso talks about his fight against Perez, but is satisfied with his result thinking about how the latest races went:

 

"For the last 30 laps, it felt like I had pressure from Sergio [Pérez]. But when he passed me two laps from the end, I thought the chance of a podium finish was no longer possible. Then he braked a bit late into Turn One on the final lap, and I said to myself I would go for it into Turn Four. This is a phenomenal result for the whole team. We'd been struggling a little in recent races - especially the last two events - so this podium is for everyone at the track and everyone back at Silverstone. It shows that we will always keep fighting until the very last lap, the last corner".

 

Lewis Hamilton thinks today was better than Saturday, but of course there is still a lot of work to do:

 

"I feel like I drove a better race today than I did yesterday, in relation to how I was managing the tyres to the best of my ability. It's difficult to say why we struggled so much this weekend. There are moments with this car when it works and others when it doesn't". 

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And adds:

 

"It's very inconsistent throughout the lap and we need to figure that out. Today, we were slow on the straights but still sliding through the corners, so it was difficult. We will go away and look at things to find out what we should have done differently. It was a day to forget but hopefully there are lots of learnings from it too. I am also so proud of everyone in the team. They are still working as hard as they can and holding their heads up high. That's what we have to continue to do and we will keep pushing to improve".

 

George Russell admits that something went wrong this weekend. he looks forward to the next race:

 

"We obviously got something very wrong this weekend. We're not sure what that was yet but the pace just hasn't been there. You clearly don't go from a podium-worthy car to one that is one second off the front, so it's been very strange. We thought yesterday may have been a one off, but it clearly wasn't. We were sliding the tyres and I think the performance we showed was the maximum we had with the car the way it was. In the end, we were suffering from high oil temperatures in the Power Unit and that caused us to retire. That topped off what was a difficult day. We need to now get back to the factory, regroup, and work through what we did to get on top of it before the final two races of the season".

 

Toto Wolff, Mercedes’ Team Principal & CEO, does not hide himself from the truth:

 

"Today was clearly a very poor performance. This car finished on the podium last week in Mexico so whatever we did to it here did not work. We are not usually at our strongest on sprint weekends, but that doesn't explain how challenging this weekend was. Lewis survived out there to take P8 whilst George was forced to retire. I can only feel for them having to drive something so difficult today. The car is clearly on a knife-edge the whole time and we need to ensure we develop that out of the car for next year. We also need to push hard for the final two races of the season and recover. That is the most important thing now heading to two very different tracks in Las Vegas and Abu Dhabi".

 

Andrew Shovlin, Mercedes’ Trackside Engineering Director, explains the car’s problems:

 

"We were very limited in what we could change on the car between the sprint and the Grand Prix today. Effectively, it's just the front wing angle and any electronic settings the driver can make from the cockpit. As such, we knew it would be difficult to make much of a step in performance, but we were always going to give it a go. The starts were generally good. Unfortunately Lewis got past by Alonso into turn four on the second, but it was clear that we didn't have the pace to race them today. It was very much a case of hanging on from there. The drivers were having to manage tyres and deal with a lack of top speed. Towards the end we retired George as an issue on his cooling system was causing temperatures to slowly go out of control. Clearly, we've got something very wrong with the setup. We've had the pace to fight for podiums in the recent races and today we were barely able to fight for points. We're obviously disappointed and we will work hard to understand and fix what we got wrong this weekend".

 

Carlos Sainz Jr. has a very difficult day. a lot of cars were faster than his Ferrari:

 

"It was a difficult day. The starts were not good due to a clutch problem that we also had yesterday and we lost some positions there. From there on, I was able to pass both Mercedes on track, but that was it. Unfortunately, today Aston Martin, Red Bull and McLaren were faster than us and P6 was the maximum. It is a big shame that Charles didn't have the chance to start the race as we could have scored very important points against Mercedes here in Brazil. Now it’s time to recharge our batteries and hopefully we will be back in good form in Las Vegas".  

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Charles Leclerc retired before the start, but he is ready to give everything in Las Vegas:

 

"It’s been a disappointing day on my side. Starting from P2, we were hoping to bring home plenty of points to move up in the championship fight, but unfortunately, we had to retire early. Coming into turn 6 on the formation lap, I lost my power steering and the wheel went stiff, also locking up the rears. I’m focused on the last two races of the season now, we won’t give up and will fight to finish with the best constructors’ classification result we can achieve. I will give it everything in Las Vegas". 

 

Frédéric Vasseur, Ferrari’s Team Principal, hoped to score important points in Brazil:

 

"We are very disappointed because we could have scored plenty of important points for the championship, but we lost Charles even before the start due to a reliability problem, which sent him off the track on the formation lap. He would have been starting on the front row and on top of that, we had sacrificed his Sprint chances yesterday to favour today’s Grand Prix. Now we must investigate carefully to see exactly what happened with his car. Carlos’ weekend was not without its own difficulties and he struggled at the start with the clutch, losing a few places. However, in the race, especially the first stint, he did a very good job of managing the tyres and was able to go and pass both Mercedes which means that over the course of the weekend we made up two points on our rivals. It could have been so much more, but nevertheless, the fight for second place is still on". 

 

Alex Albon is disappointed:

 

"I had a great start; I think it was one of the strongest starts on the grid but after looking at the external cameras, the driver on the inside was a bit blindsided by the two cars on the right, so there wasn't much I could do. With all the retired cars throughout the race and many out of place with damage from the crash, we really could've been on for points, so it's disappointing when the championship fight is so tight. Today obviously wasn't our day so we'll look ahead to Vegas and try maximise where we can". 

 

Mario Isola, Pirelli Motorsport Director, analyzes the race with a look over the strategies put into place by the teams:
 

"It was an action packed race, even before the start! In the end, the dominant force this season, Max Verstappen, took the win, but there was plenty of excitement, and how! Norris played his part, showing great pace so that he finished not that far behind the Red Bull driver and then Alonso and Perez had the crowd going wild with their duel in the closing stages, while there were also plenty of other interesting battles over the course of the race. All this on a track that is very hard on tyres, with significant degradation, so that the drivers had to work hard to manage them, but it certainly didn't stop them overtaking their rivals even towards the end of the stints. Strategy and tyre usage confirmed our predictions going into the race. The two-stop was the preferred choice of the vast majority of drivers, while the Soft was the tyre that saw the most use. In very similar weather to what we had in yesterday's Sprint, the C4, although requiring careful management, proved that, overall it performed better than the C3, especially because it ensured better grip and slid less. Almost everyone used the Medium in the middle stint, with lap numbers absolutely similar to those run on the Softs".

 

Fernando Alonso has now retaken fourth position in the Drivers' World Championship, leading Norris by three points and Carlos Sainz Jr. by six. Perez is now 32 points clear of Lewis Hamilton in the battle for second and he can now theoretically clinch the runner-up position at the next race in Las Vegas. All eyes are of course now on the following race, the long-awaited Las Vegas Grand Prix, which will take place over the weekend 17-19 November on the temporary street circuit Las Vegas Strip. It will be the first time Formula 1 runs there since the early ‘80s and everyone is ready to see what is going to happen.


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