Formula 1 Brazilian Grand Prix review: Early incidents & a photo finish
Formula 1 Brazilian Grand Prix review | Digital TV
The Brazilian Grand Prix has come and sadly just gone, as Interlagos was unable to produce a masterclass on how to provide an exciting race like it usually can.
Being the last sprint weekend of the year, it was thought that it could throw up some unpredictables like it usually can. This was not the case, though, as it really was business as usual.
Crazy weather for qualifying
Interlagos is known for its insane weather conditions, and it showed during qualifying. Q1 and Q2 went without a hitch, no rain to shake things up and no surprise early exits. But it was during Q3 when the heavens opened.
It wasn’t immediate - everyone was able to go out and get one lap on dry soft tyres before the floodgates opened. It was an insane change, with the clouds turning the sky from day to night in all of 3 minutes.
The session was red-flagged shortly after the storm began, but unlike last year when rain affected the results and put Kevin Magnussen on pole after a very opportunistic flying lap, it was the 2023 standard Max Verstappen pole.
The weather held up for the rest of the weekend, although we rather wish it didn’t as it would have at least added some excitement to the sprint and Sunday’s race.
The Sprint Shootout provided a few more surprises than qualifying. The Aston Martins reverted back to their ways again for Saturday, with Stroll not making it out of Q1 and Alonso starting 15th.
Lando Norris took the spoils, however, as he outdid the Red Bulls to take pole for the Sprint - his first pole position since Russia 2021.
He wasn’t able to hold the lead in the Sprint past the first corner though, as Verstappen passed him heading into the Senna S’s.
Max scampered off, leaving Lando to fend for himself. He had some trouble with the Mercedes of George Russell, as did Sergio Perez behind with Lewis Hamilton, but the Mercs fell off and it ended with Lando and Sergio on the podium with Max.
Photo finish race
Brazil looked to be up to his old tricks immediately on Sunday, as during the formation lap, Leclerc sent his Ferrari off into the wall. He stated the problem was that he ‘lost the hydraulics’ on his car, but the real problem was that he was due to start alongside Verstappen with the hopes he could challenge him at least for the first lap or two. Instead, Max was given a clear run off the start with no one beside him.
The two Aston Martins had bad starts, with Norris and Hamilton both getting the jump on them. But the action was halted early on after a collision in the first corner saw Alex Albon collide with both Haas cars, taking out Magnussen.
A lot of debris brought out the safety car but then was decided that the red flag was needed. The restart saw Max with some company this time, with Norris lining up next to him. This provided some early excitement as Lando was actually giving the Dutchman some trouble.
He stayed with DRS for the first two laps until it was enabled, then when it was open for him to use he actually looked like a threat to make a move on Verstappen. Unfortunately, though, he only got the one opportunity, and when that passed the Red Bull went on its merry way once again.
Behind the two, Hamilton, who had moved up to third from the start, was struggling for pace with his car. He ended up sliding down the order, ultimately finishing in a lowly eighth place and essentially sealing the second-place spot in the championship for Perez.
The Aston Martins, whose weekend was all over the place, decided to bring the car they started the season with and were battling with the others at the front once again. The battle between Alonso and Perez at the end was the only real highlight of the race aside from the start.
The pair were duelling for the final podium spot, with the Spaniard on top form again as he has been many times this season. It ended with a photo finish as they stormed to the line, with Alonso just keeping ahead of Perez by half a tenth.
So it was Max taking all the spoils again, Lando in second with the fastest lap point to go with it, and Alonso just taking third from Perez.
Bad day at the office
There were a number of teams and drivers who had a weekend to forget, some coming very early on in the race (and the one before it even started).
Leclerc was understandably unhappy with his misfortune during the formation lap. It wasn’t his fault, just another issue with the unreliable-in-every-way Ferrari.
Albon and Magnussen were also disappointed to have their races ended before even the first corner. But while they had to sit around and do nothing after the incident, Daniel Ricciardo and Oscar Piastri had to carry on and deal with the aftermath.
Neither Aussie’s were involved in the crash yet both somehow came away with essentially race-ending damage. Piastri was rear-ended by one of the Haas’ after their collision, causing some damage to the back end of his car, while Ricciardo’s rear wing was damaged after the carcass of Albon’s back left tyre was thrown up into the air and hit the Alpha Tauri.
Both Piastri and Ricciardo were able to continue and their teams managed to fix their cars during the red flag. Unfortunately for them, they were starting not just at the back but already a lap down for some reason (can’t really understand why so just going to leave it at that).
Over at Mercedes, while Hamilton was still able to finish the race in the points, his teammate wasn’t so lucky, Russell having to retire the car on lap 57 due to worsening power unit temperature issues.
And finally, the Alfa Romeo’s day came to a bitter end, with both cars being retired due to mechanical issues. It was disappointing for Valtteri Bottas mostly as he looked capable of scoring some needed points for the team.