With starting positions of third and fifth at Interlagos for Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc, both drivers were hoping for good results in the continuing battle with McLaren in the Constructor’s Championship.
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Photos: Scuderia Ferrari.
Sprint Race Recap
Saturday in Sao Paulo saw the third and final Sprint Qualifying sessopm of the year, and it was a promising result for Carlos, where the Ferrari was able to get ahead and hold off Red Bull’s Sergio Pérez to take third and an extra point.
Charles could only manage sixth, while Lewis Hamilton stormed from last position to fifth, meaning a starting position of tenth for him after his penalty for an engine change for Sunday’s race.
It was an exciting start as the lights went out at Interlagos, as contact for Lando Norris against Carlos’ Ferrari sent the British driver wide at the first corner with a puncture. Further up the order, Pérez had gotten past Carlos while Max Verstappen edged past pole sitter Valtteri Bottas to take the lead. Pérez then moved into second after Bottas went wide. Meanwhile, Hamilton had moved into third by lap five with Bottas letting his teammate by into the position in order to chase title rival Verstappen.
By lap six, Carlos and Charles were in fifth and sixth position as a Safety Car was deployed thanks to debris scattered across turn one due to an early collision between Yuki Tsunoda and Lance Stroll. Drivers came through the pit lane to allow marshals to clear up the debris, with the Safety Car ending on lap nine.
Racing resumed on lap 10, and Charles got by his teammate and challenged for fourth from Bottas but was ultimately unable to take the position from the much-faster Mercedes. Mick Schumacher was next to hit problems, after contact with Kimi Raikkonen broke the German’s front wing, with a Virtual Safety Car now deployed to clean up debris. The track returned to green flag conditions on lap 14.
Lap 18 saw a brilliant back-and-forth battle between Hamilton and Pérez, with Hamilton ultimately taking second place from the Mexican, while Tsunoda was awarded a ten-second penalty for his role in the collision with the Aston Martin of Stroll.
Carlos was the first of the two Ferraris to pit, pitting behind Hamilton on lap 27, with Carlos returning to the race with a set of new medium compound tyres. Carlos re-joined in 13th position and was hoping to use the fresh rubber to move up the order. A recovering Norris challenged Carlos for ninth place on lap 29, but was able to fend off the McLaren. Charles also took a stop and re-joined ninth, also on a new set of mediums.
Yet another Virtual Safety Car was deployed on lap 31 after bodywork from Stroll’s damaged car came apart on the main straight. The brief VSC allowed Bottas to take a quick pitstop and re-join ahead of Pérez. Using the new tyres to his advantage, Charles moved into fifth past Alpine’s Fernando Alonso who was yet to stop, and Carlos had found a way past Pierre Gasly into seventh.
Verstappen took a surprise second stop on lap for a fresh set of hard compound tyres, hoping to get the jump on Hamilton and Mercedes. Which then prompted a stop for the second Mercedes of Bottas, Perez and Hamilton during the following laps. During the stops, Charles was briefly up to fourth, but was quickly passed by Bottas and then Perez to push back into fifth.
Hamilton looked to take the lead from Verstappen on the run to turn four, but both drivers ran wide after Verstappen pushed his title rival out wide, resulting in no investigation from the race stewards between the pair.
Lap 53 saw a second stop for Charles, re-joining in sixth place. Carlos took his second stop a lap later, and the pair remained in their positions of fifth and sixth place. A late retirement for Daniel Ricciardo with a power unit issue left only Norris in the race for McLaren, who had moved up into tenth after his lap one problems.
On lap 59, Hamilton had found his way past Verstappen and now held onto the lead with 12 laps to go, the Red Bull unable to keep up with the straight-line speed of the Mercedes.
As the chequered flag ended the race, Lewis Hamilton took the victory ahead of Max Verstappen and Valtteri Bottas. It was fifth and sixth for Charles and Carlos at the end, providing the team with yet more of a gap to rivals McLaren in the race for third in the constructor’s championship.
Written by Cóilín Higgins.