The F1 Sprint for this season in Sao Paulo has concluded with the sixth event, marking the end. The late-season charge gained even more momentum, but unfortunately, a potentially fatal blow was dealt.
The initial laps of the Sao Paulo Grand Prix Sprint proved to be quite engaging.
Assuming that most of the competitors begin the race with Soft tyres, except Haas who opts for Mediums due to clear advantages, it is generally anticipated that the red-marked rubber could potentially endure the entire 24-lap stretch, yet it would be a close call.
One of the major criticisms of the Sprint format is the first stint of the race; it serves as a significant indicator of what we can anticipate.
Max Verstappen triumphed in his fourth Sprint race out of six this year, with a seemingly diminished sense of elation. Nonetheless, this victory propelled him to a tally of 499 points. It would be highly unlikely for him to not exceed the 500 point mark this season, with very slim odds.
However, there is something that needs to be addressed before we proceed with our round-up of Winners and Losers from the Sao Paulo Sprint.
In a recent Winners and Losers article, a reader brought up a valid point by asking why Verstappen wasn’t labeled as a winner despite his victory in the race.
The reason behind this is succinct: the objective of this analysis is to bring attention to race narratives that may have escaped your notice or to commend, or even criticize, a driver for their accomplishments.
Verstappen’s dominance this year has been remarkable, leaving little to say about the guy who claims pole position, distances himself from the competition, and only resurfaces for a pit-stop or to deliver a sarcastic message to his race engineer.
Verstappen, being accustomed to receiving endless praise, may not always be mentioned when his victory is deemed routine. Instead, let’s begin by acknowledging the driver of the other RB19.
Sergio Perez triumphed as the winner.
Sergio Perez’s climb to third place is just the beginning, a foundation from which he can construct his progress over the remaining three races.
By skillfully navigating through the challenges, he managed to surpass Lewis Hamilton after an audacious maneuver from the outside at Turn 4 on the first lap. Continuing his momentum, he swiftly overtook George Russell to secure the third position.
Both Verstappen and Lando Norris had already established a significant lead on the track, while Perez made a sensible decision to settle for third place. He not only secured six valuable points but also accomplished his task commendably.
If you had attempted to be the hero in your previous home race and ended up crashing at Turn 1, this race would have been exactly what you needed to regain your confidence.
In addition to Hamilton’s P7 and two points, Perez successfully widened his advantage to a comfortable 24 points in the race for second place. This sizeable lead is certainly reassuring to have.
What were Perez’s words?
The beginning was dreadful as I lost a position to George and then another to Lewis at Turn 4. After that, I found myself engaged in a fierce battle, constantly pushing my limits and utilizing every last bit of my tire’s grip. However, as the end approached, I believe I ultimately had to bear the consequences for such intense effort.
It could be deemed sacrilegious by certain factions, yet Daniel Ricciardo’s remarkable weekend in Mexico City lacked one crucial element: racing.
During the Grand Prix, it was evident that the AlphaTauri had the wisdom to acknowledge that they were not competing against Hamilton. As for Ricciardo, he only made an effort to overtake a car ahead of him during the final few laps alongside George Russell, without spending much time on sustained attempts throughout the race. To put it differently, he lacked practice and experience in racing.
The evidence of this was clear.
While engaged in a fierce battle against Carlos Sainz for the P8 position, the Australian driver persistently attempted to maneuver his way around the outside of Turn 1, secure the inside line for Turn 2, and proceed forward.
However, years of action at Interlagos have shown that this will only result in giving the other driver, Sainz in this instance, a chance for improved traction coming out of Turn 2 due to Ricciardo taking a tighter line. As a result, Sainz swiftly overtook Ricciardo on the way to Turn 4, just as predicted.
During one instance, Ricciardo skillfully positioned the AlphaTauri for the cut-back maneuver on Sainz. However, in what appeared to be an almost unnoticed move, he suddenly accelerated and elegantly swerved around the outside.
Although it was a commendable decision, he failed to consider the future implications and only focused on the present moment. Ricciardo shared a regretful but educational experience. What were Ricciardo’s words?
Oh no, oh no, oh no, oh no! I apologize, gentlemen. The DRS in Turn 2 is a real pain. Upon entering at [Turn] 1, an unfortunate twist awaits to utterly thwart your progress. This statement cannot be achieved.
Yuki Tsunoda emerges as the victorious champion. Yuki Tsunoda, positioned opposite the AlphaTauri drivers, has captured the team’s attention with his impressive sixth place finish and three points. This performance has motivated them to aim for overtaking Williams in the Constructors’ standings, as they trail by only 8 points (27 vs 19). Undeniably, the AlphaTauri car boasts remarkable speed.
Tsunoda quietly excelled during the Singapore upgrade, showcasing his skills in a remarkable manner when the car’s performance hit a low point. With an energized and hungry Ricciardo, it creates a powerful combination.
Tsunoda came close to catching Charles Leclerc for fifth place, as they both closed in on George Russell, who was struggling with his Mercedes tires.
After a period of struggle, the team has finally found their rhythm and is wrapping up with great success. This is a positive sign.
“What was Tsunoda’s statement?”
If I had done a few more laps, I could have possibly competed for the 5th position against Leclerc who was in front of us. Today, my race craft filled me with joy, as did the impressive pace of the car, particularly during the race.
As the weekend approached, discussions revolved around Mercedes’ recent enhancements and the commendable performance of their car in Mexico and Brazil during the previous season. This sparked optimism and raised expectations of a potential replica of success at Interlagos.
The Sprint rejected that belief. Both drivers had a rapid start, met with an equally rapid decline in tire performance as the W14 committed to exclusively using ‘Pirelli Soft’ tires.
Hamilton’s driving on corner exits left much to be desired, as he squirmed around. He was fortunate just to complete the race.