George Russell won his maiden Grand Prix on Sunday after a collision-ridden race in Brazil.
Russell, who won Saturday’s sprint race to start on pole, led from the opening lap, showing why he’s seen as one of Formula 1’s most exciting prospects.
Behind him though, a crazy race was unfolding with crashes from the opening lap, including a coming together between rivals Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton, for which Verstappen earned a five-second time penalty.
At the end of all the drama, it was a Mercedes one-two with Hamilton finishing second behind Russell and Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz third.
With one race left on the 2022 calendar, Russell moves up to fourth in the driver’s standings, a place ahead of eight-time world champion and teammate Hamilton.
“What an amazing feeling. A huge thank you to the whole team for making this possible,” Russell said afterwards. “It’s been an emotional rollercoaster this season.
“This race, I felt in control. Lewis was super-fast, and when I saw the safety car, I thought: ‘Oh Jesus, this is going to be a really difficult end.’ He put me under so much pressure. But so happy to go away with the victory.
“I’m speechless, on the in-lap, all of these memories sort of come flooding back, starting off with my mum and dad in go-karting, and going through all the support I’ve had from the rest of my family, my girlfriend, my trainer, my manager. I can’t thank them enough. Yeah, super proud.”
The race began with some dramatic, collision-ridden first few laps at the Autódromo José Carlos Pace.
First, Daniel Ricciardo crashed into the back of Kevin Magnussen, with both drivers ruled out for the rest of the race as a result of the damage suffered.
After the restart following the safety car, all hell broke loose.
Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen collided shortly after, both spinning out. Hamilton was able to continue without pitting whereas Verstappen was forced to pit before returning to the race near the back of the pack.
“That was no racing incident mate,” Hamilton could be heard saying on his team radio.
Minutes later, it was announced that Verstappen had been handed a five-second time penalty for causing a collision.
The Dutch driver couldn’t hide his incredulity when he was told of the outcome of the investigation. “Where did they expect me to go?” he said.
Elsewhere, McLaren driver Lando Norris collided with Charles Leclerc, slamming the Ferrari driver into the barriers.
Leclerc was forced to pit to change his front wing, while Norris was also handed out a five-second penalty for his involvement in the crash.
For Russell, who began the race on pole, he remained unscathed during the early laps and managed to maintain his lead for the rest of the way in front of the chasing pack.
Even with a late safety car bunching the pack up, Russell was faster than his more experienced teammate Hamilton, racing home for his first ever Grand Prix victory.
The victory at the 2022 season’s penultimate race continues Mercedes’ late year resurgence after a very slow start.