George Russell wins first ever F1 race ahead of Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton in stunning 1-2 finish at Sao Paulo GP
GEORGE RUSSELL won his first F1 GP – denying Lewis Hamilton what would have been a dream victory in Brazil.
But take nothing away from the 24-year-old from King’s Lynn, he was coolness personified in Sao Paulo to take the chequered flag.
Russell, who had won the 24-lap sprint race the previous day, converted his pole to victory, while Hamilton was second after banging wheels with bitter rival Max Verstappen.
It was a thrilling race from the start as Verstappen and Hamilton clashed, with the Dutchman slapped with a five second penalty for causing the collision.
The flashpoint happened after Daniel Ricciardo drove into the back of Kevin Magnussen.
The Dane was sent into a spin and clattered back into the Aussie.
The safety car was deployed while the marshals recovered the stricken cars and when the racing resumed, Russell made the perfect getaway.
But that was not the case for Hamilton, who was caught by Verstappen at turn one, with the two clashing, banging wheel and Hamilton being forced onto the escape road.
Verstappen was forced to pit for a new nose and front wing while Hamilton continued but with a chunk of damage to his car.
Verstappen was hit with a time penalty and radioed his team saying: “Where did they expect me to go? He just closed the door on me…It doesn’t matter.”
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There was then another collision on lap seven as Lando Norris made contact with Charles Leclerc, sending the Ferrari man into the barriers.
Out in front, Russell remained unchallenged as he was able to hold off the threat of Sergio Perez, despite a quicker pitstop by the Red Bull team.
Hamilton was the last to stop of the front runners on lap 30 for a set of slower medium tyres, but that did not stop him hunting down Sainz in third place.
When the Spaniard made his second stop of the race, that promoted Hamilton into third place.
Hamilton made it into second with a textbook over take of Perez into turn one on lap 45.
But he was called in for a pitstop on lap 49 – despite his insistence that his tyres were all good.
Unhappy Hamilton was overruled by his team and he did indeed pit for soft tyres on lap 49 while Russell pitted a lap later.
Sainz also pitted to make it a Mercedes one-two before a safety car threw another element into this pulsating contest when Norris’s McLaren conked out on lap 52.
Russell sent an inquisitive message to his team asking what the plan was for the restart in the hope of hearing that Hamilton would be told to hold station.
But he received the news he must have been dreading – that the two would be racing for the win to the finishing line.
When the safety car came in and the racing resumed on lap 60, Russell was able to hold off the threat of Hamilton.
And he made it to the finishing line with Hamilton placed in second – despite running down in 10th place after his clash with Verstappen.
Sainz was third in his Ferrari while Leclerc was fourth, despite his best efforts to get ahead of his teammate.
But Verstappen DEFIED his team’s request to swap places with Perez, to boost the Mexican’s chances of finishing runner-up in the drivers’ championship.
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