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Sensational Russell storms to maiden Grand Prix victory

Sunday, November 13 2022

Mercedes AMG's George Russell powered to a stunning maiden victory in the São Paulo Grand Prix at Interlagos. 

The 2014 BRDC F4 champion, who won the Sprint Race yesterday, started from pole position and made a great start to lead the first lap.

The race was immediately neutralised after a first lap collision between Daniel Ricciardo and Kevin Magnussen, and when it restarted, Russell was handed a further advantage when teammate Lewis Hamilton and Red Bull's Max Verstappen collided at turn two, delaying the former whilst the latter pitted for a new front wing, and was later penalised with a five second time penalty. 

After a frantic opening, the race settled and Russell was comfortable at the front, building a gap of 3.5 seconds to Sergio Perez when the first round of pit stops began on lap 24, with Hamilton back up to third. 

Russell pitted next time around, and crucially returned to the track a car ahead of Perez, who had to battle Valtteri Bottas on his own out lap.

That put Hamilton at the front of the Grand Prix, but the seven-time champion stopped on lap 30, and resumed in fourth, with Russell retaking the lead, 4.7 seconds clear of Perez.

By the time the second round of stops came along, Hamilton had found his way past Perez, Russell was still 10 seconds ahead of his teammate, who had fresher tyres.

Hamilton pitted first of the pair on lap 49 to cover off Perez, while Russell stopped a lap later for soft tyres and resumed still in the lead ahead of Ferrari's Carlos Sainz. 

But the drama increased when a safety car was deployed to recover the broken down McLaren of Lando Norris, with the race resuming on lap 59.

But despite the nervy situation, Russell made a perfect restart to lead the field away, and kept just enough of a gap to Hamilton behind over the next 10 laps to claim a dominant first Grand Prix win and head the first Mercedes 1-2 of the season. 

"What an amazing feeling, a huge thank you to the whole team for making this possible," Russell said. "It's been an emotional rollercoaster this season, this race was a really tough race but I felt in control. Lewis was super fast and when I saw the safety car I thought "oh Jesus, it's going to be a really difficult end", and he put me under so much pressure, but I'm so happy to go away with the victory.

"I'm speechless, on the in lap, all of these memories came flooding back. I started off with my mum and dad in go karting, and all the support I've had from the rest of my family, my girlfriend, my trainer, my manager, and the likes of Gwen [Lagrue] who gave me the opportunity to get on the programme with Mercedes, James Vowles, Toto [Wolff], the list is endless and I can't thank everyone enough, and I'm super proud."