Sao Paulo GP: George Russell claims first F1 Grand Prix win as Lewis Hamilton seals Mercedes one-two
George Russell led a one-two from Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton at the Sao Paulo GP to claim the first Grand Prix victory of his F1 career; the win is also Mercedes' first of the season; Max Verstappen finishes sixth after colliding with Hamilton in early stages
By Sam Johnston in Sao Paulo
Last Updated: 14/11/22 6:20am
George Russell led a Mercedes one-two from Lewis Hamilton at the Sao Paulo GP to claim the first Grand Prix win of his Formula 1 career and his team's first victory of the season.
Russell started from first after claiming the first Sprint victory of his career on Saturday, and never relinquished control of a dramatic contest at Interlagos on Sunday, which featured two Safety Car interruptions.
At the restart after the first Safety Car on lap seven, Hamilton and world champion Max Verstappen collided, with the Red Bull driver sustaining damage that forced him to pit and a five-second time penalty, before he ultimately fought back to finish sixth.
Hamilton dropped to eighth but brilliantly recovered to second, before a Safety Car that followed Lando Norris' retirement brought him into striking distance as the race resumed with 11 laps remaining.
However, Russell stayed calm to keep Hamilton out of DRS range in the closing stages and crown a brilliant debut season with the team in which the 24-year-old leads the seven-time world champion by 23 points going into next weekend's season finale in Abu Dhabi.
"What an amazing feeling," Russell said. "It has been an emotional rollercoaster this season.
"This was a tough race, I felt in control.
"Lewis was super-fast and when I saw the Safety Car, I thought this is going to be a really difficult end, he put me under so much pressure. I am speechless."
The victory also offers significant consolation for Mercedes in a season where their eight-year streak of constructors' titles was ended by Red Bull, and brings them within 23 points of second-placed Ferrari ahead of the final race.
Moments after the Hamilton-Verstappen incident, Norris and Charles Leclerc also collided, with the Ferrari driver fighting back from the back of the field to finish fourth, behind his team-mate Carlos Sainz, who completed the podium.
Verstappen, who sealed his second successive title in Japan last month with four races to spare, ignored a team order on the final lap to allow Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez through to aid the Mexican in his battle with Leclerc for second in the drivers' championship.
Perez had let Verstappen through earlier and been promised his team-mate would return the favour if he was unable to gain further places, but finishing seventh leaves him tied with Leclerc on 290 points going into the final race of the season.
The failure on Norris' car, which followed his team-mate Daniel Ricciardo's first-lap retirement after a collision with Haas' Kevin Magnussen, capped a hugely disappointing day for McLaren, as Fernando Alonso and Esteban Ocon finished fifth and eighth respectively to move Alpine 19 points clear in the battle for fourth in the constructors' championship.
Valtteri Bottas came ninth for Alfa Romeo to seal a second successive points finish, while Sebastian Vettel took the final point for Aston Martin in the penultimate race of his career, ahead of his retirement at the end of the season.
Sao Paulo Grand Prix: Race Result
1) George Russell, Mercedes
2) Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes
3) Carlos Sainz, Ferrari
4) Charles Leclerc, Ferrari
5) Fernando Alonso, Alpine
6) Max Verstappen, Red Bull
7) Sergio Perez, Red Bull
8) Esteban Ocon, Alpine
9) Valtteri Bottas, Alfa Romeo
10) Lance Stroll, Aston Martin
Early chaos amid crashes and overtakes
After a stunning wet Qualifying on Friday that saw Kevin Magnussen take his and Haas' first pole in Formula 1, and a thrilling Sprint on Saturday in which Russell outpaced Verstappen to triumph, Sunday's race had tough acts to follow.
However, the brilliant Interlagos circuit, which has provided so many classic F1 moments in the past, delivered again as the 71-lap race delivered almost constant drama and action.
Russell, starting from first for just the second time in his career, got a perfect getaway to lead comfortably in the first corner from Hamilton, who also moved clear of Verstappen and Perez in third and fourth.
However, the action was quickly halted as Ricciardo, attempting the overtake Magnussen at Turn 9, made contact with the Haas and saw both cars retire and a Safety Car deployed.
The race didn't resume until lap seven, when Russell this time produced a strong rolling start to pull clear, but left Hamilton desperately fending off Verstappen into the first corner.
The Dutchman was level as they went around the first corner, but Hamilton had got back ahead as they approached the second turn and with little space for Verstappen up the inside, resulted in a significant collision as the world champion opted not to back out of it.
Hamilton went off track and dropped to eighth, while Verstappen needed to stop for a new front wing, which left him at the back of the field.
The stewards ruled that Verstappen was responsible for the incident, giving him a five-second time penalty to add insult to injury. He had company at the back of the field though, as Leclerc was also forced to stop after his clash with Norris.
Leclerc had lost a place to the McLaren at the start and then was trying to go around the outside at Turn 9, when Norris initiated contact which sent the Ferrari flying into the barrier, also earning himself a five-second penalty.
Remarkably, Leclerc was able to continue, and made it back to the pits before producing a brilliant recovery to finish fourth and draw level in his battle with Perez.
Late Safety Car sets up Red Bull drama
The race was given an extra flavour of drama by the interruption caused when Norris retired on lap 53.
Initially only a Virtual Safety Car was ordered, during which Sainz and Alonso pitted for fresh soft tyres, before a full Safety Car was deployed as the marshals struggled to move Norris' car without the aid of a recovery vehicle.
Perez, who Hamilton had passed to go second before the Safety Car, was the only member of the front-runners on medium rather than the higher performing soft tyres when the race resumed with 11 laps remaining, and was quickly passed by Sainz, Lecerc and Alonso.
That left the recovering Verstappen behind him and prompted Red Bull to order Perez to allow the Dutchman through to give him a shot at passing Alonso for fifth, under the proviso their order would be reversed if the world champion failed.
With Verstappen not in striking range of Alonso on the final lap, he was told over radio to let Perez through, but ignored the order and said at the end he had already given the team his "reasons".
Verstappen was seen talking with his manager and team principal Christian Horner in the paddock after the race, before they addressed the media, while Perez said he was "really surprised" and "disappointed" after everything he has done to support his team-mate on his way to successive titles.
Verstappen maintained that he had his "reasons" for defying the order, and insisted he would be willing to help Perez in Abu Dhabi next weekend if he could.
However, the incident added a sour note on what has been a brilliant season for Red Bull, and Sky Sports F1's Karun Chandhok said it was "short-sighted" of Verstappen not to help Perez.