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F1: Unflappable George Russell secures maiden victory in São Paulo

F1

Mercedes finally had something to shout about in their miserable 2022 campaign after George Russell took his maiden victory in São Paulo on Sunday.

The 24-year-old’s performances in an uncompetitive car this season have been one of the few highlights for the Brackley-based outfit, and he got his just rewards with a masterful victory in a hectic Brazilian Grand Prix. 

It was clear that the young British driver was finally a contender at the front of the grid during Saturday’s sprint race. OddsChecker, which compares odds and provides free bets on Formula One, had made Max Verstappen the favorite for victory in the penultimate race of the season. But Russell hunted him down and then overtook the Dutchman - who wrapped up this year's World Championship with four races to spare - to seal victory. That sprint race victory gave him P1 on the grid for Sunday’s Grand Prix, and he never looked back. 

Russell - who was brought in at the start of the season to replace the outgoing Valtteri Bottas as number two to Lewis Hamilton - navigated three separate safety cars and handled everything his more illustrious teammate could throw at him enroute to a stunning victory. The third safety car of the afternoon came with just 10 laps remaining and eradicated the 10-second lead he had built. He was unphased however and kept his teammate outside of DRS range until the chequered flag. 

The Ferraris of Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc - who recovered magnificently from an early crash that left him plumb last - finished fourth and fifth. Two-time world champion Fernando Alonso also performed magnificently, dragging his Alpine from 17th on the grid to a sixth-place finish. 

Mercedes’ disappointing season to end on a high 

The 2022 Formula One season has been a disaster for Mercedes. Last term, their lead driver Hamilton looked set to secure his record-breaking eighth World Championship in the final race on the calendar in Abu Dhabi. Then, late safety car drama - and some more than controversial decision-making from former race director Michael Masi - gave Verstappen one lap to overtake the seven-time champion. With much fresher tires, he made short work of the Silver Arrow and sped away to his maiden title victory. 

mercedes f1

And it appeared that the German team never recovered from that heartbreak. At the start of the 2022 campaign, they were a  second per lap off the pace of the leading Red Bulls and Ferraris. But as the season has gone on, they have managed to close the gap. Hamilton could have secured victories on home turf at Silverstone and on enemy territory in Zandvoort had it not been for more late safety car heartache. 

But Mercedes’ moment in the sun finally came in Brazil. The victory didn’t come from the man they thought it would have, but it was no less special. And Russell is no stranger to heartbreak himself. He deputized for Hamilton in Bahrain back in the 2020 season and had victory ripped out of his hands courtesy of some uncharacteristically poor decision-making from the pit wall. This season he has been immense, and finally got the win he deserved. 

2022 the first season in Lewis Hamilton’s career without a victory? 

There has been one constant in Formula One since Lewis Hamilton made his debut in the sport back in 2007. The Stevenage-born driver has always won at least one race. But as the 2022 season draws to a close, Hamilton is still without a win, and that 15-year streak could be set to come to an end. 

If the 37-year-old is to win a race this term, it will have to come at the scene of last year's crime, the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi. That is the only race that remains this season, and what a way it would be for Hamilton to lay to rest the ghosts of last season while simultaneously continuing his record-breaking streak. 

 

 

 

 

 

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