George Russell beat two-time Red Bull world champion Max Verstappen to win Saturday’s final sprint race of the Formula 1 season and put Mercedes into pole position for Sunday’s Sao Paulo Grand Prix.
The 24-lap 100km race decided the starting order for Sunday’s main Grand Prix at Interlagos, the penultimate round of the season. Red Bull and Verstappen have already won both championships.
The Briton’s success in Brazil’s Sao Paulo GP at Interlagos, where he laid the grid for the penultimate Grand Prix of the campaign, netted him only eight points, but his significance was far greater.
“They all matter,” he said of the 24-lap non-stop race that would still be his first Formula 1 win.
“It was definitely a great feeling to cross that line in pole position… It’s very nice to see the progress we’re making as a team.
“It’s a morale booster going into winter regardless of the result tomorrow. That’s a big result for us.”
It was “a pretty big achievement”, Russell told reporters immediately after the race, considering where Mercedes were at the start of the season with a rebounding and uncompetitive car.
Mercedes entered 2022 having won eight constructors’ titles in a row but spent months trying to unlock performance from a car that promised a lot but delivered nothing.
That could change in Brazil, where seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton joined Russell on the front row for Sunday’s main Grand Prix after starting the race in eighth place and overtaking two-time world champion Max Verstappen.
And Hamilton said they need to take the win on Sunday, and work as a team.
He said: “You know, it’s about the team. We have to get that result for the team. I think it’s going to be incredibly special. And obviously we’re chasing the red guys (Ferrari). So it could be good.”
Mercedes is third in the championship but hopes to race at Ferrari to save at least the year as runner-up.
“The biggest dream would definitely be to win here,” added Hamilton, who won at Interlagos last year and waved the Brazilian flag on the podium in honor of childhood hero Ayrton Senna.
The Brit was awarded honorary Brazilian citizenship earlier in the week.
“It’s going to be tough racing George tomorrow. But hopefully we can have a little bit of a fight. Either way, you know, we have to make sure we get the points and two team points.”
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