George Russell took a dramatic triumph in the São Paulo F1 Sprint Race this evening at Interlagos.
The Mercedes AMG Petronas driver, the 2014 BRDC F4 champion, started third on the grid for the 24 lap affair, which sets the starting grid for tomorrow’s Grand Prix at the Brazilian venue.
It didn’t take long for Russell to gain positions though, blasting past surprise pole-sitter Kevin Magnussen early on, and then charging up to double reigning champion Max Verstappen, who ran the race on medium tyres compared to the softs the majority of other runners raced on.
Quickly within DRS range of the Red Bull, Russell tried to move past the Dutchman on two occasions at the first complex of corners and down the following straight, only to be rebuffed by Verstappen.
But on the third try, an extra dose of slipstream proved enough for the British ace to blast past by turn four, and from there, he didn’t look back, taking the chequered flag almost four seconds clear of Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz and teammate Lewis Hamilton, who started eighth. Both also found their way past Verstappen late on.
With Sainz taking a grid penalty for the Grand Prix, Mercedes will lock out the front row tomorrow afternoon, with Russell ahead of seven-time champion Hamilton.
"That was incredible, I wasn't expecting to have that much pace, but it goes to show all the hard work everyone is putting in and the progress we as a team have made in the last three races since Austin. The car has been feeling really great," Russell said.
"Obviously it's difficult to know how Max would have got on had he been on the soft tyres, but nevertheless, standing here is a great feeling.
"It's difficult because this is the Sprint Race and you have to manage the risk/reward, so even though I was dying to get that victory, I didn't want to risk it too much and end up starting at the back [tomorrow] and with no points. But we made it stick third time lucky.
"It's crazy to think we're now both starting on the front row tomorrow, and Lewis did a great job going from P8. I'm sure Max is going to be flying tomorrow coming through the pack. We're in a luxury position and we can maybe split the strategies and go for the win."