Max Verstappen led almost every lap of the Brazilian Grand Prix to take his 17th grand prix victory of the season ahead of Lando Norris and Fernando Alonso.Sergio Perez on the final lap by just five hundredths of a second.
Before the race began, the entire field left the grid for the formation lap on soft tyres, except for Logan Sargeant towards the back of the field. But while the field were making their way through Ferradura before the start, second-placed Charles Leclerc suddenly lost hydraulics in his Ferrari, sending him spinning into the outside barriers.
Leclerc managed to get his car in motion again but his problem was terminal and he was forced to park his car and become the first retirement before the race had even started. The start was not delayed with the Ferrari being cleared and the race began.
However, on the run to turn one, a clash between the two Haas drivers of Kevin Magnussen and Nico Hulkenberg and the Williams of Alexander Albon sent Magnussen and Albon into the outside tyre barrier. The Safety Car was deployed as both were out on the spot, with Hulkenberg damaged along with the cars of Daniel Ricciardo and Oscar Piastri due to debris caused by the collision.
With repairs to the barriers needed, the race was red-flagged on the second lap. After a delay of 25 minutes, Verstappen led the field away to line up on the grid for the restart. Norris followed him in second place after jumping several of his rivals at the initial start, with Lewis Hamilton third and the two Aston Martins of Fernando Alonso and Lance Stroll fourth and fifth.
At the restart, Verstappen got away well and comfortably held the lead into turn one with Norris keeping second place. Hamilton held third until Alonso dived by the Mercedes into Descida do Lago to take third place. Norris remained within DRS range of the leader when the system was activated at the start of lap five and the pair pulled away from Alonso behind.
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Norris challenged Verstappen with DRS into the Senna Esses and Descida do Lago on lap eight but Verstappen held him off. Verstappen pulled away through the middle sector to be out of DRS range from Norris by the end of the lap and earn some respite. Verstappen soon extended his advantage to just over two seconds, where it stabilised.
Behind, Perez gained fifth place from Russell into the Senna Esses on lap 15 to split the two Mercedes. A handful of laps later, Perez to overtake Hamilton to gain fourth in similar fashion. In response, Mercedes pitted both their drivers for medium tyres, with Perez stopping a lap later for the same. When Perez rejoined, he did so behind Hamilton. However, Perez was not behind the Mercedes for long as he passed him on lap 24 to move back ahead.
Alonso pitted from third place for mediums, with the two leaders ahead, Verstappen and Norris, pitting together on the same lap for mediums. They emerged back on track with Verstappen still in the lead, five seconds ahead of Norris who himself held five seconds over Alonso in third. Mercedes struggled for pace on the mediums, with both Hamilton and Russell being passed by Stroll and Carlos Sainz Jnr to fall to seventh and eighth, respectively.
Verstappen maintained his lead through the middle stint between five to six seconds over Norris as they both pulled away from Alonso behind. Perez was pursuing Alonso until he pitted for soft tyres at the end of lap 46. Aston Martin responded the next lap to bring in Alonso, allowing him to rejoin ahead of the Red Bull.
Verstappen pitted for soft tyres, handing the lead to Norris. Red Bull suspected Norris would remain out until the finish, until Norris eventually made a second stop to switch back to softs, giving the lead back to Verstappen.
Norris gradually closed on Verstappen in the later laps but not by enough to ever become a danger to the leader. Verstappen finished the 71st and final lap to claim his 17th grand prix win of the season, with Norris finishing eight seconds behind.
But the drama was in the battle for third with Alonso and Perez, who were fighting hard over the final laps. Perez got ahead on the penultimate lap, with Alonso repassing on the final lap. On the run to the line, the two ran side-by-side, with Alonso only just reaching the line to take third by half a tenth.
Stroll claimed his best finish since the Australian Grand Prix with fifth, with Sainz bringing his Ferrari home in sixth. Pierre Gasly took seventh for Alpine ahead of Hamilton in eighth. Yuki Tsunoda and Esteban Ocon completed the top ten, with Russell being brought in to retire in the final third of the race due to dangerously high power unit temperatures.
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2023 Brazilian Grand Prix
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