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Max Verstappen dominates in Brazilian Grand Prix: 'Very strong'

Published on 05 November 2023 by Florence Cobben

Max Verstappen has dominantly won the Brazilian Grand Prix. Starting from pole position, he quickly took the lead of the race. Because of a start crash between Alexander Albon and Kevin Magnussen, the race had to restart, but even then Verstappen had a clean getaway. Although Lando Norris exerted some pressure on Max in the beginning, the three-time world champion knew how to build the gap between the two drivers. After a two-stop race, Max secured his nineteenth win of the year for Oracle Red Bull Racing, meaning the Milton Keynes team has equaled Mercedes’ 2016 record. Behind Norris, who took second place, Fernando Alonso clinched third place, after a riveting battle where he passed Sergio Perez in the last lap of the race.

After the race, Max reflected: “It was a good race. I think the starts were very important today. Both of them, I think, were very good. We had the right strategy and made our pitstops at the right times. We were good on any tyre, but I think especially (in) that middle stint we could create a bit of a gap, and I thought that was very strong there. On the soft tyres and on the mediums Lando could keep up, but in the last five to ten laps of the race I could create some distance between us. I mean it all looked quite good, but with the high deg around here you’re constantly correcting the car, so your focus is always needed to be there, but luckily it worked out great today.”

Lando Norris was on the attack against Max in the beginning stages of the race, who still maintained his position with some ease: “He had newer soft tyres, so you know in the first two or three laps he’ll have better grip, while I was managing my tyres”, Max explains: “He was attacking extremely well in one lap and I had to defend for a while. But I think he realized quite quickly that he also had to start managing his tyres, otherwise, he wouldn’t last the stint.”

It’s dry and sunny before the Brazilian Grand Prix on the Interlagos circuit. All drivers are starting the race on soft tyres, except for Nico Hulkenberg, who is starting the race on medium tyres. Already in the formation lap, Charles Leclerc spins backward into the tyre stacks on turn seven and has to retire from the race. The Monegasque, who stood beside Max Verstappen in second place on the grid, reports via the team radio that he lost the hydraulics on the steering wheel of his Ferrari. Because of Leclerc’s bad luck, Max has the front row to himself; it’s not hard to keep the lead at the race start. Behind the Dutchman, both Aston Martins have a bad start and almost collide with Lando Norris and Lewis Hamilton, who take place two and three behind Max. 

In the midfield, Alexander Albon and Nico Hulkenberg collide. Albon crashes into the side of Kevin Magnussen and both men crash hard into the tyre stacks. Albon and Magnussen can exit their battered cars unscathed but have to retire from the race. Initially, the safety car makes an appearance, but soon after, a red flag is waved because of the damage to the tyre stacks. Daniel Ricciardo and Oscar Piastri suffer damage to their cars from the debris on the track and have to return their cars to the pit box after the first lap. Luckily for the drivers, the red flag gives their teams a chance to repair the cars. 

After a delay of just under half an hour, the race resumes with a standing restart. Piastri and Ricciardo’s cars have been repaired and they are greenlit to restart the race from the pit lane, while the remaining fifteen drivers start from the starting grid. Max again gets away well on the restart and takes the lead, Norris closes in on P2 while Alonso snatches third place from Hamilton. Norris is able to stay hot on Max’s heels in the opening stages and stays within DRS range. On lap eight, the Brit attempts a couple of takeovers, but the Red Bull driver manages to keep the McLaren driver behind with seemingly little effort. In the following laps, Norris loses more and more ground to Verstappen.

Zhou Guanyu drops out of the race on lap 24 because of technical problems with his Alfa Romeo. Both Verstappen and Norris make their first pit stop on lap 28. Both exchange their soft tyres for a set of medium compound tyres and return to the track in first and second place. Norris is five seconds behind race leader Max after his stop. Alfa Romeo's day goes from bad to worse when Valtteri Bottas' car is retired on lap 41 due to technical problems. At the front, the gap between Max and Norris keeps hovering around five seconds. Alonso follows well behind on P3.

On lap 57, Max comes in for his second pit stop. Max gets a fresh set of soft tyres screwed to the bottom of his RB19 and returns to the track in second place, twelve seconds behind Norris, who has yet to make his second stop. On lap 60, Norris also makes his pit stop, bringing Max back into the lead of the race. Meanwhile, George Russell has to park his Mercedes in the pits, making him the sixth driver to drop out of the race. 

In the closing stages, a dramatic battle between Sergio Perez and Fernando Alonso unfolds. After gaining on the Spaniard for several laps, Perez passes Alonso on the penultimate lap. However, the Aston Martin driver fights back and passes the Mexican again on the final lap. Perez still gets into Alonso's slipstream on the final straight, but falls 53 thousandths of a second short of the podium. Alonso takes his eighth podium of the year. The drama unfolded far behind Verstappen, who meanwhile takes his seventeenth win of the year and extends his record for most wins in a single season. In percentage terms, Max now holds the record definitively: he breaks Alberto Ascari’s ancient record, who managed to win an impressive 75% of the races (six out of eight races) in 1952. Lando Norris finishes eight seconds behind Verstappen in second place for the sixth time this year. Perez finishes just outside the podium in spot four, with Lance Stroll behind him in P5. Carlos Sainz finishes sixth, while Pierre Gasly, Lewis Hamilton, Yuki Tsunoda, and Esteban Ocon complete the top ten.

Results Grand Prix Brazil:

1Max VerstappenVERRed Bull Racing Honda RBPT711:56:48.89425
2Lando NorrisNORMcLaren Mercedes71+8.277s19
3Fernando AlonsoALOAston Martin Mercedes71+34.155s15
4Sergio PerezPERRed Bull Racing Honda RBPT71+34.208s12
5Lance StrollSTRAston Martin Mercedes71+40.845s10
6Carlos SainzSAIFerrari71+50.188s8
7Pierre GaslyGASAlpine Renault71+56.093s6
8Lewis HamiltonHAMMercedes71+62.859s4
9Yuki TsunodaTSUAlphaTauri Honda RBPT71+69.880s2
10Esteban OconOCOAlpine Renault70+1 lap1
11Logan SargeantSARWilliams Mercedes70+1 lap0
12Nico HulkenbergHULHaas Ferrari70+1 lap0
13Daniel RicciardoRICAlphaTauri Honda RBPT70+1 lap0
14Oscar PiastriPIAMcLaren Mercedes69+2 laps0
0George RussellRUSMercedes57DNF0
0Valtteri BottasBOTAlfa Romeo Ferrari39DNF0
0Zhou GuanyuZHOAlfa Romeo Ferrari22DNF0
0Kevin MagnussenMAGHaas Ferrari0DNF0
0Alexander AlbonALBWilliams Mercedes0DNF0
0Charles LeclercLECFerrari0DNS0