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Max fourth fastest in Brazil sprint race: 'Absolutely no grip'

Published on 12 November 2022 by Mike Motilall

Max Verstappen has finished the sprint race, in the runup to the Brazilian Grand Prix, fourth fastest. The Oracle Red Bull Racing-driver started from second, took the lead briefly, but dropped back to P4 in the closing stages. George Russell won the sprint race in his Mercedes while Carlos Sainz came in second in his Ferrari, followed by the other Mercedes-driver Lewis Hamilton in third place.

“In hindsight was starting on the mediums maybe not the right choice”, says Max after the sprint race. “But I think that the softs also would not have lasted. For some unknown reason we were wearing out our tyres very quickly. We didn’t have any grip at all. The mediums were not working for some reason. In the end when you look at Checo and you can see Lewis pulling away from him, then we really have a problem. We really need to analyze that.”

Looking ahead at tomorrow’s race, the world champion says: “Looking at today, I don’t expect a lot of good things happening. I think that we need to look more at the back instead of at the front. We are going to analyze and hope that we can do a bit more better.”

Before the start, the ambient temperature is about 23 degrees with a track temperature of about 36 degrees and a small chance of rain. The big unknown is who is on which tyres. The mediums appear to be capable of running the full 24 laps while this also applies for the softs, based on the second free practice. Most of the drivers are running on the softs, while only Max and Nicolas Latifi are on the mediums.

When it’s lights out for the third and final sprint race of the season, Max gets reasonably well off the line, but is immediately put under pressure by George Russell. Kevin Magnussen, who surprisingly took pole on Friday, is the first one to enter the first corner. Max is struggling to keep Russell off his back during the opening stages of the race, but come the third lap, Max overtakes Magnussen in the first corner.

Alonso is forced to pit due to a broken front wing, which he suffered after an incident with team mate Esteban Ocon. During the laps that follow, Magnussen loses a lot of places, the Dane is overtaken by respectively Russell and Sainz. Max is unable to pull away from Russell, which keeps the Briton within striking range.

Lance Stroll is in the meantime fighting with Sebastian Vettel for the eleventh spot. Due to a very aggressive overtake maneuver by the Canadian, the Aston Martin team mates almost run into each other. One lap later, Vettel uses his DRS to still overtake his team mate to claim the eleventh spot. The Stewards of the Race have noted the previous incident involving both racers.

On lap twelve, Russell attempts to overtake Max at Turn one, on their way to Turn four, the Mercedes gets along side but Verstappen brakes very late and in doing this, maintains his lead. One lap later, Russell gives it another go. The Briton and the Dutchman are alongside each other for many corner, but once more the Red Bull-driver keeps the lead.

On lap 15, Russell has a good exit out of the chicane and eventually still overtakes Max on his way to Turn four. Russell immediately pulls away from Max and creates a gap of more than two seconds. By that time, Stroll is given a ten-second time penalty for dangerous driving during his battle with Vettel. Sainz is able to hook on to Max and poses a threat for Max’ P2. Sainz only needs one shot, at Turn one he slips on the inside of Max’ Red Bull and passes him.  

Max damages his wing end plate of his front wing on Sainz’ rear wing, which enables Hamilton to immediately put him under pressure. And the Briton also overtakes Max. Max appears to have lost all balance in his RB18 and loses the ability to be able to follow Hamilton. Behind the Dutchman, Sergio Pérez is running in fifth. The Mexican asks on the radio if he needs to keep where he is at because he needs all the points he can get in his fight with Leclerc, to secure P2 in the championship.

At the front, Russell wins ahead of Sainz, Hamilton and the bruised and battered Red Bull of Max. Pérez comes in fifth. With this, Max will start tomorrow’s race from P3 as Sainz will be dropped due to a grid penalty.

Contest Brazilian GP: win a 2022 orange RBR Driver Cap signed by Max Verstappen!

Results sprint qualifying Brazil:

1George RussellRUSMercedes2430:11.3078
2Carlos SainzSAIFerrari24+3.995s7
3Lewis HamiltonHAMMercedes24+4.492s6
4Max VerstappenVERRed Bull Racing RBPT24+10.494s5
5Sergio PerezPERRed Bull Racing RBPT24+11.855s4
6Charles LeclercLECFerrari24+13.133s3
7Lando NorrisNORMcLaren Mercedes24+25.624s2
8Kevin MagnussenMAGHaas Ferrari24+28.768s1
9Sebastian VettelVETAston Martin Mercedes24+30.218s0
10Pierre GaslyGASAlphaTauri RBPT24+34.170s0
11Daniel RicciardoRICMcLaren Mercedes24+39.395s0
12Mick SchumacherMSCHaas Ferrari24+41.159s0
13Zhou GuanyuZHOAlfa Romeo Ferrari24+41.763s0
14Valtteri BottasBOTAlfa Romeo Ferrari24+42.338s0
15Yuki TsunodaTSUAlphaTauri RBPT24+50.306s0
16Lance StrollSTRAston Martin Mercedes24+50.700s0
17Esteban OconOCOAlpine Renault24+51.756s0
18Fernando AlonsoALOAlpine Renault24+53.985s0
19Nicholas LatifiLATWilliams Mercedes24+76.850s0
0Alexander AlbonALBWilliams Mercedes12DNF0