Despite flashes of brilliance from McLaren’s Lando Norris, there was no stopping the indomitable Max Verstappen as the Formula 1 circus returned to Sao Paulo.

The Dutchman claimed his 17th win of the season, and, in doing so, broke a record that stood safe for over seven decades.

While Verstappen made light work of the competition, Mercedes will need to roll the dice in Las Vegas after a harrowing weekend for the Silver Arrows.

Max Verstappen – 10

Sprint: Qualified: P2, Race: P1
Grand Prix: Qualified: P1, Race: P1

Upon his arrival in Sao Paulo, a 17th win of the F1 season never really looked in doubt for Max Verstappen. Barring missing out on the Sprint pole by 0.06s, the Dutchman delivered a flawless weekend at Interlagos.

In the Sprint, he assumed P1 before the first corner with a decisive lunge against Norris. After a perfectly executed Friday qualifying amid stormy conditions, there would be no need to defend his run to Turn 1 on Sunday at either grid start.

After shrugging off one final attempt from Norris in the early stages of the Grand Prix at Turn 4, Verstappen was in a class of his own.

The pace of Verstappen combined with that of the RB19 was simply unmatchable, allowing Verstappen to break the win percentage record held by Alberto Ascari since 1952.

Ascari won six out of eight races that year, totalling a 75% win-rate, while 17 wins from 20 guarantees Verstappen a minimum win percentage of 77.27% in 2023 with two races in hand.

Sergio Perez – 6.5

Sprint: Qualified: P3, Race: P3
Grand Prix: Qualified: P9, Race: P4

Following a long run of poor form, there was no secret that Sergio Perez was in desperate need of a clean and straightforward race weekend.

Unable to usurp the one lap pace of his team-mate in the Shootout, Perez drove to a first top three result since the Italian Grand Prix in the Sprint despite making his life harder by slipping backwards at the start.

He was unfortunate to end Friday ninth fastest in qualifying after being caught out by a moment for Oscar Piastri, but Perez looked to bounce back.

To a certain extent he did, but that recovery lacked the same decisiveness and effortlessness that a certain Dutchman could muster at the wheel of the RB19.

Perez lost time in a frustrating back-and-forth with Lewis Hamilton and that time would certainly have proved the difference in his drag race to the line with Fernando Alonso.

Sure, on paper it was a solid recovery and a better weekend for the Mexican but if he is to shirk off the pressure, he must unlock the true potential of the machinery he posseses.s

The podium (L to R): Lando Norris (GBR) McLaren, second; Jeff Calam (GBR) Red Bull Racing Senior Projects Engineer; Max Verstappen (NLD) Red Bull Racing, race winner; Fernando Alonso (ESP) Aston Martin F1 Team, third.
05.11.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 21, Brazilian Grand Prix, Sao Paulo, Brazil, Race Day.
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Lando Norris – 9

Sprint: Qualified: P1, Race: P2
Grand Prix: Qualified: P7, Race: P2

In the hands of Norris, the McLaren promised to be a contender for pole position on Sunday, but Friday’s inclement weather put an end to that challenge.

Even with a mistake in his final Shootout run, his lap was good enough for the Sprint pole. He had no answer though for Verstappen as he surrendered the lead before Turn 1, but would lead a challenge against the Dutchman on Sunday after finding himself second in line when the red flags came on Lap 1.

A look at Turn 4 wasn’t enough to make the Dutchman sweat before the Red Bull scampered up the road, but realistically, P2 was the maximum that Norris could have expected on Sunday.

The Briton did well to rectify his weaknesses over the course of the weekend to pick up a seventh podium of 2023.

Oscar Piastri – 5

Sprint: Qualified: P10, Race: P10
Grand Prix: Qualified: P10, Race: P14

Oscar Piastri’s Brazilian Grand Prix weekend just never really came together. The rookie was unable to extract the same performance from the MCL60 in qualifying sessions as front-running Norris, with his main struggle not being able to bring a lap together.

The Australian found himself stuck in P10 during the Sprint, and his Grand Prix was ruined before the first turn after being collected in the first lap frenzy which resulted in heavy damage to the rear wing.

While McLaren were able to repair the damage in time for the restart, Piastri was forced to rejoin the action a lap down from which point points would never be salvageable without Safety Car intervention.

Despite still carrying damage, the pace was there for the rookie but a combination of bad luck and poor execution capped his potential.

Fernando Alonso – 9

Sprint: Qualified: P15, Race: P11
Grand Prix: Qualified: P4, Race: P2

Barring a Saturday hampered by a bizarre collision with Esteban Ocon during SQ1, Alonso’s weekend in Interlagos heralded the revival of Aston Martin after the team was able to finally get on top of updates introduced in Austin.

Sunday showed the 42-year old double champion at his best as he fought fiercely against Sergio Perez as Alonso returned to the podium for the first time since Zandvoort.

Despite losing ground to the McLaren of Norris early on, Alonso used all of his experience to table an intelligent defence over Perez to more than make up for a mediocre Saturday by the narrowest of margins.

Lance Stroll– 7.5

Sprint: Qualified: P17, Race: P12
Grand Prix: Qualified: P3, Race: P5

Having qualified an unexpected third on an impressive Friday, the Canadian was unable to emulate the same performance on Sprint Saturday.

Regardless, Stroll offered fans a reminder of just why Aston Martin continue to trust his services after he slipped back to seventh before fighting off the Mercedes drivers to finish within five seconds of his team-mate in the main event.

It is exactly this kind of performance that the team has lacked from Stroll throughout the 2023 campaign that contributed Aston’s concession of the second place in the standings that the marque once held. Overall, it was a far more positive weekend however it is imperative that Stroll now carries the momentum forwards.

Carlos Sainz – 7

Sprint: Qualified: P9, Race: P8
Grand Prix: Qualified: P8, Race: P6

Sainz carried the added pressure of being the sole Ferrari to feature in the Sao Paulo Grand Prix. Ultimately, the Scuderia were unable to fully capitalise on a miserable weekend for Mercedes as Sainz cruised to sixth.

The Spaniard had been off-pace compared to Charles Leclerc at Interlagos, but Sainz was still able to displace the Mercedes and finish within 10 seconds of Stroll.

Sainz was forced to resign to P6 unable to match the pace of the Red Bulls, Aston Martins and McLaren ahead, making P6 a fair reward for an otherwise uncompetitive Ferrari.

Charles Leclerc (MON) Ferrari SF-23 retired on the Formation Lap.
05.11.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 21, Brazilian Grand Prix, Sao Paulo, Brazil, Race Day.
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Charles Leclerc – 6.5

Sprint: Qualified: P7, Race: P5
Grand Prix: Qualified: P2, Race: DNS

If Sainz’s weekend didn’t highlight Ferrari’s current struggles, Leclerc’s Sunday did just that. An electronics issue left Leclerc powerless in preventing the moment that saw him crash out at Turn 6 on the formation lap.

He had the edge on Sainz throughout the weekend and was set for a strong race after managing temperatures and tyres well in his Sprint recovery to fifth.

Leclerc’s chances on Sunday remain a ‘what if’ given his misfortune, but it is hard to picture how the Ferrari driver could have kept the pace of Norris, Alonso and Perez at bay for the full distance had he escaped misfortune.

Pierre Gasly – 7

Sprint: Qualified: P13, Race: P13
Grand Prix: Qualified: P13, Race: P7

Gasly qualified 13th, but was one of three handed a two-place grid drop for blocking the pitlane during Q1 on Friday.

Despite the misdemeanour, the Frenchman escaped the Turn 1 drama to assume his position at the lead of the midfield pack.

Gasly’s running was bolstered by a two-stop strategy which allowed him to leap the Mercedes drivers and trail Sainz over the line.

He branded the race “one of our best of the year,” – a label few would disagree upon.

Esteban Ocon – 6.5

Sprint: Qualified: P16, Race: P14
Grand Prix: Qualified: P12, Race: P10

It was an eventful weekend for Ocon who also picked up a two place grid drop on Friday. But that would be the least of his concerns as the accident with Fernando Alonso on Saturday derailed any chance of points in the Sprint.

Starting 14th on Sunday, Ocon found himself with a front-row seat for the collision involving Alex Albon and the Haas duo which saw him elevated to ninth once things calmed down.

Unfortunately, Ocon was forced to run a three-stop race as he struggled to get on top of the degradation. Despite the extra stop, he still came home 10th, 14 seconds adrift of Gasly after a respectable afternoon’s work.

Lewis Hamilton – 7.5

Sprint: Qualified: P5, Race: P7
Grand Prix: Qualified: P5, Race: P8

Hamilton endured a torrid weekend in the Mercedes as he struggled with tyre degradation and finding performance in race conditions.

The seven-time champion was bettered by his team-mate in qualifying but still found himself third in the opening stages of the Grand Prix.

From then, it was a slow and painful race which saw the W14 slip backwards as it’s weaknesses were once again exposed. Still, Hamilton did all that he could to mitigate the losses and P8 looked the maximum on offer.

George Russell – 6.5

Sprint: Qualified: P4, Race: P4
Grand Prix: Qualified: P6, Race: DNF

Brazil saw the return of ‘Mr. Saturday’ as Russell executed a fantastic 100km Sprint in which he preserved a well-earned fourth despite the challenges presented by the W14’s lacklustre package.

However, that was as good as the Briton’s weekend would get as he struggled with tyre degradation which restricted any recovery from a P8 start following the application of a two-place grid drop.

The frustration was evident and his weekend ended in a retirement due to high oil temperatures, but Russell had the pace advantage over his veteran team-mate at stages, even if it did come at the cost of tyre life.

Yuki Tsunoda (JPN) AlphaTauri AT04.
05.11.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 21, Brazilian Grand Prix, Sao Paulo, Brazil, Race Day.
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Yuki Tsunoda – 7.5

Sprint: Qualified: P6, Race: P6
Grand Prix: Qualified: P16, Race: P9

Yuki Tsunoda delivered AlphaTauri’s first sprint points of the season following an emphatic performance on Saturday which saw the Japanese driver breeze past the likes of Hamilton as the AT04 appeared in it’s natural habitat in Sao Paulo.

Picking up a further two points on Sunday boosts the team greatly, particularly after Tsunoda dropped the ball in Mexico.

Yet the young driver is right in saying that it should have been more. A mistake at Turn 10 in the race compounded by reliability issues prevented a jump to the P7 region.

Nonetheless, Tsunoda and AlphaTauri have found some good rhythm to carry into the final two rounds of the season which could prove the difference in the Constructors’ Standings.

Daniel Ricciardo – 6

Sprint: Qualified: P8, Race: P9
Grand Prix: Qualified: P17, Race: P13

As with Tsunoda, a Q1 elimination was not at all representative of the pace that the AT04 has found since the implementation of its recent upgrade package.

Reaching SQ3 was a jump in the right direction, but the Australian lost out on the final point in the Sprint to his team-mate.

Ricciardo was an innocent bystander when his rear wing was broken on Lap 1 by a tyre launched airborne by Nico Hulkenberg. The team thought the damage was terminal, but a red flag offered the chance for repairs.

He was then forced to take the restart from the pitlane and a lap down after being pushed into the garage on the stoppage.

The ‘lame’ rule effectively put an end to his race with no subsequent Safety Car to offer a reprieve, yet the pace was strong as Ricciardo helped Tsunoda to a points finish.

Logan Sargeant – 5.5

Sprint: Qualified: P20, Race: P20
Grand Prix: Qualified: P19, Race: P11

A sprint weekend on an unfamiliar track led to another weekend with the American on the backfoot from the get go.

The rookie still showed some promising pace at moments, and found himself making mistakes and battling traffic during qualifying sessions.

He kept his nose clean amongst the chaos at the race start, and with Albon out of contention, delivered a solid race run in the Williams.

His finishing position may be inflated by the quantity of retirements in an abrasive race, but on the whole, Sargeant’s maiden weekend in Brazil was boosted by a relatively steady showing despite his disadvantage.

Alex Albon – 6

Sprint: Qualified: P19, Race: P15
Grand Prix: Qualified: P15, Race: DNF

There would be no heroics from Albon in Interlagos as the Williams found itself firmly placed in the battle for the wooden spoon most of the weekend.

That led to one of Albon’s weaker performances of the season after struggling to keep on top of the FW45’s tyre temperatures in competitive running.

A good launch on Sunday saw him punished when he tangled with Nico Hulkenberg, triggering the multi-car incident that led to his retirement.

Nico Hulkenberg – 6

Sprint: Qualified: P12, Race: P18
Grand Prix: Qualified: P11, Race: P12

Qualifying was again Hulkenberg’s strong suit as the Sao Paulo specialist twice came near to dragging the Haas into Q3.

But as expected, the VF-23 faltered as soon as the tyres were asked to perform throughout a full stint.

The German should not be blamed for the racing incident at the start, but a tough weekend was always going to be hard to escape for the team.

Kevin Magnussen (DEN) Haas VF-23 crashed out at the start of the race.
05.11.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 21, Brazilian Grand Prix, Sao Paulo, Brazil, Race Day.
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Kevin Magnussen – 5

Sprint: Qualified: P11, Race: P16
Grand Prix: Qualified: P14, Race: DNF

Magnussen was able to match the strong qualifying showings of team-mate Hulkenberg and maintained that edge over the German in the Sprint.

If any blame is to be levelled for the opening frenzy, that would fall on Magnussen’s shoulders following a move to the right to try and cover his team-mate.

The incident ended the Dane’s race before it really got started.

Valtteri Bottas– 6

Sprint: Qualified: P14, Race: P19
Grand Prix: Qualified: P18, Race: DNF

Alfa Romeo jumped the gun in Friday’s qualifying session, and a premature final run for Bottas left no chance of escaping Q1 elimination.

Saturday was better for Bottas and the team however the Alfa Romeo still slipped backwards as the trailing Albon warned of an oil leak from the rear end of Bottas’ car.

It would be a case of damage limitation for the team, but those hopes were also dashed with need to run a higher rear wing at the cost of top-end speed, and confusingly cornering speed too.

Despite an inevitable slide backwards, the Finn was on course for points as competitors fell by the wayside, however he would join his rivals, and team-mate in retirement following an engine issue.

Guanyu Zhou – 5

Sprint: Qualified: P18, Race: P17
Grand Prix: Qualified: P20, Race: DNF

Zhou was the second-best of the Alfa Romeo duo over the course of the weekend, unable to get within two-tenths of Bottas in qualifying conditions.

Unable to navigate the Haas’, Zhou’s Sprint was capped at P17. An undercut during Sunday’s race offered an outside chance of points but technical issues resulted in a double retirement for Alfa Romeo.

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