Max Verstappen wins 17th race of 2023 at Sao Paolo Grand Prix
FiredUp Network Sports Writer
Monday, November 6, 2023
Photo Credit: Autoweek
Max Verstappen put together his latest of dominant drives of the season at the 2023 Sao Paolo Grand Prix for his 17th victory of the year.
The Dutchman started from pole position, held the lead into Turn 1, and drove a flawless 71 laps to cruise to victory. It was Verstappen's second win at the Autodromo Jose Carlos Paces, known globally as Interlagos, and the 52nd of his career.
His easy run into Turn 1 off the start was aided by the lack of a Ferrari alongside him on the front row in Charles Leclerc. The Monegasque suffered a hydraulic failure on the formation lap, which sent him into the wall at the horseshoe and ended his race before it even began.
That opened the door for Lando Norris to finish second for McLaren, who made a brilliant start to get past both Aston Martins, the Ferrari of Carlos Sainz, and the Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton before Turn 1. Norris even got side by side with Verstappen into Turn 4 in the early going, before the Red Bull took off down the road.
Finishing third behind him was the Aston Martin of Fernando Alonso. After what has been a torrid few months that has seen the once second-best team only score a handful of points, Alonso finished on the podium for the first time since the Dutch Grand Prix, and made it a first double top five finish for the team this season with Lance Stroll in fifth.
Alonso ran in the top three all race long, and faced immense pressure from the Red Bull of Sergio Perez for the final podium place in the late stages of the race. The Mexican even got past the Spaniard with two laps to go, before Alonso quickly got him back on the final lap into Turn 4.
The two of them squabbled for the rest of the lap, separated at the line by just 0.053 seconds. While Perez and Red Bull will be disappointed that they didn't reach the podium, it was a very respectable, clean effort from the Mexican, given how poor his form has been of late. He also increased his gap to Hamilton for second in the championship quite significantly.
Finishing sixth behind Lance Stroll was Sainz in the Ferrari, who suffered with overheating issues, and a poor clutch all race long. He came home ahead of Pierre Gasly's Alpine in seventh, and the Mercedes of Hamilton in eighth. Hamilton was massively held back all afternoon with high tire-wear from his W14.
He finished ahead of Yuki Tsunoda in ninth, and Esteban Ocon in tenth to round out the points.
Looking further down the order, Alexander Albon and Kevin Magnussen failed to finish after a massive crash in Turn 1 on the opening lap caused a red flag. The debris from the incident also damaged Oscar Piastri's McLaren and Daniel Ricciardo's AlphaTauri, which after the red flag repairs, had them a lap down for the rest of the race.
George Russell also retired from the points with a reliability issue.
Following the conclusion of this triple-header, F1 takes a week off before heading to Las Vegas for the much-anticipated Las Vegas Grand Prix. With plenty of celebrities expected, and the high speed nature of the track promising to provide a lot of action, it should be quite the spectacle.