Max Verstappen triumphed in the sprint at the track in Sao Paulo. The Red Bull driver led after the opening two corners and recorded routine success in the final sprint start of the 2023 F1 season. Lando Norris (McLaren) and Sergio Perez (Red Bull) finished second and third.
The weather before the start of the sprint was warm, dry and sunny. The air temperature was 28 degrees and that of the asphalt – 54. The hot pavement in Sao Paulo will put the Pirelli tires to the test.
Almost all drivers opted for Pirelli’s softest tires. The exceptions were Magnussen, Hulkenberg and Sargent, who used medium
Norris had a decent start and tried to defend his position from Verstappen. However, the Red Bull driver managed to take the lead after the first two turns. Russell also drove well and passed Perez. The Mexican also lost position to Hamilton. Further back, Leclerc dealt with Tsunoda, and Sainz – with Ricciardo. The start was clean and without incidents.
Verstappen kept the lead after the first three laps of the Sao Paulo sprint. Behind him were Russell, Norris, Perez, Hamilton, Leclerc, Tsunoda, Sainz, Ricciardo and Piastri. The rookie went off the track but was able to return safely and maintain his position. Further back, Alonso was battling with the Haas drivers. Albon said on the radio that Bottas’ car was leaking oil.
Verstappen retained first place after the tenth round of the sprint in Sao Paulo. Second, about a second and a half behind, was Norris. Behind him were Perez, Russell, Hamilton, Leclerc, Tsunoda, Sainz, Ricciardo and Piastri. Behind the young Australian was a small group with the participation of Gasly and Alonso.
Verstappen controlled events at the halving distance in the sprint race. Behind him, the ranking stabilizes. At the bottom of the top 10, Sainz was leading a contested duel with Ricciardo. The two exchanged places several times. Behind them lurked Piastre, Gasli and Alonso. Piastre passed Ricciardo while Alonso dealt with Gasli.
Verstappen picked up the pace and increased his lead over Norris to 2.5 seconds. Perez was cruising in solitary third. The Mexican was followed by Russell and Hamilton. Sixth and seventh were Leclerc and Tsunoda. The last place in the points zone continued to be occupied by Sainz. At the bottom of the column were the Williams, Haas and Alfa Romeo drivers. Leclerc was able to deal with Hamilton on lap #21.
Verstappen eventually won the sprint in Sao Paulo. The three-time world champion won the final sprint start of the year and second in a row after the one in Texas. Norris and Perez placed second and third. The fourth position was occupied by Russell. Leclerc finished fifth, followed by Tsunoda, Hamilton, Sainz, Ricciardo and Piastri.