The Brazilian Grand Prix this past Sunday was the penultimate race of the 2023 Formula 1 season. In Interlagos, Red Bull driver Max Verstappen had already secured his second consecutive World Championship title. However, the fight for second place in the standings between Mexican driver Sergio Perez and British driver Lewis Hamilton was still up for grabs.
Perez started the weekend strong by qualifying third and finishing third in the F1 Sprint race on Saturday. This gave him confidence heading into race day, where he started ninth on the grid after a five-place grid penalty. He aimed to finish ahead of chief championship rival Hamilton to extend his lead.
Chaotic Start to the Grand Prix
The race got off to a chaotic start when Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc crashed on the way to the starting grid. The start was delayed as Alex Albon and Kevin Magnussen collided in the first corner. This brought out the red flag, forcing drivers to return to the pits and delaying the race by over 30 minutes.
Perez Fights His Way Up the Field
When the race restarted, Perez put on an impressive display of overtaking to fight his way up the field. He managed to pass the Mercedes of George Russell and Lewis Hamilton in the first half of the race. By lap 18, Perez was in fourth place behind Max Verstappen, Lando Norris, and Fernando Alonso.
Thrilling Battle with Alonso for Podium
In the closing laps, Perez was in an epic battle with two-time World Champion Fernando Alonso for the final podium position. On older tires, Perez pressured Alonso for over 20 laps, but the Spaniard defended masterfully.
In a thrilling wheel-to-wheel duel on the final lap, Perez pulled off a superb move around the outside to briefly take third place. However, the experienced Alonso fought back on the main straight, regaining the position before the finish line. An ecstatic Alonso beat Perez to the podium by a mere 0.053 seconds in one of the closest finishes of the season.
Verstappen Untouchable En Route to Record-Breaking Victory
While Perez and Alonso battled behind, Max Verstappen was untouchable at the front. The Dutchman dominated the race to take his record-extending 17th Grand Prix victory. With his 14th pole position on Saturday, he also broke the record for most poles in a season.
Lando Norris capitalized on the dramatic start to split the Red Bulls and finish second, securing McLaren’s best result of the year.
Hamilton Struggles to Eighth Place
Perez’s chief championship rival, Lewis Hamilton, endured a miserable race by his standards. The seven-time World Champion struggled for pace all weekend, qualifying in eighth. After losing positions to Perez in the first half of the race, Hamilton had to settle for a disappointing eighth-place finish.
Outlook for Final Two Races
With just two races remaining in Las Vegas and Abu Dhabi, Perez now holds a 32-point advantage over Hamilton in the fight for runner-up in the standings. The Mexican will be highly motivated for a strong finish to the season in front of his home fans in Las Vegas.
Max Verstappen has already clinched the World Championship but will look to extend his record for wins in a season. Meanwhile, Fernando Alonso and Lando Norris still battle for fourth in the standings.
In the end, the winner was none other than Max Verstappen, leaving a surprising Norris who continues to demonstrate his great level in the best circuits of the world. So was the grid of the Brazilian GP 2023 with Checo Perez:
- Checo Perez
- Sáinz Jr.
In the Constructors’ Championship, Red Bull has secured their first title since 2013. But Mercedes, Ferrari, and Alpine remain in a tight scrap for second place.
The penultimate round in Brazil provided close racing and drama from start to finish. With the championship battles still raging, the season finale is shaping up for a spectacular ending.