Mercedes-AMG picked up its first victory of the season in an action-packed, controversy-riddled Grand Prix.
We had to wait until the season's penultimate race, but Mercedes-AMG F1 finally scored its first victory. In a shocking turn of events, George Russell won his first-ever victory in an F1 car. He outperformed his famous teammate during the first half of the season, but Lewis Hamilton has slowly been making a comeback and picked up second place, resulting in the first British driver one-two since Hamilton and Jenson Button in 2010.
We were sure Hamilton's love for the Brazilian Grand Prix, combined with his recent honorary citizenship, would give him the drive he needed to win his first race of the season and maintain his record of a win in every F1 season he's raced. But it was not meant to be.
Teammate George Russell had a weekend to remember, however, and one that will surely earn him a company car upgrade to the new AMG One. He missed out on pole position on Friday but claimed it during the Sprint Race on Saturday.
When the lights went off on Sunday, he pulled ahead, and that's where he remained for the rest of the race. His veteran teammate can only beat him now by winning the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix plus the fastest lap.
His drive was so sensational that it put him back in contention for second place in the World Drivers' Championship, although he needs both Leclerc and Perez to finish out of the points at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, and then he needs to score the victory with the fastest lap. It's a tall order, but the young Mercedes driver will be riding a wave of dopamine for a while, and the season's final race is less than a week away.
Hamilton was also in with a shot at victory until an early collision with Max Verstappen put paid to that, but we saw the old Hamilton fighting his way through the field, eventually ending second and putting to bed any mumblings that the seven-time champ had lost his mojo.
What the actual *expletive deleted* was that, Max?
The CarBuzz office remains divided on the debate, but it's this writer's opinion that Verstappen deserved a lot more than a five-second penalty for the crash with Hamilton, in the same way Russell deserved more than five seconds for taking Carlos Sainz out of the race at COTA in the USA. The FIA needs harsher penalties for crashes that have a dire impact on another driver's shot at scoring points or a victory.
Verstappen seemed intent on proving his reputation as F1's antagonist. To add insult to injury, Verstappen then defied team orders late in the race, potentially ruining Sergio Perez's chances of picking up second place in the Driver's Championship.
Sergio Perez was more than willing to move out of the way so Verstappen could attack the front, but after failing to do so, he refused to give the position back to his teammate.
Verstappen needs to remember how many times Perez saved his skin. If Checo wasn't a team player, Verstappen might not have won the 2021 Championship title, and already in 2022, Perez opened a door for Verstappen on several occasions. After winning the 2022 championship, Verstappen refusing to move over and assist his teammate in claiming silver shows that perhaps he hasn't matured as much as his fans had hoped.
Christian Horner needs to have a word with his golden boy. That second seat at Red Bull is starting to look like a poisoned chalice, and what driver in their right mind would want to play second fiddle to a man showcasing such poor sportsmanship?
What the actual *expletive deleted* was that?
Kevin Magnussen and the Haas F1 team are perennial underdogs. That's why it's extra special when something goes their way, and on Friday, the eve of Gene Haas's 70th birthday and two days before Magnussen's 100th race with Haas, things went the team's way in fine fashion with K-Mag stealing his and Haas's first-ever pole position.
Did Magnussen really stand a chance to win the Brazilian Grand Prix? Not really, but a top-ten finish was surely in the cards. During the first few corners, he'd dropped down to ninth place, but, unfortunately, a wild Daniel Ricciardo appeared and took him out by trying an inside move that was never there to begin with. After the initial contact - which Magnussen could have recovered from, Ricciardo tried to go inside again, making contact with the out-of-control Haas.
It was an unbelievably amateur move from one of the most experienced drivers on the grid and perfectly showcased why McLaren felt the need to drop the Honey Badger. After bouncing back at the Mexican Grand Prix, he was one of three DNFs, two of which he caused. Fittingly, he's facing a three-place grid drop at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
The world champion may have been decided, but the battle for second will come down to the wire. Only three drivers are in with a shot.
After his victory at the Brazilian Grand Prix, George Russell is on 265 points. He needs both Charles Leclerc and Sergio Perez to finish outside of the top ten. A win will net him 25 points, which will take him to 290 points. That's still not enough, however. He needs the fastest lap to score that one additional point that could win him silver. It's highly unlikely.
The battle for second is a repeat of the battle for first last year: two drivers heading into the final race on the same points. What are the odds?
Verstappen could have given Sergio Perez a slight edge, but no. As a result, Perez and Charles Leclerc are tied on 290 points. Second place will go to the best driver in Abu Dhabi this coming weekend. And you can bet both teams will give their drivers a fair shot at the win. We know Leclerc can count on the support of his teammate, but we're not so sure the same can be said of Sergio Perez.
Ferrari also needs to push to get both drivers as high as possible. There's a good chance it may lose second place in the Constructors' Championship...
The mighty fell. Hard. It's been a while since Mercedes-AMG dropped the ball as badly as it did during the 2022 season. It was nowhere during the first half of the season and only started making progress at the second US Grand Prix. The cars were ridiculously fast at the Brazilian Grand Prix, and we can expect the same in Abu Dhabi.
Even though the Mercedes-AMG F1 car was the worst in modern history, it was consistent. If nothing else, Mercedes proved that consistency is as important as outright performance. At the beginning of the season, Ferrari had the fastest car on the grid, but the reliability was terrible, and a slew of bad decisions from its strategists left its drivers still fighting for position, and worse, the team possibly facing third place with none other than Mercedes-AMG looking to pick up second.
With one race left to go, Ferrari is standing on 524 points, just 19 ahead of Mercedes-AMG on 505. It can still go either way.
McLaren had a terrible weekend in Brazil. Ricciardo put himself and K-Mag into the wall, leaving Lando Norris with his usual job of carrying the entire McLaren F1 team on his shoulders. Unfortunately, the car was not up to the task, and he retired from the race with an electrical failure - not the way he wanted to spend his birthday. Fernando Alonso finished fifth, while Esteban Ocon finished eighth, giving Alpine F1 a strong points finish despite the even stronger words shared between its drivers earlier in the weekend.
As a result, fourth place is out of grabs for McLaren. The British team is on 148 points, and Ricciardo has a three-place grid penalty going into the final race. Once again, it will be up to Norris. Alpine has 167 points, and while the two drivers seem to have some unhealthy rivalry, they at least score points consistently.
The final race of the 2022 season takes place this weekend.