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Mercedes back in title contention as Hamilton and Verstappen show scars - What we learned at the São Paulo GP

Mercedes back in title contention as Hamilton and Verstappen show scars - What we learned at the São Paulo GP

Mercedes back in title contention as Hamilton and Verstappen show scars - What we learned at the São Paulo GP

Mercedes back in title contention as Hamilton and Verstappen show scars - What we learned at the São Paulo GP

A dramatic final sprint weekend of the season saw George Russell finally take his first victory in F1 at the São Paulo Grand Prix.

The Mercedes driver should have won at the 2020 Sakhir race, only to have victory twice denied through a pit stop error and then a puncture.

But at Interlagos, Russell was supreme and headed a Mercedes one-two from Lewis Hamilton, with Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz third.

Hamilton's clash with Max Verstappen was one of a number of talking points across the weekend, here's what we learned.

Russell win proves Mercedes on path to success

At the summer break, 'miserable' would have been a suitable way to have described the Silver Arrows' season.

There was seemingly no forward momentum with issues continuously plaguing the W13 and the pole position for Russell in Hungary was the only crumb of comfort.

Fast forward to Brazil and Mercedes has averted a first winless season since 2011, in a weekend it completely dominated Red Bull and Ferrari.

A one-three in the sprint became a front-row lockout with Sainz's ICE change penalty and after Hamilton and Verstappen collided, Russell commanded the race to capture a maiden win.

If this is a look into the future with the W14, Mercedes can be very excited indeed.

READ MORE: Russell leads Mercedes one-two to end drought as Hamilton and Verstappen renew rivalry

Wounds still present from Hamilton-Verstappen war

Whilst the collision itself was intriguing, to say the least, the reactions of both drivers post-race confirmed lasting tensions from the enthralling 2021 title battle.

Hamilton squeezed Verstappen at the apex of turn two with the Dutchman barrelling down the inside.

It seemed to be a racing incident with both playing their part, though it was the two-time champion that was handed a penalty.

Post-race, the Red Bull driver suggested he always knew Hamilton would leave no space, whilst the Briton said that his past successes have placed a target on his chest.

All in all, it was an ugly situation, but one that raises excitement ahead of a potential Mercedes resurgence next year.

READ MORE: Verstappen slates Hamilton to reopen old wounds

Ferrari recover to avert disaster

Qualifying was a complete mess for Ferrari with strategic and organisational issues again rearing an ugly head.

The result was that Charles Leclerc was left in 10th for the sprint.

By the end of the grand prix, both Sainz and Leclerc had recovered to third and fourth to limit the damage to Mercedes who had looked on course to overtake the Scuderia.

Leclerc was languishing at the rear of the pack after being sent into the barriers by Lando Norris on lap four, making his comeback all the more remarkable.

But frailties exist on the pit wall and the anger from Friday carried through to Sunday for Leclerc, unhappy with the decision not to swap positions with Sainz to aid his battle with Sergio Perez in the drivers' standings.

READ MORE: Leclerc responds to Hill accusation

Alpine overcome infighting to secure crucial result

Fernando Alonso and Esteban Ocon definitely aren't friends.

The sprint was a mess for Alpine, with team principal Otmar Szafnauer left livid with his drivers' antics after two collisions left both outside the top 10 for the grand prix proper.

Flashes of discontent came during a late-race radio call where Ocon was asked to move aside for Alonso, who was on a different strategy.

But when that was all sorted out with the Frenchman, the two A522s collected vital points in the race for fourth in the constructors' standings with Alonso finishing fifth and Ocon eighth.

Crucially, neither McLaren made the finish, leaving a 19-point margin between the teams heading to the final race.

READ MORE: Alpine slate driver conduct as Alonso penalised for Ocon collision

Underdogs have huge part to play in F1

The feel-good moment of the weekend came when Kevin Magnussen secured his and Haas' first pole position.

In tricky conditions, the Dane set the perfect lap time during optimum track conditions to beat Verstappen to pole.

Magnussen led the first two laps of the sprint after a stunning start but his weekend ultimately ended prematurely when being hit by Daniel Ricciardo on lap one of the grand prix.

Nevertheless, the outpouring of emotion in the Haas garage and the well-wishes from its rivals was proof that there can be hope for smaller outfits.

It was exactly what F1 stands for.

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