For the first time in 2022, Mercedes has locked out the front row of the grid.
George Russell cut down some of his biggest rivals in the action-packed 24-lap sprint at the Brazilian Grand Prix on Sunday morning.
The Mercedes driver took advantage of the drama unfolding behind him which included contact between world champion Max Verstappen and Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz.
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Lewis Hamilton was also able to get passed Verstappen while the Dutch driver was dealing with damage from debris and his contact with Sainz.
Hamilton was driving with a potential punishment hanging over his head after he was one of several drivers cited by stewards.
Hamilton, Aussie Daniel Ricciardo and Zhou Guanyu were all put under investigation by FIA officials for potential starting procedure infringements.
It was announced during the race that all three drivers would be investigated at the end of the race.
Stewards also investigating contact between Alpine teammates Fernando Alonso and Esteban Ocon.
After a lengthy delay, the FIA announced no action would be taken despite the three drivers appearing to be outside their grid box at the start of the race.
“Having reviewed all available angles of video, and making measurements on the grid, the stewards noted that the grid boxes were slightly smaller than usual and that the drivers’ visibility makes compliance extremely difficult and that no driver was in a position that gained any advantage,” the FIA announced in a statement.
“The stewards are therefore satisfied to take no further action.”
Ricciardo climbed up to finish 11th and will start from the sixth row on the grid for Monday morning’s Grand Prix.
Russell is heading into the Grand Pix with his confidence high and eight championship points.
Haas driver Kevin Magnussen was also able to snare one championship point after he stunned the motorsport world by taking pole position for the Sprint Race.
He finished eighth on Sunday.
Hamilton finished the race third, but will be bumped up to the front row with Sainz taking a five-place grid penalty.
Mercedes engineer Andrew Shovlin told Sky Sports Hamilton’s start was within the regulations.
“I wasn’t talking to race control, and they have deferred that to after to look into i,” he said.
“That might be down to positioning in the box but we have got the onboard and it looks like we are very, very conservative in where he positioned it in terms of the lines.
“Whether it was a sensory issue I don’t know but from the image we have seen, there doesn’t look to be any hint that we were outside that box.”
The biggest drama of the race surrounded contact between Sainz and Verstappen as the Spanish driver made his move on the wounded Red Bull.
“It was tight into turn one,” Sainz said of his clash with Verstappen.
“You really need to go for it under braking or you don’t pass them because they are so quick on the straight.
“That’s racing and you need to go for it if you want to make it stick.
“We have decent pace this weekend, but it’s just the Mercs. They have a little bit more pace.
“It will be interesting to see what happens when we all try the mediums.
“Obviously, we will need to pass them on track because I’m starting P7.”
It was a much better day for Ferrari after the team’s qualifying disaster on Saturday.
Brazil Grand Prix Sprint Race result
1) George Russell, Mercedes
2) Carlos Sainz, Ferrari
3) Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes
4) Max Verstappen, Red Bull
5) Sergio Perez, Red Bull
6) Charles Leclerc, Ferrari
7) Lando Norris, McLaren
8) Kevin Magnussen, Haas
9) Sebastian Vettel, Aston Martin
10) Pierre Gasly, Alpha Tauri