George Russell put in a dominant drive to claim his first Formula One win at the Brazilian Grand Prix.
Russell was not challenged at the front until a late safety car put his win in jeopardy, but the Briton handled the restart perfectly and never allowed teammate Lewis Hamilton to get close enough to attack.
Hamilton finished second but you will wonder what could have been had it not been for an early collision with 2021 title rival Max Verstappen that dropped both drivers down the order and left them with car damage.
Both drivers looked the most likely to challenge Russell up front, but their collision shouldn’t take away from the nature of their first win.
Russell’s win is the first for Mercedes of the season and will give the team renewed hope of moving on to challenge Red Bull for the title in 2023.
As they crossed the line, a jubilant Russell said: “Wooo! Let’s go team! One-two, awesome. This is just the beginning. So proud of all of you.”
She added: “I knew we could do this. I knew it. I need some tissues, I’m crying, boys and girls.”
Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz rounded out the podium ahead of teammate Charles Leclerc, with Alpine’s Fernando Alonso claiming an excellent fifth position for Alpine with a brilliant charge from 18th.
Alonso had made headlines on Saturday with some comments about his collision with teammate Esteban Ocon in the sprint race, but used the situation to remind fans why he is still considered one of F1’s best drivers.
Alonso finished ahead of Max Verstappen, who refused an order from the Red Bull team to let teammate Sergio Perez last on the final lap to mitigate some of the points lost to Leclerc in the battle for second in the championship.
At the end, Verstappen’s race engineer asked him: “Max, what happened?”
Verstappen responded by radio: “I already told you last time. Don’t ask me that again. Are we clear? I gave my reasons and I stand by them.”
Leclerc was also unhappy with his team when Sainz was not asked to move to give the Monaco native extra points over Perez.
After being told, Leclerc said: “Good joke.”
Leclerc had fought back before Lando Norris spun him into the barriers.
Esteban Ocon finished eighth ahead of Valtteri Bottas and Lance Stroll, who filled the last two points-paying positions.
There were two Safety Cars in the race. The first came after the first lap when a clumsy move by Daniel Ricciardo took him and Kevin Magnussen out of the race.
It was a bittersweet end to the weekend for Magnussen after taking an impressive pole position in changeable conditions on Friday night.
Norris would stop on the track later in the race at the same point. Initially, his car needed a virtual safety car to move, but it was converted to a full safety car, threatening to turn the race upside down.
But Russell never seemed to buckle under the pressure and became F1’s newest race winner.