GEORGE RUSSELL choked back the tears after winning his first F1 GP – denying Lewis Hamilton what would have been a dream victory in Brazil.
Take nothing away from the 24-year-old from King’s Lynn, he was coolness personified in Sao Paulo to take the chequered flag.
Russell said: “What an amazing feeling. A huge thank you to the whole team for making it possible. It was an emotional roller coaster.
“I felt in control but Lewis was super fast and I was under so much pressure, I am so happy to come away with the victory.
“I am speechless. On the in-lap all these memories came flooding back from when I started out karting with my mum and dad in karting…I am so proud.”
Hamilton, who was made an honorary citizen of Brazil, was quick to praise his Mercedes teammate, but stopped short of commenting on his incident with Verstappen.
He added: “Congrats to George, what an amazing drive. He had an amazing race on Saturday and fully deserved it.
“To my team, so proud of everyone back at the factory and here. This is an incredible result.
“We’ve worked so hard through this year to get a 1-2 and to get a win, and so this is hugely deserved by everybody so a huge thank you.
“What can I say, you know how it is with Max…”
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It was a thrilling race and saw another clash between Verstappen and Hamilton, who banged wheels – with the Dutchman slapped with a five second penalty for causing the collision.
The flashpoint happened after Daniel Ricciardo drove into the back of Kevin Magnussen. The Dane was sent into a spin and clattered back into the Aussie.
The safety car was deployed while the marshals recovered the stricken cars and when the racing resumed, Russell made the perfect getaway.
But that was not the case for Hamilton, who was caught by Verstappen at turn one, with the two clashing, banging wheel and Hamilton being forced onto the escape road.
Verstappen was forced to pit for a new nose and front wing while Hamilton continued but with a chunk of damage to his car.
While out in front, Russell remained unchallenged as he was able to hold off the threat of Sergio Perez, despite a quicker pitstop by the Red Bull team.
Hamilton was the last to stop of the front runners on lap 30 for a set of slower medium tyres, but that did not stop him hunting down Sainz in third place.
When the Spaniard made his second stop of the race, that promoted Hamilton into third. Hamilton made it into second with a textbook over take of Perez into turn one on lap 45.
But another safety car threw another element into this pulsating contest when Norris’s McLaren conked out on lap 52.
Russell sent an inquisitive message to his team asking what the plan was for the restart in the hope of hearing that Hamilton would be told to hold station.
But he received the news he must have been dreading – that the two would be racing for the win to the finishing line.
When the safety car came in and the racing resumed on lap 60, Russell was able to hold off the threat of Hamilton.
And he made it to the finishing line with Hamilton placed in second – despite running down in 10th place after his clash with Verstappen.
Sainz was third in his Ferrari while Leclerc was fourth, despite his best efforts to get ahead of his teammate.
But Verstappen DEFIED Red Bull’s request to swap places with Perez, to boost the Mexican’s chances of finishing runner-up in the drivers’ championship.
When asked why he IGNORED the team, Verstappen snapped back and said: “I told you already last time.
“You guys don’t ask that again to me, OK? Are we clear about that? I gave my reasons and I stand by it.”
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