F1 winners and losers from 2023 Brazilian GP

Max Verstappen won the 2023 Brazilian GP - but is he included in the winners?

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In a Formula 1 season of broken records and unbeatable accomplishments, Max Verstappen and Red Bull managed possibly their most impressive achievement of the lot at the 2023 Brazilian GP – create a dull race at Interlagos.

But even a snoozefest by Sao Paulo standards isn’t that boring. A freakish storm provided a qualifying session no one will ever forget, and how many times in F1 history has a podium been decided by half a tenth?

AlphaTauri can count themselves very unlucky to miss out on the winners, as they took another huge step towards nailing down eighth in the constructors’ championship, a week after Daniel Ricciardo‘s inspired seventh place in Mexico City.

Winner: Sergio Perez

Sergio Perez overtakes Mercedes’ George Russell in the 2023 Brazilian GP | Mark Thompson/Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

Perez might not have felt like a winner at turn one of lap 72 having missed out on the podium by the width of a bee’s penis, but it was still a strong recovery drive by the Mexican. And he only needed that recovery drive after being put in a difficult position by Red Bull as one of the last drivers to start his Q3 lap.

Perez was cursing his team in the race too, as they pitted him cautiously early to cover the non-existent threat of Mercedes, which set him back a fair few laps in his chase of Fernando Alonso and the podium.

However, Perez showed he could dial into the Red Bull and followed up a hard-fought sprint podium with another solid haul of points.

Just as crucially, Lewis Hamilton‘s torrid weekend means Perez can clinch second in the drivers’ championship next time out in Las Vegas, and secure Red Bull‘s first-ever overall 1-2.

Loser: Mercedes

George Russell and Lewis Hamilton at the 2023 Brazilian Grand Prix | Mercedes / LAT Images

Speaking of which, there aren’t too many worse performances in recent memory from a team that entered a weekend with designs on race victory.

What’s most shocking about Mercedes‘ three-day cataclysm in Brazil is they didn’t suffer any outside misfortune – the Silver Arrows were well-placed in the Q3 chaos, nailed all their starts and Hamilton even jumped Perez in the grand prix pitstops.

But none of that mattered. The W14 ate its tyres in the sprint, and Mercedes‘ only correction for that on Sunday was making themselves so ineffective it didn’t matter which rubber they wore.

Hamilton didn’t hold back with his assessment: “The tyres are always overheating for us, slow on the straights, no grip in the corners,” as Mercedes‘ setup created so much drag that fans could be forgiven for thinking they’d put one of their trucks on track instead.

And worst of all was the continued fractious atmosphere in the team. George Russell was audibly frustrated as he sat stuck behind Hamilton for large parts of the race, only getting some breathing room right as Carlos Sainz entered his DRS. Cheers, mate…

Winner: Aston Martin

You can only beat what’s in front of you, and Aston Martin did a fantastic job of that at Interlagos.

25 points isn’t only their best points haul since the 2023 Australian GP, it’s their joint-third-best in history, across all the iterations of the Silverstone-based outfit.

Both drivers admitted Aston Martin weren’t the third-quickest car at Interlagos – but they made the right call in qualifying, stayed out of trouble at the start and the car worked perfectly in attritional conditions at the end of a tough triple-header.

And how about that drive from Fernando Alonso? Sky cameras almost missed mechanic Mikey Ward summing it up best in the post-race celebration – it was a true champion’s performance, and a feat that maybe only one or two other drivers on the grid could’ve pulled off.

After Sainz‘s very creditable application for Spain’s Minister of Defence after Monza and Singapore, Alonso showed he’s got that position locked down until future notice.

Loser: Charles Leclerc

Being an F1 driver is a very fortunate job. But within that world of tiny violins, Charles Leclerc‘s must be the biggest of the current grid.

Leclerc‘s Americas triple-header had previously consisted of completing the set of DNF, DNS and DSQ all from pole position, and getting sandwiched by Red Bull through no fault of his own, but his Brazilian weekend might just take the cake.

“NOOO! WHY THE F**K AM I SO UNLUCKY?”

Charles Leclerc team radio after crashing out of the formation lap

After a well-managed qualifying and optimistic sprint, Leclerc looked well on course for the podium if he’d held second place from the grid. Or if he’d even got to the grid, but a hydraulics issue causing a crash on the formation lap is plumbing new depths of misfortune.

Winner: Interlagos

A storm approaches in qualifying for the 2023 Brazilian GP | Jiri Krenek/Mercedes F1 Team

The fact that the worst Brazilian GP in almost a decade was still more entertaining than plenty of other races in 2023 tells its own story.

F1 needs more tracks like Interlagos – storied, dramatic, balanced, impassioned – but we’ve already lost Sepang and Hockenheim in the not-to-distant past and for a while it looked like Brazil might be the next domino to fall.

So a contract extension until 2030 should be welcome news to all fans, no matter what affiliation, nationality, or commitment level.

Loser: Oscar Piastri

Oscar Piastri celebrates after the 2023 Qatar GP Sprint Race | McLaren F1 Team

It looked like Piastri‘s sprint victory in Qatar would be a turning point for the Australian – a race win in his rookie season holding off Verstappen, and with teammate Lando Norris still awaiting his first F1 victory of any kind.

But if anything, it’s been a turning point for Norris instead who’s recorded two podiums sandwiching a divine recovery drive in the Americas triple-header.

By contrast, Piastri‘s had finishes of 10th, DNF, 7th, 8th, 10th and 14th. While there have been mitigating factors, it’s clear that Norris is also finding something extra from the MCL60 right now.

Brazil was a classic case of (team and driver) errors compounding for Piastri – last out of the garage in Q3 meant he had the worst conditions and spun, so started tenth and within impact range of the lower-grid chaos behind.

Also a step behind Norris on sprint Saturday, this slump won’t overshadow what’s still been a fantastic rookie season by Piastri. But the first step to starting a season well is finishing the last one likewise, and there’s definitely room for improvement on that front.

Winner: Alpine

Even the most optimistic Alpine fan couldn’t deny it’s been a chastening season for the Enstone outfit.

Things have been going downhill ever since Alonso dropped his Aston Martin bombshell in the 2022 summer break, after Alpine started that season looking like occasional candidates for the third-quickest team on the grid.

But after Aston Martin and McLaren have long since left them in the dust, Alpine at least stuck it to Mercedes one more time.

Hearing Hamilton complain he couldn’t even hang with Gasly in the Frenchman’s DRS must’ve felt good, as Alpine recorded a double-points finish for the seventh time in 2023.

Loser: Alfa Romeo

Valtteri Bottas on track at the 2023 Brazilian GP | Alfa Romeo F1 Team Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 21, Brazilian Grand Prix, Friday 3rd November 2023. Sao Paulo, Brazil.

They made the dishonourable mentions list last week but it’s the full treatment for Alfa Romeo this time around.

Both cars retired just as they looked to hit back against AlphaTauri in the fight for eighth place in the constructors’ championship, a position worth around 10 million dollars – or Valtteri Bottas‘ entire contract for the season.

Instead, they dropped another five points to their rivals over the weekend and now seemingly require a miracle to overhaul Tsunoda, Ricciardo and co.

Adam Dickinson
Adam Dickinson
An international multi-award-winning journalist, Adam Dickinson has written for Total-Motorsport.com since June 2022 and also contributes to TNT Sports, Eurosport and the Rugby Paper. He's also had articles published in the Daily Telegraph and several local newspapers, previously worked for Last-Lap.co.uk and FeederSeries.net in motorsport, and graduated with a First-Class Journalism Degree from the University of Sheffield having also studied in Oklahoma. Adam started watching F1 by accident in 2007, catching the last race in Indianapolis, and attended his first race as a journalist at the 2023 British Grand Prix.
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