Hamilton’s Sao Paulo charge, Alonso’s rocket start and Bottas bossing it – 7 top F1 Sprint moments
This weekend's Sao Paulo Grand Prix will play host to the third edition of the Sprint format this season, so before we get set for some more intense racing in Brazil, let's look back at a few of the more memorable moments from the last five F1 Sprints...
Interlagos, 2021: Hamilton's Sao Paulo charge
After a technical infringement involving his Mercedes' drag reduction system (DRS) was found, Lewis Hamilton was disqualified from last year's qualifying in Sao Paulo and forced to start the Sprint from the back of the grid.
Hamilton then produced what might have been his second-best performance of the weekend – after the Grand Prix itself on the Sunday – making his way up to fifth place by the end of the 24 laps, pulling off numerous overtakes in the process, much to the delight of his Brazilian fans. The following day, of course, he went on to complete the job, passing Max Verstappen late on to seal the Grand Prix win as well.
Silverstone, 2021: Verstappen and Hamilton's Lap 1 battle
Hamilton came into his home race looking to close the 32-point deficit to championship leader Max Verstappen. The two title protagonists then started on the front row in the first-ever running of the Sprint format, with Verstappen making the better getaway from second, going up into the lead by Turn 1.
The two drivers then proceeded to put on a show for the Silverstone crowd as they went toe to toe for much of the first lap, with Verstappen eventually holding off the challenge of Hamilton to finish first – thus setting up what turned out to be a dramatic Sunday...
Imola, 2022: Verstappen chases down Leclerc in Ferrari country
Charles Leclerc had two victories from three races when the F1 circus rolled into town for April's Emilia Romagna Grand Prix – and the first Sprint event of the season.
So, trailing the Monegasque by 46 points, it was important that Verstappen hit back in Imola, which he did by topping qualifying. However, he lost the advantage to Leclerc on the run down to Turn 1 when the lights went out to start the Sprint. But the story wasn't over yet.
With six laps to go Verstappen started to close in on the Ferrari driver, and while Leclerc held off his initial advances, the Red Bull racer eventually made his way past on the penultimate lap, sealing his second Sprint victory.
Monza, 2021: Bottas wins after Mercedes departure is announced
Ahead of the 2021 Italian Grand Prix, it was confirmed that after five seasons with Mercedes, Valtteri Bottas would be leaving the Silver Arrows and joining Alfa Romeo for 2022.
So, at the first time of asking, the Finn took the opportunity to show Mercedes what they'd be missing – qualifying in first ahead of the Sprint at Monza before putting in a strong performance on Saturday, leading all 18 laps and taking the chequered flag in P1 – sealing the first of his two Sprint victories last season.
Silverstone, 2021: Alonso gets a rocket start
The action was intense at the front of the very first Sprint event at Silverstone in 2021, but something very exciting was also going on further down the grid as Fernando Alonso impressively made his way up to fifth on Lap 1 after lining up in 11th for the start.
Alonso had opted to use the soft tyre – while most of the grid started on the medium compound – utilising the extra grip at the start to get ahead of his competitors. The Spaniard did eventually drop down to seventh as his tyres degraded, but it was nonetheless an impressive showing from the two-time champ.
Imola, 2022: Sainz cheers the tifosi with comeback drive
After crashing into the barriers in a wet qualifying session at Imola, Carlos Sainz was forced to start the Sprint from 10th, leaving him with a lot of work to do in front of Ferrari's adoring fans.
But the Spaniard then went on to put on a strong showing, pulling off a string of overtakes – including past the two McLaren drivers late on – on his way to taking the chequered flag in fourth place.
Red Bull Ring, 2022: 'We will get them tomorrow' promises Leclerc
Having not won a race in seven tries and after losing out in the Sprint to the super-quick Verstappen in Austria, many might have expected Leclerc to be slightly downbeat about his chances in the Grand Prix on Sunday, as he circled the track on his cool-down run after the 23-lap dash – especially as his wilting championship chances were slipping away by the week.
However, the Monegasque was incredibly confident, as he was heard telling his Ferrari team over the radio: "We are quick, we will get them tomorrow."
And he was right – he went on to win the Grand Prix on Sunday, overtaking Verstappen three times on his way to his third victory of the season.