Verstappen wins again in Brazil, Alonso back on the podium

Max Verstappen continued to rewrite Formula One's record books as he took his 17th win of the 2023 season with a dominant display at the Sao Paulo Grand Prix.

The three-time champion, who secured this year's title last month in Qatar, took a lights-to-flag victory, extending his newly minted record for race victories in a season to 17 with two races left to run this season.

Verstappen easily beat McLaren's Lando Norris, who scored his sixth second-place finish of the year, while Fernando Alonso turned in a masterclass to snatch third away from Sergio Perez in the final laps.

While Verstappen was in control for the vast majority of the race, he briefly came under attack from Norris on lap eight. The McLaren driver used his DRS overtaking aid to pull alongside Verstappen as they approached Turn 1 and then continued to hustle the Red Bull through the Senna 'S' and down the hill to Turn 4.

Norris' brief glimmer of hope was extinguished under braking for Turn 4 by Verstappen, who then seemed to use the battle as motivation to pull out a two-second lead over the next three laps. From that point onwards Verstappen was able to manage the race on a two-stop strategy, which ensured Norris was 8.3s behind as he took the chequered flag.

It was also Verstappen's 52nd grand prix victory of his career, meaning he now stands alone as the driver with the fourth most wins behind Sebastian Vettel (53), Michael Schumacher (91) and Lewis Hamilton (103).

Alonso returned to the podium for the first time since the Dutch Grand Prix in August in emphatic style. Aston Martin has struggled for performance since the Italian Grand Prix in September, but Alonso's car came alive at Interlagos, allowing him to hold off Perez by just 0.053s.

Alonso delivered a masterclass, taking an unorthodox line through Turn 12 to ensure his car launched out of the corner and held the Red Bull at bay on the long hill up to the pit straight. Perez finally found a way past on the penultimate lap, only for Alonso to retake the place with a remarkable overtake at Turn 4 on the final lap.

Despite the missed podium, the Brazilian Grand Prix represented a step forward for Perez after his retirement from his home race in Mexico last weekend, albeit still 32.2s off teammate Verstappen at the finish.

Charles Leclerc, who was supposed to start the race from second position, spun off the track on the formation lap due to a car issue. The Ferrari driver initially suspected a hydraulics issue, but later said the team believed a different problem caused his steering to go heavy and his rear tyres to lock up.

Leclerc, who managed to drive is car to a gap in the barriers to avoid a disruption to the start, opened his team radio communications and said, "Why the f--- am I so unlucky?"

When the race got underway it lasted just a handful of corners before being red flagged following an incident between the two Haas drivers and Alex Albon on the run down to Turn 1. The incident, which saw Nico Hulkenberg squeezed by his teammate on the left and the Williams on the right, took Albon and Kevin Magnussen out of the race as well as resulting in a 30-minute hiatus to allow marshals to clear up the mess.

When the race resumed, Hamilton started from third on the grid with his Mercedes teammate George Russell in sixth. Hamilton lost a position to Alonso at Turn 4 on the opening lap of the restarted race, before both Mercedes drivers entered a freefall down the order over the following 67 laps.

As was the case in Saturday's sprint race, Hamilton and Russell struggled with excessive tyre degradation and found themselves unable to defend from rival drivers as the race unfolded. Russell eventually retired while running ninth due to increasing oil temperatures in his car's power unit. Hamilton went on to secure just four points for the team in eighth.

Ahead of him, Lance Stroll took fifth place for Aston Martin ahead of the sole Ferrari of Carlos Sainz in sixth and Pierre Gasly's Alpine in seventh. Yuki Tsunoda added to his points haul from Saturday's sprint race with a ninth-place finish ahead of Esteban Ocon in tenth.

The Formula One season now has a short break before the inaugural Las Vegas Grand Prix on Nov. 18.