Max Verstappen fended off a late charge from Lewis Hamilton to take his 50th career victory in Formula 1 at the United States Grand Prix.

The Red Bull climbed from sixth on the grid to claim his third win in Austin, ahead of Hamilton and McLaren’s Lando Norris.

Even before proceedings got underway, it was confirmed earlier in the day that Aston Martin and Haas had decided to withdraw both of their cars to start from the pitlane.

Those two teams had failed to optimise their latest developments amid the shortage of practice time, with Aston Martin electing to split specifications between its drivers.

Unsurprisingly, with high track temperatures present, every driver inside the top 10 elected for the Medium tyre, with the Soft compound avoided entirely by the 20-car field.

From the start, Norris immediately got a better launch and held the high ground over Charles Leclerc into Turn 1 to seize the early lead. As one Ferrari was demoted a place, the other obtained a position as Carlos Sainz eased up the inside of Hamilton to claim third.

George Russell in the sister Mercedes also dropped down the order, losing three positions to Verstappen, Oscar Piastri and Esteban Ocon to end the opening lap eighth.

Midway through the first tour, Sainz had a run on Leclerc down the back straight and fancied overtaking his team-mate into Turn 12, but the latter maintained second. However, the Ferrari squabble allowed Norris to open up a 2s gap inside the first lap.

Behind that Ferrari duel, team-mate Piastri fancied a run on Verstappen until he shut the door, ensuring the Dutchman retained the one position he had gained right at the start.

Both Russell and Sergio Perez overtook Ocon, who was struggling after picking up sidepod damage following contact with Piastri through the opening sequence of corners. The Frenchman would become the first retirement a few laps later, marking his third failure to finish in the last four races.

Despite losing out to Sainz on the first lap, Hamilton swiftly utilised the aid of DRS on Lap 4 to complete a comfortable pass on Sainz into Turn 12. The seven-time World Champion only had to wait a further two laps before pulling the same move on Leclerc, with neither Ferrari fighting particularly hard.

Between Hamilton’s progress, Verstappen had proceeded to pass Sainz at the same spot, elevating his Red Bull up to fourth.

Max Verstappen (NLD) Red Bull Racing RB19 and Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W14 at the start of the race. 22.10.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 19, United States Grand Prix, Austin, Texas, USA, Race Day.

While things were going swimmingly for Norris as he continued to maintain his 3s margin over Hamilton, Piastri was informed on Lap 10 that he would have to retire. It was later confirmed that damage to a radiator from the contact with Ocon was responsible for the Australian’s early exit from the race.

Zhou Guanyu’s pit stop the previous lap triggered a series of movement in the pit lane that saw Alex Albon, Valtteri Bottas and Kevin Magnussen stop next time around.

Logan Sargeant, appearing in his second home grand prix of the year, was also fitted with fresh rubber by his Williams team and swiftly mounted an overtake on Magnussen.

Prior to that exchange, Verstappen had dived down the inside of Leclerc into Turn 12, the Ferrari running wide on the exit of the corner as he relinquished his hold on third.

Hamilton had progressively closed the margin to Norris, reducing the gap by over a second down to 1.8s, with Verstappen a further 4.6s adrift on Lap 15 out of 56.

Until then none of the front runners had headed for the pits, but that changed at the end of Lap 16 when Red Bull boxed Verstappen for a fresh set of Medium tyres.

McLaren instantly responded to the undercut threat posed by Verstappen by pitting Norris for Hards, but Hamilton stayed out on track.

At Ferrari, Sainz, behind Leclerc on the road, got preferential treatment on strategy, with Perez also coming in to change tyres.

Mercedes asked Hamilton whether he could muster five more laps from his starting set, which the Briton responded to with uncertainty. The apprehension in his voice was translated to the track as he locked up and went wide into Turn 11, ensuring that Verstappen entered his pit window.

That prompted Mercedes to call Hamilton in at the end of Lap 21; like Norris, the Hard tyre was bolted onto his W14. He emerged behind both Norris and Verstappen.

On significantly fresher tyres, Norris dispatched Russell down the back straight. He became the next to pit, leaving Leclerc as the only leading contender yet to stop.

Eventually, at the conclusion of Lap 23, Leclerc detoured to the pits, promoting Norris back into the lead. But the Briton locked up, allowing Verstappen to close up.

Approaching the halfway point on Lap 27, Verstappen entered DRS range of the McLaren, taking the lead down the inside into Turn 12 on the following lap.

Sergio Perez (MEX) Red Bull Racing RB19. 22.10.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 19, United States Grand Prix, Austin, Texas, USA, Race Day.

However, with Verstappen due to pit again to fulfil the mandatory need to use two compounds, Norris effectively remained in the overall net lead at this stage.

Better still, the McLaren ace was not allowing Verstappen to break clear and remained within one second of the Red Bull for several laps since being overtaken.

Verstappen, though, soon put the hammer down and began to pull away from Norris, who was hovering 3.7s ahead of Hamilton.

McLaren decided to abandon the one-stop strategy, bringing Norris in for a second time for another new set of Hards on Lap 34. He came out sixth on the road, behind Leclerc.

Red Bull wasted no time in responding to McLaren’s move. And despite a minor delay on the pit stop, Verstappen rejoined ahead of Norris with over a second to spare.

Sainz and Perez, meanwhile, had pitted, placing Leclerc into second but with Verstappen and Norris breathing down his neck.

Mercedes also avoided the one-stop strategy and boxed Hamilton for the Mediums, while Verstappen got on with passing Leclerc into Turn 1. Norris swiftly followed him through.

Leclerc continued to struggle for traction on his ageing tyres and Hamilton breezed past the defenceless Ferrari down the straight on Lap 43 to return to a podium position.

Hamilton’s late charge saw him whittle down the deficit to Norris to be on his compatriot’s tail by the time Lap 48 rolled around.

The superior rubber on the Mercedes car saw Norris squirm through the final sector to keep Hamilton at bay before the McLaren made a late dart to defend his position into Turn 1. However, Hamilton was able to cleverly anticipate his rival running deep and then cut underneath to seize second.

Behind that contest, Stroll progressed into the final points place, avoiding a dangerous jolt from Yuki Tsunoda to take 10th. The Canadian then rose to ninth as team-mate Alonso encountered trouble, elevating the AlphaTauri racer back into the top 10.

Leclerc’s troubles continued as he was told to let Sainz pass before Perez relegated the Monegasque further down to sixth place.

Elsewhere, Alex Albon, one position outside the points, received a time penalty for a track limits infringement, the first in the race.

After a race that involved many strategical twists and turns, Verstappen triumphed by 2s over Hamilton to win for the fifth consecutive time in the United States.

The 26-year-old’s third successive COTA triumph was also his 15th of 2023, matching his record tally from last season.

Hamilton’s valiant drive yielded second to continue his excellent record at the Texan venue in second, with Norris achieving his fourth consecutive podium finish.

Perez ended up fifth to split the two Ferraris, Sainz leading the way ahead of Leclerc after the latter’s one-stop gamble backfired.

Russell’s low-key weekend culminated with a quiet run to seventh, ahead of Gasly’s Alpine, Stroll and Tsunoda, who fitted fresh Soft tyres to notch the fastest lap on his final tour

Source:  Read More 

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *