Verstappen takes 50th win at Austin as Hamilton praises Mercedes comeback

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F1 Grand Prix, GP USA, Circuit of The Americasus

Max Verstappen steadily progressed through the field after starting from 6th and managed a braking issue to win the United States Grand Prix in Austin, Texas, making it 50 wins in his F1 career. Lewis Hamilton finished a close second and praised his car's improvements. Lando Norris completed the podium for McLaren.

When the lights went out it as Norris who enjoyed the greatest getaway in front of the pack. The McLaren driver immediately took the lead of the race as Leclerc dropped back in firing range of his team mate. Lewis Hamilton dropped to fourth and only just managed to hold off a charging Max Verstappen.

Oscar Piastri followed up next in 6th after gaining 4 places in the first lap. Esteban Ocon was 7th with Russell behind him. Perez and Gasly completed the top ten with the latter losing 3 positions at the start, just like Russell.

The Ferrari duo however soon were looking more into their mirrors than towards Norris with Sainz losing 3rd to Hamilton on lap 4 and then another position to Verstappen the next lap. Hamilton quickly went on to gain another place by passing Charles Leclerc for second place and seemed more than half a second quicker per lap than the pole sitter after passing him on lap 7. Verstappen to take a more considerate approach and only managed to find a way past Leclerc on lap 11.

Meanwhile Alpine's Ocon became the first to finish their race early after a contact with Piastri at the start of the race had caused damage that forced a retirement. Only a few laps later Piastri was asked to cool the car with big lifts at the end of the straight, undoubtedly also caused by the sidepod damage incurred versus Ocon. The Australian pitted at the end of that lap and retired.

It was also around lap 10 that the first cars started to pit. Both Alfa Romeos, the Williams duo and both Haas cars got pitted alongside Lance Stroll, all exchanging their mediums from the start to hard tyres.

By lap 15 the race leader's gap had reduced back down to less than 2 seconds with Hamilton eating 2 to 4 tenths away on every pass. Verstappen in third and 5s further down the road was quicker still, but also only by a few tenths.

Surprisingly, Verstappen was the first of the front runners to pit. At the end of lap 16 he went to get a fresh set of mediums, rejoining in 9th position, 2 seconds behind Tsunoda and 2.5s ahead of Ricciardo. Several teams got the hint, leading to stops for Norris, Sainz, Perez and Gasly.

Hamilton continued two more laps but then pitted too after flatspotting his tyres in Turn 1. When he emerged out of the pits he was 5th, ahead of Sainz but a massive 5s behind Verstappen, having been the same amount of time ahead. Hamilton was disappointed to find out but was told by his team "Yeah copy, but we are just offsetting".

Leclerc was the last one to stop, exchanging medium for hard Pirellis on lap 23. This saw Norris take back the lead of the race, 2.5s ahead of Verstapen and another 7.3s extra to Hamilton. Sainz followed another 3.5 seconds behind and again 3.5s ahead of Perez.

The Dutch World Champion was quickly closing in on Norris and took the lead on lap 29, no doubt helped by the medium tyres versus the hard on Norris' car. Still, with the same hard tyres, Hamilton was consistently faster than Norris with his Mercedes team even telling him he could push harder, "take more out of these tyres".

Norris was the first to pit for a second time. The McLaren driver took on another set of new hard tyres, having no new mediums left. Red Bull reacted one lap later and despite the stop being a full second slower, Verstappen still emerged 2s ahead of Norris. Sainz was ahead of both but the Spaniard was soon pitted by Ferrari, dropping him again into 5th.

On lap 39 Hamilton pitted from the lead. As he came out of the pitlane to rejoin in between Norris and Sainz he saw Verstappen pass Leclerc in the approach to Turn 1 to take the lead once again. Half a lap later Norris also got by Leclerc, this time on the back straight. The McLaren driver recorded the fastest lap while he was at it to get at 1.2s of Verstappen.

Hamilton soon got down to business as well as he was now on fresh medium tyres whereas the cars around him were on older hard tyres. The Mercedes was clearly faster than Leclerc on 20-lap old hard tyres but as the Ferrari driver defended in Turn 1, Hamilton lost precious time by following Leclerc through the twisty section before passing him on the back straight.

As the battle in front heated up with 15 laps remaining, Aston Martin were gather data on their new aerodynamic package as Alonso and Stroll continued to remain unusually close to one another. When both men had completed their second stops, Alonso was 10th while Stroll, running the new aero package followed in 11th position, only 4.4 seconds behind.

The duo passed Tsunoda before Alonso reported a "rear suspension failure". The Spaniard dropped behing Stroll and Tsunoda with a lap that as 6 seconds off the pace before the team replied "We can't see anything mate". The Spaniard did another lap that was again considerably of the pace before pitting an retiring the car, apparently with floor damage.

Hamilton continued to push and went past Norris despite a very very late move in the braking for Turn 1. The gap to Verstappen was then slightly more than 5 seconds and, although it reduced with Verstappen continuing to complain about his brakes and urging his engineer to stop talking while braking, it proved enough to secure yet another Grand Prix victory.

AlphaTauri meanwhile were king of the fastest lap this weekend. 4 laps from the end it looked like Ricciardo was set to secure fastest lap but they also pitted Tsunoda a lap later. The Japanese was in 10th place and by setting fastest lap on the ultimate lap scored an extra point for himself and the team.


1 1 Max Verstappen RED BULL RACING HONDA RBPT 56 1:35:21.362 25
DQ 44 Lewis Hamilton MERCEDES 56 +2.225s 0
2 4 Lando Norris MCLAREN MERCEDES 56 +10.730s 18
3 55 Carlos Sainz FERRARI 56 +15.134s 15
4 11 Sergio Perez RED BULL RACING HONDA RBPT 56 +18.460s 12
DQ 16 Charles Leclerc FERRARI 56 +24.662s 0
5 63 George Russell MERCEDES 56 +24.999s 10
6 10 Pierre Gasly ALPINE RENAULT 56 +47.996s 8
7 18 Lance Stroll ASTON MARTIN ARAMCO MERCEDES 56 +48.696s 6
8 22 Yuki Tsunoda ALPHATAURI HONDA RBPT 56 +74.385s 5
9 23 Alexander Albon WILLIAMS MERCEDES 56 +86.714s 2
10 2 Logan Sargeant WILLIAMS MERCEDES 56 +87.998s 1
11 27 Nico Hulkenberg HAAS FERRARI 56 +89.904s 0
12 77 Valtteri Bottas ALFA ROMEO FERRARI 56 +98.601s 0
13 24 Zhou Guanyu ALFA ROMEO FERRARI 55 +1 lap 0
14 20 Kevin Magnussen HAAS FERRARI 55 +1 lap 0
15 3 Daniel Ricciardo ALPHATAURI HONDA RBPT 55 +1 lap 0
NC 81 Oscar Piastri MCLAREN MERCEDES 10 DNF 0
NC 31 Esteban Ocon ALPINE RENAULT 6 DNF 0v

Note - Tsunoda scored an additional point for setting the fastest lap of the race.
Albon received a five-second time penalty for track limits infringements. Hamilton and Leclerc disqualified for technical infringements.