Max Verstappen secured his fifteenth win of the season, thus equalling the record he set last year. However, it was a more difficult affair for the Dutchman as his rivals were hot on his heels. F1Technical's senior writer Balázs Szabó delivers his post-race analysis.
For the first time – Although he could not match his career highlight of a fourth-placed finish, Sunday’s Austin F1 round was a very successful race for Yuki Tsunoda. The Japanese driver finished tenth, but he was promoted to eighth with the disqualification of Lewis Hamilton and Charles Leclerc, earning four points.
On top of that point tally, he Yuki Tsunoda extended his points haul at the Austin race by claiming the extra point for the fastest race lap. The Japanese driver pitted on the penultimate lap for fresh soft tyres and embarked on a race against the clock. "I felt under a lot of pressure," said Tsunoda. "I've never done anything like that before."
But the pressure didn't get to him. With a time of 1:38.139, Tsunoda pipped his team-mate Daniel Ricciardo to the fastest race lap. The Australian set the second-fastest lap of the race with a time of 1m39.366s, although he pitted for new tyres much earlier, that is why he could offer no match for Tsunoda’s best effort. The third-fastest lap was recorded by George Russell, who pitted quite late in the race for new medium tyres.
Interestingly, Max Verstappen, who has already set the fastest race lap in 8 races this year, was only ninth when it came to the quickest lap in Austin. However, it was mainly down to the fact that he came in quite early for his last pit stop and received a set of hard compound.
After 18 rounds and with only four more races left in 2023, Max Verstappen has already secured the DHL Fastest Lap Award as he has set the fastest lap on eight occasions, followed by Lewis Hamilton (3) and Sergio Perez (2). Zhuo Guanyu, Yuki Tsunoda, George Russell, Fernando Alonso and Oscar Piastri have all set the fastest race lap once apiece.
Driver of the Day - Starting from P2, Lando Norris took over the lead from Charles Leclerc at Turn 1 and looked a potential race winner for much of the afternoon. In the end, the McLaren racer had to make do with third behind Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton, but he was voted as Driver of the day after scoring 26 per cent of the votes.
Hamilton received 23.3 per cent of the votes, followed by Max Verstappen (14.4 per cent).
Lap times – A total of 35 lap times were deleted at the United States Grand Prix after drivers exceeded the track limits at Turns 1, 6, 9, 11, 12, 13, 19 and 20.
Charles Leclerc, Kevin Magnussen, Lewis Hamilton, Logan Sargeant had three lap times deleted apiece. Yuki Tsunoda, Nico Hulkenberg, Fernando Alonso, George Russell, Lando Norris Had two lap times deleted apiece. Esteban Ocon, Pierre Gasly, Carlos Sainz, Sergio Perez and Lance Stroll had one lap time deleted apiece.
Alexander Albon had six lap times deleted which would have normally seen him receive a five-second time penalty. However, the Thai driver was not handed a time penalty as “the evidence at hand is not sufficient to accurately and consistently conclude that any breaches occurred and therefore take no further action.” It means that stewards took no further action.
Once again – McLaren displayed great performance in the pit lane once again. No one was faster than the 'papayas' when it came to changing tires - 2.07 seconds for Lando Norris. Not a world record, but still faster than any of the other pit crews. Alpine performed the second-fastest pit stop with a time of 2.22s, narrowly beating Ferrari (2.23s) and AlphaTauri (2.30s).
Mercedes had two slow stops when servicing Lewis Hamilton’s W14, but their fastest tyre change was completed within 2.58s. After Hamilton’s pit stops were clocked at 3.6 and 3.4 seconds respectively, Team Principal Toto Wolff acknowledged that Mercedes need to improve their performance in the pit lane.
"Our mindset in the last 12 years, we don't need to be world champions in pitstops," he said. "We need to avoid very slow pitstops. And it's coming to a situation now where we realise that it has got so competitive, and we just need to ramp up our game up there. That's in terms of equipment and science around it, and the way we are set up, to avoid 3 or 3.5 seconds pitstops because all of that played a part.”
No world record this time, but @McLarenF1 once again excelled in the pit lane with an impressive 2.07-second stop for @LandoNorris at the #USGP.#F1 #DHLF1 #MomentsThatDeliver pic.twitter.com/4zQDujzJbf— DHL_Motorsports (@DHL_Motorsports) October 22, 2023
Pit lane start - Lance Stroll had a weird start to his race. The Canadian was set to start the race from the pit lane after his team had made tweaks to the setup of his Aston Martin. Stroll completed multiple reconnaissance laps, and he parked his car on the start-finish straight after performing his last installation lap.
However, he would have needed to proceed to the pit lane directly, as required from drivers who start from the pit lane. Aston Martin’s mechanics were forced to enter the main straight to push Stroll’s back to the pits.
The stewards noted that “the scenario caused by the incident was far from ideal. However, having reviewed the matter in detail, although the established process was not followed, no breach of any regulation was evident.”
New milestone – Despite suffering from brake-related issues, Max Verstappen clinched his 15th win of the season and his 50th career victory. It means that he has now joined the club of Michael Schumacher, Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel and Alain Prost – the four drivers who have won more than 50 F1 races.
Home soil – After suffering from different types of issues and making critical mistakes in previous rounds, Logan Sargeant endured better fortunes on home soil. The Miami-born driver crossed the finish line in P12, but the exclusion of Lewis Hamilton’s and Charles Leclerc’s results from the final result meant that he was promoted to P10. He managed to score a single point which was hist first point in his F1 career.
In total, 58 drivers have competed at the pinnacle of motorsport and Sargeant’s one-point was the 1000th F1 point scored by an American driver.
Downward spiral – After finishing six times on the podium in the first eight races, Fernando Alonso has only managed a single podium finish since the Austrian Grand Prix.
The United States Grand Prix was another blow to his championship aspiration, as he failed to get himself into the second qualifying session for the first time this season. The two-time world champion then started the race on Sunday from the grid after he had reverted his car to the Qatar specification. Alonso was surprisingly quick during the grand prix and was in for an eighth-placed finish before damages to the floor of his car forced him to retire from the action.
Pit lane start - All four drivers from Haas and Aston Martin started the Austin race from the pit-lane owing to setup changes under parc ferme conditions. Kevin Magnussen originally qualified 14th, Nico Hulkenberg 16th, Fernando Alonso 17th, and Lance Stroll 19th.
The rule states that if drivers starting from the pit lane arrive there prior to the five-minute mark before the race, then they form up in grid order. However, if they arrive after, they must form up in a line. In the end, Magnussen, Hulkenberg, Alonso and Stroll started as they qualified.
Teams’ battle – The United States Grand Prix has delivered several changes to the Constructors’ Championship.
After Hamilton’s disqualification, third-places Ferrari have closed in on the second-placed Mercedes within 22 points in the standings while McLaren have jump shipped Aston Martin for P4 and they now lead by six points ahead of the Silverstone-based outfit.
Thanks to Yuki Tsunoda’s five points scored in Austin, AlphaTauri have closed in on Alfa Romeo and Haas in the standings, leaving the trio enclosed in a fight for P8. Williams have scored with both cars in Texas which means that the Grove-based outfit now looks secure in P7 in the standings.