Max Verstappen emerged victorious at the end of an action-packed United States Grand Prix, overhauling and fending off Lewis Hamilton in a tense finale, while his Red Bull team wrapped up their first constructors’ title since 2013.
Verstappen’s record-equaling 13th win of the season, and the squad’s championship triumph, came a day after Red Bull co-founder and owner Dietrich Mateschitz passed away – a milestone fifth F1 constructors’ title for the Milton Keynes operation sparking emotional celebrations.
Having moved into the lead at the start, avoiding the drama behind as Carlos Sainz and George Russell clashed at Turn 1, Verstappen had looked set for a comfortable victory at the Circuit of The Americas, dealing with multiple Safety Car restarts and managing his pace expertly.
But a slow final pit stop opened the door for Hamilton and the recovering Charles Leclerc, the reigning world champion having to pass both of them to take the chequered flag first – his move on Hamilton coming with just six laps remaining.
Despite his sterling efforts, Hamilton had to settle for second place, with Mercedes’ wait for a 2022 victory continuing, while Leclerc salvaged a podium finish for Ferrari as the Italian team mathematically dropped out of contention for the constructors’ crown.
Leclerc benefitted from a cheap stop under an early Safety Car – brought out by Valtteri Bottas’s spin into the gravel – to rise from P12 on the grid after his power unit changes, with Perez taking fourth after his own engine penalty.
Russell took a five-second time penalty for his incident with Sainz en route to fifth, pitting late on to set the fastest lap on soft tyres, having held enough of a window over sixth-placed McLaren driver Lando Norris.
Fernando Alonso bounced back from an engine penalty and a dramatic collision with Lance Stroll midway through the race, which briefly sent him airborne, to claim seventh position, followed by Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettel and the one-stopping Haas of Kevin Magnussen.
Like Verstappen, Vettel’s efforts were dented by a slow final stop and, having initially held a strong points position, he had to fight his way back to eighth, passing Magnussen at the final corner on the final lap – earning the 'Driver of the Day' award in the process.
AlphaTauri driver Yuki Tsunoda, who started at the back of the grid after an engine penalty, also used the drama to his advantage to take a point in 10th, narrowly denying Alpine’s Esteban Ocon (who started from the pits), Williams’ Alex Albon and Alfa Romeo’s Zhou Guanyu.
After his qualifying woes, Pierre Gasly experienced another dramatic race, picking up a time penalty behind the Safety Car that was not served properly in the pits, leaving him to come home in 14th.
Mick Schumacher could not repeat team mate Magnussen’s points-scoring efforts on the more conventional two-stop strategy as he took P15, with the McLaren of Daniel Ricciardo and Williams of Nicholas Latifi the final cars to finish.
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Photo: F1 / Red Bull Racing / Oracle