Formula 1

Formula 1: Verstappen takes dramatic 50th career victory at the United States Grand Prix

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Max Verstappen won the United States Grand Prix having started from 6th place, needing to manage a brakes issue in the dying laps that almost cost him.

Prior to the start of the race, both Haas drivers and Aston Martin drivers were made to start from the pitlane, owing to setup changes ahead of the race.

When the lights went out Lando Norris was able to get a good launch off the line, managing to take the lead from Leclerc. His teammate wasn’t quite so lucky however, having made contact with Esteban Ocon, with both cars retiring due to the damage they picked up.

Norris was able to build a gap very quickly, being two seconds ahead of Leclerc after just two laps. Of course, the main challenge to his lead came from Max Verstappen, though in the early stages he was down in 5th, patiently waiting for the right opportunity to gain positions.

The right time for Verstappen to take 4th would come on lap 5. After being overtaken for third by Hamilton on lap 4, Sainz was left vulnerable to an attack from Verstappen, which was completed without much of a fight.

It would only take Hamilton two more laps to overtake the other Ferrari and move up to 2nd. The gap to Norris in 1st was 3.4 seconds, and whilst Hamilton had began to gradually close that gap, he was unable to get close enough to overtake Norris at this point in the race.

Verstappen would overtake Leclerc to get into the podium positions on lap 11, the gap to the lead roughly six seconds. Verstappen wasn’t able to make major inroads on Norris’ lead, which might have impacted the decision to get the undercut on both him and Hamilton on lap 17, pitting onto new medium tyres. Norris responded the very next lap, going onto hard tyres, whilst Hamilton would stay out until lap 21, trying to get a tyre offset so that he can be quicker towards the end of the next two stints. As a result of Verstappen’s undercut, he was able to overtake Hamilton, and the gap had been reduced by a couple of seconds, and would only get smaller in the coming laps.

Verstappen would eventually be able to take the lead on lap 28. Whilst Norris did attempt to retake the position, he was outdone on traction, and had to settle for trying to stick as closely as he could to Verstappen. Whilst the idea that Norris could still win the race was somewhat feasible, realistically his biggest threat was from Hamilton behind, who was able to turn a 6.6 second gap to Norris on lap 28 into a 2.7 second gap on lap 35 when Norris pit again, hoping for an undercut of his own, now that Verstappen had built a gap of a few seconds by that point.

Norris’ undercut would prove to be unsuccessful, even with a much better stop than Verstappen. The gap would reduce again, and Norris got back into DRS range for a little bit of time, though the gap would soon begin to open back up. This is also in spite of the fact that it was around lap 35 where Verstappen would begin to complain about his brakes being bad. Whilst he would be able to manage this for the time being, this would only become more difficult with time, and became a clear source of frustration for the 3-time world champion.

Hamilton would pit for the final time on lap 39, being the only one of the top 3 to go onto mediums. This would give him a clear pace advantage, especially once Norris’s tyres began to lose performance. Hamilton would be able to take second place on lap 49, though not before having to overtake Leclerc a few laps prior, who had been placed on a one stop strategy by his team.

Hamilton now had 7 laps to close down a 5.3 second gap. Whilst he was able to take some time out of Verstappen’s lead, it wasn’t by enough to pose any sort of threat. That was until a couple of laps from the end, when Hamilton would begin to take one or two seconds off per lap, as Verstappen’s brake issues appeared to worsen. Unfortunately for Hamilton, however, this appeared to come a lap or two too late, and Verstappen was ultimately able to win by just two seconds.

Further back, and Alonso had done a stellar job to get his Aston Martin from a pitlane start up to 9th at one stage, only for his points finish to be taken away as he was forced to retire the car due to floor damage.

After the race, both Hamilton and Leclerc were disqualified for having excessive wear on the skid planks on either car’s underfloor. This meant that Norris was promoted back into 2nd place, whilst Sainz now rounded out the podium. It also meant that Williams were promoted into scoring their first double points finish since the 2021 Belgian Grand Prix, and was American Logan Sargeant’s first ever point in F1.

This is the third time in a row that Verstappen has won the United States Grand Prix. It is also the first time a driver has won three races in the same country in the same season.

McLaren overtake Aston Martin for fourth in the constructors with this result. After Hamilton’s disqualification, the gap between him and Perez extends to 39 points.

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