Max Verstappen puts in an incredibly strong performance that sees him take his 16th grand prix win of the season, breaking his own record for most wins in a single season.
The start saw Verstappen get a good start and quickly got ahead of both Ferraris into first. Perez also managed to get off well, and in an eager attempt to get ahead round the outside of Leclerc, he turned in too early and they made contact. Leclerc was left with a loose end plate on his front wing, whilst Perez sustained significant damage to his sidepod, ruling him out of his home grand prix just one lap in.
The loose end plate would eventually come off of Leclerc’s car, causing the Virtual Safety Car to be deployed so the stewards could retrieve the debris. Stewards investigated Leclerc for driving unsafely, though no racing punishment was dealt.
Daniel Ricciardo had held his own during the opening laps by keeping Hamilton at bay whilst in 4th. However, the Mercedes proved to be too quick compared to the Alpha Tauri, and Hamilton would eventually manage to overtake him on lap 11.
Hamilton would then quickly begin to chase down Sainz in third, though once he got close he found it difficult to overtake the Ferrari. Eventually, he would pit on lap 25 to get an undercut and hopefully overtake that way. Ferrari did not respond immediately, and it wouldn’t be until lap 31 that Sainz would pit, falling behind Hamilton in the process by over 6 seconds.
Only a couple of laps later and the race would be suspended after Kevin Magnussen crashed at turn 8, due to his left rear suspension failing. Most of the cars towards the front stayed more or less in formation during the second restart, though Lando Norris’ recovery drive took a dent as he fell from 10th to 14th, having been as high as 8th earlier on in the race.
Hamilton looked very punchy after the restart. He kept close to Leclerc, slightly benefitted by having a softer compound of tyre on, and would eventually make the overtake stick on lap 40, having to skim the grass on the inside of the track in the process. Whilst Ferrari were confident the pace would come back to them once the medium tyres wore off, this did not manifest and Hamilton was able to stretch his gap behind.
Another fight was brewing between the other Mercedes and Ferrari cars. Russell was looking the quicker driver for a time, though was unable to pass. Russell was complaining of Sainz moving under breaking, but nothing came of this, and Russell’s pace eventually died out.
Tsunoda and Piastri had been fighting closely to one another. Minor contact had initially been made between the two as Tsunoda attempted to overtake on lap 48, though the wheel banging meant neither driver came off worse for wear. This would not be the case however just one lap later, when Tsunoda would come across to early trying to overtake round the outside. He would pick up damage and be forced to pit for a new front wing. Whilst this was happening, Fernando Alonso would be made to retire from the race.
Norris’ charge through the field was well and truly back on, and had soon found himself behind his teammate. Piastri would let him through without much hassle, so that he could chase down Ricciardo in 6th. Norris would close the Alpha Tauri down rather quickly, making the move stick through turns 4 and 5 on lap 60.
Nico Hulkenberg was trying to hold onto a hard fought point in 10th place, though in the dying embers of the race, he would eventually lose out to Alpine’s Esteban Ocon. After this, Hulkenberg would drop to 13th place by the time he passed the chequered flag.
Norris was now eyeing down Russell’s 5th place with only a handful of laps to go. On lap 67, Norris would initially look to go around the outside at turn 4, though this would only be to get a good exit out of turn 5, where he would go down the inside of Russell into turn 6, making the move for 5th stick nicely.
A late incident occurred in the stadium section of the track as Bottas and Stroll made contact, with the incident causing the only remaining Aston Martin driver to also retire from the race.
Verstappen would go on to win by over 15 seconds ahead of Hamilton, with Leclerc rounding out the podium in 3rd. This is the 16th victory of the season for Max Verstappen, breaking his own record for most wins in a single season. Hamilton’s 2nd place means he is now 20 points behind Perez in the Driver’s Championship with just three race weekends remaining.
Ricciardo’s 7th place finish means that Alpha Tauri lift themselves up to 8th in the Constructor’s championship, with Haas now falling to bottom spot.
F1 heads to Brazil next week for the Sao Paulo Grand Prix, rounding out this triple header of races.