THEovercame every challenge presented to him in Austin to take his 13th win of the year. Red Bull also secured the championship mathematically.
This feat, as expected, was dedicated to. Verstappen after a disastrous pit-stop managed to regain the lead from Hamilton in the last laps. Leclerc third and Perez fourth. His seventh place was heroic .
The vast majority of drivers chose the medium tire for the start of the race. The only ones who preferred hard were the Alpine and Haas drivers. Esteban Ocon actually started from the pits getting new PU elements.
THEVerstappen’s started perfectly unlike him Sainz who lost the lead already in the first meters of the race. Nevertheless, the Spaniard’s fight was about to get worse even more. Carlos turned second in turn 1, but o Russell was behind and to the left of him in the interior.
As the Spaniard slowed down and swerved left to avoid Verstappen, he cut into Russell’s path and the two cars came to rest. Russell’s Mercedes continued but Sainz’s Ferrari suffered damage that forced him to retire at the end of the first lap. Russell was given a 5 second penalty for the contact.
The contact moved Hamilton into second place with Stroll right behind him. Russell was fourth, while Vettel also made an amazing start, rising to fifth place. Soon Russell would overtake Stroll at the moment when the Perez andthey were also rising from their low starting positions. At the end of the seventh lap the order was Verstappen, Hamilton, Russell, Perez, Stroll, Vettel, Leclerc, Gasly, Norris and Bottas.
Air and tire battle
For the third day in a row the wind was blowing strongly -speed 21.6 km/h- and laterally towards the Esses of the track. This made the work of the drivers particularly difficult, making particularly difficult to achieve a solid first stint. An additional challenge was the expected severe Pirelli wear.
In the 10th round the first stops began. Leclerc – who remained in the initial medium set – had moved up to second place while Perez had also switched to hard on the 15th lap. Ferrari was trying to extend Leclerc’s stint. Stroll stopped on lap 16 but remained on the medium Pirelli tyre. Leclerc and Vettel remained the only drivers in the top five who had yet to change tyres.
The drivers’ battles with the strong crosswinds at COTA would take their first toll on lap 18. THE Bottas lost control of the Alfa Romeo as it turned into the penultimate corner of the track. The car got stuck in the sand trap and the Philanthropist’s fight ended there.
First safety car
The result was that the safety car came out. This development favored those drivers who had not yet made a pit-stop. The Leclerc-Vettel as well as the Alpine, Haas and Williams drivers took advantage of the Safety car to do “cheap” first pit-stops.
With the drivers having all changed tyres, the order was Verstappen, Hamilton, Perez, Leclerc and Russell, all five on the hard tyre. On the restart Verstappen kept ahead. Alonso – having the mediums – managed to pass Gasly in the first corner. The Spaniard had a superior pace to the cars that were on hard.
While coming out on the back straight he tried to overtake Stroll as well. Nevertheless, the Canadian swerved at Alonso as the latter exited the Aston Martin’s slip-stream. The contact was fierce with pieces of both cars flying everywhere. Stroll quit on the spot while Alonso miraculously made it back to the pits and change tires.
Second safety car
After the second restart Leclerc immediately began to put pressure on Perez. Thanks to his fresher tyres, but also thanks to Checo’s seized RB18 – due to contact at the start – the Ferrari driver looked capable of overtaking. That would come in spectacular fashion in the 30th round.
The difference between Verstappen and Hamilton was under two seconds, while Leclerc was still 5 behind the Briton. On the 35th lap, Mercedes called for a second pit-stopattempting to undercut Verstappen.
Red Bull would respond in the very next round, as would Ferrari with Leclerc. Verstappen’s front left wheel airlock did not workhowever, The result was Max losing his place to both Hamilton and Leclerc in the pits.
Hard vs medium rubber
THE Hamitlon he might have been in third place. But, having completed his pit-stops he practically had the vanguard of the race. The Brit had put on the hard rubber again. The Leclerc-Verstappen fighting behind him had chosen the mediums.
The battle between the two drivers was impressive. In the 39th round, however, Verstappen would make his move at the end of the back straight. Meanwhile Perez-Russell also made their final changes with the Mexican keeping marginally ahead of Mercedes.
Hamilton formally took the lead on the 41st lap, passing Vettel who entered the pits shortly after. With 14 laps remaining Verstappen was 3.5 seconds behind Hamilton and had Leclerc stuck in his shadow.
As the laps went by Verstappen closed the gap on Hamilton. But Leclerc couldn’t keep up. Ten laps to go Verstappen was two seconds behind Hamilton.
With seven laps to go Verstappen went into Hamilton’s DRS, evoking memories of 2021. THEhe managed with a decisive move to take the lead on the 50th lap. The battle between the two drivers continued throughout the third sector, with Verstappen remaining first.
Hamilton was fighting tooth and nail to hang on to Verstappen’s DRS. The hard tires he had allowed him to push harder even after several laps. On lap 54, however, the Brit would make a small mistake that would take him out of his rival’s DRS.
Both drivers would receive black-and-white flag warnings for keeping track boundaries. Nevertheless, Verstappen would hold on to the top picking up his 13th win of the season. So, he equaled the record for most in a season held by Michael Schumacher and Sebastian Vettel. Hamilton was second and Leclerc third.
With this result Red Bull took the constructors’ championship breaking Mercedes’ streak. A feat that all the team members dedicated to the late Dietrich Mateschitz.
The final standings of the US GP
The driver’s championship standings
|1||RED BULL RACING RBPT||391|
|3||RED BULL RACING RBPT||265|
|10||ALFA ROMEO FERRARI||46|
The standings in the constructors’ championship
|1||RED BULL RACING RBPT||656|
|6||ALFA ROMEO FERRARI||52|
|7||ASTON MARTIN ARAMCO MERCEDES||49|
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