Motor Sports

Verstappen defeats Hamilton to win the United States Grand Prix, giving Red Bull the emotional constructors’ championship victory.

As it happened

The F1 paddock gathered on the grid before Sunday’s race to remember the Austrian entrepreneur with a round of applause after the sad passing of Dietrich Mateschitz and a flood of tributes overnight. The record Austin crowd made sure it was a fitting tribute.

Sainz and Verstappen lined up on the front row for the start, while Perez dropped from P4 to P9 due to an engine change, and Leclerc, who finished second in qualifying, dropped all the way down to P12.

Alonso (engine), Zhou (engine), and Tsunoda (gearbox) all lost five positions as a result of additional penalties, and Ocon moved from the starting grid to the end of the pit lane after acquiring a number of new components for his power unit following his disappointing run to P18 in qualifying.

Verstappen made the best start to overtake Sainz off the line and avoid the Turn 1 bottleneck as the 56-lap race, the 10th at COTA and the first dry F1 race since last month’s Italian Grand Prix, got underway.

As Russell attempted to lunge up the inside, he locked up and crashed into Sainz’s car, sending the pole-sitter into a spin and forcing him to retire early due to a water leak. The stewards immediately assessed Russell a five-second time penalty for his actions.

After some pre-race drama in which his mechanics quickly changed his front brakes, Hamilton did well to avoid colliding with Russell and Sainz, Stroll was a big winner in the rear. He lined up behind Verstappen and Hamilton.

The Canadian’s podium finish was short-lived, though, as Russell overtook him at Turn 12 on Lap 6 and Perez, who was recovering, mimicked the move one lap later, albeit with some early contact damage to his front wing endplate.

Leclerc’s charge saw him move up from P12 to P7 in 10 laps, ahead of Gasly, Norris, and Bottas, with the latter driving a train of midfield drivers into the pits for new tyres on lap 11. This left Aston Martin in positions P5 and P6 with Stroll and Vettel, respectively.

Verstappen maintained a close to five-second lead over Hamilton up front by controlling his race and the persistent windy conditions, while Russell resisted Perez’s advances in the pack behind and Leclerc defeated Vettel to claim P6.

On Lap 13, Hamilton was the first of the leaders to pit, switching his medium tyres for softs after receiving the infamous “Hammer Time” radio message from race engineer Peter Bonnington. Verstappen and Russell followed suit a lap later, with the British driver also serving his time penalty.

Verstappen quickly retook the lead after rejoining the race just ahead of Stroll. Teammate Perez pitted on lap 15 and moved into position between Hamilton and Russell’s Silver Arrows.

Verstappen was leading at this point as Leclerc continued his opening stint on the medium tyres and signaled to his Ferrari team to consider “Plan E,” while Vettel continued to race on deteriorating rubber and was prepared to profit from any drama.

When Bottas spun into the gravel at Turn 19 on Lap 18 and brought out the Safety Car, it would pay off for the former teammates and Alonso further back because their time in the pits was much shorter than it would have been in a race.

At the pit stops, Verstappen retained the lead from Hamilton and Perez after the pit stops, with Leclerc moving up to P4 ahead of Russell, Vettel, Stroll, Gasly, Alonso, and Norris. The race was stopped for three laps as Bottas’s vehicle was removed.

Verstappen controlled the restart to maintain the lead, but a terrifying collision between Alonso and Stroll down the back straight, which left a trail of wreckage all over the track, caused the Safety Car to return to the track only a few moments later.

Replays showed Alonso striking the back of Stroll’s vehicle as he tried to move out of the slipstream, which sent the Spaniard flying and both drivers slamming into the barriers at high speeds. Stroll had significant car damage and had to be taken out of the race while Alonso pitted for a new front wing.

Alonso jumped on the radio to criticize Stroll’s defensive driving and a “very late move” across the track, with Race Control noting that the stewards would be looking into the incident more closely after the race.

On lap 26, the action was quickly cleared up to allow Verstappen to take the lead from Hamilton, Perez, and Leclerc. The Ferrari driver had a tyre life advantage of several laps after his later stop.

As he got closer to third-placed Perez on lap 29, Leclerc began to take advantage of that advantage. He first made a vain attempt to overtake Perez at turn 12 on lap 29, but succeeded one lap later with a daring inside pass.

Verstappen boxed a lap later to fend off the undercut attempt after Hamilton initiated the second round of pit stops for the front-runners on lap 35. However, a botched stop cost him valuable time.

Verstappen rejoined behind Hamilton and Leclerc, the Red Bull and Ferrari using the softer medium compound in contrast to Hamilton’s hard-shod approach, and he remarked sarcastically over the radio, “Beautiful.”

Verstappen attacked Leclerc into Turn 1 on Lap 39, initially succeeding before his rival finished the cutback, but another attempt at Turn 12 saw the Dutchman move into a net P2 position, about four seconds behind Hamilton.

Vettel led the 3,500th lap of his Formula One career before announcing his retirement at the end of the season, with Perez making a pit stop and fending off Russell as he re-entered the race. However, the joyous occasion was marred by a 16.8-second stop that knocked him out of the points.

As the race approached its conclusion, Verstappen set a string of fast laps to close in on Hamilton up front. Leclerc settled into third place, ahead of Perez and Russell.

With six laps remaining, Verstappen’s relentless pace allowed him to overtake Hamilton into Turn 12 using his newly acquired DRS. He then skillfully maneuvered his car through the following set of turns to maintain position.

Verstappen and Red Bull won the race despite a brief response from Hamilton. After crossing the finish line some five seconds ahead of the field to claim victory and the constructors’ crown, the driver and pit wall exchanged emotional words as more tributes were paid to Dietrich Mateschitz and his influence on the sport.

After being passed, Leclerc continued to follow Verstappen within DRS range for a number of laps, but his pace on the mediums slowed and he was forced to settle for third, with Perez and Russell making up the top five positions.

The battle between McLaren and Alpine for P4 in the constructors’ standings is still going strong, and although Norris sustained some damage when he ran through the wreckage after Stroll and Alonso’s crash, a late charge earned him P6, ahead of Alonso. Alonso would later drop to P15 as a result of a Haas protest against his vehicle, though.

Before his aforementioned slow stop, Vettel may have been deserving of much higher than eighth place, but he maintained his composure to make up for several positions lost, the last of which was a skillful move up the inside of Magnussen into the newly-named Andretti corner. However, he was at least promoted by Alonso’s penalty.

Tsunoda, Ocon, Albon, and Zhou were all involved in an early incident with Gasly that was noted but not further investigated, and Albon was the leader of the group of cars that crossed the finish line for the final point (later two points after Alonso’s penalty).

Gasly finished 13th after receiving a penalty for failing to maintain a distance of 10 car lengths or less between himself and the car in front while the Safety Car was in use. The penalty was made worse when it was improperly applied during a subsequent pit stop.

Latifi was the last finisher after a spin during his first stint forced him to make an earlier-than-planned pit stop, leaving Schumacher and Ricciardo to finish in the shadow of their fast-finishing teammates Magnussen and Norris.