Max Verstappen battled from sixth to claim his 50th F1 victory with a win at 2023 US Grand Prix.
Lando Norris led much of the opening two stints until Verstappen passed him on Lap 28 for the lead, from which the Dutchman went on to take his 15th Grand Prix victory of the season and 50th overall win in F1 after clearing an alternate strategy running Charles Leclerc on Lap 39.
Lewis Hamilton ran a deeper two-stop strategy to snatch second on the road ahead of Norris who claimed third on his 100th start in F1, as Carlos Sainz and Sergio Perez rounded out the top five.
Post-race, Hamilton and Charles Leclerc were both disqualified after their planks exceeded the permitted wear levels in scrutineering checks, which elevated everyone else who finished the race up a position with Norris promoted to second ahead of Sainz, Perez and George Russell.
In the drivers’ standings, Verstappen is already champion but Sergio Perez’s lead over Hamilton in the fight for second was initally trimmed to 19 points, before Hamilton’s disqualification extended the gap to 39 points.
McLaren meanwhile moved above Aston Martin into fourth in the constructors’ standings with a seven-point swing.
Norris and Russell’s 100th race in F1 whilst it’s Leclerc’s 100th race for Ferrari….
Hours before the race both Haas and Aston Martin opted to make set-up changes to both cars of their drivers, which meant that the quartet began the race from the pit lane with Kevin Magnussen heading Nico Hulkenberg, Fernando Alonso and Lance Stroll as they hit the track.
With just 16 drivers taking the start from the grid, Leclerc got a solid start at lights out but Norris jumped him for the lead as Sainz passed Hamilton for third ahead of Verstappen who recovered one position to fifth ahead of McLaren’s Oscar Piastri who went from tenth to sixth.
Piastri however made contact with Alpine’s Esteban Ocon which ultimately forced the pair to retire with damage by the end of Lap 10.
Up front, Norris held off Leclerc but Sainz lost third to Hamilton on Lap 4 who then took second from Leclerc two laps later.
Verstappen meanwhile played a tactical game to protect his medium tyres – everyone but Hulkenberg and Stroll started on the medium tyre – and passed Sainz on Lap 7, before he then demoted Leclerc to fourth on Lap 11 after he squeezd the Monegasque driver wide at Turn 12.
Alfa Romeo’s Guanyu Zhou triggered the pit stop window on Lap 10 but Verstappen was the first frontrunner to pit on Lap 17 as he opted for fresh mediums, unlike Norris who pitted a lap later for the hard tyre.
Once Hamilton and Leclerc made their stops by the end of Lap 23, Norris headed Verstappen who utilised his faster medium tyres to reel in the Brit and made a crucial overtake on Lap 28 into Turn 12 with a late braking inside move.
McLaren responded by pitting Norris on Lap 35 for fresh hard tyres which prompted Red Bull to pit Verstappen for hard tyres a lap later, which left them split by 1.5 seconds after Verstappen’s stop when the three-time champion rejoined the track.
Up front, Hamilton stayed out until the end of Lap 38 when he pitted from the lead and at the start of the next lap, Verstappen cleared Leclerc into Turn 1 for the lead with Norris following through at Turn 12 with a 1.2s gap to Verstappen.
Verstappen soon fought off Norris’ push for a maiden win to take his 15th Grand Prix win and 18th overall victory of the season – accounting for his three sprint wins, despite struggling with his brakes in the closing laps.
Hamilton’s decision to extend his opening two stints paid dividends as he cleared Norris on Lap 49 for second into Turn 1, despite having had to survive a late braking test from his compatriot who settled for third in his 100th F1 GP.
Sainz on a two-stop strategy overtook Ferrari teammate and pole-sitter, Leclerc on Lap 50 to finish fourth ahead of the Monegasque, who got overtook by Perez for fifth on Lap 53 in his 100th race for Ferrari.
Russell celebrated his 100th race in F1 with a seventh-placed finish, whilst Gasly finished eighth ahead of Stroll who drove from the pit lane to ninth ahead of Tsunoda who snatched the final point in tenth.
Post-race, Hamilton and Leclerc were later disqualified after stewards found that their planks exceeded the wear level, which meant that Alex Albon and Logan Sargeant were promoted to the top ten with Sargeant claiming his first point in F1 at his home race.
F1 now heads to Mexico for 2023 Mexico City GP from 27-29 October.
|1||Max Verstappen||Red Bull||56||1h 35m 21.362|
|2||Lando Norris||Mercedes||56||+ 10.730|
|3||Carlos Sainz||McLaren||56||+ 15.134|
|4||Sergio Perez||Red Bull||56||+ 18.460|
|5||George Russell||Red Bull||56||+ 24.999|
|6||Pierre Gasly||Alpine||56||+ 47.996|
|7||Lance Stroll||Aston Martin||56||+ 48.696|
|8||Yuki Tsunoda||AlphaTauri||56||+ 74.385|
|9||Alex Albon||Williams||56||+ 86.714|
|10||Logan Sargeant||Williams||56||+ 87.998|
|11||Nico Hulkenberg||Haas||56||+ 89.904|
|12||Valtteri Bottas||Alfa Romeo||56||+ 98.601|
|13||Guanyu Zhou||Alfa Romeo||55||+ 1 Lap|
|14||Kevin Magnussen||Haas||55||+ 1 Lap|
|15||Daniel Ricciardo||AlphaTauri||55||+ 1 Lap|
|DSQ||Charles Leclerc||Ferrari||56||+ 1 Lap|
|RET||Fernando Alonso||Aston Martin||49||Floor|