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Despite having started from sixth place, it was business as usual for Max Verstappen. The three-time champion made it three in a row at COTA, winning the US GP from Lewis Hamilton and Lando Norris, all the while dealing with a brake issue. It marked his 50th career victory.
F1 Austin GP results: Who won the race?
Max Verstappen won the US GP. The Dutchman, starting down in sixth, slowly carved his way up the order, pulling off the winning overtake exactly at the halfway mark. Verstappen led home Lewis Hamilton and Lando Norris.
Norris jumps Leclerc off the line
Leclerc had a very slow getaway from pole. Norris, on the other hand, had a perfect launch from the inside of the front row, and was already past the Ferrari man well before the braking zone into turn 1. Leclerc had to defend from teammate Carlos Sainz Jr. and from Hamilton, but managed to retain the runner-up spot. Verstappen made up one spot, and narrowly avoided making side-by-side contact with his 2021 championship rival.
Further down the order, Oscar Piastri and Esteban Ocon made contact into the esses. The Frenchman picked up damage to his sidepod, and was forced to retire a few laps later. Piastri picked up a puncture to his radiator, and also saw his day come to an early end.
Norris drove away right off the bat, stretching the gap to 1.7s by the end of the first lap. On lap 4, with DRS available, Hamilton pulled off an overtake down the inside of turn 12 to go past Sainz for third. Two laps later, the Mercedes driver did the same to Leclerc, moving up to second. Verstappen followed suit on Sainz, picking up another spot and going up to fourth.
On lap 11, Verstappen went down the inside of Leclerc’s Ferrari into turn 12. The pair went side-by-side all the way to turn 15, but the 2023 champion eventually managed to get ahead for third.
Offsetting strategies at the front, Verstappen jumps Hamilton
Verstappen was the first driver to head into the pits, diving in at the end of lap 16 and bolting in a new set of mediums. Norris was quick to cover the undercut, following suit a lap later, switching over to the hard compound instead.
Mercedes opted to try and go for a one-stopper, but the suggestion was immediately shot down by Hamilton. The seven-time champion was only called in at the end of lap 20, and matters were further complicated by a slow, 3.6s stop by the German team due to problems on the right front tyre change. Hamilton, who had also switched over to hards, exited the pits in third place, but a long way behind Verstappen.
Verstappen takes the lead, nurses brake problems to claim win #50
Verstappen began to chomp at Norris’ lead. The British driver had been up by over seven seconds on the Dutchman prior to the first pit stop, but the gap soon fell down to one second. On lap 28, the three-time champion made use of Red Bull’s DRS advantage and, with a late launch down the inside, managed to outbreak the McLaren man into turn 12. Norris tried to fight back around the outside of 13, but Verstappen managed to hold on to the lead.
Norris was the one to go for the undercut, triggering the pit window at the end of lap 34. Verstappen lost no time in covering, diving in a lap later. Despite a slow pit stop by Red Bull, Verstappen reemerged ahead of the McLaren.
Hamilton once again stayed out longer than the opposition, pitting for mediums at the end of lap 38. Making good use of the softer compound, the seven-time champion tried to go for the move down the inside of turn 1 on lap 49. Despite a late move by Norris, the Mercedes driver completed the overtake around the outside of turn 2.
Hamilton closed in over the last few laps, largely because of Verstappen’s brake issues, but it wasn’t enough to win. Verstappen crossed the line with 2.2s in hand. The top 10 was rounded out by Norris, Sainz, Leclerc, Sergio Perez, Leclerc, George Russell, Pierre Gasly, Lance Stroll, and Yuki Tsunoda, who secured the bonus point for the fastest lap as well.
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