Max Verstappen overtook Lewis Hamilton to earn a thrilling United States Grand Prix, where he matched the record for victories in a season. Hamilton seized the advantage from Verstappen during the last pit stop, dropping the Red Bull driver behind Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc as well.
Hamilton seized the pit problem as an opportunity to end his and Mercedes’ win drought in a tough season for the team. However, the seven-time champion couldn’t stop Verstappen from catching up and overtaking him, as he was overwhelmed by the Red Bull’s straight-line speed in the last six laps.
The blustery conditions resulted in mistakes by Hamilton (0.7 seconds lost at Turn 12 and Turn one) that allowed Verstappen to get close enough to make his move. The straight-line speed of the Red Bull did the rest.
Verstappen’s 13th victory this year, which ties him with Michael Schumacher and Sebastian Vettel for the most victories in a season, was enough for Red Bull to win the constructors’ championship for the first time since 2013, completing a double after Verstappen won the drivers’ championship last time out in Japan.
The two safety car periods that took over the middle of the race helped Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, who started from grid position 12th, finish third, ahead of Red Bull’s Sergio Perez and Mercedes’ George Russell.
Dietrich Mateschitz, the late Red Bull co-owner, who died Saturday, inspired Verstappen to victory. Because of Mateschitz’s death, the FIA’s talks with Red Bull on the budget cap violation last year have been halted.
Fernando Alonso’s Alpine collided with Lance Stroll’s Aston Martin, who had moved late in defence against the Spaniard, resulting in the second safety car immediately following the first restart.
Alonso battled back from last place to finish seventh despite his car rearing up into the air at 180 mph, smashing down to the track, hitting the barrier, and shattering its front wing. It was definitely one of Alonso’s great performances – which saw Stroll, take a three-place grid penalty for the next race and two points.
An exhilarating ending
One of the year’s most exciting spectacles was given up by the race in front of a record-breaking audience at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas, and multiple celebrities led by Hollywood icon Brad Pitt.
As soon as the lights went down, Verstappen overtook pole-winner Carlos Sainz in the lead. The Spaniard was eliminated from contention after colliding with Russell at the first corner, for which the Briton received a five-second time penalty.
The remainder of the field engaged in several close clashes behind Verstappen, who was in command and controlling his speed at the front. However, when there was a delay fitting his left front wheel at his final pit stop, it appeared as though his race would have ended prematurely.
Before attempting to regain his position, Verstappen broadcast a passive-aggressive radio message to his team, reminding them that they were “all in it together.” And nothing could stop him, even the earnest attempts of Leclerc and then Hamilton.
Verstappen did feel that he got too emotional as he spoke on the radio during the slowing-down lap but he told his team that they fully deserved the title double.
Lando Norris overtook Fernando Alonso on the penultimate lap to win sixth place and lead the McLaren midfield, and Sebastian Vettel made a great pass on Kevin Magnussen’s Haas to take eighth.
Charles Leclerc has regained second place in the drivers’ standings after finishing third at the weekend’s race. Perez is two points behind the Ferrari driver as a result.
Lewis Hamilton has moved closer to Carlos Sainz in fifth after finishing second. Russell, on the other hand, has pulled away from him in the battle for fourth place after they collided early in the race.