United States Grand Prix – Max Verstappen had to fight back to the lead after a bad pit stop to take the win and the Constructors’ title for Red Bull.
There was some last minute work on Lewis Hamilton’s car on the grid, the driver reporting that the car wasn’t braking properly on his outlap so his mechanics swapped the brake material on both front wheels.
Carlos Sainz will be lining up on pole with Max Verstappen alongside him instead of Charles Leclerc’s after ten place grid penalty for changing power unit elements was applied so the Monegasque driver will start from P12.
Leclerc wasn’t the only one with parts related grid drops, Sergio Perez was moved from P4 to P9, Fernando Alonso from P9 to P14, and Zhou Guanyu from P15 to P18. After qualifying both Esteban Ocon and Yuki Tsunoda changed power unit parts and gearbox parts so the AlphaTauri racer will be the final car to line up on the grid while Ocon will have to start from the pit lane.
The medium tyre was the tyre of choice for all but Kevin Mmagnussen in P13, Alonso in P14, Mick Schumacher in P16, and Ocon, who will all start on the hard compound.
Verstappen lined up very aggressively with his car angled towards Sainz and it was a much better start for the Dutchman who was into the lead by the first corner while it was a disaster for the Ferrari racer after he was tagged by George Russell and spun at T1. Sainz was able to make it back to the pits where he was pushed back into the garage as his radiator had been damaged and was leaking.
That meant that Verstappen ended the opening lap in P1 with over a seconds gap to Hamilton in P2 while Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll was in the final podium position just ahead of Russell, who was handed a five second penalty for causing the collision with Sainz.
Lap five saw Stroll fall off the rostrum when Russell breezed past the Canadian, the Aston Martin driver didn’t have much of a chance to get used to P4 as Sergio Perez, who’d been making up positions despite having a front wing endplate flapping around on his car. The Red Bull driver getting past Stroll at the same time as his endplate flew off, meaning that he wouldn’t be in danger of being forced into the pits to repair it.
Lap 10 saw Hamilton reporting that he was seeing some tearing on his tyres, the Mercedes driver was secure in P2 at the time, over three and a half seconds behind Verstappen and with almost double that to Russell behind him.
The following lap saw Valtteri Bottas as the first to make a scheduled stop, the Alfa Romeo driver swapping to the hards. At the sharp end of the pack, Hamilton was the first to make a stop, he rejoined in P7 on the hards. Verstappen and Russell followed the seven-times champion’s lead the next time round and the Red Bull racers emerged in P2, less than six seconds behind his teammate while Russell, who had to serve his 5 second penalty, dropped to P9.
Verstappen was soon back in control of the race when Perez pitted, rejoining in P6, but once the other cars pitted he would be in P3. With Mercedes bringing Hamilton in first as he wasn’t happy on his tyres, the British racer wasn’t having much more joy on the other compound reporting back that the hards didn’t feel great.
On lap 17, Leclerc was running P2 with the tyres he started with and was asking his team to consider plan E, whether Ferrari have a plan for every letter of the alphabet of not remains to be seen.
Lap 18 saw the yellow flags out for Bottas as the Finn lost the rear which saw him spin into the gravel where he couldn’t escape. The Safety Car was called and Leclerc took advantage to head to the pits, rejoining in P4 between Perez and Russell. Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso also took advantage to make their first tyre changes from P4 and P7, and each only lost a couple of places, as they joined the Safety Car queue in P6 and P9 with medium tyres.
Race Control put one of their new processes into action and sent out a message to the teams, who will then relay it to their drivers, informing them that there was a recovery vehicle out and what corner it was at.
The race was back underway on lap 22 and while Russell was looking to make a move on Leclerc, he wasn’t able at that point and behind him there was inter-team battling between the two Aston Martins but Vettel held his spot.
There was a big accident then between Stroll and Alonso, the Alpine racer having moved past Pierre Gasly and had just ducked out of the slipstream to try pass the Canadian but Stroll made a late move to block. Wheels connected and Alonso got airborne then hit and skidded along the barrier on one side while Stroll spun, hitting the wall on the other side and throwing debris up everywhere.
Alonso managed to make it back to the pits, change a front wing and rejoined while Stroll’s race ended there and then. The stewards will be looking into the collision after the race, but before that they will be looking into Gasly and whether he did drop back over ten car lengths during the Safety Car. They decided he did and he was later handed a five second penalty.
Lap 26 saw the second resumption of the race, this time with no incidents on the first lap back, Verstappen once again quickly pulling a gap to Hamilton, but Leclerc was right on Perez’ tail. A few laps later and the Ferrari driver made his move, while his first try didn’t work out, Perez closing the door so Leclerc had to take to the run-off, his second though went much better and the Monegasque driver moved up into P3 after a very nice late lunge on the Red Bull.
Lap 35 saw Hamilton once again first of the leaders into the pits, Verstappen and Leclerc pitted the following lap but it was a nightmare stop for Red Bull, the Dutch driver losing a lot of time when his front right wheel gun wouldn’t work properly. Verstappen was overtaken by Leclerc in the pits and, with Hamilton setting fastest laps, the Mercedes racer was effectively in the lead of the race with Perez and Vettel ahead but still to stop.
Lap 39 saw Verstappen make a move on Leclerc but while the Ferrari racer was able to hold him off on the first attempt, the Dutch driver got through on the second try then set his sights on Hamilton over four seconds further up the road.
With Vettel continuing on old tyres, Hamilton had closed up and then took the official lead of the race at the start of lap 41, passing the Aston Martin driver who then pitted at the end of the lap. The German’s stop though was even more of a nightmare than Verstappen’s was, Vettel also had a front right issue and was stationary for over 16 seconds meaning that while he should’ve rejoined around P6, he actually got back out in P13.
While Verstappen was doing his best to try close up on Hamilton, the Mercedes driver the only one of the top four on the hard compound. Further back it was all go for Norris as the McLaren racer weaved his way up the grid, passing cars left and right.
WIth six laps to go Verstappen was right on the rear of Hamilton and while he did drop back a bit over the course of the lap, he zoomed right back up behind the Mercedes and slipped past. Hamilton did try to get back at him and the two went side-by-side but there was no holding the newly crowned double-champion back.
After the battle at the front was done, it was the battle for ninth which took all the attention with Vettel fighting and then passing Alex Albon. At the front, Hamilton had seemed to join the commentary team reporting each time Verstappen went over track limits as the Dutch driver had used up his three allowed trips past the white line and more would have meant a penalty from the stewards.
In the end it was Verstappen who took the chequered flag five seconds ahead of Hamilton, for his thirteenth win of the season – equalling Vettel and Michael Schumacher’s record – as he dedicated the win to the late Dietrich Mateschitz.
Leclerc came home in P3 just ahead of Perez, while Russell had stopped on the penultimate lap to go for the fastest lap, which he achieved. Norris finished in P6 after getting past Alonso in the final few laps, the Alpine racer having made an amazing recovery drive after his crash with Stroll earlier.
The big fight to the line was between Vettel and Magnussen, the Haas driver on 37 lap old medium tyres while the Aston Martin had grippier 15 lap old hards, it was the German though who got to the flag first and was crowned Driver of the Day for his efforts through the race. The final points position went to Tsunoda but the AlphaTauri racer is under investigation for leaving the track and gaining an advantage.
Victory for Max Verstappen! 🏆
— Formula 1 (@F1) October 23, 2022