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Verstappen on top in Austin after holding off Hamilton for US GP win

Verstappen on top in Austin after holding off Hamilton for US GP win

October 24, 2022

Hamilton finishes second ahead of Leclerc

Max Verstappen kept Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes waiting for their first win of the 2022 season as the Dutchman took his 13th win of the season at the United States Grand Prix. Behind Verstappen, Hamilton finished a strong second ahead of Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc. Sergio Pérez was fourth ahead of George Russell with Lando Norris, Fernando Alonso, Sebastian Vettel and Kevin Magnussen behind. It was AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda who rounded up the points scoring positions. 

On the weekend, Red Bull lost their founder and owner Dietrich Materschitz, it was only right that they wrapped up their first Constructors’ Championship since 2013. With Verstappen and Sergio Pérez finishing in the top 5 and Ferrari having only one car finish the race after pole-sitter Carlos Sainz retired early, the championship was inevitable for Red Bull. With Red Bull having secured the Constructors’ Championship, Ferrari now will face an uphill task to keep Mercedes behind in the race for second place in the Constructors’ standings. Given the strong performance of the Silver Arrows in Austin, it bodes well for the German team to finish the season on a high. 

Carlos Sainz led off the line from newly crowned world champion Max Verstappen but the Spaniard’s race ended even before he could get to the first turn. Sainz was hit by Mercedes’ George Russell and that saw the Ferrari driver not only fall right back to the end of the field but eventually had to retire at the end of the lap due to excessive damage to his car. With Sainz retiring and Russell tagging with the Spaniard, Verstappen led from Hamilton while Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll had a stellar start and was running in fourth. Sergio Pérez who was behind Stroll, quickly passed him for fourth by the sixth lap while Ferrari’s lone driver Charles Leclerc, who started twelfth due to an engine penalty, was in the points at seventh place. Russell meanwhile was handed a five-second penalty for his collision with Sainz. 

Hamilton was the first of the frontrunners to pit on lap 13 and the Brit rejoined in seventh place behind the Aston Martin of Sebastian Vettel, who was also having a strong race like his teammate. Following Hamilton’s pit, it was the race leader, Verstappen who came in the next lap and that meant Sergio Pérez took the lead of the race. The Mexican though also came in on the next lap and that meant, Sebatian Vettel, who was in his last United States Grand Prix, led the race. Vettel leading the race also meant the four-time world champion had led a total of 3500 lap in his career. Vettel though knew it wasn’t his race to win and neither did he want to damage his tyres so when Hamilton came up behind him on lap 16, the German let the Brit through without much of a defence. 

Lap 18 saw the second retiree of the race when Valtteri Bottas lost the rear of his car and beached his car in the gravel. With the Safety Car being deployed to get Bottas’ Alfa Romeo off the track, it was a cheap pitstop for Leclerc, Vettel and Alonso, the three in the top 10 who hadn’t pitted yet. Just as the Safety Car came in on lap 22, Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll had a dramatic crash with Alpine’s Fernando Alonso, which saw the two-time world champion airborne for a while following contact with the Canadian. Stroll in a rookie error, moved under braking on the straight while Alonso behind him was trying to go around and that saw Alonso make contact with Stroll’s left rear tyre and sent Alonso flying into the barriers. Alonso managed to take his car back to the pits for a change of tyres but that was the end of Stroll’s race and the Safety Car was deployed again. The Safety Car came in on lap 26 and Verstappen led from Hamilton with Sergio Pérez right behind the seven-time world champion. 

Pérez though was quickly passed by Leclerc, following a stunning move on the inside of the Mexican by the Ferrari driver on lap 30. With Verstappen looking to run away from Hamilton, Mercedes called in Hamilton for a second stop on lap 35 and Red Bull responded by bringing Verstappen in the following round. Unlike Hamilton’s swift stop, Versappen was a shocking stop, which lasted around 16 seconds and that saw the Dutchman rejoin in fifth. When Pérez pitted for the second time on lap 39, it meant Hamilton took the lead of the race while Verstappen was battling it out with Leclerc further down. 

With Hamilton in the lead, Verstappen knew his job was simple and after getting Leclerc out of the way, the Dutchman set off to catch Hamilton. Verstappen eventually and inevitably got past Hamilton on lap 50 and while Hamilton tried his best to fight back, the Mercedes just didn’t have any pace to contest for the win with the Red Bull. Once he took the lead, Verstappen slowly just pulled away from Hamilton and eventually took the chequered flag by more than four seconds. 

Verstappen’s win and Sergio Pérez finishing fourth meant that Red Bull clinched their first Constructors’ championship since 2013 and fifth overall. Mercedes’ strong weekend in Austin, which saw them finish on the podium coupled with only one Ferrari finishing the race means that Mercedes are just 53 point behind Ferrari in the second place battle in the Constructors’ standing while Sebastian Vettel’s heroic drive at his final United States Grand Prix puts Aston Martin just three points behind Alfa Romeo in the sixth place battle. While Verstappen has the Drivers’ championship secured, Leclerc’s third place finish sees him pip Pérez for the second spot in the Drivers’ standing while Russell overtook Sainz for the fourth place. Verstappen’s win, 13th for the season, also puts him equal with Michael Schumacher and Sebastian Vettel for most wins in a single season and with three races to go, it seems also inevitable that the Dutchman will break the record.

After an eventful United States Grand Prix, racing will move to Mexico next week as the season slowly creeps to its end. 

Aditya Chaudhuri

Hailing from the City of Joy, the things that bring me joy are cricket, a good non-tilt CS:GO session, F1 and movies.

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