Max Verstappen beat Lewis Hamilton to win the sprint race at Formula 1’s 2023 United States Grand Prix, with Charles Leclerc finishing third from Lando Norris.
At the start, Verstappen and Leclerc moved away seemingly in unison, but the Ferrari gained during the launch’s second phase. As Leclerc tried to move alongside the Red Bull, Verstappen edged his rival right across the track and close to the grass by the pitlane exit.
That left Leclerc pinched very tightly on the inside of the uphill left-hand hairpin and, with Hamilton swinging around on the outside line, Lewis was able to get a run on the Ferrari – coming by on the exit off the track in a move that was not called by race control.
By the end of the first lap of 19, Verstappen and Hamilton were well clear of Leclerc and they continued to pull away across the race’s opening half, as they were able to lap in the mid 1m39s with the Ferrari back in the 1m40s.
Hamilton made inroads into Verstappen’s lead early and had DRS on him for a few laps, but by the sixth tour Verstappen was over a second ahead – the Dutchman’s only fear that the drivability issue that impacted his sprint qualifying performance was then put down to sliding in the wind by Red Bull.
From there, Verstappen remained the only one of the leaders able to regularly stay in the 1m39s, which meant his lead quickly rose over Hamilton and was 3.3s by the end of lap 10.
There was little action in the second half of the race, with Verstappen continuing to pull away from Hamilton to an eventual winning margin of 9.4s, with Leclerc a further 8.5s back in third.
There was at one stage big gap back to Lando Norris in fourth as the leaders had been able to scamper clear thanks to Carlos Sainz – the only soft tyres runner with the rest on mediums – using his softer rubber to gain places from the McLarens of Norris and Oscar Piastri at the start.
But the Spaniard then was soon under massive pressure as his rubber’s less durable nature came to the fore.
Sainz was getting most attention from Norris early on as Piastri went backwards fast, with Sergio Perez soon joining the two good friends and former team-mates in a battle for fourth at the mid-point in the race.
On lap 10, Norris finally got by Sainz at Turn 12 at the end of the track’s long back straight and so was facing a 6.7s gap to Leclerc, which he ate up over the rest of the race – finishing just 0.8s behind the GP polesitter, who Norris will start alongside on Sunday.
Perez passed Sainz on the lap after Norris and held onto fifth to the end, albeit 4s adrift of Norris, with Leclerc just ahead.
Sainz held onto sixth – a sizeable chunk ahead of Alpines’s Pierre Gasly, who was promoted into seventh thanks to George Russell’s five-second time addition being applied at the finish – the sanction earned for an off-the-track pass on Piastri exiting Turn 15 on lap three.
Russell felt he was pushed off, but the stewards decided his move was illegal, with Alex Albon putting the Mercedes under huge pressure for the final point with a late charge of personal best laps in ninth, which put him just 0.3s behind Russell once the Briton’s penalty had been applied.
That meant Russell held onto the final point in a race where Piasti tumbled to 10th behind Albon – an investigation into their battle early being given as no further action – and the Australian picked up a warning for track limits abuse.
The race’s only retirement was Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll, who was retired in the pits after the team picked up another brake problem on his AMR23.
F1 United States GP sprint race results
|Car / Engine
|Red Bull/Honda RBPT
|Red Bull/Honda RBPT
|Carlos Sainz Jr.