Record crowds were in attendance today at the Circuit of the Americas as Formula One held its first race in the United States in two years. Like the sea of spectators seen on Friday, the main championship protagonists came wheel-to-wheels earlier than expected. Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton and Red Bull’s Max Verstappen had a small run-in on the approach to turn 1. Verstappen yielded and then flipped the bird to the seven-time world champion, setting the tone for the weekend.
Max Verstappen won pole on Saturday with an impressive lap two-tenths of a second clear of Hamilton in 2nd. The start of the race went differently. Verstappen covered off Hamilton to the inside edge of the track on the run up the hill. Both drivers entered turn 1 side-by-side at an incredibly shallow angle. The Mercedes driver took the lead while Verstappen ran wide. When the Red Bull driver rejoined the track he was alongside his teammate Sergio Perez. Perez quickly yielded for his teammate and the race order at the front settled in.
Red Bull would pit Verstappen on lap 11 for hard compound tires. Mercedes would respond on lap 14, pitting Hamilton for the same compound. During the stop, Verstappen would overtake the Mercedes and take a 5 second lead. Hamilton was unable to close the gap to the leading Red Bull. Verstappen pitted again on lap 30 for hards and rejoined the track 17 second behind his rival. Eight laps later, Hamilton also pitted for hards and came out in 2nd 8 seconds behind Verstappen.
On the final lap of the race, Hamilton was able to get within one seconds of the Red Bull driver. However, he was unable to get close enough to attempt an overtake and Max Verstappen would cross the finish line to win the race. The last step of the podium was filled by Sergio Perez with a solid performance.
Hamilton’s teammate Valtteri Bottas started the race in 8th after serving a five-place grid penalty for an engine change. He was able to secure a 6th-place finish after a hard-fought battle with Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz during the closing laps. Sainz’s teammate Charles Leclerc finished 4th with McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo finishing behind him. Lando Norris brought his McLaren across the line 8th.
Max Verstappen now leads the World Drivers’ Championship by 12 points over Hamilton. Formula One returns in two weeks at the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez for the Mexico City Grand Prix.