Verstappen holds off Hamilton in tense F1 US GP to claim 50th win

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There was plenty going on before the formation lap as Alonso, Stroll, Hülkenberg and Magnussen all started from the pit lane as Aston and Haas elected to change the set-ups on their cars, taking their cars out of parc fermé in the process.

Stroll will be seeing the stewards after the race as he went to the grid following sighting laps instead of returning to the garage. He was pushed back by his mechanics.

18 of the 20 drivers selected mediums for the start, with Hülkenberg and Stroll on hards in the pit lane.

It was a perfect start for Norris off the line as he passed Leclerc heading into turn 1.

A very aggressive Carlos Sainz lunged down the inside of Hamilton into turn 1 to take P3, with Verstappen jumping Russell who got a bad start and fell to P8.

A stunning one from Oscar Piastri saw him make up four spots, but he made heavy contact with Ocon on the run to the sweepers in the first sector.

Unfortunately for the Frenchman, he picked up sidepod damage and quickly fell from P7 to out of the points. He had to call it a day on lap 7 because of that.

On lap 4, Hamilton breezed by Sainz with DRS to move himself into the podium positions. A lap later, Verstappen followed his rival through as the Spaniard fell to P5.

The seven-time World Champion continued his overtaking show as he took P2 from Leclerc on lap 6.

With 10 laps completed, Norris led Hamilton, Leclerc, Verstappen, Sainz, Piastri, Russell, Perez, Gasly and Tsunoda.

Unfortunately for Oscar Piastri, an issue ended his day on the same lap as he had to limp back to the pits slowly. It turned out to be a water leak from the contact with Ocon.

As Verstappen was starting to slip over 7s behind race leader Norris, the Dutchman got aggressive by sending it down the outside into turn 12 on Leclerc. He managed to hold it into the next corner to take P3.

On lap 17, Max Verstappen pitted from P3 as Red Bull looked to cut the gap to the two Brits at the front. Norris responded a lap later but Hamilton continued to take the lead. The Dutchman went for mediums again, with Norris switching to hards.

Hamilton, Leclerc and Russell was the top 3 on lap 20 as they hadn’t pitted. Norris, Verstappen and Sainz ran P4, P5 and P6 after boxing.

After regular conversations over the radio with his race engineer, Hamilton pitted as his tyres were finished. He rejoined behind Verstappen to be a net P3.

Leclerc eventually stopped at the end of lap 23, handing the lead back to Lando Norris.

Verstappen, Hamilton, Sainz, Perez, Leclerc, Russell, Gasly and a charging Alonso completed the top 10 on lap 25.

The Spaniard extended his first stint and overtook the Alfas and Albon using his much fresher mediums.

The three-time defending World Champion slowly started to creep up on the McLaren and sent it big time down the inside into turn 12 on lap 28. Although Norris fought back on the exit, Verstappen had the inside into turn 13.

On lap 35, Norris pitted for his second new set of hards as he started to fall away from the race leader. Red Bull responded a lap later and despite a slowly slow stop, he maintained position over the Brit.

Hamilton came in at the end of lap 38 to fit mediums, a different strategy to Verstappen and Norris.

Heading into turn 1 on the following lap, Verstappen passed Leclerc for the lead with DRS into turn 1, and he was followed through by Norris as the Brit made the pass into turn 12.

Verstappen led Norris, Leclerc, Hamilton, Sainz, Perez, Alonso, Stroll, Russell and Gasly was the top 10 on lap 40. Leclerc and the Astons had only made a single stop, with Alonso and Stroll definitely needing to pit again.

Hamilton used his much fresher tyres to gain quickly on Leclerc and easily took the place with DRS on the run to turn 12 on lap 43 to take P3.

Following his second stop, Alonso once again used a lot younger tyres to his advantage as he passed Yuki Tsunoda for P9. Stroll did the same to the Japanese a few laps later to take P10.

The battle of the Brits for P2 took off as Lewis Hamilton caught Lando Norris. On lap 49 the McLaren driver got his elbows out and defended hard into turn 1. However, Hamilton got a beautiful exit to take the positions on the run down to turn 2.

At Ferrari, Sainz took advantage of his fresher tyres and was gifted the placed by his teammate as the Scuderia ordered Leclerc to move out of the way for P4.

Sadly for Fernando Alonso, damage to the floor cost him points as he retired. Stroll and Tsunoda benefitted to move into P9 and P10.

A nightmare day continued for Charles Leclerc as Perez was the latest driver to ease his way by for P5.

Although Verstappen was consistently complaining about his brakes, he held off Hamilton by 2s to take victory number 50 in Formula 1. A solid and excellent drive from Lando Norris saw the Brit complete the podium.

Photo credit: Red Bull Content Pool

Sainz, Perez, Leclerc, Russell, Gasly, Stroll and Tsunoda rounded out the top 10. As he had the gap to Albon behind, the Japanese pitted on lap 54 for soft tyres and set the fastest lap, nabbing a crucial extra point for AlphaTauri.

A track limit penalty for Alex Albon slightly ruined an excellent weekend overall from the Thai, even if he didn’t score points.