In a season full of easy victories, the 50th win of his career finally made Max Verstappen sweat a little.
Verstappen was forced to work his way through the field after starting sixth in lieu of pole, then overtook Lewis Hamilton’s charging Mercedes in the final laps in the Texas heat to win the United States Grand Prix at the Circuit of the Americas on Sunday.
Hamilton’s best finish in five months was erased when he and Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, who finished in sixth place, were disqualified more than three hours into the race for rule violations found in the guard blocks under their cars.
Verstappen’s record-breaking 15th win of the season also made the Dutch driver the fifth Formula 1 driver in history to reach 50 in his career. Hamilton has the highest score with 103 points.
Verstappen has four races left this season to pass Alain Post (51) and Sebastian Vettel (53) for third place. Michael Schumacher has 91 points.
“This is a great number,” Verstappen said of 50 points. “Let’s try to win more.”
The three-time F1 champion has had to work even harder than usual in a season in which he has almost completely dominated. However, the power of his Red Bull and the correct pit-stop strategy of his team took Verstappen to the finish line 2.2 seconds ahead of Hamilton.
Hamilton’s Mercedes was running up a lot of its time chasing Verstappen in the final laps.
“I think I struggled with the brakes the whole race. That made the race a little bit more challenging. “The end was very close,” Verstappen said.
Verstappen got his third consecutive win in Austin. He started this race in the middle of the grid after making the rare mistake of exceeding the track limits in Friday’s qualifying and wiping out his final lap. Race officials later widened the lines slightly at three turns to give drivers more space on race day.
All Circuit of the Americas winners had started from the front row until Verstappen’s attack on Sunday. He has won three times from sixth place or lower this season.
With Hamilton in the rearview mirror and lap times updated in his garage, Verstappen berated his team to “stop talking” to him as he struggled with his brakes in the corners.
“I asked politely,” Verstappen said. said. “I said, ‘Please’.”
Lewis Hamilton’s disqualification
Hamilton is chasing Perez for second place in the drivers’ standings. He thought he had achieved a significant podium finish with Mercedes bringing what he called the last major upgrade of the season to Austin.
Race officials quickly erased that his car was inspected after the race.
Formula One cars have a wooden plank or skid block under the floor used to test whether cars comply with the rules of how low to the ground they can run. If the board is found to be worn by more than 1 millimeter, the vehicle and driver will be disqualified.
In the race officials’ disqualification announcement, it was stated that the team claimed that the problem was caused by the bumpy conditions on the track, and even Verstappen complained.
Race officials also inspected Verstappen’s understeer block and found no violations.
Mercedes Team Principal Toto Wolff said the team would not appeal.
“Others got it right where we got it wrong and there is no wiggle room in the rules. “We need to get through this, learn and come back stronger next weekend,” Wolff said. said.