Max Verstappen has secured his 50th race win at the 2023 United States Grand Prix. In a Grand Prix dominated by pit stop and tire strategy, Verstappen held on to the win after a late charge from Lewis Hamilton who got within 1.8 seconds of Verstappen on the last lap.
Lando Norris led the race early on, followed by Charles Leclerc a few laps later, but Verstappen took a commanding lead midway through the first round of pit stops after starting sixth. It was a relatively frantic opening stint with an early incident that took Oscar Piastri and Esteban Ocon out of the race, but the field spread quickly after some battles.
The field was split by two strategies: A one-stop strategy that involved a hard-tire stint to the end, or a two-stop with mediums and hards. The top 12 drivers started on mediums, while the bottom eight started on hards. The crucial distinction was going long on the hards, or going for a medium-length middle stint on hards with a final pit stop for mediums to finish the race. Verstappen, Sergio Perez, Lando Norris, Charles Leclerc, and Carlos Sainz all opted to finish on hards, while Hamilton committed to a two-stop strategy ending on mediums.
With the grippier tires, Hamilton charged from fourth place, overtaking Leclerc and Norris on his way to catching Verstappen on aging hard tires. It was too little too late, and ultimately Hamilton did not have the pace to close the gap fully. Further down the field, George Russell did not have the same turn of speed and struggled to improve from his position on the grid. Fernando Alonso suffered late damage and was forced to retire on lap 49.
But one thing was clear: The field is closing on Red Bull. It might not be this season, but there has been a run of races where other teams have threatened Verstappen's dominance. If this trend continues, we might be on for more exciting races soon.
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