United States GP: Max Verstappen equals win record with late Lewis Hamilton overtake

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Red Bull won the constructors’ title in front of a record crowd at the Circuit of the Americas

Max Verstappen fought back to pass Lewis Hamilton to win a dramatic United States Grand Prix and equal the record for victories in a season.

Verstappen was controlling the race until a delay at his final pit stop handed the lead to Hamilton and also dropped the Red Bull driver behind Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc.

The pit problem gave Hamilton a chance to end his and Mercedes’ win drought in a difficult season for the team.

But the pace of the new world champion was just too much, and Verstappen caught and passed Hamilton with six laps to go, the seven-time champion defenceless against the formidable straight-line speed of the Red Bull.

Verstappen’s 13th win this year equals the record for wins in a season, held by Michael Schumacher and Sebastian Vettel, and was sufficient for Red Bull to clinch the constructors’ title for the first time since 2013, securing a double after Verstappen clinched the drivers’ title last time out in Japan.

Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc finished third from 12th on the grid, helped by the two safety car periods that punctuated the middle of the race, ahead of Red Bull’s Sergio Perez and Mercedes’ George Russell.

Verstappen dedicated the win to the late Dietrich Mateschitz, the team’s co-owner, who died on Saturday, and which paused the Red Bull’s discussions with governing body the FIA after being found guilty of breaching F1’s budget cap last year.

The second safety car was caused straight after the restart from the first when Fernando Alonso’s Alpine crashed into the back of Lance Stroll’s Aston Martin, which had moved late in defence against the Spaniard.

Somehow, despite his car rearing up into the air at 180mph, crashing down to the track, and then hitting the barrier and breaking its front wing, Alonso fought back from last place to finish seventh.

It was a drive that will surely go down in the annals of great Alonso performances – one which saw Stroll receive a three-place grid penalty for the next race and two penalty points.

The stands were packed and ready for a thrilling weekend of racing

Hollywood ending

In front of a record crowd at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas, and a phalanx of celebrities led by Hollywood star Brad Pitt, the race served up one of the most exciting spectacles of the year.

Verstappen took the lead from pole-winner Carlos Sainz as soon as the lights went out, and the Spaniard was taken out of contention in a collision with Russell at the first corner, for which the Briton was given a five-second penalty.

Verstappen was in control, measuring his pace at the front as the rest of the field fought a series of close battles behind.

But his race looked like it might have fallen apart when there was a delay fitting his left front wheel at his final pit stop.

Verstappen sent a passive-aggressive radio message to his team, and was reminded they were “all in it together”, before setting about recovering his position.

And despite the determined efforts of Leclerc and then Hamilton, there was nothing that could hold him back.

Verstappen admitted he had “got a bit emotional” but told his team they “deserved” the title double as he spoke over the radio on the slowing-down lap.

Lando Norris passed Alonso on the penultimate lap to take sixth place and best of the midfield for McLaren, while Sebastian Vettel pulled a brilliant pass on Kevin Magnussen’s Haas on the final lap to take eighth place.

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