Verstappen wins the 2023 American GP after an entertaining battle with Norris and Hamilton
Verstappen faces a bit more competition, but still wins
After good defensive work just after the start against Leclerc, Max Verstappen was able to easily drive to victory yesterday. Okay, Lewis Hamilton was able to catch up for a while, but at the end of the sprint race Verstappen crossed the finish line 9.5 seconds earlier than his competitor. Today, Verstappen will probably have a more difficult time in the initial phase during the 2023 American GP.
In qualifying, Verstappen did not get further than sixth place. It must be said that Verstappen's last lap would have been good for pole position, but he did not exceed the track limits. At the front, Leclerc starts first, followed by Norris, Hamilton, Sainz and Russell. How quickly can Verstappen drive himself forward? We're going to find out now!
Start of the 2023 American GP
Lando Norris has a rocket start that Leclerc has no answer for. You would think that Leclerc would have learned from the start of the sprint race, where Verstappen also had a worse start than Leclerc, but the Red Bull still managed to keep the lead. Norris continues his great start. The gap to the rear grows to 2.5 seconds after three laps.
Back to the opening round. Max Verstappen is off to a good start and moves up to P5 at the expense of Russell. Verstappen encounters Hamilton on the outside of the first corner. The Mercedes does not intend to give Verstappen much space and stays in front of the Dutch driver. This puts Verstappen under pressure from Piastri. The young Australian pokes Verstappen a bit, but he does not give in.
— Formula 1 (@F1) October 22, 2023 Esteban Ocon also receives a tap from Piastri during the first lap. Alpine reports to the French driver that there is damage to the sidepod. The injuries are so severe that Ocon is much slower than the cars behind him. In lap five Ocon has even fallen back to last place. In the same fifth lap, Verstappen takes Sainz for P4.
The top five within seven seconds
One lap later, Hamilton moves up to second place. He overtakes Leclerc quite easily after the long straight. Verstappen agrees with this again. He is one and a half seconds behind Leclerc. At the front, Norris has now opened a gap of more than three seconds. It is now important to keep the tires up and still stay fast enough.
Norris's luck is that the competition behind him is fighting hard. As a result, the pursuers lose time on Norris who is driving in free air. At the very back, Ocon brings his car in. When the Alpine is pushed into the pit box, we see the large gaping hole in the side of the car. So it was logical that Ocon lost so much time.
— Formula 1 (@F1) October 22, 2023 ## Verstappen in the Ferrari sandwich
Back to the duel at the front. After ten of the 56 laps, Norris has a gap of three seconds and Hamilton two seconds. Leclerc in third place is holding things up a bit. The whole thing is in this Verstappen and Sainz. Because Verstappen is held up by the Ferrari in front of him, the Ferrari can catch up behind him.
Also in the tenth lap we find out that Piastri's car has more damage than expected. The team asks the driver to bring the car inside. In addition to Piastri, some more cars come in, but that is to change tires. Verstappen now launches his first attack on Leclerc on lap 11.
Verstappen also uses the long straight to get close. In the braking zone the two cars drive shoulder-to-shoulder. Verstappen leaves little room on the outside for Leclerc, but he is not blamed for this. The competition management thinks it will be a tough but fair duel.
— Formula 1 (@F1) October 22, 2023 ## Hamilton closes the gap to Norris
Lando Norris' consistent pace seems to slow down on lap fifteen. Lewis Hamilton shaves off a few tenths of a second per lap and sees the orange car in front of him getting bigger and bigger. Hamilton is not yet receiving any pressure from Verstappen behind him. He is four and a half seconds behind the Mercedes driver.
Verstappen has had enough of that. On lap seventeen, Red Bull brings in the champion and switches from the mediums, to the mediums. After this, Verstappen has to make another pit stop, because you have to drive on two different types of tires. Verstappen is the first of the leading group to enter. A lap later, Norris, Sainz and Pérez also enter.
— Formula 1 (@F1) October 22, 2023 By the way, Norris switches from medium to the hard tire. He can therefore finish the race on this set of tires. Hamilton continues a few more laps to extend his stint and have newer tires at the end. Yet Hamilton already arrives on the 21st lap. He also indicated over the on-board radio that he could not continue on the old tires for much longer. After his pit stop, Hamilton also fell behind Verstappen. Not what he would have wanted.
Norris vs Verstappen
After the pit stop, the battle for first place today seems to be between Lando Norris and Max Verstappen. The McLaren has the initiative, both on track and in strategy. After 24 of the 56 laps, Norris is 2.5 seconds ahead of Verstappen. As mentioned, the Red Bull still has to enter and the McLaren does not. The lap times of the drivers are almost the same, until Norris makes a mistake.
Norris brakes too deep in the hairpin bend for the long straight. As a result, Verstappen reduces the gap to just over a second. In lap 26, Verstappen's rear wing is allowed to open on the designated parts.
Two laps later, Verstappen is close enough to launch an attack and it hits immediately. At the very last moment, Verstappen dives on the inside of Norris. The British driver comes alongside in the next corner, but before that Verstappen is already on the inside of the next corner and easily manages to brush off a pinprick from Norris.
— Formula 1 (@F1) October 22, 2023 ## Norris does not let go of Verstappen
It is now important for Lando Norris to keep his tires intact. He knows that Verstappen has to come in again. The annoying thing for Norris is Hamilton's comeback. Halfway through the race, the Briton is faster than the drivers in front of him. Verstappen, in turn, will want to continue as long as possible and perhaps switch to soft, but that seems too opportunistic.
Apparently Norris cannot manage to keep the tires intact. On lap 35 he brings his McLaren in for a change from hard tires to hard tires. We didn't see that coming. He thus opens the door for Verstappen to change tires. And indeed, Red Bull brings in the champion and switches to hards.
— Formula 1 (@F1) October 22, 2023 Verstappen's stop is not great, but he does get back on track ahead of Norris. With the new tires, Norris initially has difficulty getting the temperature into them. After Verstappen overtakes Leclerc for P1, Norris is about a second behind Verstappen. This is the time to join Verstappen if Norris still wants to have a chance of victory.
Norris has an extra trump card and those are Verstappen's brakes. Throughout the race, Verstappen cursed on the radio about the brakes, which he said did not work like they did yesterday. But this is also not enough for Norris to make things difficult for Verstappen. Hamilton is now getting closer on his mediums.
Norris and Hamilton battle for P2
The 2023 American GP still lasts ten laps. Verstappen and Hamilton drive approximately the same times, while Norris is a tenth or three or four per second slower. The gaps: Verstappen to Norris, 3.7 seconds and Norris to Hamilton is one and a half seconds. Two laps later, Hamilton is on the tail of Norris.
The McLaren driver does everything he can to keep Hamilton behind him, but in the end Hamilton passes Norris. Hamilton will be happy that he has overtaken Norris, but then he sees the gap to Verstappen: five seconds. With six laps to go, Hamilton must now become one second per lap faster than Verstappen. That seems impossible, but don't forget Verstappen's braking problem.
— Formula 1 (@F1) October 22, 2023 Meanwhile, Alonso is having problems with his rear suspension. The damage is apparently so extensive that Alonso does not make it to the end of the race. At the front, Hamilton initially creeps closer to Verstappen by a few tenths of a second, but the more laps we drive, the more time Hamilton gains. Verstappen is irritated by his engineer's talking while braking.
Hamilton vs Verstappen
Going into the final lap the difference between P1 and P2 is 1.8 seconds and it's only shrinking. On the long straight stretch the gap is one and a half seconds and therefore no DRS for the Mercedes. Verstappen receives DRS from a straggler, which brings the gap back to 1.8 seconds. Ultimately it is not enough for Hamilton. Max Verstappen came from sixth place, saw his chance and conquered the 2023 American GP.
— Formula 1 (@F1) October 22, 2023 ## 2023 American GP results
Verstappen Hamilton Norris Sainz Pérez Leclerc Russell Gasly Stroll Tsunoda Albon Sargeant Hulkenberg Bottas Zhou Magnussen Ricciardo Alonso Piastri Ocon