Max Verstappen wins sprint race in Austin: 'Pace was very good'
Published on 22 October 2023 by Misha van der Kroon
Max Verstappen has won the sprint race in Austin with overwhelming force. After starting from pole, the three-time World Champion immediately took the lead. From that moment onwards, the victory was never in danger. The driver of Oracle Red Bull Racing crossed the finish line with a gap of over nine seconds to Lewis Hamilton, who finished P2. Charles Leclerc finished third.
After the race, Max comments: “It was quite tight, but luckily there’s a lot of space going into turn 1, so that definitely helps. I gave Charles just enough space and made the corner as tight as possible for him, so he couldn’t break late, and that worked out well in the end. After that, we could do our own race and control the pace. The most important thing was to stay calm and keep the tyres alive. I had a bit of fun at the end, when I could push a bit more.”
In the opening phase, Hamilton was able to stay relatively close behind Verstappen, but that also posed no danger according to the Dutchman: “The gap was like eight or nine tenths for the first few laps, so that was controllable into the braking zones. But the DRS is quite powerful, so once I cleared the DRS, we settled in our own rhythm, and I think that the pace of the car was very good today.”
The pace of the RB19 was encouraging for Max, who has a tough task tomorrow, starting from P6: “The confidence is definitely there, and I’ll need it tomorrow. Starting from P6 is going to be different than today, but it makes it interesting. Hopefully we can have a bit of fun out there tomorrow, a few overtakes. And of course we want to win.”
Finally, Max speaks highly of the crowd at the Circuit of the Americas: “The capacity is unbelievable, the crowd is getting bigger every single year. You almost don’t see the hill anymore in turn one. It’s always great to be here.”
It is 33 degrees outside, with a track temperature of 36 degrees, when the sprint race at the 5,513 meter long Circuit of the Americas starts. Carlos Sainz is the only driver on the grid that starts on the soft compound, all other 19 drivers have chosen the medium compound for the race that will be held over 19 laps.
Max has a good start from pole position, but has to defend his leading position to Charles Leclerc in the run to the first corner. Max gives the Ferrari driver just enough space and makes the corner as tight as possible for the Monegasque, keeping the lead as the pack heads into the first corner. Leclerc has a bad exit and is overtaken by Lewis Hamilton. Behind the three, Sainz takes P4 as the entire grid gets through the first lap unscathed.
Oscar Piastri seems to have damaged his left front suspension at the start of the race, and in the first few laps the McLaren driver gets overtaken by Perez, Russell, Gasly and Albon. However, Russell goes off track when overtaking the Australian, and gets a five-second penalty for his action. The degradation of the soft tyres on the Ferrari of Sainz is a lot higher than the degradation on the medium tyres of all his competitors, causing the Spaniard to drop back from P4 to P6.
Lance Stroll reports issues with his brakes, and on lap 17 he parks his car in the garage, making him the only drop-out of this race. Even though Hamilton was able to catch up with Verstappen in the opening phase, he keeps losing more and more ground. Verstappen eventually wins the sprint race with a gap of nine seconds ahead of Hamilton, which is his third sprint race victory this year. Leclerc finishes third, followed by Lando Norris in P4 and Sergio Perez in P5. Carlos Sainz, Pierre Gasly and George Russell complete the top eight, taking the last points of today's race.
The US Grand Prix starts on Sunday at 21:00 Dutch time.
|1||Max Verstappen||VER||Red Bull Racing Honda RBPT||19||31:30.849||8|
|4||Lando Norris||NOR||McLaren Mercedes||19||+18.863s||5|
|5||Sergio Perez||PER||Red Bull Racing Honda RBPT||19||+22.928s||4|
|7||Pierre Gasly||GAS||Alpine Renault||19||+32.403s||2|
|9||Alexander Albon||ALB||Williams Mercedes||19||+34.567s||0|
|10||Oscar Piastri||PIA||McLaren Mercedes||19||+42.403s||0|
|11||Esteban Ocon||OCO||Alpine Renault||19||+44.986s||0|
|12||Daniel Ricciardo||RIC||AlphaTauri Honda RBPT||19||+45.509s||0|
|13||Fernando Alonso||ALO||Aston Martin Mercedes||19||+49.086s||0|
|14||Yuki Tsunoda||TSU||AlphaTauri Honda RBPT||19||+49.733s||0|
|15||Nico Hulkenberg||HUL||Haas Ferrari||19||+56.650s||0|
|16||Valtteri Bottas||BOT||Alfa Romeo Ferrari||19||+64.401s||0|
|17||Zhou Guanyu||ZHO||Alfa Romeo Ferrari||19||+67.972s||0|
|18||Kevin Magnussen||MAG||Haas Ferrari||19||+71.122s||0|
|19||Logan Sargeant||SAR||Williams Mercedes||19||+71.449s||0|
|0||Lance Stroll||STR||Aston Martin Mercedes||16||DNF||0|