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Max Verstappen claims 50th Grand Prix victory in Austin: 'Very proud'

Published on 23 October 2023 by Florence Cobben

Max Verstappen has won his 50th Grand Prix. The Oracle Red Bull Racing driver had to fight hard to win on the American Circuit. Starting from P6, Max climbed to P3 in the race's early stages. After the first round of pitstops, Max was in P2 but caught up to Norris in lap 28 to claim the race's lead. In the last laps, Lewis Hamilton was hot on Max’s heels, but Max finished with a two-second lead on the Brit, winning an American Grand Prix for the third time in a row, and also matching his record of 15 wins in one season from last year. Lando Norris completed the podium in P3, behind Hamilton.

After the race, Max explains it certainly wasn’t an easy race: “It was a bit more difficult than expected, to be honest. It started difficult because we started in P6. But during the whole race I was wrestling with the brakes, and we had less balance in the car. We changed the brakes after yesterday and it was not good. I had no good feeling on the braking and I couldn’t really get on top of it for the whole race. So, this is something that we need to understand.”

It took Max 28 laps to take the lead in the race, but even then victory was not secured: “Of course, you don’t want to destroy the tyres, but at the same time I was struggling a lot on the braking, so it took quite a while to find a bit of a middle way.”

In spite of the difficult race, Max has reached a new milestone with his 50th Grand Prix win: “It is, of course, incredible to win my 50th Grand Prix here. So (I'm) very proud of course, and we’ll keep trying to push for more.” Max also took a moment to discuss Dietrich Mateschitz, the Red Bull founder who died exactly one year ago: "Before the race we had a photo moment with the team, with everybody standing together in jeans, which makes today’s victory extra meaningful.”

It’s a remarkable sight at the race start. Both Aston Martins and both Haas drivers are starting the race from the pitlane, meaning there are only 16 cars waiting for lights out on the starting grid. The Aston Martin team has had a dramatic week so far; Fernando Alonso as well as Lance Stroll did not get past Q1 on Friday. Haas brought a big update to both their cars, but it didn’t seem to provide Kevin Magnussen and Nico Hulkenberg with the extra push they needed. Hulkenberg and Stroll are starting the race on the hard compound tyres, while all other drivers begin the race on the mediums. Max gets a good start from his starting position in sixth, and gained a position on George Russell through turn 1. Lando Norris takes the lead after a better start than polesitter Charles Leclerc. Carlos Sainz and Lewis Hamilton follow closely behind the young duo in third and fourth. Oscar Piastri and Esteban Ocon make contact in turn 2, but both keep racing. 

Sainz can’t match the pace of his fellow competitors and is soon overtaken by Hamilton. Max follows the pack and passes the Ferrari driver through turn 5, climbing into P4. A lap later Hamilton passes Leclerc; the Ferraris seem to be struggling on race pace. 

Ocon has damage to his sidepods from the contact with Piastri and the Frenchman decides to retire the car in lap 7, making him the first DNF of the race. Piastri doesn’t hold on much longer. In lap 10 his car is seen driving slowly over the track, and a team radio instructs him to park the car in the pits and abandon his race. In the meanwhile, Max passes Leclerc, claiming P3. Max is five seconds behind Hamilton in P2, while Norris is leading the race. 

In lap 17 Max is the first of the leading cars to make a pitstop. In a faultless pitstop of 2.5 seconds, Max gets a set of fresh medium compound tyres fixed to his RB19 and re-emerges onto the track in ninth place. Other drivers are quick to follow suit and get their own tyres changed, and Max climbs to P6. Hamilton only pits on lap 21 and re-emerges on track behind Max, pushing Max further up to P4. On his medium tyres, Max quickly closes in on Norris, who is on hard tyres. In lap 28 Max successfully overtakes the Brit in turn 12, placing Max at the lead for the first time in the Texas race. Hamilton also charges onwards on a set of hard compound tyres and closes in on Norris, with Max ahead of both.

Norris decides to make his second pitstop in lap 35. He switches the old hard tyres for new hards and returns to the track in sixth place. Max stops a lap later and switches from medium tyres to hard tyres. Max returns to the foray in fourth, just ahead of Norris. Hamilton makes his second pitstop in lap 39 while Max passes Leclerc in turn 1, retaking the lead of the race. Hamilton switches to the medium compound tyre, and the speedy driver renews his chase. First Hamilton passes Leclerc in lap 41, gaining P3, then he passes Norris in lap 49. Hamilton sets to closing the five-second gap between him and Max. Meanwhile, Alonso has to park his car in the pits because of damage to his floor, and is this race’s final retired driver. 

In the closing stages of the race Hamilton is gaining on Max, but struggles to get within the two-second ballpark. Max crosses the finish line and claims his 50th career win in Formula 1. Hamilton takes second, with Norris taking his fourth podium in a row by finishing in third place. Sainz takes fourth, with Sergio Pérez in fifth. Polesitter Leclerc, on a one-stop strategy, only crossed the line in sixth, just before George Russell. Pierre Gasly finishes eighth, while Lance Stroll picks up two points in ninth place. Yuki Tsunoda finishes tenth but claims extra points by taking the fastest lap after pitting for soft tyres in the very last lap. 

Results Grand Prix United-states:

1Max VerstappenVERRed Bull Racing Honda RBPT561:35:21.36225
2Lando NorrisNORMcLaren Mercedes56+10.730s18
3Carlos SainzSAIFerrari56+15.134s15
4Sergio PerezPERRed Bull Racing Honda RBPT56+18.460s12
5George RussellRUSMercedes56+24.999s10
6Pierre GaslyGASAlpine Renault56+47.996s8
7Lance StrollSTRAston Martin Mercedes56+48.696s6
8Yuki TsunodaTSUAlphaTauri Honda RBPT56+74.385s5
9Alexander AlbonALBWilliams Mercedes56+86.714s2
10Logan SargeantSARWilliams Mercedes56+87.998s1
11Nico HulkenbergHULHaas Ferrari56+89.904s0
12Valtteri BottasBOTAlfa Romeo Ferrari56+98.601s0
13Zhou GuanyuZHOAlfa Romeo Ferrari55+1 lap0
14Kevin MagnussenMAGHaas Ferrari55+1 lap0
15Daniel RicciardoRICAlphaTauri Honda RBPT55+1 lap0
0Lewis HamiltonHAMMercedes56+2.225s0
0Charles LeclercLECFerrari56+24.662s0
0Fernando AlonsoALOAston Martin Mercedes49DNF0
0Oscar PiastriPIAMcLaren Mercedes10DNF0
0Esteban OconOCOAlpine Renault6DNF0