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  • Maxime Baillieux

Verstappen Triumphs in Thrilling 2023 US Grand Prix

This article was written by Maxime Baillieux, Year 11


The 2023 United States Grand Prix was held at the Circuit of the Americas, where Max Verstappen won the exciting, action-packed race. Drama filled both the qualifying and sprint races of the event, building to a thrilling main race.


Qualifying Drama:


Q1:

After only one hour of practice, the drivers jumped right into qualifying to select Sunday's grid, which meant frantic action. Due to problems with his left front brake in Formula One, Lance Stroll had a difficult day. He managed to complete just five circuits in practice.


Technical issues fortunately did not arise in the first qualifying round, although both Aston Martin drivers were eliminated along with Nico Hulkenberg, Alex Albon and Logan Sargeant. Lando Norris finished second in the session, while Lewis Hamilton took first place.


Q2:

Charles Leclerc stole the show in Q2, leading the whole session. Notable drivers that did not advance to the top 10 pole shootout were Daniel Ricciardo, who had his final time removed due to a track limitations infringement, Yuki Tsunoda, Zhou Guanyu, Kevin Magnussen and Valtteri Bottas.


Q3:

After the initial runs, Leclerc and Hamilton fought it out for pole position, with Leclerc maintaining a slim lead. Max Verstappen went on an irascible radio tirade, claiming that Sergio Perez's unclean air had cost him time at the last bend. Verstappen believed he had won pole, however he was demoted to P6 at Turn 19 due to a track restriction infraction.


Pole position was secured by Leclerc and Norris joined him in the front row.


Sprint Qualifying:


SQ1:

Eager to go on the track, all of the drivers lined up in pit lane for the sprint qualifying session. The quickest time was first recorded by Lewis Hamilton, but the Ferraris swiftly caught up to him. Max Verstappen headed to the pits to preserve his tyres for SQ2 after securing the temporary pole.


A few drivers tried to record one more flying lap as the practice came to a conclusion. Unfortunately, Yuki Tsunoda crossed the finish line as the chequered flag dropped, starting nineteenth. Tsunoda started somewhat behind Logan Sargeant, who was competing in front of his home crowd. The Haas team of Magnussen and Hulkenberg completed the bottom five for the sprint race, along with Bottas.


SQ2:

Ferrari sprinted to the first row at the start of the second sprint qualifying session. Sainz came in third, followed by Leclerc in second. Even though they were unable to top Verstappen's pace, the practice was interesting since Verstappen spun at turn nine but was still able to recover without suffering any serious damage.


In SQ2, Aston Martin's problems persisted when both drivers were removed. Lance Stroll started the race from P14, while Fernando Alonso started from P12. After finishing in 11th place, Daniel Ricciardo was ahead of Ocon in P13 and Zhou in P15.


SQ3:

Drivers had one final opportunity to lock down their grid spots during the sprint qualifying session. With a lap time of 1:34.358 seconds, Max Verstappen took first place. Charles Leclerc and Lewis Hamilton followed, with a mere 0.069 of a second separating the leaders. Lando Norris started in P4 ahead of teammate Oscar Piastri, and McLaren almost missed the first row. The remaining nine places were occupied by Pierre Gasly, Carlos Sainz, Sergio Perez and Alexander Albon.


Daniel Ricciardo started the sprint race in 10th position after George Russell lost eighth place and started 11th due to a blocking incident involving Charles Leclerc.


Sprint Race:


Carlos Sainz was the only driver using soft tyres at the start of the sprint race as he attempted to gain places. To win the sprint race, he had to pass a number of rivals, including Verstappen, Hamilton, Leclerc, and the McLarens, after starting from sixth position. During a chaotic start, Sainz took advantage of the situation, separating the McLaren drivers and passing Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri. Max Verstappen overtook Charles Leclerc, who lost to Lewis Hamilton for second position.


Verstappen held a sizable advantage over Hamilton by the third lap. After being penalised for obstructing Charles Leclerc during sprint qualifying, George Russell recovered lost time by passing Piastri, but he proceeded outside the track boundaries, incurring a five-second penalty. In the race for fourth place, Lando Norris fiercely pursued Carlos Sainz. The struggle grew more intense as Sergio Perez got closer to Norris. Sainz held his ground, but in the end, Norris was able to overtake him on the inside of the track.


Sainz was having trouble on the soft tyres as the race progressed, but Norris held his ground. Further down the grid, Yuki Tsunoda passed Kevin Magnussen's Haas in the struggle for spots. The American driver Logan Sargeant struggled and was unable to win points in front of his home audience. Max Verstappen complained about braking problems, but by lap 17, he was comfortably ahead of Lewis Hamilton. On the last lap, Hamilton gave it his all, but he was unable to pass Verstappen.


Race Day:


The main race kicked off with Lando Norris leading the field for the first 27 laps, steadily being caught by the 2023 F1 Champion, Max Verstappen. The Ferraris, struggling to lay down pace, opted for tyre conservation, resulting in a loss of track position.


After switching to hard tyres for the middle stint, Verstappen ultimately caught up to Norris, who was only able to complete about 17 laps on them. With medium tyres, Verstappen passed Norris to take the lead. Due to floor damage, Fernando Alonso's remarkable comeback from the pits was hindered, and he ended behind teammate Lance Stroll. After gaining ground on Norris, Lewis Hamilton ultimately passed the fellow Britishman. During the last stint, Verstappen had been griping on the radio about some braking problems that needed extreme concentration to keep the car inside the white lines.


On the last lap, Hamilton finally caught up to Verstappen, closing quickly and gaining about 0.6s on the lap. But Verstappen outran Hamilton and won his 50th professional race—a remarkable accomplishment. Logan Sargeant became the first American driver to win points in Formula One since 1993 when he accomplished the historic feat at his home race. However, Hamilton increased his point total and drew closer to Sergio Perez in the Driver's Standings, applying pressure to the Mexican driver who was reportedly facing repercussions for his actions.


Regretfully, Verstappen heard jeers on the podium from American fans despite his historic victory. The race came to an unexpected end, though, when Lewis Hamilton and Charles Leclerc were disqualified for technical infractions involving the car's floor, which was excessively worn—possibly caused from running too close to the ground.


F1 Joke Section:


Why did the F1 driver bring a pencil to the race?

Because he wanted to draw the perfect racing line!



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