2023 USGP Day Three – Flying Dutchman Fights for 50th Win
2023 World Champion Max Verstappen (Oracle Red Bull Racing) secured his 15th win of the season at the Formula 1 Lenovo United States Grand Prix at Circuit of The Americas. Teams now have a week to prepare for the Mexico City Grand Prix in Mexico City, Mexico—but first let’s look back at what the USGP accomplished.
Friday, October 19, saw Formula 1’s Free Practice 1 and Qualifying session which still decided the Sunday GP starting grid. Charles Leclerc celebrated his birthday and 100th Grand Prix with Scuderia Ferrari by securing pole position after Verstappen’s fastest time was deleted due to track limits. Once the track went cold for the day, The Killers kicked off the Friday after party with “Mr. Brightside” on the Germania Insurance Super Stage.
Saturday, October 20, the first F1 Sprint West of the Atlantic was held at COTA, starting with the Sprint Shootout just past noon. Verstappen started on pole for the inaugural Sprint Race followed by Leclerc and Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team). Verstappen dominated the short, 19-lap all-out dash with Hamilton and Leclerc rounding out the podium.
Leading up to lights out on the Formula 1 grid, fans took a trip down memory lane of Formula 1 with Masters Historic racing. Cal Meeker (Tyrrell 009) did a clean sweep by claiming championship on the two Masters Historic Races. The duel was tight against Mike Cantillon (Williams FW08) as they took on the second race wheel-to-wheel. Kyle Buxton (March 77B) joined Meeker and Cantillon at podium as they celebrated the wrap of the 2023 season at COTA.
Porsche Carrera Cup North America wrapped up their season with their second race of the USGP. On Saturday, 21-year-old #53 Riley Dickenson (Kellymoss Racing) won Race 1 which secured him the win on the final round of the weekend for the Pro championship. #14 James Sofronas (GMG Racing) also had a double victory weekend at COTA for the ProAm Carrera Cup. #43 Mark Kvamme (MDK Motorsports) won the year-long AM series and got a visit from Kevin Magnussen (Haas F1 Team) to support Kvamme’s fundraiser for Alzheimer’s research.
F1 Academy finished their season with Race 3 at COTA. During Qualifying 2, 18-year-old Jessica Edgar (RODIN Carlin) captured the fastest lap with a time of 2:07.962 which secured a pole position for Sunday’s Race 3. Edgar was able to maintain her position resulting in a win. Over the weekend, Marta García (PREMA Racing) was crowned the first ever F1 Academy Champion. Congratulations Marta and PREMA Racing!
The 11th U.S. Grand Prix delivered one of the most exciting race starts of the year. The Papaya Family celebrated as Lando Norris (McLaren Racing Limited) immediately took the lead from Charles Leclerc (Scuderia Ferrari) at the infamous Turn 1 hill, affectionately nicknamed “Big Red.” Carlos Sainz (Scuderia Ferrari) briefly took third place from Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team), but after a close battle around Turn 12, Hamilton reclaimed the spot and soon continued passed Leclerc into second.
2023 World Champion Max Verstappen (Oracle Red Bull Racing) started the USGP in sixth place and, by Lap 7, had made his way into fourth. Meanwhile, in the same lap, Esteban Ocon (Alpine F1 Team) was forced to retire after a big hit from Oscar Piastri (McLaren Racing Limited) in the opening lap. By Lap 11, Australian rookie Piastri joined Ocon on the DNF list due to engine problems, potentially from the previously mentioned collision.
Alex Albon (Williams Racing) led his team up the field, starting in P18 and charging all the way to P13 by Lap 9 to challenge Daniel Ricciardo (Scuderia AlphaTauri). Logan Sargeant (Williams Racing) hit the gas from the back of the field and hopped on Albon’s momentum, maxing out at a P12 position when a flurry of pit stops was kicked off by Zhou Guanyu (Alfa Romeo F1 Team Stake).
Verstappen committed to a contentious pass into Turn 12 against Leclerc, making his way to P3 to the Ferrari driver’s protests as the Monegasque claimed he was forced off the track. The first (and for some drivers, only) round of pit stops came and went, switching up the leader board. Norris kept the lead, though the Flying Dutchman began pushing into DRS range as they entered Lap 27. McLaren went with an undercut strategy, meaning Verstappen still had to switch his tires while Norris could make the most of the Red Bull’s time in Pit Lane. For those newer to the sport, teams prefer at least 20 seconds ahead of their direct competitors to prevent as much position loss as possible.
When the time finally came, the RB Pit Crew delivered a slow 3.3 second stop but Verstappen still managed to exit just in front of Norris due to the McLaren pitting just prior. With 20 laps to go, Hamilton led the Grand Prix with Sergio “Checo” Perez (Oracle Red Bull Racing) and Leclerc following. Checo quickly went in for his own tire change, leaving Leclerc to defend against Verstappen and Norris.
The Ferrari lost its position at Turn 12 once again when the Red Bull and McLaren grabbed the inside of the speed trap. This put Verstappen into the lead for the first time during the 2023 Formula 1 Lenovo United States Grand Prix – 39 laps in. Hamilton wore down Leclerc’s tires over the next four laps and followed the front two cars’ line, passing the Prancing Horse at Turn 12. His team forecasted a P2 finish, “or maybe the win.” Backing up this prediction was Hamilton’s strangle hold on the fastest lap mark, displaying his near muscle-memory knowledge of The Circuit.
Mercedes celebrated on Lap 49 when 5-time COTA-champion Hamilton snatched second place from Norris, extending his lead to nearly 3 seconds within two laps. In the middle of the pack, Fernando Alonso (Aston Martin Aramco Cognizant F1 Team) confirmed a problem with the floor of his car with his team, causing his first retirement with the Aston Martin team.
Seven laps later, Verstappen joined the likes of Sebastian Vettel, Alain Prost, Michael Schumacher, and Lewis Hamilton with his 50th win in Formula 1. Amongst brake issues, a less than ideal start, and what seemed to be the hardest fought win of the 2023 season, Verstappen took the checkered flag just two seconds in front of Hamilton with Norris following close behind.
Max Verstappen (Oracle Red Bull Racing)
Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team)***
Lando Norris (McLaren Racing Limited)
Carlos Sainz Jr. (Scuderia Ferrari)
Sergio “Checo” Perez (Oracle Red Bull Racing)
Charles Leclerc (Scuderia Ferrari)***
George Russell (Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team)
Pierre Gasly (Alpine F1 Team)
Lance Stroll (Aston Martin Aramco Cognizant F1 Team)
Yuki Tsunoda (Scuderia AlphaTauri)
Alex Albon (Williams Racing)
Logan Sargeant (Williams Racing)
Nico Hulkenberg (Haas F1 Team)
Valtteri Bottas (Alfa Romeo F1 Team Stake)
Zhou Guanyu (Alfa Romeo F1 Team Stake)
Kevin Magnussen (Haas F1 Team)
Daniel Ricciardo (Scuderia AlphaTauri)
Fernando Alonso (Aston Martin Aramco Cognizant F1 Team)*
Oscar Piastri (McLaren Racing Limited)*
Esteban Ocon (Alpine F1 Team)*
Just hours after the race, Hamilton and Leclerc received word their cars had failed the post-race technical inspection and were disqualified. This meant Norris received second place and Sainz moved into third. The rest of the field shifted, too. Williams drivers, Alex Albon and Logan Sargeant, took precious points home, including Sargeant’s first points in Formula 1.
2024 may feel far away now, but Formula 1 will be back in Austin soon! Thanks to all teams, fans, staff, and viewers for making this year’s U.S. Grand Prix one for the books.