Here’s a compelling illustration of the superiority demonstrated by Red Bull Racing and Max Verstappen. In the 2023 USA Grand Prix, Verstappen, the race from the sixth position due to a penalty for exceeding track limits during qualifying. Charles Leclerc secured pole position, however, as the race unfolded, Verstappen ultimately clinched victory while Leclerc finished in sixth place. The contrast in performance between Red Bull and Ferrari became evident, with the latter excelling in qualifying speed but lagging behind in race pace.
Notably, Ferrari’s presence seemed almost negligible during the race. Even though securing pole position in America served as a valuable marketing boost for Ferrari, the ultimate triumph belonged to Red Bull and Max Verstappen. Before Verstappen, somewhat inevitably assumed the lead mid-race, we were at least treated to a race.
At the start, second-placed Lando Norris seized the lead, darting from second place and overtaking Leclerc, who, in turn, eventually succumbed to Hamilton’s Mercedes. Ferrari typically experiences around five laps of pure pace before the tires begin to overheat, leading to a drop in performance. When Hamilton overtook Leclerc, Norris had already succumbed to the relentless pace of Verstappen. However, he had built up a sufficient buffer to fend off Hamilton.
As usual, tire strategy played a pivotal role in determining the course of the race, with the one who blinks first setting off a domino effect. However, Hamilton and Mercedes were caught scratching their heads in timing their first pit stop on lap 20, effectively enabling Verstappen, who pitted on lap 17, to claim a net lead.
Verstappen had pitted on lap 17, with Norris following suit just a lap later. Although Norris managed to maintain his lead after the pit stops, Verstappen rapidly closed the gap between himself and the McLaren, seizing the lead by lap 28.
As his McLaren suffered from tire degradation, Norris dropped to third place but compelled Hamilton to fiercely contend for second. Initially, one might have thought Verstappen would easily secure the win as he has done so many time this season. But he was hampered by a brake issue that impacted his pace.
With three laps remaining, Hamilton sensed an opportunity, and although he closed in, he didn’t quite manage to get close enough. Verstappen crossed the finish line, securing his 50th victory albeit limping by his standards. But a win is a win.
2023 USA Grand Prix: Race Results
1 Max VERSTAPPEN Red Bull 1:35:21.362 56 laps
2 Lewis HAMILTON Mercedes +2.225
3 Lando NORRIS McLaren +10.730
4 Carlos SAINZ Ferrari +15.134
5 Sergio PEREZ Red Bull +18.460
6 Charles LECLERC Ferrari +24.662
7 George RUSSELL Mercedes +24.999
8 Pierre GASLY Alpine +47.996
9 Lance STROLL Aston Martin +48.696
10 Yuki TSUNODA AlphaTauri +74.385
11 Alexander ALBON Williams +86.714
12 Logan SARGEANT Williams +87.998
13 Nico HULKENBERG Haas +89.904
14 Valtteri BOTTAS Alfa Romeo +98.601
15 ZHOU Guanyu Alfa Romeo + 1 lap
16 Kevin MAGNUSSEN Haas + 1 lap
17 Daniel RICCIARDO AlphaTauri + 1 lap
Esteban Ocon, lap 6, sidepod damage
Oscar Piastri, lap 10, car damage
Fernando Alonso, lap 50, floor