Max Verstappen denied Lewis Hamilton a fairytale first victory of the season at the United States Grand Prix – sealing the constructors’ title for Red Bull in the process.
Carlos Sainz started on pole, but his race was over within just a few seconds after being tagged by George Russell at the first corner. The impact caused a water leak which forced Ferrari to retire the car, and the Brit was slapped with a five-second time penalty for causing the crash.
The Spaniard’s loss was Verstappen’s gain as he took the lead, but a terrible pit stop opened the door for Hamilton to move through and hold onto the lead for so long. But it wasn’t enough as the Red Bull proved to be just too fast, and the Brit had to settle for matching his best result of the season instead of finally standing on the top step of the podium.
The USGP had not seen a safety car since 2015, but there was more than one in an incident-filled race this time around. But the first crash didn’t even need one, as pole-sitter Sainz was taken out by Russell on that first lap. But later, when Valtteri Bottas beached his car after a spin, the yellow flags came out.
And shortly after the restart, they were flying again, this time for a much bigger impact. Fernando Alonso slammed into the back of future team-mate Lance Stroll and was very unhappy after almost being sent airborne after an ill-advised move from the Aston Martin driver.
But the huge moment in the race for the lead came when Verstappen visited the pit lane for his second stop. The wheel gun attaching his front right tyre stopped working and it resulted in a very slow stop for the Dutchman, and saw him remerge third behind Leclerc and Hamilton.
The Ferrari man was overtaken quickly, but Hamilton’s advantage was much bigger. It set up a grandstand finish to the race, with the Brit desperate for his first win of the season while Verstappen was determined to take that away from his 2021 title rival.
And so it happened. With just a few laps remaining in the race, the Dutchman moved within DRS range and once that happened, the Mercedes man was powerless. It was a brilliant drive from Hamilton, but he just did not have a quick enough car to compete with the all-powerful Red Bull.
But second place was still a very good result for Hamilton considering the fact he was in a car which still cannot match the front-runners. Charles Leclerc completed the podium despite starting 12th after a grid penalty, with Perez and Russell ahead of Lando Norris who stayed out of trouble after a poor start.
Alonso recovered from that earlier crash to finish seventh ahead of Sebastian Vettel, who suffered a slow pit stop of his own but still managed eighth to be named driver of the day. Kevin Magnussen scored points for Haas at their home race with Yuki Tsunoda rounding off the points places.
Full 2022 United States Grand Prix results
Max Verstappen – Red Bull
Lewis Hamilton – Mercedes
Charles Leclerc – Ferrari
Sergio Perez – Red Bull
George Russell – Mercedes
Lando Norris – McLaren
Fernando Alonso – Alpine
Sebastian Vettel – Aston Martin
Kevin Magnussen – Haas
Yuki Tsunoda – AlphaTauri
Esteban Ocon – Alpine
Alexander Albon – Williams
Zhou Guanyu – Alfa Romeo
Pierre Gasly – AlphaTauri
Mick Schumacher – Haas
Daniel Ricciardo – McLaren
Nicholas Latifi – Williams
DNF: Carlos Sainz, Valtteri Bottas, Lance Stroll