Max Verstappen may have been crowned in a bizarre ceremony after a confusing interpretation of the rules after the race two weeks ago, but he and Red Bull Racing still have something to defend. Twice a driver has won a record 13 races in a season. With four races to go for this afternoon’s GP at the Circuit of the Americas, Verstappen had 12.
Verstappen started the race from second place, but took the lead at the start of the race. After poleman Carlos Sainz Jr. was spun by George Russell in Turn 1, Verstappen found himself with a considerable lead over Ferrari-less Lewis Hamilton at less than eight positions. Charles Leclerc went from a 10-place grid penalty to third place over the course of two successive safety cars, but Verstappen appeared to remain in control until the final stop of the day.
Then a problem. A slow stop pushed Verstappen behind Hamilton and Leclerc with just 20 laps to go, but Red Bull’s pace was still dominant and Verstappen was still in a comfortable position to make up the places before the end of the race. He quickly passed Leclerc, then came to the bumper of Hamilton. While he passed Hamilton with five to go, he and Hamilton had used their final track limit warnings in the battle and were one more violation away from a penalty. Hamilton stayed in contact with Verstappen for a few more laps, but rear tire wear eventually put the Mercedes out of action.
Verstappen is now a 13-time winner in 2022, joining Sebastian Vettel in 2013 and Michael Schumacher in 2004 with that record. He will have three races left to set the standalone record for GP wins in a season.
Verstappen’s victory also locks in a long-awaited constructors’ championship for Red Bull, which had not won that title since 2013. The moment of victory is particularly poignant, as Red Bull’s co-founder and longtime personal champion of the company’s F1 team. Dietrich Mateschitz passed away yesterday.
Charles Leclerc took third place to join Verstappen and Hamilton on the podium. Sergio Perez and George Russell round out the top five, while a tight sixth-to-back battle ultimately handed the final scoring positions to Lando Norris, Fernando Alonso, Sebastian Vettel, Kevin Magnussen and Yuki Tsunoda. Lance Stroll and Valtteri Bottas joined Carlos Sainz Jr. as dropouts for the day.
The Formula 1 season continues with the Mexican Grand Prix next weekend. There are three races left in the season, all of which will take place over the next four weekends.