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Max Verstappen wins action-packed US Grand Prix; Red Bull take constructors' title

Austin (Texas), Oct 24 (IANS) Dutch Formula 1 driver and 2022 champion Max Verstappen emerged victorious at the end of an action-packed United States Grand Prix, fending off Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton in a tense finale, while his Red Bull team took their first constructors’ title since 2013.

Verstappen’s record-equalling 13th win of the season, and the squad’s championship triumph, came a day after Red Bull co-founder and owner Dietrich Mateschitz passed away — a fifth F1 constructors’ title.

Having moved into the lead at the start, avoiding the drama behind as Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz and Mercedes’ George Russell clashed at Turn 1, Verstappen had looked set for a comfortable victory at the circuit, dealing with multiple Safety Car restarts and managing his pace expertly, according to formula1.com.

But a slow final pit stop opened the door for Hamilton and the recovering Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc, the reigning world champion having to pass both of them to take the chequered flag first — his move on Hamilton coming with just six laps to go.

Despite his superb efforts, Hamilton had to settle for second place, with Mercedes’ wait for a 2022 victory continuing, while Leclerc salvaged a podium finish for Ferrari as the Italian team mathematically dropped out of contention for the constructors’ crown.

Leclerc benefitted from a stop under an early Safety Car — brought out by Alfa Romeo’s Valtteri Bottas’s spin into the gravel — to rise from P12 on the grid after his power unit changes, with Perez taking fourth after his own engine penalty.

Russell took a five-second time penalty for his incident with Sainz en route to fifth, pitting late on to set the fastest lap on soft tyres, having held enough of a window over sixth-placed McLaren driver Lando Norris.

Alpine Renault’s Fernando Alonso bounced back from an engine penalty and a dramatic collision with Lance Stroll midway through the race, which briefly sent him airborne, to claim seventh position, followed by Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettel and the one-stopping Haas of Kevin Magnussen.

Like Verstappen, Vettel’s efforts were affected by a slow final stop and, having initially held a strong points position, he had to fight his way back to eighth, passing Magnussen at the final corner on the final lap — earning the ‘Driver of the Day’ award in the process. However, a post-race 30-second penalty following a protest would ultimately drop Alonso to P15, as the drivers in between all moved up a spot.

AlphaTauri driver Yuki Tsunoda, who started at the back of the grid after an engine penalty, also used the drama to his advantage to take a point in 10th (later elevated to P9), ahead of Alpine’s Esteban Ocon (who started from the pits), Williams’ Alex Albon and Alfa Romeo’s Zhou Guanyu.

–IANS

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