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What we learned at the United States Grand Prix

What did we learn at the Circuit of the Americas as Verstappen won for the 50th time in his career?

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To news overview © XPBimages

Max Verstappen continued his dominance over the F1 field with victory at the United States Grand Prix.

It wasn't plain sailing for the Red Bull driver, however, with Lewis Hamilton charging to create a thrilling finish at the Circuit of the Americas.

But the Mercedes driver was one of two to be disqualified at the end of the Sprint weekend, so what did we learn?

Verstappen a master

If Verstappen was going to miss out on a race victory for only the fourth time this season, Sunday's event looked like the time.

Starting sixth on the grid was by no means as easy a task as his run from ninth in Miami earlier this term, given the improvements made by Mercedes, McLaren and Ferrari in the gap between now and May.

Verstappen would still have been the favourite, however, and made a calculated start to the race, picking and choosing his moments to use the life of his tyres and pick off rivals one by one.

It quickly became apparent not all was well behind the wheel of the RB19 as the Dutchman complained about braking issues.

Comments from Verstappen, Team Principal Christian Horner and Motorsport Advisor Helmet Marko suggest the issues were more problematic than they first seemed, underlining the mastery on display from the now-three-time World Champion in getting to the end at the front of the field.

Fifteen race wins with four rounds remaining means only one more victory will give him the record for most in a single season - a mark he made last year.

			© XPBimages
	© XPBimages

Mercedes back in the fight

Mercedes' weekend may have ended on a sour note with Hamilton's disqualification but a new upgrade package made an immediate impact, at least on Hamilton's side.

The seven-time World Champion was on it all weekend at the wheel of the W14 and, had it not been for two sticky pit stops and a lock-up when the last of the front-runners still on his first set of tyres, would have likely been ahead of Verstappen at the chequered flag.

George Russell somewhat struggled across the event but even so, a clear step was taken by the Silver Arrows with the new package.

It could prove crucial in answering questions ahead of next season, though it is worth pointing out that an update in Austin last year provided optimism that turned out to be false ahead of the current campaign.

Ferrari frailties on show

On paper, a pole position, a podium in the Sprint and a podium in the Grand Prix is a strong weekend for Ferrari.

But a deeper look shows that the race pace was slower than McLaren and Mercedes but the most concerning thing for the Scuderia will be another strategic failure.

Leclerc was on pole but found himself out of contention when he was kept on a one-stop, which almost became a two-stop with almost ten laps left as Ferarri went through its filing cabinet of alphabetical strategy folders.

It was a frustrating afternoon for the Monegasque, who was then asked to move aside for teammate Carlos Sainz - who would eventually be the beneficiary of post-race penalties to secure a podium.

But Leclerc was one of two penalised, thrown out of the results for excessive plank wear.

			© RN365/Michael Potts
	© RN365/Michael Potts

Sprint issues arise

Five Sprint weekends into the format's third season and it is fair to say it is still not quite right.

The lack of practice running leaves a number of cars well outside an optimistic set-up window. Whilst this can jumble the qualifying results, the struggles for some leave big gaps in the field when the racing begins proper.

This was evident in the Sprint where there was little to no action, leading to complaints from winner Verstappen - who has been opposed to the format since it began.

The Dutchman is right - the 100km on a Saturday rather gives up the ghost ahead of the Grand Prix and takes away plenty of the intrigue that usually builds before a Sunday.

Changes have already been made this year, so what can be done to further improve it? That's down to F1.

			© XPBimages
	© XPBimages

Sargeant breaks down barrier

Logan Sargeant has the eyes of F1 fans on him as the last driver to have a seat confirmed for next season and with the pressure building, incidents have become commonplace.

But in front of his home crowd, the rookie managed to marry his undoubted speed with a confident display and finish just six seconds behind teammate Alex Albon before a penalty was applied to the Thai-Briton for exceeding track limits on numerous occasions.

With Hamilton and Leclerc disqualified, Sargeant was promoted to the top 10 for his first F1 point and the first for an American since Michael Andretti for McLaren in 1993.

The big question is now whether Sargeant can kick on in the final four races of the season.

F1 2023 United States Grand Prix RN365 News dossier

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