For the first handful of laps, it looked as if the 2023 United States Grand Prix Sprint would produce a cracking affair with battles right down the field.
Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton scampered off into the distance at the start, and for the briefest of moments, flashes of a wheel-to-wheel battle crossed the mind until reality set in and Verstappen cruised to a third Sprint win of the season to by a healthy 9.4s over Hamilton.
Elsewhere, it was a bump back down to earth for the most recent Sprint winner while a driver who should really have known better got away with one.
It's the 2023 F1 United States Grand Prix Sprint Winners and Losers.
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Winner - Max Verstappen
But for the absolute barest of misjudgements at Turn 19 in qualifying on Friday, we would now be heading into the Grand Prix with Verstappen having taken practice, qualifying, Sprint Shootout and now the Sprint.
It's not been an easy weekend for the RB19, with Verstappen complaining of driveability issues and the chasing pack are a lot closer than Red Bull would like.
But when Verstappen decided to stop toying with Hamilton and put his foot down, he was gone.
Hamilton was powerless to stop Verstappen eeking the gap to nearly 10 seconds having been within DRS for the first few laps.
In a word, crushing for a driver whose dislike of Sprints is well-known.
What did Verstappen say?
"The DRS with such big wings are quite powerful here. Once I cleared the DRS [of Hamilton], we all settled in our own rhythms and I think the pace of the car was very good."
Loser - Oscar Piastri
Whereas Oscar Piastri firmly had the shade of Lando Norris in Qatar two weeks ago, the latter has firmly put his young team-mate in his rightful place as he would see it.
It is not that the McLaren MCL60 is drastically slow in Austin, but it looks a far easier car to drive on the softer compounds of tyres, with Piastri showing the odd flash of pace.
But he dropped like a stone in the Sprint and turned into something of a mobile chicane in the opening laps.
Granted it is not the absolute best track for the car, but its strengths are still catered to, especially through Sector 1.
Given Piastri's non-score and Norris coming home for five points and Ferrari combining for nine, the idea of hunting the Scuderia down for third in the Constructors' is now seemingly over, but McLaren is now just six behind Aston Martin who is having perhaps its worst weekend of the season.
What did Piastri say?
"I went through the tyres extremely quickly and they had overheated a lot, not quite the result we wanted, but on the positive side we’ve learned a lot for the race."
Winner - Lewis Hamilton
There has been a spring in Lewis Hamilton's step all weekend and second place here was remarkably his best result in a Sprint since the very first one at the 2021 British Grand Prix.
More often than not, Hamilton is usually knocked out in SQ2 and battles back for a handful of points but he was brave around the outside of Leclerc at Turn 1 to nab second and set off after Verstappen.
Equipped with the new Mercedes floor, he gave valiant chase but the superiority of the RB19 eventually shone through as Verstappen pulled away.
Chances are Verstappen will carve through the field in the race to win from sixth, but a very strong podium result is well and truly in Hamilton's grasp.
Fortunate not to get a penalty for overtaking Leclerc off the track at Turn 1 exit.
What did Hamilton say?
"I think it will open up for a good fight with Charles [Leclerc] and Lando [Norris] we're all quite similar in pace. Hopefully, we’ll get to have a good battle and if we can all keep Max behind, that'd be awesome. But if not, no worries.”
Loser - George Russell
A driver of 99 Grand Prix starts should know by now that the move on Piastri at the exit of Turn 16 off the track was only ever going to end one way.
Yes, Russell had limited space, but if you give the stewards any potential to look into gaining an advantage by passing off track, you are usually bang to rights.
Piastri was slower than a slow thing at this stage of the race and Russell would easily have cleared him perhaps a few corners later - but certainly by Turn 1 on the next lap.
He was never going to catch Sergio Perez in the Red Bull so a likely seventh-place finish was turned into an eighth-place one, with Pierre Gasly the benefactor, as Alexander Albon fell short by a couple of tenths of nicking a point.
Move in Sprint Shootout to impede Leclerc at Turn 19 was clumsy.
What did Russell say?
“Definitely a scrappy day - in the stewards [office], twice. Both were fair penalties, neither were intentional."