Formula 1: Verstappen takes 50th career win in Austin – Hamilton and Leclerc disqualified

Heavy with sweat, Formula 1 die-hard Max Verstappen threw himself into his usual victory pose after his 50th career victory.

Formula 1: Verstappen takes 50th career win in Austin – Hamilton and Leclerc disqualified

Heavy with sweat, Formula 1 die-hard Max Verstappen threw himself into his usual victory pose after his 50th career victory. After a thrilling three-way battle and a few brake problems, the world champion clinched his 15th victory of the season at the US Grand Prix in Austin on Sunday and continued his hunt for records. The Red Bull star thus equaled his season record from the previous year and can further improve the record in the remaining four races. “I am of course very proud and will push for more victories,” said Verstappen.

The 26-year-old only managed to reach the finish line with a lead of 2.2 seconds ahead of the onrushing Lewis Hamilton in the Mercedes. "Max was just flawless, but we could have caught her if there had been a few more laps," said Hamilton.

Verstappen, who started from sixth place, further extended his already huge lead in the overall standings with his third Texas victory in a row. At the end of the year, the Dutchman will probably have the biggest lead in Formula 1 history. Verstappen also further increased the record for the most laps in the lead per season.

Haas driver Nico Hülkenberg once again remained without a point. Despite a major update package on his racing car, the Rhinelander had to settle for 13th place.

Second-placed Hamilton was subsequently disqualified in Austin. The race stewards cited a non-compliant underbody on the Brit's Mercedes as the reason. This means that McLaren driver Lando Norris moves up to second place behind winner Max Verstappen. Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz is now third. Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc, who finished sixth, was also removed from the results list due to an irregular floor plate.

After the brightly colored guest appearance in Miami in May, Texas was Formula 1's second trip to the USA this year. The huge US market is particularly important for the booming racing series. The track operators counted 432,000 spectators over the weekend at the Circuit of the Americas, which had its Grand Prix premiere in 2012. Austin has since firmly established itself on the calendar. After Miami, there will also be a glittering event in Las Vegas in November.

Prince Harry exuded some royal splendor in Austin, as he got off to an unexciting start as a guest in the Mercedes pit. Norris came out better in his 100th Formula 1 race than Charles Leclerc in the Ferrari, who was unable to defend his pole position until the first corner. Behind him, Scuderia driver Carlos Sainz initially pushed Hamilton out of third place.

Verstappen also immediately gained a position. The champion had robbed himself of the top spot due to a driving error in qualifying. Because he briefly went off the track, the race stewards conceded his best time. Verstappen had to start from sixth place, but after five laps he had already made it to fourth place. "As long as we're ahead on the last lap, that's enough," the 26-year-old said on the TV microphone shortly before getting into the car.

Verstappen had already proven on Saturday that his hunger for victories was far from quenched even after winning his third title two weeks ago in Qatar. The Red Bull star confidently drove away from everyone in the fifth sprint of the season and claimed his third success in this shortened race format this year.

Meanwhile, Verstappen had pushed past Leclerc with a hard maneuver, and a little later he turned to change tires. This marked the beginning of the tactical game. Norris also came to the pit stop, but Mercedes initially left Hamilton outside and probably wanted to save a stop at the garage. "I'm really struggling here," said the 38-year-old, whose tires were deteriorating significantly.

When Hamilton finally came to the pits, Norris and Verstappen passed. “You have given me a hell of a gap that I have to close,” reported Hamilton, looking at the duo now in front. Halfway through the race, the usual order was temporarily restored: Verstappen took the lead, but complained about brake problems.

The second round of pit stops mixed up the picture again. Verstappen and Norris got fresh rubber rollers, now Hamilton was leading again. But the seven-time world champion had put so much strain on his tires that he also had to stop again.

This cleared the way for series winner Verstappen, even if the gap was narrower than usual until the end. Hamilton grabbed Norris, but he could no longer get close to Verstappen.