AUSTIN, Texas :Red Bull’s triple world champion Max Verstappen took the 50th win of his Formula One career, and record-equalling 15th of the season, at the U.S. Grand Prix on Sunday while Lewis Hamilton was disqualified from second after post-race checks.
Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, who finished sixth, was also excluded for excessive wear of the mandatory wooden plank under the car’s floor.
“Others got it right where we got it wrong and there’s no wiggle room in the rules. We need to take it on the chin, do the learning, and come back stronger next weekend,” said Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff.
Hamilton’s exclusion meant McLaren’s Lando Norris moved up from third to second with Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz completing the podium, even if the ceremonies were long over by then.
The victory was Verstappen’s third in a row at Austin’s Circuit of the Americas and equalled, with four races to spare, the record the Dutch 26-year-old set last year for most wins in a single season.
Dominant Red Bull and Verstappen, who started in sixth place and whose win was the first in Austin by a driver not on the front row, have already secured the constructors’ and drivers’ titles.
“The whole race, I was struggling a lot with the brakes,” said Verstappen, who was booed by some of the crowd as he stood on the podium.
“You could see it was very close to the end.”
Norris, lining up on the front row, seized the lead from pole-sitter Leclerc into the first corner but his hopes of a first win in his 100th start had faded by the half distance.
On the plus side, his points haul allowed McLaren to leapfrog Aston Martin for fourth in the constructors’ standings.
Verstappen was fifth by the end of lap one and used the DRS drag reduction to take the lead from Norris on the 28th of 56 laps.
He did not just disappear into the distance, as so often this season, instead complaining over the radio about the brakes and giving Mercedes hope that they might be able to reel him in with their upgraded car.
“We changed the brakes after yesterday and it was not good,” he said, referring to the Saturday 19-lap sprint that he won from pole.
“I had no good feeling under braking and I couldn’t really get on top of it for the whole race, so this is something we need to understand.”
Seven times world champion Hamilton provided excitement at the end as he chased Verstappen, starting the last lap only 1.8 seconds behind after being 5.3 adrift when he passed Norris with seven laps remaining.
“We were catching them towards the end and I was hopeful but we needed some more laps,” said Hamilton before the summons to stewards.
Red Bull’s Sergio Perez moved up to fourth with George Russell fifth for Mercedes ahead of Alpine’s Pierre Gasly and Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll, who started from the pit lane.
AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda moved up to eighth and also took a bonus point for fastest lap right at the finish.
Williams duo Alex Albon and rookie Logan Sargeant bagged unexpected points with ninth and 10th, the latter scoring for the first time and in his home race.
Verstappen increased his unassailable lead over Mexican Perez to 226 points and became only the fifth Formula One driver to reach 50 wins. Perez in turn moved 39 clear of closest rival Hamilton.
If Verstappen wins in Mexico next weekend he will match the tally of four times world champion Alain Prost and could overtake former Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel’s 53 wins before the end of the season.
Alpine’s Esteban Ocon and McLaren’s Oscar Piastri collided and retired, as did Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso.