Verstappen secures 50th win at Austin; Hamilton second, Norris third

AUSTIN, Texas -- Max Verstappen secured his 15th win of the 2023 season and the 50th of his Formula One career after fighting back from sixth on the grid to take victory at the U.S. Grand Prix.

The victory means he has drawn level with his own record for wins in a season -- with four races still remaining -- and is now one first-place finish away from tying with Alain Prost for fourth place on the all-time winners' list.

The recently crowned champion was made to sweat in the final laps of the race as Lewis Hamilton used an alternative strategy to cut his lead to 1.8s at one point on the final lap and cross the line 2.2 seconds behind.

Hamilton's podium joy would be short-lived, with his Mercedes found to have been in breach of F1's technical regulations -- the seven-time world champion was disqualified four hours after the finish. 

Although irrelevant after the verdict, during the race itself Mercedes had appeared to pass up its best chance of a victory this year after attempting to switch Hamilton to a one-stop strategy only to return to a two-stop when his tyre performance dropped off. 

Verstappen was struggling with a brake issue from before the midpoint of the race and at one point called his championship-winning Red Bull a "piece of s---" over team radio.

The Red Bull driver was up to third place by lap 12 and passed Lando Norris for the lead on lap 28 of 56 with a move on the inside of Turn 12.

The McLaren driver tried to retaliate in Turn 13 but found himself high and wide in the right hander as Verstappen positioned his car defensively on the inside.

After making a second pit stop, Verstappen also had to pass Charles Leclerc to regain the lead, but it was something of a foregone conclusion with the Ferrari attempting an unlikely one-stop strategy, leaving him on much worse tyres.

Like Hamilton, Leclerc was also disqualified after the race for an identical infringement. 

Hamilton had a strategy offset to Norris and Verstappen, which saw him fall behind the Red Bull at the first round of pit stops but have fresher tyres at the end of the race to pass Norris for second on lap 49 and reel in Verstappen thereafter.

Hamilton's later first stop was because Mercedes wanted to attempt a one-stop but needed to run until around lap 23 to make it work. His first set of tyres didn't want to play along, however, and after a mistake on lap 20 he was forced to pit. 

The overtake on Norris was among the best of the race, with Hamilton being squeezed to the inside by Norris on the approach to the corner only to switch back, take a faster line through the apex and complete the move on the run down to Turn 2.

Although Verstappen's victory never really looked under threat with Hamilton running out of laps to close the gap, the Dutchman sounded increasingly stressed over team radio as he pleaded with his race engineer not to talk to him under braking.

With Hamilton and Leclerc thrown out of the race, Carlos Sainz took third, although he did not celebrate on the podium. 

Sergio Perez was promoted to fourth and Hamilton's disqualification meant he gained points, rather than lost, in the fight for second in the drivers' championship. 

George Russell inherited sixth in the other Mercedes, with Lance Stroll turning in a much-needed seventh position. 

Yuki Tsunoda claimed eighth and the extra point on offer for fastest lap. 

Hamilton and Leclerc's disqualifications promoted Williams pair Alex Albon and Logan Sargeant into the points. 

For Sargeant, it meant his first F1 points at his home race, although the timing of the verdicts meant he was unable to celebrate at the circuit.