AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Red Bull's Max Verstappen charged to his 15th win of the season and the 50th of his Formula One career at the United States Grand Prix on Sunday, when he started from sixth and then held off the Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton over the final laps at the Circuit of the Americas.
Verstappen had to work harder than usual in a season of almost complete domination by the three-time champion. But the power of his Red Bull and the right pit stop strategy calls navigated the Dutch driver to the finish line ahead of Hamilton by 2.2 seconds, even as the Mercedes was eating up chunks of time behind him over the final few laps.
“I think the whole race I was struggling with the brakes. That made the race a bit tougher. It was very close at the end,” Verstappen said. “It's incredible to win my 50th grand prix here. Very proud. Of course, we will keep trying to push for more.”
His 15th victory of 2023 tied the season record Verstappen set last year. He has been even more dominant this year in a Red Bull car that simply has overwhelmed everything in its path.
After splitting the first four races with teammate Sergio Perez, Verstappen has won 13 of the last 14 in a year that by himself would have Red Bull on top of the team standings as well.
Verstappen also earned this third consecutive win in Austin. He started this one from sixth after a rare mistake of exceeding track limits on his final lap of qualifying on Friday. Race officials then slightly widened the lines at three corners to give the drivers more space on race day.
Every winner at the Circuit of the Americas had started from the front row until Verstappen's charge Sunday. He now has won three times this season from sixth or lower.
But this one made him sweat in the Texas heat. With Hamilton in his rearview mirror and his garage updating his lap times, Verstappen scolded them to “stop talking” to him while he battled with his brakes in the corners.
Hamilton is chasing Perez for second in the drivers' standings, and he delivered another podium as Mercedes brought what it called its last major upgrade of the season to Austin.
A late radio message to Hamilton from the Mercedes garage expressed hope for second place and “maybe the win," and he continued to shave off seconds between himself and Verstappen.
The seven-time F1 champion hasn't won since December 2021 in Saudi Arabia. The season is down to four races left to run. The series moves to Mexico City next weekend.
“Max has been really flawless,” Hamilton said. “We were catching him toward the end. I was hopeful. We needed more laps.”
Lando Norris finished third to earn McLaren its fourth consecutive podium finish. Norris jumped pole sitter Charles Leclerc for the lead at the start and kept pace with Verstappen for much of the race before tailing off.