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2023 United States Grand Prix race review: Heartbreak for Lewis Hamilton, Charles Leclerc after flying finish

Max Verstappen fought his way up from sixth on the grid to record his 15th win in only the 18th race of the season in the United States Grand Prix at the Circuit of the Americas near Austin, Texas.

However, he had to work harder for this victory than perhaps any other this year, as Lewis Hamilton closed in on the Dutchman, who was suffering braking issues, in the final laps.

But Hamilton's joy at such a strong performance was short-lived, as he was subsequently disqualified for a technical infringement, as was Ferrari's Charles Leclerc, who crossed the line sixth. As a result, both Williams drivers - Alex Albon and Logan Sargeant - earned points.

Patient Verstappen again shows his class

Verstappen wrapped up his third consecutive World Drivers' Championship last time out in Qatar, one race after his Red Bull team had claimed the constructors' title, but his record-breaking season continued in Austin with a third victory on the bounce.

After having his fastest qualifying time deleted for leaving the track, the Dutch dynamo had to begin from sixth spot on the grid, with some tough competitors starting ahead of him.

Leclerc started from pole for the third time this season, with McLaren's Lando Norris second, Hamilton in third, Singapore Grand Prix winner Carlos Sainz fourth in the second Ferrari and then Hamilton's Mercedes teammate George Russell in fifth.

Verstappen made a clean getaway, then bided his time, in no rush to scorch to the front. After picking off his rivals one by one, Verstappen hit the front by overtaking Norris on lap 28, the halfway point of the race.

Having won serenely from pole in Saturday's sprint race, the champion knew he had the best race package on the grid and that his tyres would outlast anyone else. 

Verstappen's sprint and Grand Prix double takes his championship lead to 226 points over his Red Bull teammate Sergio Perez in second place with four race weekends to go this season.

Hamilton and Leclerc forced to walk the plank

Hamilton loves racing in America and has always fared well at CotA, and this looked another really positive weekend for the seven-time world champion as his Mercedes team continue to try to match Red Bull's consistently high performance levels.

However, after finishing two seconds behind Verstappen, Hamilton was disqualified as the wooden plank beneath his car was found to be too thin.

Since 1994, all cars have had to carry a wooden plank screwed to the underside to prove that they are not running illegally close to the ground during races.

Hamilton and Leclerc's planks were found to be excessively worn following the race on the bumpy Texan circuit leading to their disqualification. 

As a result, both Williams cars - driven by Alex Albon and American Logan Sargeant - earned points, with Sargeant's points being the first of his F1 career.

It was a bitter blow for Hamilton, who crashed out at the first corner in Qatar in the last race. The British ace has now fallen 39 points behind Perez for second in the championship.

For Leclerc, meanwhile, the disqualification merely added more pain to another already frustrating weekend.

The Ferraris had looked strong, with Leclerc claiming pole position for the Grand Prix and just missing out in the sprint shootout.

However, tyre wear proved an Achilles heel, and an attempt to run a one-stop strategy in the main race backfired. The Monegasque driver had to allow his much faster team-mate Sainz past as Leclerc plummeted down the field in the closing laps.

Mixed weekend for Aston Martin

After a stellar start to the season, Aston Martin have gradually lost touch in the car development race but arrived in Texas hoping for a boost from an updated aerodynamic package.

However, the new configuration caused problems from the start of the weekend, and Fernando Alonso missed out on a place in the qualifying top-ten shootout for the first time all season.

The team opted to start both cars from the pitlane for the Grand Prix, with Alonso switching back to the old car and Lance Stroll running the new version, to allow a direct comparison.

It ended up being a strong performance, with Stroll ending up seventh following the disqualifications and earning his first points for six races.

But Alonso had been doing even better in the old car before a broken floor put him out of the race, and the team lost fourth place in the constructors' standings to McLaren following Norris' second-place finish.

Perez looking forward to home support

There were plenty of Perez fans in attendance at CotA, but the support will be overwhelming in his home race, next week's Mexican Grand Prix.

The veteran driver finished fourth following the double disqualification, and he has earned some breathing room in his battle for second with Hamilton as a result.

That should see Checo in a more relaxed mood as he seeks to prove to Red Bull that he is the right man to partner Verstappen going forward.

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