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Red Bull champions as Verstappen trumps Hamilton in COTA classic

Red Bull champions as Verstappen trumps Hamilton in COTA classic

Red Bull champions as Verstappen trumps Hamilton in COTA classic

Red Bull champions as Verstappen trumps Hamilton in COTA classic

Max Verstappen overcame a disastrous Red Bull pit stop to take victory in a stunning United States Grand Prix.

The double world champion gave the perfect send-off to Dietrich Mateschitz, Red Bull's owner and co-founder, who passed away ahead of qualifying on Saturday.

The result confirmed Red Bull as constructors' champions for the first time since 2013, and moves Verstappen into a tie with Michael Schumacher and Sebastian Vettel on 13 wins in a single season.

Lewis Hamilton did his level best to secure a first win of the season but was ultimately powerless to resist his rival, whilst Charles Leclerc recovered from a Ferrari engine penalty to secure his first podium from below seventh on the grid.

In a race that saw drama before it even began, the winner was never certain until the very final lap.

Hamilton was unhappy with the feeling of the brakes on his Mercedes ahead of the race, with the team rushing to change the brake material of the W13 on the grid.

At the race start, Verstappen jumped polesitter Carlos Sainz with a better getaway but as the Ferrari driver swung across turn one's apex, George Russell made contact with the rear-left corner.

The incident gave the Mercedes driver a five-second penalty, whilst Sainz retired on the first lap for the second race in succession.

The race then settled into what seemed to be a processional event, with Verstappen stretching out an easy advantage over Hamilton and Aston Martin's Lance Stroll, who had jumped to third in the meleé, creating a buffer for the top two.

When Verstappen pitted, he emerged ahead of Leclerc - who had made his way up to seventh from 12th in the early stages - with Hamilton lurking behind.

But when Valtteri Bottas lost control of his Alfa Romeo on lap 18 and became beached in the gravel, the subsequent safety car gave Leclerc a lifeline and allowed Hamilton to close into Verstappen.

Safety car drama sparks race into life

At the restart, further chaos followed as Fernando Alonso and Lance Stroll collided at the fastest point of the circuit.

The Canadian seemingly moved in defence of the Alpine driver, launching Alonso into the air and into the barrier parallel to the straight.

Stroll's damage left the Aston Martin stranded and triggered another safety car, whilst Alonso miraculously continued and returned to the pits.

Tyre wear forced drivers into a second stop some 10 laps after the second restart but after Hamilton triggered an undercut attempt, Red Bull moved to cover the attack with Verstappen.

But a wheel gun failure left the Dutchman stranded and when he reemerged, Leclerc had made his way ahead.

The top two in the championship were on medium tyres and were faster than the Briton, who was doing his utmost to remain at the head of the field and bring an end to Mercedes' miserable winless run.

But with six laps remaining and with DRS to boot, Verstappen dived to the inside at turn 12.

Hamilton tried to cut back and momentarily retook the lead, but with his rival on the more favourable inside line, the chance for victory was gone.

A stunning recovery drive from Verstappen was the perfect tribute to Mateschitz, who was given a round of applause ahead of the race.

Hamilton had to settle for second ahead of Leclerc, whilst Sergio Perez continued his fine form to recover from ninth, due to a grid penalty, to fourth.

Russell wound up fifth ahead of Lando Norris, who battled damage having been hit by debris from the Alonso-Stroll incident.

Alonso astonishingly finished seventh, ahead of driver of the day Sebastian Vettel.

The German had been running in the top five and after leading during the pit-stop phase, ticked over 3,500 career laps led.

But a pit stop issue of his own saw him drop to 13th, spurning a top-six finish.

A spirited fightback, including a stunning move around the outside of turns 16, 17 and 18 and the inside of turn 19 on the final lap against Kevin Magnussen ensured four points for eighth.

The Danish driver secured home-race points for Haas after a brave one-stop strategy, whilst Yuki Tsunoda broke his streak of scoreless races with 10th, fighting through from the back of the grid.

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