Carlos Sainz finished eighth and was surpassed by Albon on the overall scoreboard. Daniil Kvyat finished 10th but was penalized for an additional five seconds for colliding with Sergio Perez. That helped the Mexican driver into the top 10.
GP USA started with exciting chases. Bottas protected P1 by driving in the inner lane to defend against Vettel. At the same time, Verstappen chose the outer lane and surpassed the Ferrari driver, capturing P2. Vettel was later surpassed by Hamilton, Leclerc and Norris, falling to P6 after the first round. “My car was damaged somewhere, causing me to get cornered too young,” he told the Ferrari technical team.
Also in the first round, Sainz fell to P9 after colliding with Albon at the end of Turn 1. Albon’s RB15 flew into the air a few centimeters, causing him to fall into the pit immediately.
The situation got worse for Vettel in the eighth round, when he dashed off the track and collided with the curb. The front wheel on the left side of the SF90 is bent and does not touch the ground even though the vehicle is still moving. That made him give up immediately. Leclerc teammate was also told to avoid rushing to the sidelines at Turn 8.
In the first group, Verstappen gradually became more distant from Bottas, while Hamilton closed the gap. As the British rider was about to overtake, Verstappen unexpectedly entered the old hard tire replacement pit in round 12. He returned to the track at P4, seven seconds after Leclerc. Bottas enlisted into the pit the next round to replace the new hard tire. He returned with only about a second faster than Verstappen, but was enough to keep P3 behind Hamilton and Leclerc.
Bottas and Verstappen easily overcame Leclerc, an old-fashioned and nearly out-of-the-box racer. With the new hard tires, Bottas is nearly a second faster than Leclerc and gives young Dutch talent to smoke. He closely followed his teammate Hamilton. And Leclerc had to enter the pit in round 21, but it took 7.7 seconds to replace the tire because of a mistake by the Ferrari technical team.
Verstappen did not catch up to Hamilton, even if no yellow light came from the problem of Kevin Magnussen’s car. The ninth Mercedes finishes in two places earlier this season.