Daniel Ricciardo's Formula One return has gone from bad to worse, with car troubles and a savage act from his teammate Yuki Tsunoda dealing the Aussie a double blow at the United States Grand Prix. Ricciardo failed to claim a point after finishing dead-last and seeing his fastest lap time bettered by his AlphaTauri teammate in the dying stages of the race.
Red Bull's triple world champion Max Verstappen held off Lewis Hamilton to take the 50th win of his career, during another impressive showing for the Dutchman in Austin, Texas. Mercedes driver Hamilton came in just over two seconds behind, with McLaren's Lando Norris completing the podium places in third.
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Mercedes driver Hamilton and Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc (who crossed the line in sixth) were later disqualified for technical violations found after the conclusion of the race. The FIA said after the race that skids on both Hamilton and Leclerc’s cars were “found not to be in compliance” with the rules and regulations.
In his first race back after almost two months out with a broken hand, Ricciardo ended up last of the drivers that finished the race, having started in 15th and made a charge into 10th place, before rising as high as 7th until he was forced into the pits. Fellow Aussie Oscar Piastri - who replaced Ricciardo at McLaren this season - was among those forced to retire from the race after a collision with Alpine's Esteban Ocon.
Despite his promising charge, things took an unfortunate turn for Ricciardo when he was forced into the pits late in the race, with his team seen to pull a large piece of debris from the front of his car, before sending the Aussie back out on the track. The pit stop paid dividends almost immediately as Ricciardo posted the fastest lap of the race.
Daniel Ricciardo denied fastest lap by teammate
However, the Aussie's AlphaTauri teammate Yuki Tsunoda clearly had no time for sentimentality as he bettered Ricciardo's fastest lap moments later to brutally deny the Aussie a consolation prize. The fact Tsunoda also finished the race inside the top-10 meant he scored the bonus point in the championship standings, leaving fans gutted over the cruel setback for Ricciardo.
Point and a fastest lap, Yuki Tsunoda is not interested in your Ricciardo comeback narrative
— Adi 🍍 (@2Adi_P) October 22, 2023
Tsunoda is a sadist 😂😂
He couldn’t let Ricciardo get the points for Fastest Lap #USGP
— Yule Msee (@Kmusyoka5) October 22, 2023
Ricciardo was put on a fatal 1-stopper by the team and ran with a huge piece of debris until lap 47 when it was removed by a mechanic at the pitstop, and potentially had more hidden damage for the entire race pic.twitter.com/NK0VMJvpS3
— organic (@organicmeasure) October 22, 2023
Tsunoda absolutely rinsing Ricciardo on his return to Alpha Tauri. No doubt they had plenty of social media interaction though so all good #USGP
— Harvey Waywell 🇪🇺 (@wellway27) October 22, 2023
Tsunoda really just yoinked fastest lap from Ricciardo last second LMAOOO 😭😭
— Bea (@Itz_bxm) October 22, 2023
Max Verstappen on track to smash race wins record
Verstappen's victory was his third in a row in Austin and equals the record the Dutch 26-year-old set last year for most wins in a single season (15). The scary reality is that he still has four races to go and will likely shatter the previous record based on current form.
Red Bull and Verstappen, who started in sixth place, have already secured the constructors' and drivers' titles in another dominant season. "The whole race, I was struggling a lot with the brakes," said Verstappen after one of his closest wins of the year. You could see it was very close to the end."
Norris lined up on the front row and seized the lead from pole-sitter Charles Leclerc into the opening corner but his hopes of taking a first win in his 100th start faded by halfway. Verstappen was fifth by the end of lap one and moved through the field, starting on mediums and pitting for more on lap 17 and taking the lead from Norris on the 28th of 56 laps.
Verstappen did not just disappear into the distance, however, with the champion's brake issues giving Mercedes hope they might be able to reel him in with an upgraded car. Hamilton, on fresher mediums on the final stint with Verstappen on hards, started the last lap just 1.8 seconds behind after being 5.3 adrift when he passed Norris for second with seven laps remaining.
Ferrari's Carlos Sainz was bumped up into third spot after the post-race disqualifications, with Red Bull's Sergio Perez fourth. George Russell was fifth for Mercedes ahead of Alpine's Pierre Gasly. Ocon was the first retirement, his race ending on lap seven after a first-lap collision with Piastri. The Australian driver was retired by his team four laps later. Aston Martin's Fernando Alonso also had to retire after sustaining rear suspension failure.
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