Formula One returned to the United States for an exhilarating weekend, with the Circuit of the Americas in Austin playing host to a memorable Grand Prix. This event marked a significant moment in F1 history as the circuit hosted a sprint weekend for the first time in its 11-year histor. Here are five key takeaways from the 2023 U.S. Grand Prix.
Hamilton and Leclerc Disqualified
The most shocking news of the weekend came after the checkered flag fell. The FIA, Formula One’s governing body, revealed that two cars were under investigation for breaching technical regulations. Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton and Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc were the unfortunate drivers. The investigation focused on the condition of their car floors and plank wear, as both were found to be non-compliant with the rulebook. Hamilton’s disqualification meant he lost his hard-fought second-place finish.
Home Hero Sargeant’s Maiden Points
American driver Logan Sargeant had much to prove in front of his home crowd. With his future in Formula One uncertain, he faced immense pressure. Sargeant scored his first championship points in 10th place, making him the first American to secure F1 points since Michael Andretti at the 1993 Italian Grand Prix. Starting from the back of the grid, he navigated his way through the field, achieving a remarkable feat.
Reevaluating the Sprint Format
In 2023, Formula One expanded the number of sprint weekends from three to six. Despite the changes to the format, the 100km sprint race in Austin received mixed reviews from fans and drivers. Some called it the dullest event of the season. Max Verstappen, who won the race, shared his indifference to the sprint format. He suggested that Formula One could eliminate one of the qualifying sessions to maintain the excitement and unpredictability of the main race.
Verstappen’s Brake Issues
Max Verstappen overcame challenges to claim victory in Austin. Starting from sixth place after having a qualifying lap time deleted, Verstappen also faced brake issues during the race, impacting his tire wear and braking consistency. Despite these setbacks, Verstappen executed a successful race strategy, marking his 50th career victory and equalling the number of wins from the previous season.
Alpine’s Star-Studded Investors
The Alpine F1 team made waves in the paddock as they welcomed global celebrities Rory McIlroy and Anthony Joshua, who recently invested in the team. Alpine sold shares to several premiere investors, including actors Ryan Reynolds and Michael B Jordan, as well as sporting figures like McIlroy and Joshua. Additionally, Prince Harry was present as a guest of Mercedes AMG Petronas. Sporting star Sha’Carri Richardson presented awards during the F1 sprint event on Saturday.