US GP: Verstappen cruises to Sprint victory ahead of Hamilton

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Max Verstappen overcame a slow start to eventually ease to victory in the United States Grand Prix Sprint.

The reigning champion came under heavy pressure from Charles Leclerc off the line but robustly defended before going on to take the win.

Lewis Hamilton pounced to claim second for Mercedes as the Ferrari driver settled for third.

Sprint Review

Verstappen needed an aggressive move to hold off Leclerc on the run to Turn 1, allowing Hamilton to pass the Ferrari for P2 approaching the Esses.

Sainz was the only driver on soft tyres and used the extra grip to climb upto fourth ahead of the two McLarens.

George Russell immediately made up the three places he was demoted for impeding Leclerc in the Shootout to run eighth.

After being tagged by Sainz at the start, Oscar Piastri lost places in the early laps to slip outside the points. 

Russell was one of those to pass the Australian but he was handed a five-second penalty for overtaking by going off track at Turn 15.

Verstappen had Hamilton firmly within the DRS range initially, but gradually Max began to stretch away at the front.

Instead, the big battle was for P4 as Sainz's soft tyres began to struggle for grip with Norris and Sergio Perez right behind.

Lando finally got the move done into Turn 12 on Lap 11, but Leclerc was able to build a six-second margin ahead in third.

Checo followed the McLaren through a lap later to claim fifth with Russell next to home in on the faltering Ferrari.

Sainz was able to keep the Mercedes driver at bay, however, thanks to excellent traction out of the slow corners.

Instead, the action was further down as Daniel Ricciardo produced a lovely move around the outside of Fernando Alonso at Turn 1 for P12.

Zhou Guanyu became the second driver to be penalised after pushing Kevin Magnussen off track at Turn 15.

While Lance Stroll was the only retirement due to brake issues on his Aston Martin.

At the front, however, it was a sunset cruise for Verstappen to victory by 9.5s over Hamilton in second.

Leclerc just held off a charging Norris for third, with Lando just eight-tenths behind the Ferrari over the finish line.

Perez claimed fifth as Sainz held on to sixth. Russell's penalty promoted Gasly to seventh as the Briton claimed the last point in eighth.

Alex Albon took ninth with Piastri 10th. Esteban Ocon was 11th ahead of Ricciardo and Alonso. 

Yuki Tsunoda gained the most places of anyone up from 19th to 14th, followed by Nico Hulkenberg in the lead Haas.

Valtteri Bottas was 16th as Zhou slipped to 17th, still ahead of Magnussen and Logan Sargeant was the final finisher in 19th.