Max Verstappen converted his pole position to victory at the United States Grand Prix but the afternoon was nowhere near as straightforward as the result suggests.
The championship leader lost out to Lewis Hamilton, who started alongside him, when the lights went out. His view of the open track was quickly replaced by that of a Mercedes rear wing.
Red Bull decided to gamble, pitting Verstappen early to ensure that his pace on new tyres took him ahead of Hamilton when the Mercedes driver stopped.
But it meant that the reigning champion had much fresher tyres at the end of the race, and, in trademark fashion, Hamilton hunted Verstappen down, closing to within a second as the chequered flag approached.
It wasn’t quite enough to prevent Verstappen from extending his lead in the title race, and Mercedes lost out too in the constructors’ battle as Sergio Perez finished third.
Behind the leaders, Ferrari had the edge on McLaren, with Carlos Sainz having to fight off both simultaneously, while Fernando Alonso got involved in a spat with both Alfa Romeos — before retiring.
Here’s how the race played out.
Lewis Hamilton led from the start of the race
Verstappen’s hard-won pole position was lost the moment that the lights went out, as Lewis Hamilton charged forward, pulling level with the Dutchman on the approach to Turn 1.
There was nothing Verstappen, on the outside, could do as Hamilton judged his braking point perfectly and edged his title rival off track on the outside, exiting the corner to lead lap 1.
It gave Sergio Perez a chance for a run on Hamilton through Turn 2 but as soon as it was clear that the Mexican had no hope of taking the lead, he slowed to allow his team-mate into second.
Behind, Lance Stroll was spun round by Nicholas Latifi at Turn 1, the pair dropping to the back as a result.
Further into the first lap, Daniel Ricciardo made a move to pass the soft-tyred Sainz for sixth on the outside approaching Turn 12, while his team-mate Norris tried a simultaneous move on the inside, which could have seen him audaciously pass both cars.
Sainz defended against Ricciardo, but was alongside Norris in the corner and ran wide off the track, maintaining enough momentum to edge ahead of the British driver and push him to the outside of the following corner, which saw him drop behind Ricciardo again.
Sainz then let Ricciardo through. He was later told to let Norris through too, but told his team that he thought the McLaren he had allowed past was that of Norris. He failed to let the second McLaren through.
Bottas dropped to tenth at the start but was fighting with Tsunoda for eighth at Turn 1 on lap 2. Verstappen said that Hamilton was sliding a lot, as the Red Bull driver set the fastest lap of the race so far.
Esteban Ocon was the first in the pits to change his nose and switch from medium to hard tyres at the end of lap 3, after being swiped by Antonio Giovinazzi.
Latifi stopped at the end of lap 5 for a new front wing, following his contact with Stoll and almost caused a repeat of the same incident as he exited the pits – this time with new nose compatriot Ocon, who dived up the outside into Turn 1.
Ahead, Lewis Hamilton radioed in that Verstappen was quicker than him, despite holding the fastest lap of the race at the time.
Fernando Alonso was the first to make a planned stop at the end of lap 7, pitting from 15th in an effort to undercut Sebastian Vettel ahead.
Max Verstappen said he had better pace than Hamilton but, blocked by the Mercedes, he pitted at the end of lap 10; a 2.9sec stop putting him put fifth behind Ricciardo.
Norris, in the second McLaren, pitted too, falling to 11th, behind the Aston Martins of Vettel and Stroll. It took little time for Verstappen to pass Ricciardo on his fresh hard tyres, going past on lap 11.
Sainz let Ricciardo past — he said he thought it had been Norris’s McLaren
Lap 13 saw Perez pit from second, followed by Charles Leclerc from third, returning to the track third and fifth respectively, split by Bottas.
Hamilton pitted at the end of lap 13, but his 2.8sec stop wasn’t enough to prevent an overwhelming Verstappen undercut: the Mercedes ending up 6.7sec behind the Red Bull and 5sec ahead of Perez.
Leclerc was 20sec behind the leader, followed by Bottas, trailing by 23sec, who had not yet stopped.
Pierre Gasly slowed to a trundle on lap 15, complaining of rear suspension trouble and rolled into retirement.
Bottas pitted at the end of lap 15; his 2.7sec stop putting him 11th, ahead of Antonio Giovinazzi and the battling pair of world champions, Kimi Räikkönen and Fernando Alonso who clashed in Turn 1 — Räikkönen passing the Alpine on the outside, just after being pushed off track by Alonso, but no investigation was thought necessary.
Stroll stopped from 10th soon after being passed by Valtteri Bottas for ninth on lap 18.
Lap 20 brought Bottas past Yuki Tsunoda. Alonso managed to pass an Alfa Romeo on lap 20; pulling alongside Giovinazzi but then wildly overshooting Turn 12, running wide and then returning to the track to take the place.
The improbable manoeuvre appeared to be linked to the previous incident with Räikkönen ‚ now running ahead of Giovinazzi — and a radio broadcast between Alan Permane, Alpine’s sporting director and race director Michael Masi confirmed it — Permane asking if it was now permitted for cars to pass while off track on the outside of a corner. Masi said that this wasn’t the case.
Alonso was then told by the team that he had to hand back the place to Giovinazzi.