Max Verstappen won perhaps the most pointless Formula One race ever staged in baking Austin last night, a 19-lap sprint that is the smallest footnote in his season par excellence.

With the Red Bull star having wrapped up his third successive title in Qatar a fortnight ago, the remainder of the calendar is something of an anti-climax, but this format especially exacerbates the predicament.

Saturday of sprint weekends are now devoted to the shortened arrangement – sprint qualifying followed by the sprint ‘proper’. It is a day without meaning, sandwiched indelicately between Friday’s qualifying and today’s US Grand Prix.

Alas, the same ‘bread and circuses’ will be served up in one of the four remaining races, in Sao Paulo. It needs looking at by the powers that be.

There was some early drama, not that the TV director realised it. All season we had waited to see Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton dueling it out at the front, and we briefly got it, but you wouldn’t have known it as the cameras focused on everything else for the first three laps. I thought they would pan over to the nearby Interstate 35.

Max Verstappen, who needs no more points this season, got eight more in the sprint Saturday

Max Verstappen, who needs no more points this season, got eight more in the sprint Saturday

After nearly running Charles Leclerc (16) off the road, Verstappen (1) scampered away from all

After nearly running Charles Leclerc (16) off the road, Verstappen (1) scampered away from all

He finished eight seconds ahead of Hamilton, but he faces a long climb from sixth on Sunday

He finished eight seconds ahead of Hamilton, but he faces a long climb from sixth on Sunday

For a long while, so the timing screens informed us, Hamilton was only half a second back from Verstappen. Sometimes it went out to a full second, and back again. Hamilton was cleverly using his expertise on this fabulous track, where he has claimed five of his six US Grand Prix victories.

But pole-sitter Verstappen, who strong-armed Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc off the start, gradually moved away. Hamilton’s complaints that his bitter rival was running off track went unheeded.

Verstappen finished 9.4 seconds ahead of the Briton with Charles Leclerc third for Ferrari.

Hamilton’s Mercedes team-mate George Russell was handed a five-second penalty for passing McLaren’s Oscar Piastri illegally, and finished eighth.

Source: | This article originally belongs to Daily Mail

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