Red Bull's Max Verstappen won an intensely tactical race with a two-stop strategy, having started from pole. After losing the lead to Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton at the start, Verstappen made his first pit stop from P Zero Yellow medium to P Zero White hard on lap 11, with a successful 'undercut' to gain the lead from his rival, who stopped three laps later.
At the second round of pit stops, the Dutchman again stopped before Hamilton: who went eight laps longer to have much fresher hard tyres at the finish and race the Red Bull driver hard over the final laps, closing to within less than a second at the flag.
Verstappen and Hamilton both adopted the same medium-hard-hard strategy, while Red Bull's Sergio Perez in third (who only had one fresh set of hards available) did two stints on the medium followed by just one on the hard.
Wear and degradation were quite high and at the same significant levels seen in free practice at the demanding COTA track: noted for its bumps, aggressive surfaces and very fast first sector.
Despite some drizzle earlier in the day, conditions were warm and dry for the race, but with some wind too. The race got underway with 31 degrees centigrade ambient and 39 degrees of track temperature.
All the drivers began the race on the P Zero Yellow medium tyre, with the exception of Ferrari's Carlos Sainz and AlphaTauri's Yuki Tsunoda on the P Zero Red soft (which they had used to set their best Q2 times on Saturday).
As expected, it was a two-stop strategy for everyone, with just two drivers stopping three times.
Mario Isola: "Tyre wear was high as we expected on this hot and abrasive circuit, which led to nearly everyone choosing the medium to start the race on and then focussing on the hard as the main race tyre. This stood up extremely well to the demands on it, with some long stints that helped to set up a thrilling finale to this race between the championship protagonists. Both Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton had exactly the same tyre allocation left before the race but used it in very different ways, with Hamilton making the most of his younger tyres at the end, and Verstappen capitalising on the track position gained by his 'undercuts'. The result was a fantastic strategic duel that led to a thrilling finale between two drivers absolutely on top of their game, managing their tyres perfectly."