Max Verstappen fended off Lewis Hamilton to win a thrilling United States Grand Prix, Formula 1‘s two greatest drivers of this era delivering an epic contest to the very last lap.
The Red Bull driver started from pole but Hamilton, beside him, got the jump out of Turn 1 and what followed was an engrossing game of cat and mouse. Verstappen’s team gambled by bringing him early, to undercut Hamilton who was kept out longer by Mercedes.
With the lead swinging between the two, it came down to the final laps with Hamilton attacking on fresher rubber, and Verstappen defending on the older stuff. In the end, the Dutchman held on to take maximum points.
It was high-end racing from the masters of this generation, as Max kept some rubber in reserve for Hamilton’s attack. Neither put a foot wrong and in the end the first undercut, the Red Bull early gamble probably won them the race but in the end it needed Verstappen to make it work. And he did.
Win number EIGHT of 2021 for @Max33Verstappen 🤘#USGP 🇺🇸 #F1 pic.twitter.com/hxKAJAPc0i
— Formula 1 (@F1) October 24, 2021
Verstappen summed up his first United States Grand Prix victory: “Of course we lost out in the start so we had to try and do something else. The tyre wear is quite high around this track, we went aggressive and I was not sure it was going to work but the last few laps were fun. A bit sideways through the high-speed corners but super happy to hang on.”
This victory means the Dutch ace has now doubled his lead in the 2021 F1 championship to 12 points over Hamilton with five races remaining. Red Bull trail Mercedes in the F1 constructors’ title race by 23 points
The Mercedes driver said in parc ferme after the race: “Firstly congratulations to Max he did a great job today. It was such a tough race. I got a good start, gave it absolutely everything but at the end of the day, they just had the upper hand this weekend and we couldn’t really have asked for more. A big thank you to my team, great work through the weekend.”
Sergio Perez did not factor into the equation despite his team’s attempts to dial him into the strategy but he simply did not have the pace but did enough to take third place, albeit over forty seconds adrift. Nevertheless, a big afternoon for the Bulls, as Valtteri Bottas was sixth after penalties confined him to the heart of the midpack start which proved to be hard work for the Finn on the day.
The Mexican had a tough day when his water bottle ran dry as he revealed afterwards: “Since lap one, I ran out of water so could not drink at all. By the middle of the second stint it was starting to get difficult, I was losing strength. It was my toughest race physically.”
Apart from the title contenders delivering mega-entertainment, behind them Ferrari and McLaren were evenly matched, with Charles Leclerc finishing fourth after a somewhat lonely race where he was not challenged but also lacked podium finishing firepower.
Daniel Ricciardo was fifth for McLaren in arguably his best race for the Woking outfit, bettering his teammate Lando Norris for a change. The younger driver finished eighth after what seemed like a race-long duel with Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz, the Spaniard in the end good for seventh.
Rookie Yuki Tsunoda was ninth for AlphaTauri the rookie delivering an impressive performance on a tough afternoon in Austin for the Red Bull junior team. Pierre Gasly suffered a DNF.
Sebastian Vettel claimed the final point for Aston Martin and had to work hard for it as he made the most of fresher tyres at the end which pushed the Alfa Romeo of Antonio Giovinazzi out of the points.
Final word after a captivating United States Grand Prix to Red Bull boss Christian Horner: “I think I’ve aged about 25 years in that race. I really didn’t think we were going to hang on.”
Indeed Max did with a Champion’s performance today.
2021 United States Grand Prix Results & Stats