Verstappen: Pressure was on for the whole race

Max Verstappen won the 2021 US GP under extreme pressure from Lewis Hamilton

Max Verstappen was able to deliver the goods on Sunday for the 2021 Formula 1 United States Grand Prix, but it was no easy task as the Dutchman felt the pressure was on for the whole race.

But the outcome was one of the most exciting races of the season where the result went down to the final laps, as Verstappen gave himself no favors losing the lead at the start to Lewis Hamilton, which meant his team had to be aggressive with the strategy, but their ace had it covered with some proper driving and tyre management to take his eighth win of the season.

“It was an exciting race and it feels incredible to win here in front of all the fans,” Verstappen said in the team report after the race.

“The pressure was on for the whole race and not knowing how quickly Lewis would catch up. I actually thought I had a decent start, but Lewis had an even better one,” he admitted.

“So we went for an aggressive strategy after losing the lead into turn one and we pitted early in the first stint. Then for the middle stint we were in that undercut range, so we had to respond and we went for track position which made the last stint very long, especially in this heat.”

That meant the championship leader was on the defense during the final laps of race, on older tyres than his title rival, who was on full attack mode.

“The last two laps were definitely difficult on the tyres, there wasn’t much grip left,” Verstappen explained. “But, then with two laps to go, I had the Haas in front of me and I was able to benefit from the DRS, so we managed to hang on in the end.

“We definitely gave it our all today as a Team and it was great to have Checo up there with me on the podium,” said the winner of 18 grands prix, who was able to extend his lead over Hamilton in the Drivers’ Championship to 12 points.

Christian Horner was over the moon after the race, as his guys delivered a win and a third, in challenging conditions, and at a track where their last victory was in 2013 courtesy of Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull’s only champion to date.

“What an incredible victory and double podium for the Team!” he declared “It’s our first US GP win since 2013 and what a way to do it.

“At the beginning of the race we had really good pace on the mediums and Max was able to put pressure on Lewis, but we know that he is so strong at the end of the race and he went long which bought himself an advantage,” Horner explained.

“So we went for track position and Max held on and managed the race superbly, especially his last stint on the hard tyre to have enough left to keep his lead at the end,” the Briton concluded, clearly impressed by his driver’s impeccable tyre management.

The next race in Mexico is one of Verstappen’s favorites as he won there in 2017 and 2018, so he would be well positioned to extend his title lead even more, unless Hamilton and Mercedes have other ideas.

(Follow me on Twitter @MallakJad)