From the top spot on the grid, Red Bull’s triple F1 World Champion Max Verstappen dominated the Sprint on Saturday, the Dutch ace finishing 9.4 seconds ahead of Lewis Hamilton in the Mercedes and Charles Leclerc in the Ferrari.
Here is what F1 teams and drivers had to say after the Sprint Race on Saturday:
Red Bull: It was a strong sprint race for us
Max Verstappen: “We had a strong day out there today. It was quite tight at the start with Charles but after that we could focus on our own race. The pace of the car was really good, a bit better than we expected, we looked after our tyres quite well. Starting in P6 tomorrow will be interesting, we’ll try and stay out of trouble on the first lap and then we’ll take it step by step making our way through the field. Hopefully we can have some fun out there Sunday.”
Sergio Perez: “I took off quicker than I thought I was going to and unfortunately that did hurt us a bit. We started well and had some good pace but we the degradation was a bit higher than I ideally wanted, so we were not able to push how we would have wanted to and got caught in a lot of dirty air. We need to sort the degradation issues for the race because that will be important, we may be doing things that are hurting us there. We have to make sure we understand where we can improve the balance come tomorrow too and work hard overnight, we need more pace than we showed today. We have some tricks we can do and have some good directions to go in. Tomorrow will be an interesting one, with a lot of interesting battles out there.”
Christian Horner, Red Bull Team Principal: “It was a strong sprint race for us and will provide a lot of data around the performance of the tyres and our opponents. max drove a well-controlled race and equally, it was a good performance from Checo. This sets us up well for tomorrow. Yes we are starting further down the grid than we would usually like but you can overtake here, there are opportunities and we look forward to seeing what’s to come.”
Mercedes: We can be carefully optimistic
Lewis Hamilton: “That was a fun race! I made a good start into turn one and had a really good battle with Charles (Leclerc). Running in second, I was then focused on trying to get closer to Max (Verstappen) in those early stages. Their pace at the moment is undeniable though so I wasn’t able to get close enough to challenge him. We’ve still got a long way to go to equal the pace he showed throughout the Sprint. Nonetheless, I’m really happy to be back on the podium.” “Starting ahead of Max tomorrow is helpful. Ultimately, I think he will be breathing down our necks before too long given the pace that he had today. I think that will open up a good fight though between ourselves, the Ferraris and the McLarens. We’re all quite similar in pace this weekend by the looks of it so I hope we get to have a good battle tomorrow. Keeping Max behind would be awesome but if not, we’ll do everything we can to finish on the podium and bring home good points.”
George Russell: “It’s been a bit of a scrappy day for me. Both penalties that I received today were fair. I was unable to give the position back to Piastri in the Sprint as Gasly had already passed him. If I let Piastri past, I would have had to let Gasly past too. It was a bit of a shame as it was an optimistic move from myself. “Ultimately though, there aren’t a huge amount of points up for grabs on a Saturday. We’re in a good place to fight for a podium from P5 tomorrow. It’s going to be an interesting race. The tyres felt good in the Sprint but that was helped by the cloudy conditions and the temperature dropping a little. “It will be close between a one and a two-stop tomorrow and we’re going to have to be dynamic in order to react to the situation. We should have a good fight with the Ferraris and the McLaren of Norris. We may have the speed on them, but they are starting ahead so we will see what we can do.”
Toto Wolff, Team Principal & CEO: “We can be carefully optimistic with how the weekend has gone so far and how our updates have performed. We didn’t think this would be a track where we would be anywhere near the front. There are a lot of fast corners that are not usually our strength, so we’ve made a good step. That has proved key in putting us in a position to score solid points today. “After a tougher Sprint Shootout, both drivers showed strong pace in the Sprint itself. Lewis pressured Max early on but ultimately his speed proved too strong. We know we’ve still got a lot of work to catch up to the very front, but we can be encouraged by our first sprint podium of the season. “George did everything he could today and bringing a point home having started P11 is useful for the team. His penalty was completely justified, and we should have given the position back. That was my fault as I thought we had more pace to get further ahead than five seconds. If we play the strategy well tomorrow, we should be racing for a solid podium position.
Andrew Shovlin, Trackside Engineering Director: “There’s lots of encouragement we can take away from today, even if we could have walked away with a few more points if everything had gone our way. Lewis had good pace in the Sprint Shootout. We were 0.139s off pole on Friday but 0.069s today. That’s a good sign that the update has moved us in right direction. George didn’t have a new set of soft tyres for his final run which is costly here, so he was never going to be able to trouble the front rows. “In the F1 Sprint, George did a good job to pick up positions. It’s a shame to drop a place with the penalty but it’s good to have got into the points. Lewis meanwhile did a great job. Second was the best that the car had in it today, but it was encouraging to see how much pace he had over Leclerc. “That’s another sign that we are moving in the right direction. We’ve now got some good data to review overnight as part of our preparations for the race. The longer race opens up some options on strategy, so hopefully we’ll be able to make progress with both drivers. “Max was able to keep us at arm’s length today, but it looked like we had the pace to challenge everyone else. Our stretch target for tomorrow therefore has to be a double podium.”
Ferrari: We have to look at improving our race pace
Team Report: “Scuderia Ferrari drivers finished third and sixth in the Sprint at the Circuit of the Americas, to pick up nine points, one more than its closest rival in the fight for second place in the Constructors’ championship. The team also gathered plenty of useful data in terms of race pace, which will now be analysed carefully in preparation for tomorrow’s Grand Prix which gets underway at 14 local (21 CET). “Charles got off the line very well from second on the grid, almost getting alongside Max Verstappen who defended purposefully but fairly going into turn 1. Leclerc was therefore unable to attempt a passing move and came out of the uphill left hand hairpin slower than those around him, finding himself under attack from Lewis Hamilton who managed to get ahead of him. The rest of Charles’ race did not change much. He did a good job of managing the degradation on his Medium tyres to bring home the six points for third place. “The team went for a more aggressive strategy for Carlos, putting him on Soft tyres to give him more grip from sixth place on the grid. In doing so, the team was also looking ahead to tomorrow, gathering data on race pace for the two compounds used. This paid off for Carlos, who managed to get ahead of the McLarens of Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri at the start, but later, tyre degradation over the 19 laps meant the Spaniard was passed by Norris before having to settle for sixth when Sergio Perez also overtook him.”
Charles Leclerc: “Those 19 laps were tough. Choosing the Soft was a risk that we opted to take, even though we knew we would struggle with pace and degradation at the end. I started well and some good overtaking took us to P4 in the first laps, but from then on came the difficult part, all about tyre management and defending. “Keeping Lando (Norris) and Sergio (Perez) behind was very tough and the battle with George (Russell) wasn’t easy at all, but we managed to bring it home and score some points.”
Carlos Sainz: “We can’t be completely satisfied with today’s race but these 19 laps were above all useful to give us a clearer picture of the situation, of where the teams stand and our options when we line up on the grid tomorrow. We split the strategies between the two cars to get as much information as possible regarding tyre behaviour over a long run.”
Fred Vasseur, Ferrari Team Principal: “Carlos struggled in the middle of the race, but managed to defend from the Mercedes. Charles suffered a bit as a result of what happened at the start, but he still scored plenty of points. We start with him on pole tomorrow, but it’s still going to be a very hard challenge. We have to look at improving our race pace, getting all the potential out of our package.”
McLaren: We scored good points today with Lando
Lando Norris: “That was a good race, despite the tough beginning. With Carlos starting on Softs it took a few laps to get past him, but when I did, the pace looked very, very strong. A lot better than the Ferrari. One lap more and we would have had Charles and P3. There’s a lot of positive signs for tomorrow. A good day, and good preparation for tomorrow’s Grand Prix.”
Oscar Piastri: “Not an ideal Sprint. We had a lot of battles at the start. I went through the tyres extremely quickly and they had overheated a lot. So, not quite the result we wanted, but on the positive side we’ve learned a lot for the race tomorrow, which is where the majority of points are earned. We’ll switch focus to the Grand Prix now and aim to move forward tomorrow.”
Andrea Stella, Team Principal: “We scored good points today with Lando, who showed strong pace in this Sprint race. The car behaved consistently in the stint, which is promising for tomorrow, looking ahead to the race. On Oscar’s side, the pace was not enough to remain in the points. We can see that the tyres overheated rapidly after the start and we know that he engaged in battles with cars that were on slightly less used tyres than his starting set. “After the race we also saw that he picked up some light damage to the front wing, which will have also had an impact. The positive is that we can gain the learning for tomorrow when more points are at stake. We look forward to scoring well with both cars in the United States Grand Prix.”
Alpine: The pace was good in general
Team Report: BWT Alpine F1 Team scored two points from today’s Sprint Race after Pierre Gasly’s seventh place finish at the Circuit of the Americas, Austin for the United States Grand Prix. Esteban Ocon gained two places to rise from thirteenth on the grid to eleventh. In the Sprint Shootout, Pierre reached SQ3 – his second top ten Qualifying effort of the weekend – with Esteban out in SQ2 in thirteenth. Both drivers started the 19-lap Sprint Race on Used Mediums looking to gain places and chase the points-paying positions inside the top eight. Esteban made a bright start to move from thirteenth to eleventh. Pierre was able to pass the Williams of Alexander Albon and then Oscar Piastri with a neat move late on the brakes into Turn 1 for eighth place. With George Russell’s five-second penalty applied after the race, Pierre was able to inherit seventh place at the chequered flag to claim two points.
Esteban Ocon: “It’s not been the smoothest of days on our side here in Austin. The Sprint Shootout started strongly and we were comfortably through SQ1. We did not have enough to reach the top ten and we will look into the reasons why as that would have put us in a much stronger position to compete for points in the Sprint Race. We started the Race well, made some positions at the start but, after that, we could not go much further and points were out of reach. We certainly have many things to review and some learnings to take forward for tomorrow. We are in a good position for the race, it will be a long one, and we will do our best to come away with a good result.”
Pierre Gasly: “I’m really happy today. We had a strong race from ninth, passed Alex [Albon] straight away and then I did a nice move on Oscar [Piastri] for eighth. After that, I had to try to keep up with George [Russell] and Carlos [Sainz] ahead knowing George had a penalty and that I needed to keep a five-second gap. The pace was good in general, even if we had a bit of tyre degradation towards the end. There is definitely some good things for us to analyse from the race today and the two points is a nice bonus. The hard work will continue ahead of tomorrow and we will see how we can put ourselves in the mix for strong points. Right now, I’m pleased with our pace, and I’m fully focused on tomorrow’s race.”
Williams: The car performed well
Alex Albon: “We went for it in the Sprint, as we were looking much stronger than yesterday, so we gave ourselves the biggest opportunity to score points. It’s so tight out there and to just miss out is frustrating but at the same time, it was a good race and we can’t discredit that. Obviously to finish P9, just outside of the points is what makes it frustrating. “The tyres are interesting here and if I were to do it over, I would do things a bit differently, but this track can be difficult and my tyres started to deg, then came back at the end allowing us to push and try close the gap. We have race pace, so starting P18 tomorrow, hopefully we can fight the cars around us.
Logan Sargeant: “It was always going to be difficult starting where we did. We’re still quite disconnected from high to low speed and that’s been a bit of a challenge. I struggled to be quick in the place I needed to be quick to have the chance for an overtake. I’m still in search for a bit more pace. The main takeaway is getting a taste of what the car is going to be like on a long run and which direction we need to try to move in. We’ll see what we can take from today and try to get in a better position for Sunday.”
Dave Robson, Head of Vehicle Performance: “We had a much stronger day today. In contrast to yesterday, and perhaps helped by the mandated use of the Medium compound this morning, we were on the right side of the fine margins and Alex was able to progress through to the final stage of Sprint Shootout. Logan found it a little more difficult and couldn’t get the 2nd lap on the tyres in Sprint Shootout 1 “In the Sprint race, Alex was able to race hard and still manage his degradation well. It was a shame that he lost a couple of places on the opening lap as it meant we couldn’t quite score a point once George’s penalty was applied. “The car performed well today, and we should be able to transform that into a good race performance tomorrow. Given our starting position, achieving a strong result will be difficult but we’ll be pushing hard to achieve everything possible.”
Aston Martin: We did not have the pace to compete for points
Fernando Alonso: “We were uncompetitive today in the Sprint and we haven’t been able to optimise our package all weekend. We need to keep looking at what we can learn from this weekend and try to score some points tomorrow. The whole Campus has worked flat out to bring the upgrade here to Austin, but the biggest problem so far this weekend was the challenging FP1 session where we had such limited time and laps to test the upgraded car out.”
Lance Stroll: “It was a good start to the race; I made up a couple of places during the opening laps and I was happy with my overtake on Daniel [Ricciardo]. After that my tyres were beginning to fall away and I began losing the feeling with the brakes, so we had to retire and investigate. We’ll regroup tonight – with the benefit of having had some more running – and prepare to go again tomorrow.”
Mike Krack, Team Principal: “We did not have the pace to compete for points today, but we continue to learn about our updated AMR23 – which is not easy during a Sprint weekend. We saw both drivers enjoy some good battles out there today, especially on Lap One, but managing tyre life was the story of the Sprint for all teams. There are certainly some learnings that will help us going forward and we will take that knowledge into tomorrow’s Grand Prix.”
AlphaTauri: We’re left feeling there was potentially more
Daniel Ricciardo: “I’m happy with my lap in SQ2 today. With the position we’re in, Q3 is a big achievement for us, and when we get so close, it’s a big tease. I’m really happy with the progress I made from SQ1 to SQ2, given we can’t really change the car from yesterday. We did some homework and played around with some things, which allowed me to push more confidently. It was good to be able to race today and again tomorrow, I really enjoyed being back competing, it’s a nice feeling. “As for my driving, there were things I was happy about from the race and others I wasn’t so happy with, which are things I know I can improve on for tomorrow. With the temperatures and the way the tyres are, the grip feels low, and especially with the mix between old and new asphalt at different corners, it affects how the car behaves. However, it was encouraging that we had some pace at the end, so let’s see how it goes tomorrow.”
Yuki Tsunoda: “I wasn’t able to do a second push lap in SQ1 because the chequered flag came just before I crossed the line. It’s frustrating because the opportunity to get to SQ2 was lost. Our car felt good, and the potential was there, so it’s a shame. The pace in today’s Sprint race was good, I overtook some cars and enjoyed it out there. “Most importantly, we learned a lot about our long-run pace and have a lot of information to prepare for tomorrow, so tonight will be about fine-tuning our package. We’re starting towards the top ten for the race, and if we continue this pace into tomorrow, points are possible.”
Jody Egginton, Technical Director: “The day was a mixed one in terms of outcomes and results, but as a team, we’re left feeling there was potentially more to be taken from today. Overnight, we made some useful steps on Daniel’s side of the garage, allowing him to put in a strong Sprint qualifying and stay in the midfield fight in the Sprint race, with a very strong final few laps. “Frustratingly, an error with the timing of Yuki’s out lap in his last Sprint qualifying run led to him ending up well out of position in P19. This meant that even with the good pace and overtaking he showed in the Sprint race, he didn’t have the chance to fight for the positions his pace would’ve allowed. “We take away a good amount of data regarding the medium compound tyre, so the task is to use this as part of the strategy planning to see what we can extract for tomorrow, with the target being to maximise any opportunities we have to score points.”
Haas: Upgrades have not done what we expected
Team Report: MoneyGram Haas F1 Team drivers Nico Hulkenberg and Kevin Magnussen finished Saturday’s 19-lap United States Grand Prix Sprint in 15th and 18th place respectively at the Circuit of The Americas. Magnussen made the better of the starts at the beginning of the Sprint, climbing to P14 with Hulkenberg P16 after the opening lap. They maintained position for the first third of the race, running in the DRS train with Aston Martin pairing of Lance Stroll and Fernando Alonso. As tire wear kicked in Magnussen ceded P15 to Hulkenberg and the Dane ultimately fell back to P19 – regaining a spot as Stroll retired shortly before the checkered flag. Hulkenberg held on to P15 valiantly until the closing stages when he lost position to the AlphaTauri of Yuki Tsunoda – the German, like the rest of the midfield, benefitting from Stroll’s exit from the Sprint to be promoted back up to P15 by race end. At the head of the pack Sprint Shootout winner Max Verstappen steered his Red Bull Racing to a trouble-free victory.
Kevin Magnussen: “It wasn’t a great Sprint, the pace dropped off a lot, so we’ll investigate tonight and assess what we think. We can’t change anything for tomorrow, so it is what it is, and we’ll see what we can do. I got a decent start and a decent first lap, then stayed there for a few laps before the well-known cycle of getting overtaken and the tires dropping off started.”
Nico Hulkenberg: “It feels like the first real running with the car to be honest because in practice there’s so many things going on. Then, there were just two qualifying sessions which were also short, just two runs each time, or less. It’s good to get some proper mileage with it, some long-run data and some feel for it. Obviously, it doesn’t look too good right now, but there’s more for us to analyze and understand, and more to discover with this package. At a Sprint weekend it’s difficult to explore that and unlock it.”
Guenther Steiner, Team Principal: “It didn’t go to plan today. We’ve got more work to do but initially we’re not very happy with what’s happened, so we have to see how we tackle tomorrow. We found a few things and went in the wrong direction, but it’s difficult to jump to a conclusion after one practice, two qualifying sessions and one short race. But at the moment, we have to find more as the upgrades have not done what we expected.”
Alfa Romeo: Both our drivers found themselves unable to properly battle
Team Report: Alfa Romeo F1 Team Stake had its share of on-track battles during the United States Grand Prix Sprint, as Valtteri Bottas and Zhou Guanyu finished 16th and 17th respectively after a busy 19 laps of action. With the eight points-paying positions out of reach, the Sprint was a good opportunity for the team to learn about the behaviour of its tyres in race conditions – knowledge that will turn useful in tomorrow’s race.
Valtteri Bottas: “As a positive to take from today, we gathered a good amount of data about how the medium compound performed, information that will help us ahead of tomorrow. I think our main issue today has been the Shootout earlier this morning, where we haven’t been able to get a single clean lap; I already felt more competitive during the Sprint and managed to put up some battles with the cars around me, eventually gaining a couple of places. I felt better in the long run and felt our pace had improved as well. Tomorrow, we will be starting from more favourable positions: I am confident that, if we do our homework right, we will have an actual chance to gain places and get back into the top ten.”
Zhou Guanyu: “Although it was effectively a standalone day, today has been a tricky one; we generally lacked pace, and on top of that, I had an issue on the gear sync at the start, which immediately cost me some ground. Still, we had opted to use today’s race as a session to better learn and understand our performance ahead of tomorrow, and indeed we gathered useful data which we will analyse tonight. We seemed to struggle a bit compared to our main rivals in terms of race pace, and we’ll be looking into that as well in order to quickly bounce back. I am confident we can still fight for points tomorrow, we definitely had potential on Friday, and with better grid placements, we can hopefully build something useful in the race.”
Alessandro Alunni Bravi, Team Representative: “Undoubtedly, our performance today hasn’t been on the same level as Friday, as we haven’t been able to match our direct competitors during the Sprint. Both our drivers found themselves unable to properly battle their way up the field. We will thoroughly analyse how today unfolded, to figure exactly what we were missing in terms of performance and in order to get back to where we were yesterday. “There is a good amount of tyre data to assess overnight, to come back in competitive form for tomorrow’s main race. With better starting positions, we remain confident that we’ll be able to score points: with a good strategy, and by extracting everything from our package, we have a proper chance to do well.”