UNITED STATES GP – Max Verstappen takes thrilling win in tight battle with title rival Lewis Hamilton

Testing & Race Reports

Max Verstappen has beaten his championship rival Lewis Hamilton by a second to win a thrilling United States Grand Prix. The two title rivals appeared to be evenly matched with Red Bull and Mercedes looked evenly matched with the race being won by Verstappen stopping later than Hamilton at the final stops.

Verstappen has now extended his lead over Hamilton in the driver’s championship, the two drivers had a clean fight through out the race with strategy being key with it coming down to tyre life. The Dutchman took an aggressive strategy to secure victory, withstanding the pressure from Hamilton closing in during the final stint.

Hamilton had won the start and held position during the first stint, but crucially Red Bull gained the upper hand by bringing Verstappen in first and then repeated that when it came to his second stop, to retain the lead. The race will be seen as one of the most hard fought between the two championship contenders fighting for every advantage.

Verstappen had re-joined following his second stop eight seconds behind, before reeling Hamilton in during the closing stages and passed him, successfully using the undercut as Hamilton was told to stay out longer. The Red Bull driver then managed to  stay out of DRS range and keep his tyres in check to ensure Hamilton never got close enough to attempt a pass.

The two were in a class of their own with Verstappen’s teammate Sergio Perez finishing third, forty seconds behind Hamilton. Red Bull used the undercut to hold the lead at the second stop, Verstappen taking an aggressive strategy stopping earlier than Hamilton. The Englishman then re-joining behind Hamilton.

The race coming to the final six laps, but the decision to leave Hamilton out for longer so he had fresher tyres in the closing stages. But Verstappen had enough to hold Hamilton just outside DRS range so he couldn’t attempt an overtake. Mercedes may have been attempting to leave Hamilton out longer and reel Verstappen in during the closing stages.

On the final lap, Hamilton was a second behind but the Dutchman did enough to take his first win in North America. Verstappen doubling his championship lead to twelve points with five races and a maximum of hundred and thirty still on offer.

Verstappen said, ”We lost out in the start and we had to try to do something else. The tyre wear is quite high here and we went aggressive. I was not sure it was going to work. But it is super-nice to hang on.”

Hamilton said, “Max 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 I couldn’t really do more.”

Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc was fourth, the Monacan not having enough pace to run with the stop three and finishing twenty-four seconds ahead of Daniel Ricciardo. Ricciardo fought hard with Carlos Sainz for fifth, however in the closing stages, he dropped behind Valtteri Bottas.

Bottas managing to recover from ninth following a five-place grid penalty for an engine change. Also involved in that battle was Lando Norris and Yuki Tsunoda. The Alpha Tauri driver putting in some great defensive driving midway through the race to finish ninth.

With Leclerc fourth and Sainz seventh, Ferrari have moved to three-and-a-half points of McLaren in the battle for third in the constructors. Ricciardo had a strong result as well finishing eight seconds ahead of his teammate Norris. Norris also had a battle on the last lap with Sainz for seventh, the Spaniard regaining the place he had lost on the opening lap.

Sebastian Vettel recovering from the back of the grid to finish tenth, with Antonio Giovinazzi in between the four-time champion and his Aston Martin teammate Lance Stroll, with Kimi Raikkonen thirteenth.

Raikkonen had been locked in a battle with Fernando Alonso, the Alpine driver was consistently complaining that the Finn pushed him wide midway through the race. He was left even more fuming after witnessing Raikkonen’s late lunge to pass Giovinazzi, as he went over the white line.

Alonso then pulled a legitimate pass on Giovinazzi at the same corner only for the Italian to hold on by going off track, and then be told to cede to the Spaniard. But he retired in the closing stages with a rear wing failure. But the stewards decided to take no further action with Raikkonen’s move.

Lance Stroll was twelfth in between the two Alfa Romeo’s. George Russell finished ahead of his teammate Nicolas Latifi, with the two Haas’s the final finishers, Mick Schumacher, once again ahead of Nikita Mazepin.

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