On the opening lap of the Austin Grand Prix, it looked like Lewis Hamilton was about to add another win to his impressive tally. With an impressive strategy and quick thinking, Verstappen managed to take back the lead with an early pit stop and hold off the Mercedes driver in the final laps. The US Grand Prix could prove decisive in the championship as Verstappen extends his lead to 12 points over Hamilton. The Grand Prix was also one of the clearest signs yet of the ‘Netflix effect’ with F1 finally breaking into the US market.
Verstappen vs. Hamilton
All eyes were on the first corner of Austin, with Hamilton getting a better start from P2, taking over the lead from Verstappen. On a two-stop strategy, the Dutch driver quickly made up the one-second difference between the drivers to regain the lead after his first pit stop.
Verstappen’s win made it Red Bull’s 200th podium and their first win at Austin since 2013. Red Bull’s strategy-driven success will make Mercedes uncomfortable. Hamilton led more laps at Austin – 11 laps – than in the last nine Grand Prix races combined. Mercedes went into the weekend with a pace advantage at Friday practice before both Red Bull cars quickly fought back overnight.
Ahead of the Mexican GP, Verstappen can breathe a little easier after a win that could prove decisive in gaining the championship title. You can show your support for the Dutch driver with a 2021 Max Verstappen team cap.
Perez’s toughest drive yet
Red Bull enjoyed another double podium after Sergio Perez maintained his third-place qualifying position to come home third. The Mexican driver had been unwell before the race and struggled with a malfunction in his drinking device in the searing Texas heat. Perez said he was “completely gone” and in “surviving mode” throughout the Grand Prix.
It’s worth noting that even with these issues, the Red Bull driver has continued to show improvement in his performance earlier in the season. With his home Grand Prix coming up next, all eyes are all Perez to deliver another podium worthy performance in Mexico. Red Bull will be counting on him to help close the gap with Mercedes for the Constructors Championship. You can show your support for Checo ahead of his home race with the 2021 F1 Sergio Perez flat brim cap.
Ferrari and McLaren’s mid-field battle
Another team rivalry that provided entertainment at Austin was McLaren v. Ferrari, with the two teams battling it out for a third place in the constructors. Charles Leclerc had his second successive fourth-place finish, putting him ahead of his teammate in the driver’s standings.
Daniel Ricciardo outperformed his McLaren teammate with his third top-five finish in the last three races. The Ferrari and McLaren rivalry manifested on the track, with both McLarens sandwiching Sainz’s Ferrari on lap 1. The recent power unit upgrade appears to have given Ferrari an edge over McLaren at a vital part of the season.
Are you cheering for the boys in papaya orange? You can commemorate the race with McLaren’s special edition USA Grand Prix cap or cheer for Ricciardo with his all over print baseball cap.
Elsewhere on the grid
Alpine’s 15 races of consecutive points came to a dramatic end with a double DNF, with both cars retiring due to technical issues and rear wing damage. Pierre Gasly was another DNF – his second in four races – due to suspension issues.
His teammate, Yuki Tsunoda, had one of his best performances with a ninth-place finish after defending against Valtteri Bottas for part of the race. Bottas came home to finish 6th with Sainz and Norris making up 7th and 8th, while Vettel took home the final points.
With just five races left, the championship continues to heat up, and the countdown to the final in Abu Dhabi is on.