Red Bull’s Max Verstappen held off Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton to win F1 US GP and extend his lead, as Sergio Perez was third.
It was a feisty start from both Red Bull’s Max Verstappen and Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton in F1 US GP. The Brit had a better start as the Dutchman turned left to squeeze him, but having got the inside line, he got ahead going uphill into Turn 1.
Verstappen had to go over the kerbs and almost lost to teammate Sergio Perez, who yielded for him. While Ferrari’s Charles Leclercl steadied on fourth, it was a mighty scrap between the other Ferrari of Carlos Sainz and the McLaren duo.
Sainz – on the soft tyres – had to defend hard from both Daniel Ricciardo and Lando Norris. They exchanged places for a couple of times but the Australian got ahead in fifth with the Spaniard managing to keep the Brit behind in the fight for sixth.
AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda was eighth from Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas as AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gaslt dropped to 10th. There was yellow flags at the start after Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll was spun around by Williams’ Nicholas Latifi at Turn 1.
There was an early stop for Haas’ Nikita Mazepin, while Alpine’s Esteban Ocon pitted too after his front wing was rubbed on by Alfa Romeo’s Antonio Giovinazzi. Even Latifi had to change his front wing after his collision with Stroll on the first lap.
As things settled down a bit, Verstappen started the pit stop game very early on and successfully got the undercut to work with a three laps buffer on Hamilton. This helped the Dutchman to take the F1 US GP lead with a healthy lead.
Despite a slow stop for Perez, he remained third from Leclerc with Ricciardo in fifth, as Sainz retained sixth from Norris. The Brit tried an undercut but it didn’t work. There was some confusion with regards to the Spaniard having to give a place back.
That was the theme of the day as there were dramas involving Alonso and both the Alfa Romeo cars. There was contact between the Spaniard and Kimi Raikkonen at Turn 1, where they both shed some bodywork when the Finn went off on the kerb.
Raikkonen kept the place despite complaints from Alpine. He got through Giovinazzi as well, who had Alonso to defend from. The two had quite the wheel-to-wheel action where the Spaniard took track position from him outside the Top 10.
He was told to give it back which he did but they went on again and this time Giovinazzi was asked to give back the place when he ran wide to overtake him. In the Top 10, Verstappen led from Hamilton and Perez with Leclerc in fourth.
But Ricciardo was not far behind as Sainz and Norris caught them too. Bottas was eighth after passing Tsunoda as Raikkonen got himself into the Top 10 after Gasly retired due to suspension issue. Amid this, the second pit stop session kick-started.
It was Verstappen and Perez again to stop early for the second time among the front-runners, which put Hamilton back in the lead. While Leclerc had fourth sealed, Ricciardo kept fifth despite Sainz trying an undercut on him. A slow stop from Ferrari hurt him.
Likewise Norris couldn’t pass Sainz when McLaren tried a double-stack and he had a slower stop. Bottas, meanwhile, went deep on his second stint, much like Hamilton. There was a brief Virtual Safety Car period as well during the race for a marshal to pick up a debris.
Seven laps after Verstappen, Mercedes pitted Hamilton as the Dutchman took the lead by about 8.7s. There was also a place gain for Bottas on Norris after his running deep worked and the Brit’s seemingly slow stop hurt him more.
While Hamilton was catching Verstappen at a good pace for the F1 US GP win, Ricciardo had Sainz to fend off in the fight for fifth. The two even made contact which the Spaniard thought was dirty, going into a right-hander. Bottas joined the party behind.
Sainz had a small damage on his front wing endplate which cost him time as he dropped time behind Ricciardo, but managed to keep Bottas in check for as much time. At the front, Hamilton caught the back of Verstappen with about six laps to go.
Amid this, Alonso retired due to mechanical issue as a spin for Raikkonen was costly which dropped him out of points. It allowed Vettel to be 10th after he passed Giovainzzi few laps earlier. Further ahead Bottas tried to hurry on Sainz for sixth place.
And further ahead, Hamilton was about 1.2s behind Verstappen with two laps remaining. It was under DRS on the final lap but the Dutchman hung on to win F1 US GP from Hamilton and extend his points advantage, while Perez was third to make it Red Bull 1-3.
Leclerc did well in fourth from Ricciardo, but Sainz agonisingly lost to Bottas for sixth in the closing stages. He almost got overtaken by Norris but hung on to seventh, with the Brit in eighth from Tsunoda and Vettel in the Top 10.
Giovinazzi missed out on points in 11th with Stroll recovering to 12th from Raikkonen, who rejoined in 13th ahead of Williams’ George Russell, Latifi, Haas’ Mick Schumacher and Mazepin. Everyone from Tsunoda onward were lapped, where Mazepin was two laps down.
DNF: Alonso, Ocon, Gasly
What a drive by @Max33Verstappen 👏
— Formula 1 (@F1) October 24, 2021