After a thrilling few final laps at the U.S. Grand Prix, Max Verstappen held off Lewis Hamilton to win his eighth victory of the season and double his points lead in the championship standings.
The battle for the Formula One championship with Lewis Hamilton came to a head in the final laps of the U.S. Grand Prix as Hamilton was chasing down Verstappen at the Circuit of the Americas and rapidly closing the gap.
Verstappen and Hamilton have been in a back and forth battle that has seen the lead in the championship standings swapping hands multiple times. That intensity was in the final lap as Hamilton, who has won at COTA five times, came within 1 second of Verstappen.
“It was exciting, the pressure was on, not knowing how quick Lewis was going to get you. We managed to hang on at the end.”
With five races remaining, the win extends Verstappen’s lead over Hamilton by 12 points and could prove pivotal. While Hamilton made Max Verstappen work hard for the win, Red Bull beat Mercedes at a track they have dominated for the last five years.
Hamilton spent the final 18 laps chasing Verstappen, and had he had one more lap, he may well have caught him and jumped ahead in the points. Verstappen now heads to Mexico with some room and with a top 3 finish at a track that has always been a stronghold for Red Bull, he will stay ahead of the Brit, who is seeking his eighth F1 title, in the points.
“Congratulations to Max, he did a great job today. It was such a tough race. Got a good start and gave it absolutely everything, but in the end of the day, they just had the upper hand this weekend.”
As the popularity of Formula One increases in the U.S amid talks of adding a stop in Las Vegas on top of the already scheduled Miami GP slated for next year, fans were over 140,000 strong in Austin. The race drew one of the largest crowds for a sporting event since the beginning of the Pandemic and included celebrities such as Serena Williams, Ben Stiller, Shaquille O’Neal, and Rory McIlroy.
The race on Sunday was the last in COTA’s ten year contract, but from accounts, Track President Bobby Epstein expects a new long-term deal with F1 is expected to be announced. The Austin circuit has been a driver favourite for years, one favoured by Verstappen.
“It’s amazing to be here, but also to see so many fans around the track. Hopefully we can do this for many years to come.”
The weekend was full of controversy, and tempers at Verstappen and Hamilton pushed their cars to the limit. Hamilton was overhead calling Verstappen a “stupid idiot” and seen flipping him off over an aggressive driving move during the practice session.
After Verstappen took pole position, the race started with everyone on the edge of their seats as the two battled for the first turn. With the two colliding twice already this season, it was Hamilton who got the faster start and took the lead.
When the race finished, the two had swapped the lead four times, but it seemed like the two had put aside their difference with both Verstappen and Hamilton fist-pumping as they got out of their cars in pit lane.
However, the loss for Hamilton was an must-win opportunity he couldn’t afford as he fights to win his record-breaking eight drivers title. The Brit acknowledged the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez is a tough circuit that Verstappen is known for doing well.
Verstappen, who has driven in F1 since 2015, is looking for his first drivers’ title. At 21, if he succeeds, he will be one of the youngest in the sports to do so at 21. That will likely not sit well with Hamilton, who is tied with Michael Schumacher for most in F1 championships.
Yet, Verstappen shows maturity beyond his years, much like he does behind the wheel and got back to business immediately after the post-race celebrations.
“This doesn’t really change a lot. This is all about details. A win doesn’t give me more confidence. We are all confident. We need to nail details, starting in Mexico.”