sIt was rare for Max Verstappen, and it hasn’t been this exciting for Formula 1 viewers in a long time. In the end, the Red Bull Honda world champion won the 50th race of his career and 15th of the season from sixth on the grid, 2.2 seconds behind Lewis Hamilton in the rookie Mercedes.
McLaren’s Lando Norris, who thought he was on his way to victory for a long time, finished third in the US Grand Prix. In the end, Hamilton was one lap away from a major attack on the defending champion, who scored a hat-trick in Austin. “That was tough,” said Verstappen afterwards, who has rarely been under this amount of pressure this year. Hamilton also praised his return as a “fantastic weekend” and encouraged the team: “We’re getting close to them. We’ll catch them next time.”
Unusual play of colors at the top
A few cowboys right on the grid provided an object lesson to Formula 1 drivers in how to handle such horsepower in a rodeo – with elegant use of the lasso. Taming 1,000-horsepower race cars is a bit more complicated, but the principle is the same. Instead of six rope swings, the top six raced up a steep climb in an iridescent formation. McLaren’s Lando Norris immediately collided with Charles Leclerc in his 100th Grand Prix, and Lewis Hamilton in the middle looked like the winner of the battle for a moment, but allowed himself to be pushed to the outside and avoid a potential collision.
What an unusual play of colors at the front when world champion Verstappen suddenly has to start from an unusual sixth position after losing his best time in qualifying. The Dutchman, winner of Saturday’s sprint, initially watched the shifts at the front from a decent distance, but only moved up to fifth.
It took Hamilton four laps to regain his third starting position from Carlos Sainz, and another two laps to overtake Charles Leclerc’s red car. Both Ferrari drivers had previously lost crucial time in a duel and in a near-collision. Mercedes’ final technical upgrade of the season is perhaps the most important. The lower part of the Silver Arrow’s body has been significantly changed, which has had a decisive impact on aerodynamics and therefore speed and driving behaviour. And most importantly: suddenly, Hamilton, the record world champion, feels comfortable in the car again and finds his way back to his old form with greater confidence. Norris was chased in a British generational duel.
Verstappen finished third with his usual extremism against Leclerc, and the Dutchman had already become comfortable with the race to catch up: “An unusual position, but it makes it more interesting. Hopefully I can pass a few and still take the win. I feel like my car is strong enough for that.” “They were still lurking before the first pit stop. Norris complained about his car’s balance and headwinds: Hamilton’s signal to improve slightly.
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