Max Verstappen wins the United States Grand Prix for the first time. The Dutchman won in Red Bull ahead of Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes and continued his lead as world championship leader.
For a long time they ensured mutual respect. Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton still emphasize respecting each other’s accomplishments, the Dutchman speaks of a professional handling of the title duel. The driver in the blue car and his competitor in the black car are no longer really green. Collisions at the Grand Prix of Great Britain and Italy have not only left their mark on cars.
The heroes and with them the crew members became thinner. The two camps watch and check each other, and changes or new components in the cars lead questions about legality to the address of the responsible committee at the International Automobile Association. It is not just about being concerned about the potential competitive advantages of unregulated competition. And trying to destabilize the enemy is a constant temptation.
Fencing at eye level has its effect. There is no longer calm, and every now and then wisdom and rules of conduct fall by the wayside. Fencing is no longer confined to the racetrack. Verstappen’s verbal gaffe on Friday during the second training session is another example of this. He called Hamilton a “stupid idiot” after an unnecessary duel on a wheelie and then showed him the middle finger.
The skirmishes will continue until a decision is made in this fantastic title fight, possibly until the end of the season in Abu Dhabi in mid-December. To speculate that the world champion will be crowned finalists for the first time in five years is not too bold. The balance is quite large so far, the changes (the five) at the top of the overall ranking are too many and the points gap is too small.
The pendulum has swung sharply only once so far. At the beginning of July, after the Austrian Grand Prix, Verstappen was 32 points ahead of Hamilton as world championship leader. There was already talk of a trend reversal, of a possible end to the Mercedes team’s seven-year dominance and the beginning of the hybrid era.
The voices fell silent again immediately. The distance was 32 shot points. The lead, which doubled to 12 points, by which the Dutchman has edged Hamilton since Sunday, marks the biggest difference between them since then.
In Austin, Verstappen won after the weekend in a Grand Prix which initially did not promise anything good for the Red Bulls, but in the meantime he and his team gradually benefited. After just a second into the first practice session, Verstappen made a twenty-five lead in qualifying.
By conquering first place, Verstappen laid the foundation for his first victory on the Circuit of the Americas – on terrain that was once the territory of the Mercedes team. Since the start of the hybrid era seven years ago, the world champions have won all races except 2018, when Kimi Raikkonen dominated Ferrari.
Verstappen had to let Hamilton through when the start went smoothly, but he reclaimed the lead during the first stops and then kept the Sovereign at every moment en route to his eighth win of the season, even if Hamilton still managed to catch up in the final stage.
The Dutchman stormed the Mercedes battalion in Austin in a manner worthy of respect and appreciation. Perhaps also from rival Hamilton.
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