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Verstappen take victory in exciting US Grand Prix

American Grand Prix Race Report 24/10/2021

Verstappen extends his championship lead after a tense thriller at Austin. The Circuit of the America’s really does allow for overtaking—and overtaking we got!

Verstappen lined up on pole with championship rival Hamilton in second. Off the line, Hamilton got the better start and was able to take the lead. Further back Stroll and Ocon had a coming together which dropped them down the order and Russell got a great start—making up six places from the back of the grid. The action did not stop there though as Ricciardo, Sainz, and Norris went wheel to wheel around—well pretty much the opening two laps! With some superb driving by all three Ricciardo finally came out on top.

A two-stop strategy was on the cards this weekend, and for the opening stint, Hamilton lead with Verstappen able to stay in touch. Perez went with the top two in third position, and Leclerc began a somewhat lonely drive in fourth. Behind was jockeying and battling that would continue throughout the race.

Red Bull opted for an undercut—pitting earlier than rival, putting on fresh tyres to gain time over Hamilton on his older, slower tyres. The risk here is that those new tyres will of course be older come the end of the race, and therefore have less speed in them than the Hamiltons. Verstappen pits three laps earlier than Hamilton and not only takes the lead but takes it with a six-second advantage. The undercut seems powerful at Austin.

After the pit stops Hamilton sets to work and slowly but steadily reeling Verstappen in—cutting the lead down to two seconds. Further down the field, there’s a mixture of young and old tyres and battles galore! Raikkonen and Alonso prove they’ve still got it as the battle wheel to wheel, then Alsono goes on to battle with the other Alfa of Giovinazzi. At this stage of the race, Raikkonen has great speed in the Alfa is running in the points. Ricciardo and Sainz continue their close running with the Ferrari man unable to find a way past the papaya Mclaren ahead for fifth.

The second round of pit stops starts and Red Bull go for the undercut again—Mercedes decide to go long and have fresher tyres for the end of the race. This is going to be a tense showdown! Perez is no longer in touch with the top two and drives a somewhat lonely race in third. Similarly, Leclerc continues in fourth with large gaps between those ahead and behind him. Despite not having the pace of those ahead he is outpacing the other Ferrari and their nearest rivals Mclaren in another solid performance.

The final part of the race is dominated by Hamilton chasing down Verstappen’s Red Bull car. After the pit stops Hamilton comes out eight seconds behind Verstappen with eighteen laps to reel him in. The Mercedes has the quicker tyres—the Red Bull has a good lead, but will Verstappen’s tyres keep a good pace until the end of the race?

Raikkonen continues with his great drive passing Stroll and battling with Alonso and Tsunoda. Sainz again catches Ricciardo and can’t find a way past—suffering some wing damage as the two cars touch. In the closing laps, Vettel seems resurgent—moving up and into the points, Raikkonen takes an unfortunate spin and Alonso retires with a broken rear wing.

Upfront, a tense finale is playing out as Hamilton consistently reels Verstappen in, cutting the Red Bulls lead. They manoeuvre around backmarkers—some helpful, some not—and Hamilton continues to catch Verstappen. With only a few laps to go Hamilton is on his rival’s tail, but with the Mercedes struggling to run in the dirty air behind another car he just can’t quite get close enough. Hamilton remains just over a second behind Verstappen for a few laps and is unable to get within the one second needed to use DRS. Ultimately, Hamilton runs out of laps and Verstappen just takes the victory—stretching his championship lead to twelve points.

There is last lap action elsewhere however as Stroll passes Raikkonen and Bottas is able to pass Sainz—who is nursing wing damage on his Ferrari—for sixth place.

The Teams

Red Bull: Verstappen 1st, Perez 3rd- Should be very happy with this result. The team developed the car fantastically over the weekend to enable them to take this result. Verstappen had a fantastic—and pretty much faultless race. Perez had perhaps his strongest weekend this year. Not so great qualifying performances have left him with more work to do in the race. This weekend however Perez’s qualifying performance was stunning and allowing him to start up in third and play an important role for the team. A great race for him—at a very hot weekend without any water as his drink system failed!

Mercedes: Hamilton 2nd, Bottas 6th- Good performance from Hamilton—Mercedes had to try a different strategy than Red Bull, and this strategy had worked in the past at other races. As it turned out I think the undercut was just that bit more powerful than they expected, as was Verstappen’s ability to manage performance in the tyres. Bottas didn’t seem to have the same pace as Hamilton. He made a few places up from his starting position but didn’t seem particularly faster than the Mclaren’s and Ferrari’s around him.

Mclaren: Ricciardo 5th, Norris 8th- Another strong showing. Ricciardo seems to have clicked with the car and treated us to some great battling on track—he got his elbows out and thoroughly earned his fifth place. Norris had a quiet race, didn’t seem to have quite the same pace as Ricciardo, but still brought home good points for the team.

Ferrari: Leclerc 4th, Sainz 7th- Another good race. Leclerc had a quiet but very good race—consistently fast, even closing the gap to Perez toward the end of the race. Sainz was super unlucky to lose out to Bottas—only doing so due to a damaged wing. His battles with Ricciardo were a great watch today.

Alpine: Ocon DNF, Alonso DNF- Disappointing for Alpine, Ocon was involved in contact with Stroll at the start of the race, and later retired the car. Alonso had some epic battles and really got his elbows out, but too had to retire the car.

Alpha Tauri: Tsunoda 9th, Gasly DNF- A forgettable race for Gasly who retired with a suspension issue early on. Tsunoda had possibly his best outing of the year, battling with Raikkonen along the way, showing good defensive skills and coming home with two points.

Aston Martin: Vettel 10th, Stroll 12th- Not a bad race—Vettel had an engine penalty so started at the back, Stroll was spun around on the opening lap and dropped to the back. So, for them to come from the back through to this result was not bad at all. Stroll showed good pace at times but was picked off by others on newer tyres. Vettel had a cracking race with good overtakes and had real pace at the end, a few more laps and he would have got another position no doubt.

Williams: Russell 14th, Latifi 15th- A quiet race for Williams, they didn’t show the pace they have in other circuits. Russell was involved in a few battles at one point, but neither driver looked to be threatening to score points I’m afraid.

Alfa Romeo: Giovinazzi 11th, Raikkonen 13th- Wow, what a race for Raikkonen! If it weren’t for that spin he was the driver of the day undoubtedly. He was battling out there and it was a joy to watch—passing his teammate, going wheel to wheel with Alonso, he had pace in the car. Unfortunately, that spin dropped him out of the points which he so deserved. Giovinazzi didn’t have the same pace as his teammate, but still enjoyed loved watching him defending from Alsonso.

Haas: Schumacher 16th, Mazepin 17th- Mazepin had another race at the back I’m afraid. Big shout out to Schumacher though who had a fantastic drive. Despite finishing 16th he was outperforming the Haas today. It’s hard to tell when someone is having a good race when the car has such little pace. But he was able to keep in vague touch with a Williams and Alpine at one point—which is way beyond the level of the Haas.

Final Thoughts

An exciting race! Lots of battles, lots of overtakes, lots of nudges and bumping each other wide! And at the front, a tense finale unfolded as Hamilton chased Verstappen down but was just unable to pass. Red Bull should be very happy with their progression over this race weekend and the result.

Driver of the Day: Ricciardo

Honourable mentions: Vettel, Raikkonen, Alonso, Schumacher, Perez…Hamilton and Verstappen! Lots of people had a good day!

W Series

Today also saw the finale of the second-ever W Series. After six rounds, three different race winners and multiple different drivers stepping up on the podium it came down to a doubleheader in Austin. Jamie Chadwick—2019 champion—and Alice Powell were tied on points at the top of the championship going into the weekend. A difficult qualifying session saw Alice having to fight her way through to gain decent points—which she did fantastically in the first race, coming from tenth on the grid to finish third. However, in the second race, she was unable to move through the pack as well and came in sixth—still an impressive performance, but not the points she needed. Chadwick got great starts on both races and with two faultless drives took two wins and the championship. Emma Kimilainen came in second and third in the races to finish third overall in the championship. A fourth and second-place finish for rookie Abbie Pulling were amazing results and put her firmly on the radar of drivers to watch in the 2022 championship.

It’s been a great year for W Series and the first time it has appeared on the F1 race weekends. We’ve seen great action and driving, overtakes, crashes, awesome wheel to wheel action and fantastic performances. Hopefully, we’ll be treated to more than eight rounds next year.

W Series is a female driver single-seat championship It seems a shame that it is necessary in this day and age, but it is. Hopefully one day it will become redundant as all people (men, women and other gender minorities) are offered equal standings and opportunities within motorsport. But until that is reality—which is certainly is not yet—W Series is a much needed—and thrilling platform. Bring on the 2022 championship!

American Grand Prix Race Results

  1. Verstappen
  2. Hamilton (Fastest Lap)
  3. Perez
  4. Leclerc
  5. Ricciardo
  6. Bottas
  7. Sainz
  8. Norris
  9. Tsunoda
  10. Vettel

Next Time

Mexico! A short technical track that cuts through the grandstands and always has a party atmosphere!

Where to Watch:

USA: Sunday 7th November Live on ESPN race start at 2:00 pm EST
UK: Sunday 7th November Live on Sky Sports F1 race start at 7:00 pm GMT
Highlights on Channel Four, Sunday 7th November, time TBC

 

For more great race coverage, be sure to check out:

 

Dutch Delight for Verstappen at Circuit Zandvoort

Hamilton’s Hundredth & Heartbreak For Norris

Controversial Hamilton Homecoming Victory

Written by Jenny Alderton

Jenny is a freelance writer based in Wales with keen interest in Motorsports. An avid follower of Formula one for over twenty years she has recently branched out into watching other vehicles driving around in wiggly circles. Namely, Motogp, World Superbike championship, and British Superbike championship.

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