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Verstappen fends off Hamilton charge to win USA GP

Verstappen fends off Hamilton charge to win USA GP, F1 Daily

By technical.net/news/./forum/memberlist.php?mode=viewprofile&u=2&sid=d69ea256cdbde00bc882abcff7a8b6b6">Steven De Groote on

Max Verstappen has won the United States GP after leading as of the first round of pitstops. Lewis Hamilton came close to a proper challenge at the very end of the race but had to settle for second, ahead of Sergio Perez who completed the podium.

Ahead of the race, the grid was again reordered following the application of a number of power unit penalties. Bottas started from 9th after a ICE change, Vettel started from 18th, Alonso from 19th and Russell from 20th as they changed their complete power units.

When the lights went out at Austin after a two-year absence, Hamilton enjoyed a great start and was already very much aside from when Verstappen attempted to squeeze Hamilton. Both were at the very left of the track when braking for Turn 1 and it was Hamilton who emerged in front on the exit. Verstappen was off track and briefly had Perez challenge him for second until at Turn 4 the Mexican appeared to back out of it and let his teammate have the advantage.

Behind them, there was a big fight between Sainz, Ricciardo and Norris. They were three abreast on the back straight of the first lap but it was Ricciardo who emerged ahead at the end of the first lap, ahead of Sainz and then Norris as the latter had gone very wide and off-track at Turn 16.

As Bottas failed to make progress and actually lost a position to Tsunoda, Vettel and Alonso progressed, ending up 14th and 15th by lap 5. By then, Mazepin, Latifi and Ocon had already visited their crew to change to hard tyres and get new front wings.

In front, Verstappen was clearly faster. Following the first lap, the Dutchman was quickly back under Hamilton’s rear wing and seemed to be able to stay there without too much effort. On lap 8, Verstappen calmly said “He’s sliding a lot and I have a lot more pace. I just want to tell you”.

On lap 10, Verstappen pitted and changed to the hard compound tyres. He ended up right behind Ricciardo who he easily passed on the back straight. Two laps later, Perez and Leclerc pitted from P2 and P3. The Mexican took fresh medium tyres and rejoined in third place, ahead of Leclerc on new hards.

As Verstappen recorded the fastest lap, more than 2s faster than anybody else on track at that time, Hamilton pitted and returned to the track 6.7s down on the Dutch Red Bull driver and 4.6s ahead of Perez.

Next up was a bit of a battle between Alonso and both Alfa Romeo cars. Alonso put up a fierce defence against Raikkonen at Turn 1, then claimed he was overtaken off track. In truth, Raikkonen was indeed off-track, but rejoined before overtaking into Turn 2.

Alonso then passed Giovinazzi at Turn 12 while going wide on the exit, saying “Oh yes”, only to have to return the position two laps later, but not before Alpine had inquired about the situation. Another two laps later, Giovinazzi defended by going off-track in Turn 12, but he too was then asked to give the position back to Alonso, bringing the Spaniard in 11th a few laps before his second stop.

In front, Verstappen pitted from the lead with just 2.8s left over Hamilton. He took on another set of hard tyres and returned to the track in second place, 17s behind the race-leading Mercedes. Leclerc followed up in third, ahead of Perez, Bottas, Ricciardo, Sainz and Norris.

Verstappen closed into around 11s before Hamilton pitted on lap 37, setting him on a new set of hard tyres 7 laps later than Verstappen. Making that point clear, Hamilton’s race engineer noted “It’s all about the last three laps”. Still, this left Hamilton with 8.5s to make up before being able to battle it out for the win.

Carlos Sainz in 6th meanwhile continued to chase Ricciardo but had lots of trouble making a real passing attempt. The duo was joined by Bottas and Norris on lap 41. Sainz tried on lap 44 but was bumped off the track by a cheeky move by Ricciardo through Turn 17.

On the back of Mercedes’ strategy to delay their second stop, Alonso stopped a third time 15 laps from the end, clearly believing their then 11-lap old hard tyres would not be the best choice to make it to the end of the race. Vettel on the other hand was on a similar strategy to Hamilton, but his second stop was even 3 laps later than Hamilton’s, leaving him with the freshest tyres of all at the end of the race.

By lap 48, with 7 to go, Hamilton had reduced the gap to Verstappen to 1.9 seconds though it was clear the pace he closed up was reducing. With two laps left, the gap was 1.1s. Hamilton got DRS only in the final lap, but it wasn’t enough to get back into first, leaving Verstappen to win the USA Grand Prix and extend his lead in the Championship.


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