“We were very aggressive,” says Max Verstappen, who was still able to stay away from Lewis Hamilton despite Red Bull’s early stopping; Mercedes admit they were sniffing at an unexpected win – but Verstappen increases title lead to 12 points with five races left

Last update: 10/24/21 11:38 PM


SkyPad's Paul Di Resta was on SkyPad analyzing how Max Verstappen won the race from Lewis Hamilton

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SkyPad’s Paul Di Resta was on SkyPad analyzing how Max Verstappen won the race from Lewis Hamilton

SkyPad’s Paul Di Resta was on SkyPad analyzing how Max Verstappen won the race from Lewis Hamilton

Max Verstappen and Red Bull have admitted they fear losing a priceless win in the US after their early “aggressive” strategic call led to a late attack on Lewis Hamilton and an epic head-to-head duel.

Verstappen seemed to have a speed advantage over Hamilton in Texas, but the title contenders, having shifted wheel to wheel at the start, were battling in the very last laps as Red Bull’s early stops seemed to give Mercedes the tire advantage on exciting closing stages.

“It was tough – we were very aggressive,” Verstappen told Sky F1 after one of his career leaders, keeping his composure and, crucially, fast under tremendous pressure, somehow kept Hamilton out of the DRS’s range.

“Of course I knew how much Lewis was fishing…but we managed to hold on.”

Max Verstappen said he was relieved to secure the victory after defeating Lewis Hamilton in the final stages of the race.

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Max Verstappen said he was relieved to secure the victory after defeating Lewis Hamilton in the final stages of the race.

Max Verstappen expressed his relief at securing the victory after defeating Lewis Hamilton in the final stages of the race.

After moving into Turn 1 at the start, Verstappen stopped first for just 13 laps in the race, while his last stop was eight laps before Hamilton to finally put the asynchronous pair on a crash course – the Dutchman struggles on his old tires and the seven-time world champion is much faster on his new rubber.

But Hamilton couldn’t get past him, and Verstappen took the checkered flag for a second to boost his title lead to 12 points.

“Of course we lost at first so we had to try to do something else,” Verstappen said.

“Tire wear is very high around this track, we drove really hard and I wasn’t sure it would work but the last few laps have been fun. A little on the side through high speed corners but we are very happy to hold on.

“It was exciting. The whole race was the pressure going, not knowing how fast Lewis could get you. It’s unbelievable to win here.”

Christian Horner admits there were some tense moments on the Red Bull Stadium wall as Max Verstappen held on to a dramatic race win in the US.

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Christian Horner admits there were some tense moments on the Red Bull Stadium wall as Max Verstappen held on to a dramatic race win in the US.

Christian Horner admits there were some tense moments on the Red Bull Stadium wall as Max Verstappen stuck to a dramatic race win in the US.

Red Bull boss Christian Horner said he is “around 25 years old” due to the latent tension and expansion: “I didn’t really think he would make it.

“Lewis had newer eight lap tires, and it was the first set of solid tires that were pretty much out of the fabric. We thought we wouldn’t get much in the end here, but Max has managed that tire lately.

“You know Lewis at the end of the race is very strong and he went a long way and got an edge. I think losing the last few laps would have been really painful but Max carried on, he did a great job, he managed the job really smart and she had had enough. Almost at the end there.”

Watch how Lewis Hamilton beat title rival Max Verstappen in Austin after making a great start to the US Grand Prix

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Watch how Lewis Hamilton beat title rival Max Verstappen in Austin after making a great start to the US Grand Prix

Watch how Lewis Hamilton beat title rival Max Verstappen in Austin after making a great start to the US Grand Prix

Mercedes, Hamilton sniffed the chance to win

Red Bull wasn’t alone in thinking the strategy wouldn’t pay off – Mercedes was also sensing what would have been a surprising victory given the title rivals’ apparent buffer.

“We gave it our all and they were faster than us this weekend, for whatever reason,” Hamilton said. “I thought for a moment that we might be able to win the race.”

Team principal Toto Wolff added: “I think it was some fun strategy games and great racing. In the end, we thought we’d sniffed it but it wasn’t enough, the moment to get close to the other car was tough.”

Lewis Hamilton says Mercedes did everything they could to win the race, but in the end couldn't match the pace of the Red Bulls

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Lewis Hamilton says Mercedes did everything they could to win the race, but in the end couldn’t match the pace of the Red Bulls

Lewis Hamilton says Mercedes did everything they could to win the race, but in the end couldn’t match the pace of the Red Bulls

“They went for a very aggressive first stop. That was bold. Then they covered it in the second stage and we thought that was enough to get them but they deserved to win today.

“For me personally, the P2 was better than I expected.”

That pessimism from Wolff heading into the race sums up the surprise underdog Mercedes, as Red Bull turned the tables on its rivals at the Circuit of the Americas.

“It looked like they had a better rear end, and a little less slip than we had,” Hamilton continued. “It was a great start – I gave absolutely everything today, but unfortunately I couldn’t turn it in in the end.”

What did the Sky F1 experts say?

Jenson Button
“That’s the thing about this year, if there’s no overtaking on the track, there have been strategy games from both teams.

“It was a very aggressive strategy from Red Bull by pitting early and Lewis either had to swing the next lap or stay away for too long and do a completely different strategy so he had newer tires to challenge Max.

“I thought it was too early for Max – but he made it.

“But this is not a bad race for Mercedes. Lewis is very calm and I think because he knows they did nothing wrong this weekend, they did everything right, that’s what it is. While in Turkey they obviously made mistakes, he lost some points, And he was very angry with the team radio.”

Danica Patrick
“It was really amazing to see how much speed Max finally got. With ten laps left and a three-and-a-half-second gap, it looked like Lewis was going to be there – but he just couldn’t get there.”

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