United States GP Report: Max Verstappen Beats Lewis Hamilton in a Strategic Masterclass at COTA

Published 10/24/2021, 4:39 PM EDT
Formula One F1 – United States Grand Prix – Circuit of the Americas, Austin, Texas, U.S. – October 24, 2021 Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton leads into the first corner at the start of the race ahead of Red Bull’s Max Verstappen REUTERS/Brian Snyder


Max Verstappen led from the front to clinch his 8th race win of the season at the United States GP, ending the brief winless streak since North-Holland. Subsequently, the Dutchman has blown up his gap to Lewis Hamilton in the championship table, as the pressure continues to mount on the 7-time world champion.

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Sergio Perez offered little help to the two title contenders, as he came home in P3, almost 40s behind the duo. Then arrived Charles Leclerc, who embraced a rather lonely race ahead of Daniel Ricciardo, Valtteri Bottas, and Carlos Sainz.

Lando Norris failed to finish over where he started, as he came home in P8, with Yuki Tsunoda claiming P9 amidst his teammate, Pierre Gasly’s absence. And finally, a stellar comeback drive from Sebastian Vettel witnessed the German close out the top 10.

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How the United States GP unfolded

Race start at the United States GP

Hamilton had an unimaginable reaction time at the start to leap past Verstappen before turn 1. The latter, trying to stop his rival from getting ahead, almost made things worse by running wide off the first corner, giving room for Perez to try and make a move.

Formula One F1 – United States Grand Prix – Circuit of the Americas, Austin, Texas, U.S. – October 24, 2021 Red Bull’s Max Verstappen and Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton in action at the start of the race REUTERS/Mike Blake

However, the Mexican decided to yield and let Verstappen hunt down Hamilton. And while the top 4 looked quite settled, there was still an intense battle going on for P5 between Sainz, Ricciardo, and Norris. Ultimately, it was Ricciardo who came ahead in the battle.

Behind the trio, there were contacts between Latifi and Stroll, as the duo’s front wings ended up kissing each other around the exit of turn 1. Similarly, Ocon had an incident with one of the Alfa Romeo, forcing the Frenchman for a new front wing.

On lap 6, Latifi, too, joined Ocon for a new front wing and almost collided with the Alpine as he exited the pit lane.

First round of pit stops

On lap 8, Alonso entered the pits for a fresh set of hard tires after finding himself in the middle of traffic down in P15. Soon, it was Tsunoda’s turn to opt for a fresh set of hard tires after running on softs for 10 laps.

Then arrived the twist! Verstappen switched to a new set of hard tires after complaining of overheating issues with his medium tires. Norris and Gasly, too, joined the Dutchman in the pits. Hard was indeed the go-to tire compound, as he managed to gain a second out of his first lap.

Formula One F1 – United States Grand Prix – Circuit of the Americas, Austin, Texas, U.S. – October 24, 2021 Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton leads into the first corner at the start of the race ahead of Red Bull’s Max Verstappen REUTERS/Mike Blake

On lap 13, Perez entered the pits for a set of used medium tires following Verstappen’s strategy advice on the team radio. And unsurprisingly, the pressure did get to Hamilton, who had to pit for a set of hard tires on the very next lap.

The other Mercedes of Bottas, who was in the middle of nowhere, switched to hard tires on lap 16. On lap 17, Gasly limped his way into the pits to retire, citing technical issues; the Frenchman’s car had suffered sensor issues ahead of the race. And it seemed like the misery came back to haunt him.

Finally, Stroll, who was then the only driver yet to pit, entered the pits on lap 18.

Giovinazzi battle world champions at United States GP

All eyes were on Hamilton and Verstappen, as the former was visibly hunting down the latter. However, the focus soon shifted to Giovinazzi, who was amidst an intense battle with Alonso.

The Spaniard made a stunning move around turn 12. And while Giovinazzi managed to keep himself ahead of the Alpine, he did end up running wide off the exit of turn 12. Hence, it was either giving up the position or taking up a time penalty, and Alfa Romeo chose the wiser option.

On the very next lap, he found Vettel right at his rear wing and lost his position to the German after witnessing a shocking move around the right-handed section of corners 17 and 18.

Second round of pit stops blow the race wide open

Verstappen entered the pits for another set of medium tires on lap 30, but Hamilton, surprisingly, chose to stay out and opt for a longer stint.

And the much-awaited moment arrived as Hamilton entered the pits on lap 38. By the time Hamilton switched to a new set of hard tires and rejoined the track, the gap to Verstappen grew up to 9 seconds. The hunt was on!

Formula One F1 – United States Grand Prix – Circuit of the Americas, Austin, Texas, U.S. – October 24, 2021 Red Bull’s Max Verstappen during the race REUTERS/Brian Snyder

15 laps and 9 seconds – Can Hamilton secure the victory? The only question that was lingering in everyone’s head. Well, he did manage to bring the gap down to less than a second, but the turbulent air coupled with Red Bull’s pace saved Verstappen in the end.

Updated F1 drivers’ standings

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  1. Max Verstappen – 287.5
  2. Lewis Hamilton – 275.5
  3. Valtteri Bottas – 185
  4. Sergio Perez – 150
  5. Lando Norris – 149
  6. Charles Leclerc – 128
  7. Carlos Sainz – 122.5
  8. Daniel Ricciardo – 105
  9. Pierre Gasly – 74
  10. Fernando Alonso – 58
  11. Esteban Ocon – 46
  12. Sebastian Vettel – 36
  13. Lance Stroll – 26
  14. Yuki Tsunoda – 20
  15. George Russell – 16
  16. Nicholas Latifi – 7
  17. Kimi Raikkonen – 6
  18. Antonio Giovinazzi – 1
  19. Mick Schumacher – 0
  20. Nikita Mazepin – 0

Updated F1 constructors’ standings

  1. Mercedes AMG (Mercedes) – 460.5
  2. Red Bull Racing (Honda) – 437.5
  3. McLaren (Mercedes) – 254
  4. Scuderia Ferrari (Ferrari) – 250.5
  5. Alpine (Renault) – 104
  6. Scuderia AlphaTauri (Honda) – 94
  7. Aston Martin Racing (Mercedes) – 62
  8. Williams (Mercedes) – 23
  9. Alfa Romeo Racing (Ferrari) – 7
  10. Haas (Ferrari) – 0

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Overall, yet another exciting Sunday afternoon comes to an end, this time, at Circuit of The Americas. And the championship fight is now more intense than ever, as Verstappen and Hamilton are set to continue their rivalry over the upcoming weekend in Mexico.

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Rohit Kumar

1465 articles

Rohit Kumar is an F1 author at EssentiallySports. He has been an ardent follower of the racing series since 2007, with his love for the sport coinciding with his love for Kimi Raikkonen. He is also an ardent follower of Sebastian Vettel and Aston Martin Racing.

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