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Verstappen holds off Hamilton to win US Grand Prix and extend title lead

Pérez 3rd, Leclerc 4th

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By Olivier Ferret

24 October 2021 - 22:48
Verstappen holds off Hamilton to (...)

Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen fended off intense late-race pressure from title rival Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes to claim a well-worked United States Grand Prix win at the Circuit of the Americas. Sergio Pérez doubled Red Bull’s celebrations by taking third place and the Team’s 200th podium finish.

When the lights went out at the start Hamilton was quickest off the line and though he was forced to take a deep inside line on the run up the hill to Turn 1 as Verstappen defended, the Mercedes driver held firm and as the title rivals went through Turn 1 the Red Bull driver had to go off track on the outside, handing the lead to Hamilton.

Behind them Pérez held third place ahead of Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc but McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo passed Carlos Sainz at the start to take fifth position. Sainz ended the first lap in P6 ahead of Lando Norris in the second McLaren and AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda who had risen to eighth from P10 at the start.

Vertsappen shadowed Hamilton for the first 10 laps but unable to get close enough in the turbulent wake from the Mercedes. And with his starting medium tyres overheating, the Dutchman pitted at the end of lap 10 to take on hard rubber. He rejoined in P5 behind Ricciardo but soon passed the McLaren driver.

Pérez made his first stop on lap 12 taking on medium tyres and Mercedes reacted to the Red Bull stops by bringing Hamilton in at the end of lap 13. The Briton’s move to hard tyres was clean and quick but as he left his pit box Verstappen powered down the start-finish straight to take a 6.7s lead.

The leaders then settled into the second stint, with Verstappen carefully trying to managed the gap. Hamilton though showed greater pace and he edged to within three seconds as the race headed past half distance.

On lap 29 Verdstappen dived into the pits for another set of hard tyres. He weas followed a lap later by team-mate Pérez, with the Mexican this time taking hard tyres. Verstappen now found himself just over 16.5s behind Hamilton who was being told to extend his second stint.

Armed with fresher tyres, Verstappen closed to within 13 seconds of Hamiltin and after 37 laps the Mercedes driver eventually made his second stop for more hard tyres. When he emerged he was 8.7s behind Verstappen but with tyres that were eight laps newer. He quickly began to once again reel in the Red Bull driver.

With 10 laps remaining, Hamilton was within three seconds and Verstappen was warned by his pit wall to save rear tyre life to fend off attacks through the DRS zones.

With three laps remaining, it looked like his efforts might be in vain. Hamilton closed to within 1.2 second and then broke into DRS range of the Red Bull. Verstappen, though, had done a good job of preserving tyre life and he was able to keep Hamilton at bay. And when Hamilton made small mistake with a lap left and the gap expanded back to 1.7s, the race was won. Verstappen crossed the line to take his eighth win of the season. The victory means he extends his Drivers’ Championship lead. He now has 287.5 points, 12 more than Hamilton.

Hamilton finished second, 1.3s behind the Dutchman, and soon after Pérez crossed the line to hand Red Bull a double podium finish.

Pérez’s podium, allied to a sixth place finish for Valtteri Bottas in the second Mercedes, means that Red Bull close the Constructors’ Championship gap to Mercedes to 23 points.

Behind Pérez, Charles Leclerc claimed fourth place for Ferrari ahead of McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo and Bottas. Seventh place went to Carlos Sainz in the second Ferrari, with McLaren’s Lando Norris eighth. Yuki Tsunoda scored two points for AlphaTauri with ninth place and Sebastian Vettel finished tenth to take a single point for Aston Martin.

Pos.DriverCarGapPit
01 Max Verstappen Red Bull Honda RB16B 56 laps - 1h34m36.552s 2
02 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes W12 +1.333 2
03 Sergio Pérez Red Bull Honda RB16B +42.223 2
04 Charles Leclerc Ferrari SF21 +52.246 2
05 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren Mercedes MCL35M +76.854 2
06 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes W12 +80.128 2
07 Carlos Sainz Ferrari SF21 +83.545 2
08 Lando Norris McLaren Mercedes MCL35M +84.395 2
09 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri Honda AT02 +1 lap 2
10 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin Mercedes AMR21 +1 lap 2
11 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo Ferrari C41 +1 lap 2
12 Lance Stroll Aston Martin Mercedes AMR21 +1 lap 2
13 Kimi Räikkönen Alfa Romeo Ferrari C41 +1 lap 2
14 George Russell Williams Mercedes FW43B +1 lap 2
15 Nicholas Latifi Williams Mercedes FW43B +1 lap 2
16 Mick Schumacher Haas Ferrari VF-21 +2 laps 2
17 Nikita Mazepin Haas Ferrari VF-21 +3 laps 3
18 Fernando Alonso Alpine Renault A521 DNF 4
19 Esteban Ocon Alpine Renault A521 DNF 3
20 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri Honda AT02 DNF 2

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