The championship title rivalry between defending world champion Lewis Hamilton and title hopeful Max Verstappen was the talk of the day at the 2021 United States Grand Prix, as the two drivers battled it out under the scorching Texas sun on Sunday, October 24.
Over 120,000 spectators made up the colossal crowds at the Circuit of the Americas, adding to the atmosphere in Austin as this year’s US GP got underway.
Starting second on the grid, Hamilton was able to claim the lead from Verstappen as the race began, but the Brit’s lead would prove to be temporary. Hamilton’s pitstop on the 14th lap would see him drop behind the Red Bull of Verstappen, and this lead would continue to change hands as the two title contenders roared away from the rest of the competition.
Another set of pits saw Hamilton stay out longer than Verstappen, but the Dutchman regained his lead as Hamilton pitted again. This left Hamilton chasing down his young rival, but the gap between the two did not get seriously close until the last five laps, at which point only 1.7 seconds separated the pair.
However, Verstappen managed to make his worn tyres work, and crossed the chequered line first after a gruelling 56-lap battle against the reigning champion. Red Bull boss Christian Horner hailed Verstappen’s “classy display”, which saw him beat Hamilton by a margin of just 1.3 seconds and extend his lead in the WDC by 12 points.
Meanwhile, the rest of the grid struggled to keep up, and it was Red Bull’s Sergio Perez who completed the podium by crossing the line 42 seconds later.
Monaco’s own Charles Leclerc put in a big shift for Ferrari, and claimed fourth place in the end, having held off the ‘honey badger’ Daniel Ricciardo, who took fifth place for McLaren on the day.
Mercedes man Valtteri Bottas did well to finish his race in sixth place, as he recovered from a ninth place race start. The Finn still crossed the line before Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris in seventh and eighth place respectively. Behind Norris was rookie Yuki Tsunoda in ninth place, and taking the final point taking place was veteran Sebastien Vettel, who started the race all the way back in 18th place for an engine change penalty.
As the sun sets on a US GP that did not disappoint, Formula 1 fans will now set their sights on the next stop in this year’s F1 calendar, the 2021 Mexican Grand Prix in Mexico City on Sunday, November 7.
Featured image courtesy of @F1 on Twitter, Shaq congratulates Max Verstappen on his win in the United States