Red Bull and Max Verstappen celebrated a sensational victory at the 2021 United States Grand Prix as their strategy gamble paid off with the Dutchman finishing 1.333 seconds ahead of F1 title rival Lewis Hamilton.
The victory sees Verstappen increase his lead over the seven-time champion to 12 points with just five races to go in the Formula 1 season.
With Verstappen starting in pole position, Hamilton got off the line brilliantly and took the lead into Turn 1, but after closely following the Mercedes for 11 laps, Red Bull pitted the championship leader in order to utilise the undercut and gain track position.
That was the call that eventually won the race for Verstappen, as Mercedes kept Hamilton out three laps longer on the first stint and then seven laps more after the second round of stops, as the looked to reel Verstappen in during the closing laps and take advantage of the fresher tyres.
And while Hamilton did whittle down the eight second gap to Verstappen, when he reached the back of the Red Bull he found there was no way past, and the Mercedes car was unable to get into DRS range as Verstappen kept the gap just above one second over the last three thrilling laps.
Given that Mercedes have dominated at the Circuit of the Americas since 2014, the win wasn’t lost on Red Bull boss Christian Horner, who underlined the significance of the result.
“Big for us to beat Mercedes here. I really didn’t think he was going to pull that off,” Horner said.
Ferrari win best of the rest
While all the focus was on the battle between Verstappen and Hamilton, just behind them was Charles Leclerc and his Ferrari who brought the car home in fourth position, and an impressive 24.6 seconds ahead of Daniel Ricciardo’s McLaren.
That coupled with Carlos Sainz in the sister Ferrari finishing seventh, the Scuderia are now within three-and-a-half points of McLaren in the Constructors Championship.
Lando Norris and Sainz had a little tussle towards the end, even banging wheels, but it was the Spaniard who prevailed to score important points in the battle for third.
Alonso making waves
He may not be fighting at the front, but Fernando Alonso in amongst the action on Sunday as he started from back due to an engine penalty.
Alonso was mainly battling with the Alfa Romeo’s Kimi Raikkonen and Antonio Giovinazzi, and complained about the former passing him off track, to which there was no action.
Later on, Alonso was forced to hand a position back to Giovinazzi after passing off track, only to pass the Italian again, but this time the Alfa Romeo man got back in front before being made to cede the place.