2021 Formula 1 United States Grand Prix was won by Max Verstappen with Lewis Hamilton finishing in second place, and Red Bull gaining ground on Mercedes thanks to Perez’s podium finish – and the championship leader extending his lead to 12 points.
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From second on the grid, Hamilton enjoyed a stellar start off the line as the lights went out in Austin, and despite Verstappen squeezing him as far as possible down the inside to the run-up to Turn 1, the Briton gained P1 from the Dutchman to lead going into the esses. Perez, starting third, followed and began to lose hundredths, then tenths, to the leaders.
Red Bull championship hopeful Verstappen opened the pit window on Lap 11, pitting from medium tyres to hards, while Mercedes’ reigning champion Hamilton followed in on Lap 14 only to emerge second behind the under-cutting Red Bull driver. But there was another pit stop to come under the scorching Texas sun.
The second set of stops came when Verstappen came in on Lap 29 for another set of hards, his teammate Perez following – while Hamilton once again stayed out longer, holding a fragile 16-second lead over Verstappen. “We are racing for the win,” he was told by Team Principal Toto Wolff.
“Leave me to it, bro!” came Hamilton’s response. With an 11.5s lead, he pitted on Lap 37, stopped on his marks and was back out in second on new hard tyres – 8.8s behind Verstappen this time, for a chase to the chequered flag.
“It’s all about the last three laps,” Hamilton was told. And indeed, it was, as the gap to Verstappen didn’t start tumbling until Lap 41 of 56 when the leader encountered backmarkers. With five laps remaining, just 1.7s split the front two, and Hamilton had DRS on Verstappen on the very last lap. But the Dutchman found just enough pace on his worn, hard compounds, and took victory – by 1.3s – with what team boss Christian Horner called a “classy” display. Perez took the final podium spot.
Charles Leclerc drove brilliantly to P4 for Ferrari having held off Daniel Ricciardo of McLaren at the start, the Australian having made up one place at the expense of Carlos Sainz early on. That left Valtteri Bottas sixth for Mercedes ahead of Carlos Sainz, the Ferrari driver passed for the place late on by the Mercedes man who recovered from ninth on the grid.
Ricciardo’s teammate Lando Norris took eighth having lost a place to Bottas after the second set of pit stops. Behind Norris was Yuki Tsunoda in P9, the rookie having started 10th on soft tyres but handled the fragile compounds masterfully, gaining a place as AlphaTauri teammate Pierre Gasly retired with suspension issues.
In the final point-paying spot was Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettel, who started 18th after an engine change penalty.
Esteban Ocon of Alpine was the next retiree, on Lap 42. His Alpine teammate Alonso followed into the pits from P14 with five laps remaining, citing a rear wing issue.
Mario Isola – Head of F1 and car racing at Pirelli commented:
Tyre wear was high as we expected on this hot and abrasive circuit during the 2021 Formula 1 United States Grand Prix, which led to nearly everyone choosing the medium to start the race on and then focussing on the hard as the main race tyre. This stood up extremely well to the demands on it, with some long stints that helped to set up a thrilling finale to this race between the championship protagonists. Both Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton had exactly the same tyre allocation left before the race but used it in very different ways, with Hamilton making the most of his younger tyres at the end, and Verstappen capitalising on the track position gained by his ‘undercuts’. The result was a fantastic strategic duel that led to a thrilling finale between two drivers absolutely on top of their game, managing their tyres perfectly.
2021 Formula 1 United States GP Race Results
|1.||33||Max Verstappen||Netherlands||Red Bull Racing||1:34:36.552||25||287.5|
|2.||44||Lewis Hamilton||Great Britain||Mercedes-AMG Petronas||+1.333s||19||275.5|
|3.||11||Sergio Perez||Mexico||Red Bull Racing Honda||+42.223s||15||150|
|4.||16||Charles Leclerc||Monaco||Scuderia Ferrari||+52.246s||12||128|
|5.||3||Daniel Ricciardo||Australia||McLaren Racing||+76.854s||10||105|
|6.||77||Valtteri Bottas||Finland||Mercedes-AMG Petronas||+80.128s||8||185|
|7.||55||Carlos Sainz||Spain||Scuderia Ferrari||+83.545s||6||122.5|
|8.||4||Lando Norris||Great Britain||Mclaren Racing||+84.395s||4||149|
|9.||22||Yuki Tsunoda||Japan||Scuderia AlphaTauri||+1 lap||2||20|
|10.||5||Sebastian Vettel||Germany||Aston Martin F1 Team||+1 lap||1||36|
|11.||99||Antonio Giovinazzi||Italy||Alfa Romeo F1 Team||+1 lap||0||1|
|12.||18||Lance Stroll||Canada||Aston Martin F1 Team||+1 lap||0||26|
|13.||7||Kimi Räikkönen||Finland||Alfa Romeo F1 Team||+1 lap||0||6|
|14.||63||George Russell||Great Britain||Williams Racing||+1 lap||0||16|
|15.||6||Nicholas Latifi||Canada||Williams Racing||+1 lap||0||7|
|16.||47||Mick Schumacher||Germany||Haas F1 Team||+2 laps||0||0|
|17.||9||Nikita Mazepin||Russia||Haas F1 Team||+2 laps||0||0|
|18.||14||Fernando Alonso||Spain||Alpine F1 Team||DNF||0||58|
|19.||31||Esteban Ocon||France||Alpine F1 Team||DNF||0||46|
|20.||10||Pierre Gasly||France||Scuderia AlphaTauri||DNF||0||74|
2021 Constructor Standings
|1.||Mercedes-AMG F1 Team||613.5|
|2.||Red Bull Racing||585.5|
|5.||Alpine F1 Team||155|
|7.||Aston Martin F1 Team||77|
|9.||Alfa Romeo Racing||13|
|10.||Haas F1 Team||0|