Verstappen extends his lead after holding off Hamilton to win USGP

The championship leader held off Hamilton at the Circuit of the Americas

Monday, 25th October 2021, 9:42 am

Max Verstappen celebrates with the Red Bull Racing mechanics after winning the USGP

Max Verstappen extended his championship lead after holding off a late charge from Lewis Hamilton to win the USGP in Austin on Sunday.

The Dutchman lost out at the start to the Mercedes driver, but pitted early and made the undercut work so when Hamilton emerged from the pits a few laps later, reclaimed the lead.

Hamilton ran eight laps longer than Verstappen after Red Bull called him in for a stop and stormed up to the back of the RB16B but ran out of laps, unable to make a move for the lead as Verstappen extended his buffer to 13 points.

“It was an exciting race and it feels incredible to win here,” said Verstappen afterwards. “The pressure was on for the whole race and not knowing how quickly Lewis would catch up.

“I actually thought I had a decent start, but Lewis had an even better one. So we went for an aggressive strategy after losing the lead into turn one and we pitted early in the first stint. Then for the middle stint we were in that undercut range, so we had to respond and we went for track position which made the last stint very long, especially in this heat.

“The last two laps were definitely difficult on the tyres, there wasn’t much grip left. But, then with two laps to go, I had the Haas in front of me and I was able to benefit from the DRS, so we managed to hang on in the end.”

Sergio Perez claimed his second podium in succession as he took third spot but drove with a faulty drinks valve, leading to the ‘longest and hardest race’ of his career.

He said: “I wasn’t feeling great before the race and then my drinks system stopped working on the first lap and with the hot weather today it was very physical and a pretty tough afternoon. I was struggling massively and by lap 20 I was done, so it was a shame I couldn’t keep up with Max and Lewis but there are a lot of positives to take from this weekend and back to back podiums are always nice.”