US Grand Prix 2021


Chris Graythen

AUSTIN, TEXAS – OCTOBER 24: Race winner Max Verstappen of Netherlands and Red Bull Racing, second placed Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and Mercedes GP, third placed Sergio Perez of Mexico and Red Bull Racing and Masashi Yamamoto of Honda celebrate on the podium during the F1 Grand Prix of USA at Circuit of The Americas on October 24, 2021 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Hunter Whitt

In the 2021 United States Grand Prix, Max Verstappen defeated title challenger Lewis Hamilton in a thrilling race, with Red Bull gaining ground on Mercedes owing to Perez’s podium result – and the championship leader expanding his lead to 12 points. 

 Hamilton had a fantastic start off the line, and despite Verstappen pressing him as far down the inside as possible on the run-up to Turn 1, the Briton gained P1 from the Dutchman to lead coming into the esses. Perez, who started third, fell behind the leaders and began to lose hundredths, then tenths of a second. On Lap 11, Red Bull title contender Verstappen pitted from medium to hard tyres, while Mercedes’ Hamilton pitted on Lap 14 only to finish second behind the undercutting Red Bull driver.

The second round of pit stops came on Lap 29 when Verstappen and teammate Perez came in for another set of hards, while Hamilton stayed out longer, retaining a tenuous 16-second advantage over Verstappen. He pitted on Lap 37 with an 11.5-second lead, stopped on his marks, and came out in second on new hard tyres – 8.8 seconds behind Verstappen this time – for a pursuit to the chequered flag.

Verstappen’s lead didn’t start to diminish until Lap 41 of 56, when he ran into backmarkers. Only 1.7 seconds separated the front two with five laps to go, and Hamilton had DRS on Verstappen on the final lap. But the Dutchman found just enough speed on his compounds to win by 1.3 seconds with a “classy” performance, according to team manager Christian Horner. Perez placed 3rd, in the final podium spot. Charles Leclerc finished fourth for Ferrari after holding off McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo at the start, the Australian having gained one position at the expense of Carlos Sainz early on. Valtteri Bottas was sixth for Mercedes, ahead of Carlos Sainz, who was passed for the position late in the race by the Mercedes driver who had recovered from ninth on the grid. Lando Norris, Ricciardo’s teammate, finished ninth after losing a position to Bottas after the second set of pit stops. Yuki Tsunoda was in P9 behind Norris, the rookie having started 10th on soft tyres but skillfully handling the fragile compounds, gaining a position as AlphaTauri teammate Pierre Gasly retired due to suspension troubles. Sebastian Vettel was in the final point-paying position after starting 18th due to an engine change penalty. 

The Mexican Grand Prix approaches – with Red Bull’s 200th podium and 73rd Grand Prix victory at COTA thanks to Max Verstappen. In the drivers’ standings, the Dutchman leads Lewis Hamliton by 12 points heading to Mexico City.