Formula 1 in Austin: Despite brake problems

Insatiable Max Verstappen is not giving up in Formula 1 even after title number three and is still chasing records.

At the exciting US Grand Prix in Austin, the world champion took the 50th victory of his career and the 15th this year. The Red Bull star thus equaled his season record from the previous year and can further improve the record in the remaining four races. After a thrilling three-way battle, Lewis Hamilton took second place in the Mercedes ahead of McLaren driver Lando Norris.

However, Verstappen, who started from sixth place, had to fight harder than usual for his third Texas victory in a row and was ultimately only 2.2 seconds ahead of Hamilton.

In the end, however, the Dutchman further extended his already huge lead in the overall standings and at the end of the year he will probably have the biggest lead in Formula 1 history. Verstappen also further increased the record for the most laps in the lead per season.

Haas driver Nico Hülkenberg once again remained without a point. Despite a major update package on his racing car, the Rhinelander had to settle for 13th place.

From sixth place to the top

After the brightly colored guest appearance in Miami in May, Texas was Formula 1’s second trip to the USA this year. The huge US market is particularly important for the booming racing series. The track operators counted 432,000 spectators over the weekend at the Circuit of the Americas, which had its Grand Prix premiere in 2012. Austin has since firmly established itself on the calendar. After Miami, there will also be a glittering event in Las Vegas in November.

Prince Harry exuded some royal splendor in Austin, as he got off to an unexciting start as a guest in the Mercedes pit. Norris did better in his 100th Formula 1 race than Charles Leclerc in the Ferrari, who was unable to defend his pole position until the first corner. Behind him, Scuderia driver Carlos Sainz initially pushed Hamilton out of third place.

Verstappen also immediately gained a position. The champion had robbed himself of the top spot due to a driving error in qualifying. Because he briefly went off the track, the race stewards conceded his best time. Verstappen had to start from sixth place, but after five laps he had already made it to fourth place. “As long as we’re ahead on the last lap, that’s enough,” the 26-year-old said on the TV microphone shortly before getting into the car.

Verstappen is still hungry for victories

Verstappen had already proven on Saturday that his hunger for victories was far from quenched even after winning his third title two weeks ago in Qatar. The Red Bull star confidently drove away from everyone in the fifth sprint of the season and claimed his third success in this shortened race format this year.

His former arch-rival Hamilton was also doing well on one of his favorite routes and quickly left the two Ferraris of Sainz and Leclerc behind. The new components on his Mercedes had the desired effect. Now only Norris was ahead of the record world champion, who was getting tenth by tenth closer to the young McLaren star.

Meanwhile, Verstappen had pushed past Leclerc with a hard maneuver, and a little later he turned to change tires. This marked the beginning of the tactical game. Norris also came to the pit stop, but Mercedes initially left Hamilton outside and probably wanted to save a stop at the garage. “I’m really struggling here,” said the 38-year-old, whose tires were deteriorating significantly.

Hamilton takes P2

When Hamilton finally came to the pits, Norris and Verstappen passed. “You have given me a hell of a gap that I have to close,” reported Hamilton, looking at the duo now in front. Halfway through the race, the usual order was temporarily restored: Verstappen took the lead, but complained about brake problems.

The second round of pit stops mixed up the picture again. Verstappen and Norris got fresh rubber rollers, now Hamilton was leading again. But the seven-time world champion had put so much strain on his tires that he also had to stop again.

This cleared the way for series winner Verstappen, even if the gap was narrower than usual until the end. Hamilton grabbed Norris, but he could no longer get close to Verstappen.