#1052 2021 United States Grand Prix

2021-08-09 01:00

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#2021, Fulvio Conti,

#1052 2021 United States Grand Prix

The United States Grand Prix is back on the Formula 1 calendar after being canceled in the previous season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In the 2020 W


The United States Grand Prix is back on the Formula 1 calendar after being canceled in the previous season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In the 2020 World Championship, the Federation was forced to cancel overseas races. The Grand Prix of America, like the last edition held in 2019 unaffected by the pandemic, is held with spectators in the stands. Throughout the race weekend, 400.000 spectators attend, the highest figure since the first edition in Austin, Texas, in 2012. Regarding Formula 1, live spectators are present for the first time on American soil since the onset of the pandemic. On Thursday, October 14, 2021, after some inspections requested by the race director, Michael Masi, some uneven areas of the Circuit of the Americas are smoothed out. The track is resurfaced at various points, including the end of the main straight, including the pit lane and its exit, the exit of turn 9 to the exit of turn 10, the exit of turn 11 to the exit of turn 12, and between the middle of turn 15 to the middle of turn 19. Before the Grand Prix, the asphalt surface is milled between turn 2 and turn 3 and near turns 4, 6, 10, and 14. Before the start of the race, the bumps at the exit of turn 1 are removed. COTA's head, Bobby Epstein, declares before the start of the work:


"In reality, we will close the track for most of December and mid-January to solve the problems. We did some repairs last year before the MotoGP, so I wouldn't say we have to redo everything. It will certainly involve the entire back straight, the pit exit, and part of turn 1, then there is a bump before turn 9, but also turns 18-19. So it will be quite extensive work".


Michael Masi, after consulting with FIM (Fédération Internationale de Motocyclisme), comments:


"I have been on the phone with my colleagues from FIM throughout the weekend while they were in Austin, to have a real understanding of the whole situation. And what we actually understood is that since the F1 event in 2019, a large part of the circuit has been resurfaced to address some of the issues we saw two years ago. The areas where the motorcycles had raised concerns are different from those that have been resurfaced. And Tony Cotman, who is one of the FIA circuit inspectors, was in Austin during the week, and he made a report. The circuit is making some changes to address some of the concerns. They will try to smooth out some bumps and so on. I've been told that the organizers are already working to solve the problems. One of the things they intend to do is to smooth out the bumps, to level them. But there is little time to do it, so they are doing what they can".


On Saturday, October 16, 2021, the FIA announces that the new minimum weight for cars for the 2022 season will be 792 kg. According to the latest update to the technical regulations, the Federation grants, in response to teams' concerns, an additional two kilograms compared to the previously planned 790. Compared to the current season, the minimum weight will increase by 40 kg. On Monday, October 18, 2021, it is also announced that during the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix weekend, men and women must adhere to strict dress code rules. On Tuesday, October 19, 2021, it is established that, for the inaugural edition of the race, the circuit's full capacity can be present, instead of the previously announced 40%. In a press release, Prince Khalid Bin Sultan Al-Abdullah Al-Faisal, president of the Saudi Automobile & Motorcycle Federation promoting the Grand Prix, states:


"We are pleased to increase our ticket offering in light of the decision by the Ministry of Health. When we first thought of hosting a Formula 1 race in Saudi Arabia, we always anticipated having a full house to celebrate this wonderful occasion. It gives me great pleasure to offer fans our General Admission tickets alongside the choice of existing packages. With grandstand and premium hospitality tickets selling fast, this is a welcome new option for fans who want to join us as we make history in December".


Meanwhile, Masashi Yamamoto, head of the Japanese Honda team, announces that Red Bull Racing will be able to use the intellectual property of the projects until 2025. 


From the following year, the Milton Keynes team will have to handle the assembly of power units on its own.


"They won't be able to use our intellectual property from 2026 onwards. But for the next four years, they can still benefit from it because to assemble, maintain, and purchase new parts, they need this knowledge and information. Having or being able to view this type of information does not mean assistance in designing an engine on their own".


On the eve of the United States Grand Prix, the Federation announces the possibility of automatically canceling times in the event of a double yellow flag scenario, following what happened during the qualifying session of the previous Turkish Grand Prix. On that occasion, Spanish driver Fernando Alonso had been summoned by the stewards following an incident in Q1, where he seemed not to have slowed down enough. Despite this impression, the Spanish driver had indeed lifted off, claiming to have aborted the lap, thus incurring no penalty. This decision contrasted with that made in the Bahrain Grand Prix against German driver Sebastian Vettel of Aston Martin, who, not having slowed down despite being in a part of the track free from double yellow flags, had still suffered a grid penalty. Race director Michael Masi says about this:


"We are seriously considering making this change. We have discussed it in the past, and now we would like to make this rule clearer for everyone".


On Thursday, October 21, 2021, the Federation decides to change the procedure outlined in the sporting regulations, making it effective from the United States Grand Prix. In this regard, Michael Masi says:


"Any driver passing through a double waved yellow marshaling sector must reduce speed significantly and be prepared to change direction or stop. In order for the stewards to be satisfied that any such driver has complied with these requirements, it must be clear that he has not attempted to set a meaningful lap time, for practical purposes any driver in a double yellow sector will have that lap time deleted".


The next day, Friday, October 22, 2021, Williams announces that Formula 3 driver Logan Sargeant from the United States is joining the Williams Driver Academy. Excited about the new opportunity, Sargeant states:


"I am happy to join the Williams Racing Driver Academy. It is a team that not only has a fantastic history but also a great tradition of bringing young talents into Formula 1. I am really looking forward to starting working with the team and can't wait to get started".


Jost Capito, CEO and team principal of Williams, adds:


"I am very pleased to welcome Logan to the Williams Racing Driver Academy. He has shown his talent in FIA Formula 3, consistently delivering excellent results in an extremely competitive championship. I am proud that Williams will have a role in supporting the progress and growth of another talented young driver".


The Formula 1 World Championship is coming to an end, and the United States Grand Prix becomes crucial for both title contenders, Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton. The Dutch driver leads his rival by just six points, a slim advantage that can change at any moment from now until the end of the season. However, Toto Wolff, Mercedes team principal, claims to be ready to face the Austin race, encouraged by the recent performances of his drivers:


"It has been encouraging to see our positive momentum continue in the last race in Turkey. It had been a while since we had back-to-back victories, so morale at the factory is high. That win was also the 200th for the Brixworth factory since they started their winning streak in 1997. Istanbul saw a dominant performance from Valtteri in challenging conditions, giving him his first win of the season. He put in an impeccable drive and was in control of the race from the early stages. It's a nice boost for both him and the team heading into the final part of the season, and it helped us increase our lead in the Constructors' Championship. If we think broader, considering the engine change for Lewis and Max in the previous race, Hamilton lost only one point to his rival, and it's something we can bear. Clearly, the immediate view during the race is always to wish for a better position and more points. We are all racing people, so we wouldn't want a different intensity in the desire to compete. This season has had many twists and turns, so we are ready to react to whatever may happen this weekend in Texas. We are excited to be back in Austin for the first time since 2019 because it is a very popular stop on the calendar. The track is very enjoyable for the drivers, with fast and flowing corners and more technical sections, with good opportunities for overtaking".


On his part, Lewis Hamilton reiterates the importance of winning every race to maximize points. The British driver also discusses his relationship with Max Verstappen, Charles Leclerc, and the possibility of racing in Africa:


"It's important to win all the races. We need to maximize our points in the next six races; there will be moments when we can beat them, but in Mexico, they can come back strong. In six races, many things can happen, and we need to approach these GPs one at a time. We have [with Max Verstappen] limited communication; some drivers interact more than others. We just said 'hi' last year. We do the same this year, so things haven't changed. [Charles Leclerc] is a great driver, a leader; he's still very young and deserves only compliments. He still has great potential and can only improve. I hope to have more exciting battles with him in the future. I'd love to see a race in South Africa".


Inevitably, arriving in Austin, Max Verstappen can't avoid discussions regarding the challenge against the Mercedes team:


"We always have to strive to optimize performance every weekend. We have a very competitive car, but we have to compete with Mercedes, and that will always be the big question mark every weekend. We hope to fight with them this weekend and maintain the championship lead. Every weekend, there will be new challenges to overcome, and this won't be different from others. We have to focus on ourselves. The layout is really nice, with uneven asphalt adding excitement to the race. The first sector is very enjoyable, with many fast corners, especially in qualifying with low fuel. In the second and third sectors, you can take different trajectories, generating action and overtaking. Plus, there's always a great atmosphere and a large crowd".


Furthermore, the Dutch driver announces that he will no longer be part of the Netflix series called Drive to Survive:


"I understand that it has to be done to increase the popularity [of F1] in America, but personally, as a driver, I don't like to be part of it. They simulated some rivalries that don't actually exist. So, I decided not to be part of it and haven't given interviews anymore because then there's nothing to show. I'm not the type of person who puts on a show. I just want to see facts and real things. Probably in the Netflix show, [Lewis Hamilton and I] will be [shown as rivals] because once walking, we bumped into each other. So probably, that scene will be there".


Haas Team Principal, Gunter Steiner, supports Max Verstappen's decision not to participate in the Netflix series, adding:


"If Max doesn't want to be part of the series, it's his choice that I wouldn't criticize. He's free to participate or not, and he's not obliged. Consequently, we shouldn't form an opinion about it. If he feels he hasn't been portrayed well, it's his full right not to be part of it. Obviously, fans miss the chance to see Max because I think he's first and foremost a good driver, but he's also an important character".


Adding to the discontent is McLaren CEO Zak Brown, who emphasizes:


"Netflix has been outstanding for Formula 1; it has increased interest in this sport among younger audiences and, in general, has had a great impact in America. From what I can see, a bit of theatrics is added to real facts, but that's television".


Ferrari drivers also comment on the Netflix series. Charles Leclerc, also speaking about his team, says:


"For me, Ferrari is the most iconic team ever. They have achieved many successes and have been present from the beginning. They are an incredible team, and for them, most legends of this sport have driven. Why root for me? I don't know; I'm just trying to do my best, and if fans like my personality from interviews and what they see on Netflix, why not? I'm not very good at selling myself, so I hope my driving skills are enough to attract them".


Meanwhile, Carlos Sainz Jr. says he is a bit more critical:


"The episode of the third season about Ferrari is not exceptional, and in fact, I was a bit disappointed when I saw it. Ferrari is much more beautiful, bigger, and better than it appears. At that time, we were going through a tough time, as happens to every great team in sports. But now we're coming back and doing everything possible to become great and champions again. We will be a serious contender for the future, and there is a really good atmosphere in the team, both with Charles and the engineers. And anyway, it's Ferrari: who doesn't like Ferrari in everyday life?"


Returning to the United States Grand Prix, Sergio Perez arrives in Austin with high expectations for both this race and the next one in Mexico, his home country:


"I'm doing great and looking forward to getting back in the car because I'm excited about the upcoming weekend. We are aware that we need to maximize our package. Mercedes has been very strong in the last four or five races, and we haven't been able to keep up with their pace. But I'm convinced that Austin and Mexico will be two good tracks for us, and you will see us stronger in terms of performance. I'm working well with my team, this will be an important race, and I'm really charged up, as is the whole team. I hope to get on the podium in Austin too. Last Saturday, I did a show in Dallas, and it gave me incredible energy. These events make us realize how important our sport is to people. The fans were really excited, I missed the audience, and there should be an incredible atmosphere here. I perceive Austin's atmosphere as a second home race for me because I am welcomed very warmly. There will be a lot of support for me and the team. And next year, the Miami race will be added, another home race for me".


The Austin circuit, since its creation, has been well-liked by Formula 1 drivers. Among them is Fernando Alonso, who speaks about the track:


"It has always been fun to race in the United States, and I also like the Austin circuit; it is one of the most challenging tracks on the calendar, with each sector tackled differently lap after lap. The characteristic of this track is that it evolves the car during the lap, forcing the driver to continuously push the accelerator. It also allows overtaking opportunities, which is positive. In Austin, there is always a splendid atmosphere, and it is also a beautiful city to visit. We'll see if our package turns out to be competitive, and I hope that this time, there will be a drier weekend".


Meanwhile, Kimi Raikkonen recalls the successes achieved on the American circuit and confesses:


"I have some nice memories related to COTA; it was where I got my last victory, so it's a nice thing to remember. But once I get in the car, all of that doesn't matter. We know we have to do everything right if we want to get some results from the race, starting from Friday. We've had two races where the weather conditions have changed, and we had to react. Now let's see what the weekend in America has to offer and where we'll end up".


Due to the numerous rule changes the teams will face starting from 2022, it won't be easy to determine if Alpine's predictions will come true within the set times. However, among those who support the growth and improvements of the car is the one who returned to compete in F1 this year driving the French car: Fernando Alonso. The Spanish driver, who won his two world titles with Renault, has expressed confidence in the concrete evolution of the team, to the point of hoping to see it frequently return to success on what will be his 100th race in the Circus.


"We continue step by step. First of all, we have to look at next year with the change in regulations, which doesn't allow us to understand the level of competitiveness of ours and other teams. At the moment, it's like tossing a coin, given all the planned changes. We hope to achieve our goal for race number 100, or even before. We will make the maximum effort to make this project a reality, helping the team to win as soon as possible. Already now, I feel that we are improving race after race. At the beginning of the year, we managed to identify some defects, as well as our strengths, working to improve. Now we are stronger and make fewer mistakes, as well as being more prepared for the weekends. Even if the current package doesn't allow us to regularly step on the podium every Sunday, we are aware of our potential. We finished in the points for fourteen consecutive races, and we were the only ones to achieve it. This shows the validity and effectiveness of our work".


Ferrari Team Principal Mattia Binotto, after skipping the previous Turkish Grand Prix, extends his absence also to the following two Grand Prix in Mexico City and São Paulo, which debut in this championship. Binotto will stay in Maranello to closely follow the project related to the 2022 season's car, entrusting the team's responsibility to Laurent Mekies, as happened in Turkey. Ferrari will be present in Austin with an updated power unit in the hybrid system on both cars. The head of the team's engine department, Enrico Gualtieri, satisfied with the feedback received on the track, says about it:


"We are quite pleased with the feedback we've received on the track; it has been a hard-fought effort, and credit goes to everyone who worked on the project. We changed the technology, increased the voltage of the battery's operating system, getting close to doubling it. Every single element of the ERS has been modified to, in some way, adapt to this new operating condition and get the most out of efficiency. The battery has undergone significant changes while retaining the same chemical composition as the previous version. The electric motors have also undergone substantial changes, with a deep redesign, along with the control electronics. It's a major upgrade, and when you bring such an update to the track, you always try to be as well-prepared as possible". 


And adds:


"That's why it was so important for us to succeed in introducing the new system several races ahead. Testing in different conditions, on different tracks, is crucial for us to be certain that we will define the 2022 car accordingly. The main goal of this evolution was in view of 2022; for us, it will be important to accumulate experience for the next year. It is also true that increasing performance with this development is important in the fight for the third position, which remains our goal for this season. Austin is a complete track where effective balance is crucial; the setup will be important. It's a track with bumps, a significant factor to consider, and ambient temperature will also matter. Depending on the wind direction, the temperature could change a lot during the weekend, impacting the balance and tire wear. In terms of the power unit, it is a circuit of medium-high sensitivity, considering the layout, so focusing on power delivery is crucial. Having a responsive power unit in fast corners and good drivability in slow corners is essential".


For this Grand Prix, Pirelli, the sole tire supplier, offers teams a choice between C2, C3, and C4 compound tires, the three central compounds of the range. Mario Isola, Pirelli Motorsport Director, says:


"Announcing all the tires for 2021 now will help teams and drivers with their plans for the season, allowing maximum flexibility if the calendar changes due to COVID-19 restrictions. The selection is very similar to that made in 2020, or in 2019 for races that were not held last season. This means that teams should have a lot of data to work with and be prepared. In two races, however, we made softer choices than last year. The first is Azerbaijan, where the C2 Hards were not used last time. That's why we named C3, C4, and C5. Then we have Brazil, where we will bring C2, C3, and C4, considering that the C1 did not bring significant advantages over the mediums. In both cases, the new choices should ensure a great variety of race strategies. Although teams have accumulated a lot of experience on the Austin track, this year they face a slightly changed track from 2019 when we last raced here. About 40% of the track has been resurfaced, but due to COVID-19 restrictions, we couldn't send our staff to analyze the new asphalt, so its characteristics are a question mark for everyone, and we will discover the final effects on tires and car performance only when we are there. As usual, the tire nomination was made based on data obtained before the race, with the central compounds of the range adapting well to the circumstances. The battle for the championship is hanging by a thread, so as we get closer to the end of the season, every single element of the strategy will be crucial, as we saw in the last race in Turkey".


On Friday, October 22, 2021, the first day of free practice is scheduled. Before the start of FP1, the fourth unit related to the internal combustion engine, turbocharger, and MGU-H is installed on the cars of Sebastian Vettel and George Russell. The German and the British driver will be forced to start from the back of the grid. On Valtteri Bottas's car, the sixth unit related to the internal combustion engine is installed. The Finnish driver is penalized five positions on the starting grid. Valtteri Bottas sets the best time in the first session. The asphalt problems make it mandatory for cars to have a less aerodynamic setup, affecting performance. This favors the Mercedes, which are not suitable for a rake setup. The Finnish Mercedes driver precedes his teammate Lewis Hamilton by a few thousandths, while Max Verstappen is third, 0.9s behind. The two Ferraris follow in fourth and fifth place, with Charles Leclerc also spinning. During the session, the cars of Sergio Pérez and Mick Schumacher collide, with the German driver ending up in a spin. The display of the red flag interrupts the session to recover Fernando Alonso's car, stuck due to technical problems. During FP1, nine times are deleted for exceeding track limits at the exit of turn 9, and twelve times are deleted for exceeding limits at the exit of turn 19. In the first case, Sergio Pérez's times are deleted three times, Daniel Ricciardo, Esteban Ocon, and Lance Stroll's times are deleted twice, and Kimi Räikkönen, Pierre Gasly, and Sebastian Vettel's times are deleted once. In the second case, Nikita Mazepin and Yuki Tsunoda's times are deleted three times, Sergio Pérez's times are deleted twice, and Carlos Sainz Jr., Lando Norris, Daniel Ricciardo, and Max Verstappen's times are deleted once. 


At the end of the first free practice session on Friday, Sergio Pérez and Mick Schumacher are summoned by the stewards following the collision at turn 12, and after hearing both drivers, they decide not to impose any sanctions. In the afternoon, the second free practice session takes place. In this session, Lewis Hamilton sets the best time, but his performance is canceled for cutting a section of the circuit. Sergio Perez, therefore, is first and precedes five Mercedes-powered cars. Hamilton finishes with the third time, Lando Norris with the fourth. Max Verstappen sets the eighth time due to a mistake made during the session. Mercedes demonstrates superiority not only in the fast lap but also in the race simulation. During the session, Hamilton and Verstappen, the two drivers fighting for the world title, risk colliding with each other before starting their fast lap. This happens when Lewis Hamilton overtakes Max Verstappen, who expresses his displeasure. In the team radio, the Dutchman says:


"Stupid idiot".


Addressing his rival, while his engineer replies:


"Don't worry, Max, ignore him".


During the second free practice session on Friday, eleven times are deleted for drivers exceeding track limits at the exit of turn 9, and fifteen times are deleted for exceeding limits at the exit of turn 19. In the first case, Charles Leclerc and Kimi Räikkönen's times are deleted twice, Fernando Alonso, Yuki Tsunoda, Sebastian Vettel, Valtteri Bottas, Esteban Ocon, Nikita Mazepin, and Sergio Pérez's times are deleted once. In the second case, Nikita Mazepin's times are deleted four times, Yuki Tsunoda's times are deleted three times, Nicholas Latifi, Mick Schumacher, Sebastian Vettel, Lewis Hamilton, Charles Leclerc, Lance Stroll, Kimi Räikkönen, and Pierre Gasly's times are deleted once. At the end of the second free practice session on Friday, the gearbox on Sebastian Vettel's car is replaced. However, the German driver will not be penalized, as he will use the gearbox already used for six consecutive Grand Prix. The United States Grand Prix weekend certainly did not start calmly for Max Verstappen, the protagonist of a particular episode with his rival Lewis Hamilton during FP2. The Red Bull driver, about ten minutes after the start of the session, did not respect the gentlemen's agreement between drivers, an unwritten rule that would prevent them from hindering each other in the out lap. On this latter point, and on what happened earlier, Verstappen explains his version of the facts:


"I couldn't complete a lap on the Soft tires, but overall, it's not easy on this track due to the many bumps that don't easily allow finding the right compromise for the car's setup. There were other positive aspects, and we will continue to work overnight. It went better in the long run, but even in the qualifying simulation, I didn't feel bad. There was just a bit of a mess on the track. I didn't understand what happened with Lewis; he came alongside me and pushed me all the way down the straight".


At the end of the last season, Sebastian Vettel had decided to embark on a new chapter in his Formula 1 career by joining Aston Martin for the current championship, after being Lewis Hamilton's main rival for years. In Austin, the German driver speaks again about the rivalry between him and the British driver, specifying how uneven the fight between them was at the time:


"I hope Max can have a better car or is still in an advantageous position because the battles I fought with Lewis, unfortunately, were not as tough for him as the ones he is experiencing now. It was easier for him to win championships against me. I believe rivalry is good for any sport, as long as there is always respect at its core. I think we are witnessing a clean fight".


For the third time in the last four races, Valtteri Bottas will have to serve a grid penalty. The Mercedes driver, who won in Turkey, will drop five positions from the result he achieves in qualifying due to the introduction of a new internal combustion engine (ICE), the sixth, and a new exhaust. Nevertheless, the Finnish driver remains confident:


"I think we have a good car here, and even with the penalty, I can have a good race from any starting position. The free practices have shown that we are all very close to the top of the standings, but everything can still change. In light of the penalty in FP2, I focused on the race pace. There is still a lot of work to do in terms of setup; when we look for the right compromise, we will obviously take into account that I will have to overtake on Sunday in the race".


The first free practice session of the United States Grand Prix concluded with the top two positions occupied by Mercedes drivers, with Valtteri Bottas leading by 0.04s over Lewis Hamilton. Between the Finn and the third-placed Max Verstappen, there is a gap of 0.9s. Although the initial data may seem encouraging and positive for the Anglo-German team, during the same practice session, the news regarding Bottas, along with two other Mercedes-powered drivers, does not go unnoticed. In this regard, Red Bull Racing Team Principal Christian Horner comments:


"Mercedes is very fast, but it was only the first session. Here in Austin, we collected a lot of data, all to be examined. The circuit is quite bumpy (many drivers complained about the bumps, editor's note), and a compromise in the setup must be found, but the situation is manageable. It will be tough for the drivers and teams, but it's what we expected. Mercedes has decided to install another power unit; I don't know if they are managing the penalties, but this shows they have problems. They have been very fast lately, but we'll see how it goes. But we have to think about ourselves: I think we have a bit of room for improvement and performance to find; we have to give our best to give them a hard time".


But Toto Wolff firmly rejects recurring paddock rumors regarding issues with updates on the air valves of the power units:


"Unfortunately, from mid-year, we have had some reliability issues that continue to recur. Now we understand what they are due to and focus on durability. If you don't intervene, you may incur a potential risk of retirement. They tell you a lot of nonsense; we don't need to talk about air valves or things like that because you and I wouldn't understand what it's about. The penalty is never positive, even if it's just a few positions to be dropped, as in this case. If you start with five positions less, even if you get pole, you will still have difficulty making up".


Apart from the controversies related to the engines and the scenario of Bottas moving back on the grid, Wolff expresses his satisfaction with the data from the first free practice session, where Mercedes showed a better overall pace than Red Bull Racing:


"I think we gain on the straights, and that's a positive aspect, but the most important element is the higher speed in fast corners. It's encouraging because they are clearly running with more drag and need an even higher level, but we are still faster in the turns. Talking to the drivers, they highlighted that the track surface has worsened compared to recent years, but at the same time, grip has improved. I don't know if this gap with Red Bull will remain the same in qualifying, but for now, we have had an excellent FP1".


Sergio Perez has started the weekend close to home in Austin on a positive note. The Mexican driver set the fastest time in the second free practice session:


"It was a promising FP2, but there is still a lot of work to do to try to improve the car. I feel there is room for improvement in the long run. That said, I think it was a positive Friday. We'll see tomorrow where we end up in qualifying. Are we in a fight with Mercedes? We'll see tomorrow. They were very strong today. I wasn't very happy with tire degradation. We can still find a bit of pace. The bumps? Yes, it's a challenging situation. It's also very hot, and it's humid; this makes life difficult because it makes your hands slip from the steering wheel".


Several observers have judged Max Verstappen's behavior towards Lewis Hamilton as a sign of weakness and nervousness. However, Sergio Perez disagrees with this hypothesis and says:


"I think he's pretty relaxed, focusing on one race at a time. I believe he is aware that anything can happen every weekend. There are six races to go, which is a lot, and I think he has a similar approach to the team. We're in a tight battle for the championship. We think race by race and want to maximize every single opportunity. Max is part of the team, and everyone in the team wants Max to win. We're giving it our all as a team. Everyone supports me. If I do well, it means the team is doing well, and the same goes for Max. The battle for the driver's and constructor's championships is very close, and in the end, we will all be together, and that will make the difference for the success of our season".


Friday in Austin was not particularly easy for Fernando Alonso. The Spanish driver, who had last raced on this track in 2018, retiring due to an incident in the first lap, was among the victims of the bumps in the Texan asphalt. In the final part of FP2, the Alpine driver lost control of his car, ending up against the safety barriers. Fortunately, there was no damage to the car.


"It wasn't the easiest day for us. We had an issue in FP1, but our mechanics solved it very quickly. That was good, and we could do some laps. The track conditions and the uneven surface of the asphalt make the circuit quite challenging. I touched the barriers at the end of the session, which shows how difficult it is. It's hard to know where we are in terms of lap times, but there is definitely work to do. Let's see what we can do today; hopefully, we'll have a somewhat quieter Saturday".


Carlos Sainz Jr. lags 0.3s behind his teammate, Charles Leclerc, in the FP2 of the United States Grand Prix. However, the Spanish driver is not overly concerned since the qualifying simulation was ruined at the end by some traffic encountered in the third sector.


"I am happy with our Friday, and the pace is promising considering I found traffic in the third sector during my fast lap and couldn't complete a lap that would have otherwise been very good".


Overall, Sainz Jr. is satisfied with the work done:


"The asphalt has become bumpier over the years, but I think this is now a characteristic of the circuit and poses a challenge for cars and drivers. The track temperatures today were very high, which obviously had an effect on the long runs, where the degradation on the Soft compound manifested quickly. This can make things difficult on Sunday, so it's a factor that needs to be taken into serious consideration".


And Charles Leclerc confirms:


"We completed the planned program, trying different solutions. The most challenging aspect is the bumps that make the track particularly tricky. With the high temperatures we are experiencing, tire management becomes a key factor because they tend to overheat, especially in the third sector. That's why you have to find the right compromise between pushing too much in the first section, paying a price in the last, and saving the tires early to have them fresher and be able to push at the end of the lap. In the third free practice, we still have to work to identify the best balance before qualifying".


During the morning of Saturday, October 23, 2021, the third and final free practice session takes place. Before the start of the session, the fourth unit related to the internal combustion engine, turbocharger, MGU-H, and MGU-K is installed on Fernando Alonso's car, along with the third unit related to the energy recovery system and electronic control unit, and the ninth unit related to the exhaust system. Therefore, the Spanish driver will start from the back of the grid during the Grand Prix. Sergio Pérez confirms his speed, even in the Saturday session. Carlos Sainz Jr. secures the second position ahead of the Red Bull Racing driver Max Verstappen. Both Verstappen and the reigning World Champion, Lewis Hamilton, set times faster than Pérez, but their performances are invalidated as they exceeded track limits. The two Mercedes drivers, fifth and sixth, are also preceded by Lando Norris. The high track temperature of 36 °C and strong wind challenge the drivers, especially in tire wear management. During the Saturday free practice session, seven times are deleted for drivers exceeding track limits at the exit of turn 9, and six times are deleted for exceeding limits at the exit of turn 19. In the first case, the deleted times belong to Kimi Räikkönen (twice), Yuki Tsunoda, Lance Stroll, Pierre Gasly, Nikita Mazepin, and Lewis Hamilton (once). In the second case, the deleted times belong to Nikita Mazepin (twice), Valtteri Bottas, Charles Leclerc, Max Verstappen, and Mick Schumacher (once). In the afternoon, the qualifying session for the United States Grand Prix is scheduled. During Q1, the first to complete a timed lap are the two Haas drivers. Shortly after, Lance Stroll sets a time of 1'35"893. The Canadian driver is surpassed by Charles Leclerc, who completes a lap in 1'35"281. Red Bull Racing drivers record the most competitive times: Max Verstappen sets the fastest time, clocking in at 1'34"521. Sergio Pérez trails by 0.054s, while Valtteri Bottas secures the third time, 0.138s behind Verstappen. Lewis Hamilton is further behind, 0.276s off the time set by the Dutch driver. Daniel Ricciardo completes a better lap than Verstappen, in 1'34"407. 


Lando Norris, with the other McLaren, secures the third position, surpassing Carlos Sainz Jr., who records the fourth-best time. The top four in the standings are within 0.054s. Later, Max Verstappen sets a time of 1'34"352, again taking the lead. Pierre Gasly and Charles Leclerc take eighth and ninth positions, behind the two Mercedes cars. Pérez also improves his performance, recording the second-best time. The two Alpine drivers are at risk of elimination: Esteban Ocon is only fifteenth, ahead of Fernando Alonso. Kimi Räikkönen and Nikita Mazepin have not yet set a valid time. Antonio Giovinazzi spins before Leclerc sets the time of 1'34"153. Alonso is fourteenth, so Stroll is eliminated. In addition to the Canadian Aston Martin driver, those not advancing to the next round include his compatriot Nicholas Latifi, Kimi Räikkönen, Mick Schumacher, and Nikita Mazepin. At the start of Q2, Red Bull, McLaren, and Mercedes drivers use Medium tires. Charles Leclerc, Pierre Gasly, and Esteban Ocon make the same choice. Valtteri Bottas records a time of 1'33"959, while Lewis Hamilton clocks in at 1'33"797. However, both are preceded in the time standings by Max Verstappen, who sets the best time at 1'33"464; Sergio Pérez is 0.6s behind his teammate, but his time is invalidated for exceeding track limits. Shortly after, Lando Norris sets the third-best time, clocking in at 1’33”880 and positioning himself ahead of Leclerc and Bottas. Pierre Gasly records the sixth-best time. During Q2, Sergio Pérez returns to the track with Medium tires, and Daniel Ricciardo makes the same choice. Pérez is now seventh, while Ricciardo is ninth. Esteban Ocon remains in tenth place before the arrival of Yuki Tsunoda, who sets the tenth-best time. The French driver is thus excluded from Q2, along with Sebastian Vettel, Antonio Giovinazzi, Fernando Alonso, and George Russell, who finishes the session without recording any time. Already at the start of Q3, the two Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas position themselves in the exit lane, while the Red Bull drivers are the last to take to the track. Lewis Hamilton sets a time of 1'33"564; Valtteri Bottas concludes with a better time, clocking in at 1'33"475. Lando Norris finishes the lap in 1'34"015, after making a mistake in the first sector. 


Max Verstappen sets the fastest lap, clocking in at 1'33"199, followed by Sergio Perez, who doesn't go beyond the time of 1'33"180. The potential arrival of rain forces the drivers to immediately make a second attempt. Lewis Hamilton surpasses Sergio Pérez after setting a time of 1'33"119. Max Verstappen records the best time, clocking in at 1'32"910, thus securing pole position. Pérez is third, while Bottas is fourth. For the Red Bull driver, it is the twelfth pole position start of his career. Verstappen wins the FIA Pole Trophy for the first time. Red Bull becomes the third team, after Mercedes and Ferrari, to win the award. Times deleted for drivers exceeding track limits at the exit of turn 9 are two; while four times are deleted for exceeding limits at the exit of turn 19. In the first case, Daniel Ricciardo and George Russell have their times deleted. In the second case, the times of Nikita Mazepin, Lance Stroll, Kimi Räikkönen, and Sergio Pérez are deleted. Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton will once again find themselves side by side on the front row at the start of the United States Grand Prix. The Red Bull driver has secured pole position and will start from the clean side of the track, on the right, while the reigning World Champion will start on the less clean side of the track, but with a better trajectory for the first corner, the left-hander at the end of the uphill ramp that characterizes the first meters of the Texan circuit.


"I'm sorry, guys". 


Said Lewis Hamilton over the radio, commenting on the second position achieved in Qualifying for the United States Grand Prix. The Mercedes W12 proved to be quite unstable on Soft tires.


"I hope to be able to compete, I will try to have the best possible race. We started well in the first free practice session, but then Red Bull grew stronger while we had some issues. We tried different solutions, but without much success. In the race, however, we can be more impactful, at least I hope so, and starting from the front row is good. We overheat the tires too much, but it's the same for everyone; I don't know why we struggle so much on this track this year. I want to thank the fans who are truly extraordinary. After FP1, we lost ground. Our rivals were very fast in all the qualifying sessions. I was very happy with my last lap. There is always some sector that can be improved, but I couldn't have done much more. We worked hard today, and we will continue to work tomorrow; we'll see how it goes in turn 1. My mindset is to win the race and give these fans the best race possible".


On his part, Max Verstappen, pleased with the pole position in Austin, said at the end of qualifying:


"I will try to have the best possible race. We worked really well between Friday's free practices and Saturday. Putting all the pieces together in the decisive lap in Q3 was a great satisfaction. The race, however, will be very long. We will try to go as fast as possible. It was exciting on the track today. We did the lap with the hardest compound in Q2, and then in Q3, my first attempt wasn't fantastic, but on the last lap, there were a few drops, and I wasn't sure I could hold the time. But what I managed to do was enough. Being first and third in terms of times is an exceptional performance. Lewis and I in the front? I think that's what people want. We hope to have a good start and work together as a team to achieve the best possible result".


Both Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen, along with Sergio Perez starting from the third position, qualified in Q2 with the Medium tire and will start the United States Grand Prix with it. Verstappen, via radio after Q3, celebrated emphatically, as responding to the difficulties encountered in Turkey is a significant show of strength for Red Bull. Helmut Marko explains that the work done, especially on the setup, is the secret behind Verstappen and Perez's outstanding qualifying:


"We maximized performance by working exclusively on the setup. We even considered using the medium tire in Q3. I am very pleased with Perez's performance".


Red Bull Racing's team principal, Christian Horner, was thrilled with the qualifying results, commenting shortly after the checkered flag:


"We significantly improved the car. It's challenging to stay in the slipstream here, so it will be crucial to come out in front after turn 1. Additionally, this weekend, Checo [Perez] is in a great state. He has felt perfectly comfortable with the car since the first practice session. I thought all the conditions were there for him to get his first pole, but in the closing moments of qualifying, there was a light rain in the third sector".


Sergio Perez will start from the third position. Due to the rain, the Mexican driver couldn't achieve a better result, but he looks at the race with optimism:


"We came very close. We did a great job as a team. Unfortunately, my last attempt wasn't as good as the first one. I did better in the first sector, but then I couldn't stay clean for the rest of the lap. There was rain in the last sector, there were some small spots on the track, and I slid on a couple of turns. Tomorrow the race will be very long; the qualifying position is not so relevant because the race will be very long, and the tires will degrade a lot. But we look at the race with optimism".


Sunday looks like a tough day of work for Valtteri Bottas in Austin. The Finnish Mercedes driver, winner in Turkey, needed a superb qualifying to minimize the damage caused by a five-place grid penalty due to the replacement of the internal combustion engine on his W12. However, his qualifying ended with a fourth position, which translates to a ninth grid position.


"The first attempt in Q3 was good. I only lost some time in the last sector because I locked the front. With a clean second lap, I could have improved. Instead, it went worse because in the last sector, I had an even greater lock, and I lost more time. It wasn't ideal, not the qualifying I wanted. I also have the penalty, so it will be a complicated day tomorrow. Red Bull has progressed a lot compared to yesterday. Probably, overnight, they found something more than we did".


Charles Leclerc worked hard in the morning to fine-tune his SF21, and the results were evident in Q3, managing to outperform the other Ferrari of Carlos Sainz Jr., who had been very fast in the final free practice session. This allowed the Monegasque driver to secure the fourth grid position:


"I am very happy. I made a small mistake at the first corner, but then it was a really good lap. We will start fourth and fifth, and we will try to make the most of this opportunity. We did a test in the second run of FP3, but it went very badly for me. Certainly, confidence wasn't great coming into qualifying. That's why I started before Carlos, did a few laps in Q1 to regain the feeling. In Q2 on the medium tire, we had a really good lap because we switched to the medium in the first run and recovered the two sets used in Q1. We are not as strong on pace to stay with those ahead in the race. When they put everything together, we struggled a bit. They are much ahead, but that's what we expected: no surprises. We will work, try to have a good start, and we have all the cards to do better than our direct rival, McLaren. We expected to be less competitive than them here; better this way".


Carlos Sainz Jr., on the other hand, cannot be satisfied at the end of qualifying, finishing in sixth position, which will become fifth due to Valtteri Bottas's penalty:


"We were the only ones to go with the Soft tire, and then after that, the track deteriorated a lot for the second attempt, so I couldn't make the cut with the medium, which was our goal".


In Q2, the Spanish driver made the first attempt with Soft tires but failed to improve in the second attempt when he switched to Medium tires.


"All simulations say that starting with the medium is much better for tomorrow. We have to analyze what we did wrong; we should have taken more risks. When you do the first short stint, you always start on the wrong foot from the start. You can't go long with the soft, and the two stops you have to make come too soon, and you have more degradation. We'll have to come up with something because we are the only ones in this situation".


The Ferraris are ahead of the McLarens, but Sainz Jr. is concerned about tire degradation:


"For us, tire degradation is a weak point. We had a lot of it yesterday and today, but it seems that others have it too. In the race, McLaren performs better in that regard, making the tires last longer. Starting with the softs will be tough for me, but we'll try. The goal must be to stay ahead of McLaren. It will be important for me to start well, be ahead with the softs, and see how McLaren performs".


The Sporting Director of Scuderia Ferrari, Laurent Mekies, adds:


"We knew that the characteristics of this circuit were not the best on paper for our package, especially compared to our main rivals. Moreover, a condition common to all was not easy to find the optimal settings on a track with many bumps, especially because the drivers need to feel confidence in the car to give their best. We all worked a lot on this aspect both yesterday and today, trying different solutions, and in the end, I believe we have put both Charles and Carlos in a position to get the most out of the SF21, and they responded great throughout all sixty minutes of this qualifying".


Looking ahead to the race, Mekies doesn't hide his concern:


"A very tough race is expected for the drivers and the cars. We expect very high temperatures, which will affect tire management on an already very abrasive asphalt. The preparation of the strategy and its execution will be crucial. As always, we will give our all, also to give joy to the many Ferrari fans here in Austin".


On Sunday, October 24, 2021, at the start of the United States Grand Prix, Lewis Hamilton had a better start than his rival and secured the first position, overtaking Max Verstappen at the first corner. Sergio Pérez and Charles Leclerc found themselves in third and fourth positions, respectively. Behind them, the two McLarens and Carlos Sainz Jr. remained very close. Later, however, Daniel Ricciardo overtook the Spanish driver, securing the fifth position. Max Verstappen seemed to be able to limit the gap from Lewis Hamilton, but a performance drop in the Medium tires forced him to make an early pit stop in the tenth lap. The Dutch driver chose to continue the race with Hard tires. He returned to the track behind Daniel Ricciardo but almost immediately managed to pass him. During the 11th lap, Lando Norris, Pierre Gasly, Daniel Ricciardo, and Carlos Sainz Jr. also pitted. All opted for the use of Hard tires. However, in the 12th lap, Sergio Perez returned to the pits for his stop but chose Medium tires. Meanwhile, Charles Leclerc also stopped at the pits for a tire change. Lewis Hamilton, on the other hand, continued in the lead, preceding Max Verstappen, Sergio Pérez, Charles Leclerc, Valtteri Bottas, and Daniel Ricciardo. 


The British driver waited until the 13th lap to pit and switch to Hard tires. This delay compromised Hamilton's race, as he lost the first position. The British driver returned to the track with a gap of over six seconds to Max Verstappen. The other Mercedes driver, Valtteri Bottas, pitted on the 15th lap, rejoining in eleventh position. During the 25th lap, Lewis Hamilton managed to reduce the disadvantage on Max Verstappen, bringing it down to three seconds. In the next lap, the Red Bull Racing driver made another pit stop for Hard tires. During the 30th lap, Sergio Pérez, Lando Norris, Daniel Ricciardo, and Carlos Sainz Jr. also made pit stops. Ferrari's pit stop was particularly slow, preventing the Spanish driver from overtaking the McLaren driver he was battling with. During the 32nd lap, Charles Leclerc also pitted. In this case, the quick tire change allowed the Monegasque driver to re-enter the race in fourth place. Valtteri Bottas was just behind the Ferrari driver but couldn't overtake. The Finnish Mercedes driver stopped later in the 34th lap to change tires. During the 37th lap, Lewis Hamilton also returned to the pits and replaced the tires, abandoning the one-stop strategy. Max Verstappen thus took the lead of the race, ahead of Lewis Hamilton, Sergio Pérez, Charles Leclerc, Daniel Ricciardo, Carlos Sainz Jr., and Valtteri Bottas. During the 43rd lap, Carlos Sainz Jr. tried to overtake Daniel Ricciardo; however, two laps from the end, the Spanish Ferrari driver lost a position to Valtteri Bottas. In the final laps, the gap between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen decreased, but the reigning World Champion couldn't catch up with the Dutch driver. Max Verstappen secured his eighth victory of the season out of seventeen races, a crucial win not only for the standings but especially for morale. Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes suffered a significant defeat and will now have to try to redeem themselves in Mexico and Brazil, two tracks where Red Bull Racing is expected to be favored. The race didn't start well for Verstappen, with Lewis Hamilton being more brilliant at the start. However, losing the lead at the lights out probably made Red Bull aggressive in terms of strategy:


"I had a good start, but Hamilton had a better one, so we decided to make the undercut early to get out of dirty air even though I was much faster than Lewis on the mediums. Then, during the second pit stop, we wanted to protect the undercut by stopping early, and I knew this would force me into a breathless finale. In the last two laps, I had very little grip, but in the end, despite the immense pressure, we managed to achieve a truly important success". 


The final laps of the United States Grand Prix were marked by great racing tension for Max Verstappen. Two laps from the checkered flag, the Red Bull Racing driver took a significant risk with the lapping of Mick Schumacher, which cost him a loss of 0.3 seconds. In this regard, Christian Horner says:


"In strategies, it's very difficult to take into account even the drivers in the back. We had already lost time behind Tsunoda, and dealing with Schumacher was quite complex in the last two laps. I feared it could even cost us the victory since he kept Max behind for the entire sector. Fortunately, on the main straight, the DRS opened, allowing Verstappen to regain ground from the first corner, even though it was stressful at the pit wall to witness those moments".


Mick Schumacher expresses his version of the events in the final stages of the Grand Prix:


"In the end, he got DRS from me on the last lap, so that was crucial. After all, I can't just disappear; I also have to race my race, and he still won".


Regarding Max Verstappen's performance, Christian Horner says:


"With the medium tires, we had a good pace. Lewis was shedding, while our tires were overheating, so we opted for the undercut. We knew there was good degradation, so we went with this strategy. In any case, I never thought Max could make it". 


So concludes:


"With the first set of hard tires wearing out quickly, I thought he couldn't hold on until the checkered flag. Instead, he managed to manage the tires to ensure that in the last five laps, he had the conditions to push. Losing a race in that way would have hurt, but Max held on and was very smart. Now there is every reason to continue with this focus and these levels of reliability. There will be a couple of races that will be more favorable to our characteristics, and another couple to those of Mercedes. Even with the engines, barring unforeseen events, we are currently in the right conditions".


At this point, Max Verstappen still needs to win two more races to secure his first world championship title. At least, that's the opinion of Helmut Marko. According to the Austrian manager, ten overall victories are needed to win the World Championship.


"As I have already said, we need ten victories to clinch the title, so we are two short. Perhaps we could achieve this milestone before the Middle East races, as those circuits have long straights that could favor Mercedes. The last three races were within their reach, yet we will enter Mexico with a 12-point advantage over the predictions that had us behind them. Among other things, there will now be two high-altitude races in Mexico and Brazil, which should be within our reach".


Red Bull's memorable weekend in the United States was not only marked by Max Verstappen's victory but also by Sergio Perez's third-place finish. The Mexican, supported by the enthusiastic cheers of his compatriots, achieved his fourth podium of the season after a flawless race, proving convincing throughout the American weekend. However, Perez's achievement becomes even more significant considering the physical challenges he faced during the entire Austin weekend. The Mexican driver arrived in the United States suffering from bouts of diarrhea, worsening his already suboptimal health during the race. For 56 laps, Perez had to deal with a malfunction in the nozzle that allows drivers to hydrate during the event. He had to continue racing without drinking, especially with the air temperature close to 30 °C.


"In the second stint, I was losing strength, and it was certainly the toughest race of my career from a physical standpoint. I hope this is the first and last time it happens, and that I feel this way. Moreover, from the twentieth lap onwards, I could no longer drink water, and from that point, I felt exhausted. I fought hard to reach the finish line. Regarding the race, there were some positive aspects such as the podium, but also the fact that I helped Max with excellent teamwork. My Grand Prix was compromised by the medium tires, which wore out very quickly, considering the increasing heat and degradation".


Despite the defeat and the 12-point gap in the standings, Lewis Hamilton is far from discouraged at the end of the race. He promises revenge starting from the next Mexican Grand Prix:


"Congratulations to Max, he did a great job today. I had a good start, gave it my all. But they had an advantage this weekend, and we couldn't do more. Thanks so much to the team for the pit stops and all the work over the weekend. Fantastic crowd. Performing here in front of them was an honor. Our welcome in the United States was fantastic. We hope to have more races here; let's see how passionate the fans are in this country".


A race dominated and then another to forget for Valtteri Bottas. The Finn's career at Mercedes can be summarized in this way, considering the final result of the United States Grand Prix.


"It was a fairly quiet race for me; we tried to do our best, but it wasn't easy to fight at the front. Overtaking was difficult, and we knew it would be due to the temperatures here and the characteristics of the track. In the first stint, I got stuck behind the AlphaTauri, and this cost me a lot of time. Once I found myself behind the slower cars, the pace difference wasn't big enough to overtake easily. There were no Safety Cars or other situations to take advantage of, but with the grid penalty and where we started, I'm not sure what more we could have done. It wasn't the best weekend for us, but the car was good in clean air: we can learn a lot from this weekend".


Max Verstappen's victory in the United States was secured after a heart-stopping finale for the Dutch driver, aware of the gradual recovery of pursuer Lewis Hamilton, who closed in to within a second a few laps from the checkered flag. A strategy that put Verstappen in more difficulty than his rival, who was on the verge of making the decisive last-minute pass thanks to the use of new and more performant tires compared to those used by the opponent. However, disappointment in the Mercedes camp could increase following the statements of Andrew Shovlin, technical director of the Anglo-German team, who said:


"Realistically, there would have been an opportunity to win the race if Lewis, after his excellent start, had stopped early, maybe as early as the eighth lap".


Instead, it was Verstappen who made the first pit stop, with a true undercut after ten laps, surpassing the Englishman after his stop, which occurred three laps later. A strategy based on a more aggressive approach by Mercedes, which, now reviewed, could have been replaced by a different plan:


"Since we were struggling with the Medium tires in such a short stint, I don't think we would have been brave enough to perform an early pit stop just to maintain the lead. It seemed that, in this way, we could have compromised the race. In hindsight, however, I believe that with an early stop, we could have achieved our goal. It would have been a way to put Lewis back in the lead, hoping that he could then resist Max".


However, since the early free practice sessions, Mercedes has shown to be the most performing car in the field, thanks to achieving a balance between the efficiency of the power unit and the conditions of the Austin track.


"To be honest, we seemed to be in excellent shape, but it is also true that we were running at the maximum, while Max couldn't set a fast lap due to some traffic problems. Perhaps it is wrong to say that we were too optimistic, but it certainly seemed like we had started on the right foot. However, from FP2, we realized that our setup was not ideal, especially with the increase in temperature and wind, which made everything more difficult. The real indication of this weekend was seen precisely in that session. It was there that we felt the change in competitiveness between the free practice and the final part of the weekend".


Fourth place for Charles Leclerc, seventh for Carlos Sainz Jr., who surrendered to Valtteri Bottas only in the final stages: Ferrari continues to confirm the improvement shown in the last races. The Maranello team is now 3.5 points behind McLaren, with the ecstatic Monegasque at the end of the race once he crossed the finish line. The only downside was a mistake during the pit stop, with Carlos Sainz Jr. contributing to the loss of two positions. For this reason, Ferrari's team principal, Mattia Binotto, who remained in Maranello this weekend, says:


"Beautiful race by Charles. He was able to push. In certain sections, he was as fast as the leaders. Looking at the gap from the podium, it's one of the times we've come closest. The car is growing, thanks also to the power unit. With Charles, we achieved a good result for what our means are today. He drove a flawless race. It's a shame for Sainz, seeing Charles finish 25 seconds ahead of Ricciardo". 


And he adds:


"Carlos also had the potential, but we couldn't exploit it. He started with the reds but didn't have the opportunity in the first lap to gain or maintain positions. From there, his race got complicated. He managed it very well; it wasn't easy. He had an opportunity to pass Norris when he had to give up the position. He drove well, trying to defend himself, a pity for the pit stop. We went from an undercut attempt to another problem during the stop. We have to try to improve every area this year; every detail counts. A pit stop today potentially cost us two positions on the track. On paper, in this race, we weren't favored against McLaren; instead, we gained 4 points on them. It's a good result, promising for the next two, but let's take it one at a time. In Mexico, we can be competitive, at least compared to McLaren; we focus on this, and then we'll see".


Charles Leclerc is relieved that Ferrari seems to have taken the right path in terms of growth. The Monegasque, at the end of the race, says:


"I have to say I got a bit bored, but I still tried to give my best every lap because I always hope when I'm in the car. I saw the third place, and I saw that Perez wasn't pulling away so much. Only in the first stint, he had more pace, but then I was there. I was very motivated in the car, and I absolutely wanted to go after him. We didn't make it, but we tried. I have to say a big thank you to the engineers here and at home for the developments that have been made this year. Even though we are focusing on next year, the two or three developments we brought this year have always made us take a step forward. This is very important for everything. For this season and for confidence in the future".


In Austin, the Ferrari driver believed he would suffer more tire degradation:


"We expected worse for this weekend; instead, it was one of the best races of the year. A big surprise today, even though at the same time, I'm sorry to be surprised for a fourth place. The pace was the good thing today. Also, on tire management, I believe I have improved. I've been working on it for two years because I know that in 2019, it was clearly my problem. We lost many results because of me, even though I was doing well in qualifying. The more races pass, the more I think it's a strength now. I'm happy with the work done on myself".


Carlos Sainz Jr. finished the United States Grand Prix in seventh place after being involved in several close duels during his 56 laps: the Spaniard fought mainly with Ferrari's two rivals - the McLarens of Ricciardo and Norris - managing to finish ahead of Lando and making an important contribution in the fight for third place in the Constructors' World Championship.


"My main problem was being behind Ricciardo throughout the race. At the second pit stop, we tried the undercut, but for the third time in a row, we had a slow tire change. We couldn't implement our plan; otherwise, we would have made the race much simpler. I tried to pass him twice; there was contact with him that was a bit on the limit, but when you're behind, you always have more to lose".


This concludes the seventeenth appointment of the 2021 World Championship. Thanks to this additional victory, Max Verstappen increases his lead in the standings, rising to 287.5 points, compared to the 275.5 points earned by Lewis Hamilton so far. In the Constructors' World Championship standings, however, Mercedes remains in the lead with 460.5 points, followed by Red Bull Racing, which rises to 437.5 points. Ferrari, with its 250.5 points, is approaching third place, currently held by McLaren with 254 points. Undoubtedly, the United States Grand Prix has reserved an unexpected result. And now, with two Grand Prix theoretically in favor of Red Bull Racing, Max Verstappen has a concrete chance to win his first Formula 1 World Championship. After all, as Helmut Marko says, two more victories could be enough. But certainly, Lewis Hamilton will not easily relinquish the crown of Formula 1 king. And since perspectives have almost always reversed in favor of the underdog until now, it's not certain that this particular situation won't repeat itself in the upcoming Grand Prix, favoring the British driver's recovery.


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