"Obviously, we’re well into next year’s car at the moment. I think in terms of trying to predict what sort of lap time you need to find, it’s quite difficult. I think what we’ve been trying to do is to understand that and I think we do understand that now - we know what we need to put right".
In other words, the team is focused on next season, but there is still a lot of work to do to finish 2022 in the best possible way. The Circuit Of The Americas is a pretty recent structure, inaugurated in 2012 and always present in the Formula 1 calendar since that year, except 2020, when the race was cancelled due to the pandemic. Conceived by Tavo Hellmund and designed by Hermann Tilke, it is the tenth different track in the USA that hosted a Formula 1 race, but it is the first one that has been purposedly designed for this championship. This anti-clockwise, 5.513-km track has 11 left turns and 9 right turns, in a variegated sequence that includes a scary uphill left hairpin in turn 1, very fast corners in the first sector, inspired by Silverstone’s Maggots-Becketts-Chapel, nicknamed the Snake, long straights with two DRS zones, one in sector 1, in the uphill start/finish straight, and one in sector 2 between turn 11 and 12, a third sector with a series of technical hairpins, inspired by Hockenheim’s stadium section, and the extremely fast and tricky right-hander inspired by Istanbul’s infamous Turn 8, and two consecutive left-handers that lead to the finish line. The race is scheduled to last 56 laps. The record of the fastest race lap belongs to Charles Leclerc in his Ferrari SF90, who in 2019 set the time of 1'36"169, while the fastest lap in qualifying was set by Lewis Hamilton in the same year in the Mercedes AMG W10 EQ Power+. Lewis Hamilton is the driver who won the most races on this circuit, one with McLaren (2012) and four with Mercedes (2014, 2015, 2016, 2017); Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull, 2013), Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari, 2018), Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes, 2019) and Max Verstappen (Red Bull, 2021) all won once. Despite the presence of long straights, which may advantage the cars that reach the highest maximum speed, downforce still plays a key role, especially in the first and third sector, due to the rapid changes of direction and height, where the air flows are crucial to find the optimal grip on the track. In addition, due to the anti-clockwise nature of the track, the left tyres are the ones that are more stressed. The tyre compounds employed by Pirelli for this race are C2 for the hards, C3 for the mediums and C4 for the softs. The weather is expected to be sunny, clear and windy for the whole weekend, with temperatures ranging from 29 °C to 32 °C, so the torrential rain that hit the Japanese Grand Prix might only be a far memory. The second session of free practice scheduled on Saturday 22 will last 90 minutes and will be completely focused on the testing of the new tyres for the 2023 season. Mario Isola, Pirelli’s Motorsport Director, said in an interview:
"The Circuit of The Americas is a balanced layout when it comes to the demands placed on cars and tyres in terms of traction, braking and lateral loads, but it’s mainly a flowing track that the drivers love, which nonetheless presents some challenging sections that shouldn’t be underestimated. The track was partially re-asphalted in 2020, with a ‘milling’ process also taking place last year to shave off the worst of the bumps that oblige teams to raise the ride height, which affects aerodynamics. In the first free practice session, there could be a high degree of track evolution so it’s going to be vital for the teams to maximise the data collected during FP3 to define the best strategy. The second free practice session will be dedicated to slick tyre testing for 2023, weather permitting. Weather conditions in Austin have been extremely variable in the past, so it’s a circuit where you have to be ready for anything".
- Information to be provided to the Teams by means of a message via the official messaging system and communicated via the FIA intercom system to notify teams that a recovery vehicle is on track with the obligation from the Teams to inform their Drivers. Development of a live VSC/SC monitoring window to display the status of all cars, on track, behind SC, in PITS to be used by Race Control and the ROC.
- Race Control Procedure Update to better define the allocation of tasks across the Race Control team (including delegation of monitoring tasks to ROC as required) under SC or VSC procedure. In specific relation to this review, the delegation of monitoring of cars entering the Pit Lane under SC conditions and the consequent length of the SC train.
- The FIA Race Director will hold a review of the incidents in Suzuka during the United States Grand Prix Drivers’ Briefing to explain what solutions the FIA plans to introduce to avoid a repeat of the situation in the future and to remind the Drivers of the rules relating to Safety Cars and Red Flags.
- In conjunction with the teams, a review of penalty precedents for drivers not respecting the rules relating to Yellow, Double Yellow, VSC and SC conditions will take place.
- Assessment of the current application of advertising boards, their construction, location and materials used to avoid the potential for them to being torn off and thrown on track.
- Dynamic VSC: implementation of a new function that would change the delta speed required for the driver to follow before and in the sectors where there is an incident, this would aid the drivers to know where incidents have been declared (to be implemented by the start of the 2023 season).
The press conference starts with Valtteri Bottas, who is asked about his bike race in Kansas, his relationship with Austin and the recent performances of his Alfa Romeo. The interviewer remarks that Bottas claimed his first points in his career at the COTA and also won a race starting from pole position.
"I always enjoy being in the States: I spent a good amount of my time off here this year, cycling and exploring, and I was in a bike race in Kansas just last Sunday - which I also won, which means I’m already in competitive mode ahead of the weekend. I won the race from pole here in 2019, and I have overall good memories of this track, of the fans and of the atmosphere. As we already saw in Miami earlier this year, they really know how to put up a show around here! Our pace in Suzuka was good, and I’m looking forward to getting back on track this week as we will also be bringing some additional upgrades. If we do our homework on Friday and Saturday, we’ll be able to get in the mix during the race and score some valuable - points. It's always hard to know, like, why you succeed on certain tracks, but I don't know, it really is on top of my list of the best tracks in the world. The flow the track has, the elevation change, the high-speed corners, it's really something that I enjoy. But also, on top of that, Austin is such a cool place, you always have a good feeling and vibe here. And great, great support as well. So, it's a great weekend overall".
"We had a new front wing in Suzuka, but obviously in the weather conditions it was pretty tricky to prove how it was, but we think it is a step forward. And also in this race, we have a new floor diffuser, which hopefully will give us a bit of a step. So let's wait and see on Friday, but hopefully that puts us closer to the top 10 and actually we can get back to scoring again. There's obviously many DNFs, but for sure some other teams have been able to improve more than us. But I think now with the upgrade that we had in Suzuka and what we have here, hopefully that will give us an opportunity to score again. That's something that we really need".
Then it is Norris’s turn, who never misses the chance to crack a joke, this time about his teammate, Daniel Ricciardo, who showed up at the circuit on horseback. He is asked if he was tempted to do the same:
"Oh, no, definitely not. I was late on purpose just to miss the ride in, but Daniel had his moment of glory. So, it was good to see".
About his relationship with the circuit and his expectations from McLaren:
"I'm buzzing to be back in Austin, it's such a great city to race in and the fans are always brilliant so it should be an exciting weekend. The track is a fun one, with some cool features similar to tracks such as Suzuka so I'm looking forward to getting out there and seeing how the new regulation cars run. I've had a points finish both times I've raced there so hopefully we can keep up the streak and get some valuable points for the Constructors' Championship".
Later, he is asked about Alpine, their latest race, and who has got the faster car between them and McLaren.
"It was a good race for them. Yeah, simple as that. They're performing well. They're doing a very good job and it’s as simple as that, honestly. They're very quick. They have been since race one this year. We're putting up a good fight. I think. We're doing everything we can. I feel like we are doing a very good job. I'm happy with the job we're doing as a team in terms of strategy and maximising the car's potential and just doing what I think is best on every weekend. So yeah, I'm happy. I think we will continue to do that, we'll continue to fight. It's not going to be easy by any means, they are doing a very good job, both drivers are driving well. So we'll see this weekend. I think it's pretty clear [who has got the fastest car]... but not us".
About IndyCar star Alex Palou, running in the FP1 with McLaren:
"I mean, it's always tough coming into an FP1, especially in a car he's never driven before. you know. He's done some of the test days in the previous car, but this one is quite a different one, on such a cool track as well. So it's not going to be easy. It's not like you have a lot of time, especially with the tyres and things, like you don't get that many laps of feeling good grip and things. But he's an extremely good driver. I've known Alex, I guess almost since karting I've known him. More personally probably in the last few years. But he's an incredibly good driver, very talented and he's in the car for a reason. He can give good insight, add some valuable details for us and yeah, help us out as much as possible. So he'll do a good job".
"I don't think I need to put any more prize to Max for what he's done this year, because I think it's pretty obvious that he's done a very good job and everyone can see how good he has performed and how well he's executed this season, especially after not an easy start of the season with a couple of DNFs, how they managed to recover and put together a lot of wins a lot of good moments through the year, keep it consistent, and be strong in the areas where we haven't been able to be to be that strong. And yeah, congratulations to him, congratulations to Red Bull because they fully deserve it".
He is asked if Verstappen has evolved:
"For sure. I think eight years in Formula 1 is a lot of years in Formula 1. And since day one of Formula 1 to year eight you evolve massively. For sure he's evolved in every single area. There is not one area where you haven't evolved and the way that he's managed to keep doing step by step, improving everything, you know, because there's nothing that we cannot improve in eight years. And it’s fair play to him and now he's maximising also having a competitive car, which is something that you need in Formula 1 in order to win. If not, you're never going to win".
The interview points out a curious fact on Sainz at the COTA, that he always scored points but never obtained a podium; he asks Sainz about his confidence with the car.
"I think we have a competitive car everywhere we go to. This is a fact, I think. We are fighting for nearly every pole position. Wins are more tricky, because for some reason, Red Bull, in the race, they manage to do a step that we don't have, or that recently we don't have as much. But we're working on that. We're taking these last four races to experiment a bit, to see how we can be a bit more competitive in the race, how we can improve our tyre management. We have the next year tyres here for Friday, you know, and it's going to be a key part of understanding where we are lacking also on tyre management for next year, to try and improve".
About his fight for fourth place with George Russell:
"Fifth, fourth, it doesn't change my life as a racing driver. I only care about obviously winning and having a good season. I know this year hasn't been easy. The setback of Japan also was not ideal. made me lose even more points in this fight. And yeah, I mean, if I can finish fourth, I take fourth, but I would prefer to win a race before the end of the year, even if it doesn't mean I finish fourth. And I think, for us, it's important to try and win, to get the podiums, to get the consistency. Obviously, this would bring P4 to the table but I'm focusing more on that then then on the championship, let's say".
Later, he confesses that the biggest struggle of this season has been the first six races, when the car was more competitive but Red Bull still took the best results, and that the main problem of his Ferrari is that he needs to think a lot and cannot drive it naturally, especially in corners. About the cost cap, he says that the FIA should make the right decisions to make sure that everyone follows the rules, and that the penalties should be enough to discourage future excessive expenses.
"As you can imagine. I love the local cuisine, being a fan of the hamburger, but in fact the whole ambience here is very nice. We will use these coming Grands Prix to prepare as much as possible for 2023, looking for any opportunity that comes along to take a race win. To be honest, I would prefer to do that rather than getting ahead of George (Russell) in the championship. I have reached a good level of understanding with the F1-75 and I’d like to still get some good results with it".
"Yeah, it was fun. We had a tough day on Saturday, so I had some work to do on Sunday and it was definitely one of my better ones. I think we're definitely making progress. We made a lot of progress throughout the year. You know, pretty much up until Spa we were not in a position to score points, unless stuff happened in front of us. And now we've been in a position where we have the pace to really challenge for points mostly every weekend, when the track suits our car. So I think we've definitely put ourselves in a much better position. And, you know, the last couple of races in Asia we scored a lot of points and we jumped a few positions in the Constructors’ and that's a really, really good thing. And, you know, it's also great to see signs of what's to come in the future. We've done a great job this year of progressing the car and that's a great thing. Austin is an incredible city that has an electric atmosphere throughout the F1 weekend, I am really excited to get lapping at Circuit of the Americas. We have shown great pace in recent races and I believe we will here as well. Additionally, we now find ourselves in a fight for sixth position in the Constructors’ Championship after a couple of strong team results, so we will be looking to pick up more points and close that gap in the standings".
About Aston Martin’s chance of overtaking Alfa Romeo in the Constructors’ Championship:
"I think it's all about how we do in the next races, how they do as well, and how the car goes from here until Abu Dhabi".
Later, he adds that his Aston Martin is now more balanced as some more load was added, and he thinks that a combination of those two aspects would make the car more competitive. Sergio Perez’s main topic is Red Bull’s fight for the constructors’ title. The interviewer brings back last year’s race, where Checo scored a podium without having access to water.
"Yeah, I hope I have some water, especially as it can be really hot on Sunday. So, it would be nice to have some water there. And, yeah, it would be nice to get a strong result this weekend. [Momentum] certainly helps. When you have a good run of races. The confidence and momentum are with you. But that doesn't mean anything. You have to go there and prove again and again and hopefully this weekend can be a good one. We can have a strong pace and yeah, it would be nice to get a strong result before the home race. It would be very nice [to win the Constructors’ Championship]. It's a massive effort that everyone has done, not only your track. Back in Milton Keynes everyone has been pushing so hard. Yeah, I mean, it's been a tremendous year for Red Bull and I really hope we are able to finish it on a high, because it's been tremendous, the year we've been able to have. I think throughout the season, you know, making the right calls, pushing at the right times has paid off. And I really hope that we are able to clinch that title soon".
He is asked about his favourite race of the season:
"I don't know which is the best but the most special certainly has been winning Monaco. That was very special".
The interviews proceed with the second group. Lewis Hamilton, after telling his Denver Broncos experience, the football team of which he has become one of the owners, talks about his special relationship with this track, where he won five times:
"Yeah, I think just being in the States, I'm very happy when I'm out here. I think already when I came to Indianapolis - was it 2007? - was a good time. But I think this track is very special. Considering it's a newer circuit it's one of the best circuits that we have, provides great racing. A single lap is exciting and then we get this crowd that just keeps growing year on year. And they just do it differently here, right? I would say that us Europeans are good… we're good at sports but there's things that we've learned, I would say, with the partnership with Liberty and I think the sport is growing as a whole in terms of how we put on the show".
"You can expect we're going to try everything, as we always do. I don't want to get my hopes up with the… a lot of work has naturally gone into the upgrade as it always does. And I'm really, really proud of everybody for the work that's gone in. But in the past, we've had expectations: oh, this is going to bring a tenth or whatever it may be, and then we struggle to extract that so I'm just really of a really open mind. I'm hoping our car just in general works better at this circuit. And I'm generally just excited. I did drive here just after Montreal in the old car which is amazing. And they’ve flattened off some of the section like Turn 5, 4 or 5 I think it is and so I'm hoping that's going to be better for our car".
Kevin Magnussen, who hasn’t raced here since 2019, has his say on the track, the characteristics of his car, the fight with AlphaTauri:
"I don’t think it’s really evolved in terms of how I approach it. It’s a great track, it has become very bumpy so some years when we get there it’s super bumpy and then others, they grind down those bumps so the circuit changes its character a little bit in that way. As I said, it’s a great track, especially sector 1 - it’s super highspeed, the esses I think are actually some of the coolest corners in F1. There’s a bit too much run-off for my liking but the layout itself is very cool, so I’m looking forward to going back there".
He is also asked about the Snake, turn 3 to 6, and how to master it:
"It’s a pretty unique corner. It becomes very wide towards the apex, you can’t actually see the track as it’s over a crest and it’s super wide. The apex itself is very narrow so it creates opportunities for a lot of different lines. Overtaking there is a big opportunity with it being straight after a DRS zone as well. There aren’t many corners that have that sort of width to it. It’s kind of easy to lock-up towards the apex because you go over that crest but as you hit the brakes, you’re on that hill so you can brake very hard because of that. After Turn 1, you go downhill again into those esses and that’s where following becomes a bit tricky so if you’ve got the position, it’s pretty easy to keep it afterwards because of the high-speed corners".
About Formula 1’s growth among American fans, after one year away from the circus:
"It’s exciting coming back to our home race although you could say we have a few home races now, but COTA is a bit special I feel. We’ve got Haas Hill there and I feel it’s one event where we have a bit of extra pressure because I feel like we want to get a good result at our home race".
He is also asked why this circuit is so special:
"I think from the beginning COTA has been pretty special because there were so many people there. I don’t think it was a sold-out event at the beginning but it certainly was last year, so it’s become very visual how Formula 1 has grown in the US. It’s still kind of got that American motorsport feel to it - on the back straight you can see the campers and the big RVs - which is how Americans tend to go to races if you go to IMSA, IndyCar and others. At the same time, all the fans who don’t go camping but go there for the event on Sunday, I think a lot of them are new fans and that’s cool. In Miami it seemed like there was a lot of new fans, with a lot of people coming to the race who I feel probably haven’t seen a race a Formula 1 race on television, and I expect the same with Las Vegas. That’s a part of Formula 1 too now and I think Netflix has really put the sport on the map, and that’s very good".
"It’s back to another home race for the team, at a great track with a great atmosphere. I really enjoy Circuit of the Americas; it has a good flow to it, and it will be interesting to see how the bumps are this year with these new stiffer cars. I think going into this circuit it's maybe less complimentary of our car. But let's wait and see. Obviously, I think it's going to be quite windy as well, which, again, is maybe not too favourable. But I don't want to sound too negative. I think we can do a good job if the cars are strong in FP1, I'm sure we can try and keep that and yeah, let's see. I think [Sargeant]'s obviously been hard at work at the factory getting ready for tomorrow and I think he's there quite a lot actually. He's really there more than I am so he's hard at work. I'm sure he will enjoy it. It's a cool track to come on and obviously it will be a home race for him so it's always nice to drive an F1 car and I'm sure it will be special for him".
Esteban Ocon, after talking about his experience at the Ballon D’Or ceremony in Paris, where he brought the trophy after an exhibition with an old single-seater, is asked about his fight with Hamilton in Suzuka:
"I think it's been a good race for sure. I mean, we had fun with Lewis the whole race. I had a lot of fun fighting with him. And yeah, great to obviously bring some great points for the team. Taking that fourth place back in the Championship is very important for us. And it really showed that we stepped-up, you know, as a team with the performance upgrades that we bring. We have one more, this weekend, upgrade. So yeah, I mean, it's really going in the right direction at the moment, and hopefully we can keep that momentum going".
He is also asked if his car is fit for the COTA:
"No reason why it shouldn't. We just obviously need to be careful, because last year, it hasn't been a good weekend for us. So that's the little thing that we are keeping in our head. You know, we've done a lot of analysis from last year looking at everything. Obviously, that didn't go as planned. But clearly, we have a much faster car now and hopefully it will be a strong weekend again".
Pierre Gasly, who was also present at the Ballon D’Or ceremony, talks about Suzuka, how he likes Austin and the recent AlphaTauri performances:
"As usual, there was a unique atmosphere in Japan, especially on our first visit in three years and going there as a Honda driver was intense, with so much support for all our team and I was amazed at the number of French flags in the crowd. It was all very special. Now we go to Austin, another really cool venue. Last year, there was a big crowd and a great buzz with the popularity of F1 exploding more and more each year in the States. I remember when I was leaving Austin last year that the airport was absolutely full of fans flying home to all over America, there were no passengers that hadn’t been to COTA! The Americans are the kings of entertainment, so the atmosphere is special. I enjoy that and during the winter I spend some time in the USA watching other sports, such as NBA and NFL games. They know how to put on an event, so I am very excited about this weekend. I enjoy the circuit itself: the whole first sector is hyper quick with a real rhythm to it. You need to be very precise with your lines because the way you take one corner then affects how you go through the next one. In general, therefore, it’s a technical track. I want to end this season, my last four races with Scuderia AlphaTauri, on a high note, even if my past record at COTA is nothing special. I’ve had a few DNFs here, last year it was a mechanical problem, so it hasn’t smiled on me much but that’s a good reason to hope for a change this time. The track has always been very bumpy, and I think with this generation of car, it’s going to be very complicated in terms of ride. This year’s cars are very stiff and so it’s going to be a big challenge for everyone, although I understand they resurfaced some sections earlier this year in time for the MotoGP race there, so let’s hope it’s an improvement".
"It’s been a great year for us, I’m nice and relaxed at the moment. It’s been completely different circumstances, the cars are completely different, we had to learn a lot from last season, we have a really good group of people and probably the car was even more competitive than last year. Once I crossed the finish line at Suzuka, I was sure that I would not have been the champion, but we didn’t know the exact rules, it was just because of Charles’s penalty that we won".
About the budget cap controversy:
"It’s something between the team and the FIA, they have to sort it out, I’m just focused on driving".
Charles Leclerc expresses his feelings towards the circuit:
"I think the Austin trip is one of the nicest of the season because of the atmosphere and the enthusiasm of the home crowd. Also, the track has plenty of variety and is really beautiful, so we are really happy to be racing here. We have seen there is still work to do, because in some conditions our car has shown it has some shortcomings. I think we must make the most of this last part of the season to arrive at the start of the next one better prepared. Of course, I’d like to finish the year in style and we hope that can start here".
Daniel Ricciardo, who showed up at Austin by horse, is obviously excited about racing in the USA:
"Austin let's go! The US GP is one of my absolute favourite races of the year. The extra energy I get from the atmosphere is immeasurable and I love everything about it. From the crowd to the food and music, it's like nothing else. I can't wait to get on track. I'm looking forward to the last four races of the season and trying everything to maximise the results to keep us in the fight for fourth in the championship".
George Russell, despite Mercedes’s negative season, sees the bright side:
"Everybody’s working hard at the moment to bring stuff forward, to almost try and test ahead of next season, I think we’re now in a position where the season has passed us and the world championship is out of reach a long time ago, but we’ve tried to use these last remaining races as a chance to test some things and make sure that we’ve got all the information for the team back at the factory to work as hard as they can over the winter, to give us a fighter for the next season. This season has still been the best of my career, seven podiums, a lot of good races, and I think you’ve got to take the positives from a difficult situation, but on the performance side we’re not where we wanted to be, but you can’t just sit there, sulk and be upset with everything. As a team, we did a great job of reliability from the PU side and from the car side, there are a lot of positives to take away from the season, the one we’re missing is obviously a better lap time".
Fernando Alonso, just like the majority of the other drivers, expresses his appreciation for the COTA:
"It’s a good circuit to go racing on. It usually provides exciting racing and there are overtaking opportunities. I have always enjoyed coming to America for motorsports. This season we’ve already had one race in Miami there and next year there will be three Grands Prix. The circuit in Austin has a good mixture of straights and corners and it has a lot of undulations and sweeping corners. Sector 1 is especially fun but also a real challenge. The fans have really fallen in love with the sport and we are guaranteed a great atmosphere with full grandstands".
"Looking back to Suzuka, I really enjoyed the overall experience of racing in my home country. It had been a dream of mine to race in F1 in Japan and the first lap in FP1 was especially emotional, but after that I reset myself and went back to normal mentality, although I felt a lot more energy, adrenalin and excitement. It was a shame I couldn’t score a point in the end. After the race, I was able to spend a few more days in Japan which was nice. Now we have Austin, which went quite well for me last year, as I made it into Q3 and then finished ninth. Actually, in some ways the track is quite similar to Suzuka, especially the part after the first turn, which is a bit like the esses section. I will take my usual approach of building up the pace gradually through the race week. Hopefully we will have the Pirelli tyre test in FP2 that we were not able to run in the rain in Suzuka and that’s useful as it means we get an extra 30 minutes of track time to prepare. I plan to make the most of that, aim for Q3 on Saturday and points on Sunday. The track is quite bumpy and if I remember correctly from last year, especially so in Sector 1 so it will be interesting to see how these new cars will behave there, even if I believe they have resurfaced some sections. Changing the car set-up to make it better over the bumps is not the way you want to go for performance, especially in the high-speed corners, so we will need to find something in between. Hopefully, we can do that and get our car to suit this track well. There's a nice atmosphere at the circuit and, overall, it should be an enjoyable weekend".
Zhou Guanyou opens up about his bad day in Japan and Alfa Romeo’s upgrades:
"I am looking forward to being in Austin, as it will be once again a new track for me to discover. It was unfortunate not being able to score any points in Suzuka, but at least we saw it can still be close in the midfield, especially since the pace we showed was promising. I spent a couple of days back at our base in Hinwil last week, preparing the upcoming races in the sim, and I am eager to get back in the car. We are also due to have some more upgrades here, and we hope the weather conditions will allow us to make the most of them. As always, in such a tight midfield, qualifying well on Saturday will be important: we have all the chances to have a close fight in the midfield and go back to adding points to our tally".
Sebastian Vettel remembers a special day in his career and shares his predictions about the race:
"I made my Formula One debut at the US Grand Prix, at Indianapolis, 15 years ago. It is always a great feeling to return - especially to such an exciting track, with lots of really challenging sectors. As ever, it is tough to predict exactly where we will be in the midfield battle, but recent races have shown we can regularly challenge for points positions, so I feel confident. We want to carry our positive momentum all the way to the end of the season".
Mick Schumacher is asked if he is excited about the weekend at Austin, in the home race for Haas:
"I went to Dallas. It’s no secret that I really love going to the States for so many reasons and definitely having the ranch there is a big perk. We’ve been driving on the Can-Am’s, having fun, disconnecting a bit and spending some time with my sister and the horses. I’m definitely looking forward to the race, I’m pumped for it. We have a lot of cool things coming up this week, so I’m ready to get stuck in. This season feels like a completely different experience compared to last year. It was my rookie season so I spent a lot of time getting used to procedures and learning the car. We knew going into it that we wouldn’t be fighting for points, and it would be a challenge, but throughout it all the team maintained their professionalism and never gave up. This season it feels like there’s a buzz around the team and we’re on the up. Every person at Haas has worked so hard to get us back up there, so it’s an honor to represent the team, especially when coming to COTA".
"Austin is a track we expect to work pretty well for our car. We know that recently things have been difficult and usually we’ve been struck by an unlucky race, or weekend in general. Hopefully we’ll be able to turn it around at our home race and as we have some nice stuff coming up, that will hopefully bring us luck. I’m excited about hopefully scoring points in the States".
About the importance of COTA in the current F1:
"COTA has been a part of Formula 1 for quite some time now and it’s great to see it returning next year, as well with its companions in Miami and Las Vegas. I’m looking forward to them and to experience Las Vegas - I haven’t been there up until now. It will be interesting to see the Elvis priest and the casinos, I’m very excited about it".
Nicholas Latifi, who may join his last race in the USA in Formula 1, cannot wait to run around COTA:
"I’m super excited to be heading back to Austin. It was one of the more enjoyable races last year and this will be only my second visit there as a F1 driver. In a way it's the team's second home race. The atmosphere in Austin is always great. The track is enjoyable and hopefully a bit smoother this year after repaving it as it has been bumpy in the past. I'll be sitting out of FP1 for the first time, so I'll be taking a slightly different approach to the weekend just trying to get up to speed in FP2. Nonetheless I'm hoping to make the most of it and have another strong weekend".
Also team managers have a lot to say about the US race. Andreas Seidl, McLaren’s team manager, has his say about the circuit and the expectation in this last phase of the season:
"The United States Grand Prix is a favourite for many of the team, so we're all looking forward to the weekend at COTA. The fans are brilliant and really add to the exciting atmosphere in Austin. The track itself has some interesting features such as elevation changes and wide turns with multiple overtake lines, so it will be important to balance the set up between some of the slower corners and the speed needed for the straights. We also look forward to giving Alex Palou an outing in the MCL36. It will be helpful for the team to get his feedback and support with setting up the car before Daniel is back in for FP2. With just four races to go, we need to keep our heads down and push as hard as we can to get fourth back in the Constructors' Championship".
Gunther Steiner, Haas’s team manager, is also excited for the home race, and analyses how Austin is so appreciated by fans and drivers:
"When the US Grand Prix in Austin was first held, it was something completely new. Formula 1 hadn’t been in the States for a long time and there were a lot of naysayers saying it wouldn’t work. Thanks to Bobby Epstein, who kept on pushing, as it’s now a fan favorite after 10 years. Formula 1 without Austin is difficult to think about - Austin has become a classic. It has brought a lot to the fans as they can go to a great event, this season with 400.000 expected spectators and for the rest of the world, it’s great racing in the States. It’s a mix of both [pressure and celebration]. First of all, it’s a lot of work because there’s lot of things going on, a lot of events but it’s all good things going on and good work. Especially for our team, being our home race, it’s always great and everybody loves coming to Austin. There’s nothing negative about Austin, it’s all positive. Hopefully we can get a good result as well".
"You have to get used to it and how I deal with it, I try to give back to the fans as much as I can. It’s not always possible because there is a lot of attention now, but I respect the fans a lot. Without the fans we wouldn’t be anybody. I enjoy interacting with the fans and I try to do my best".
"I would say COTA is for hardcore fans - they’ve been here now for 10 years and everybody loves to go there, it’s a great race track, great event and a great city. Miami is Miami, we had a lot of people this year, more than a lot, and it’s another great event but it was completely different, it was like a big festival. I don’t know what Las Vegas will be but it will be big as well. We always have to think that the US is a big country and to have three races, it’s still not enough, I believe. There is something for everybody and I think each event has something in particular about it. Two of them have done a good job and I’m sure Las Vegas will do a good job as well".
Mercedes’s boss Toto Wolff asks for an improvement after the last two disappointing races:
"The double-header in Singapore and Japan was a frustrating one for the team, as we didn't put ourselves in the clean air we needed to maximise the race pace of the car. We want to end this season strongly and the results of the last two races only make us more determined to do so. We need to use the limited track time available to make strides forward for this season and generate as much learning as we can in the development race for 2023 - those two aims are one and the same. Our final update package of the year will be brought to Austin. It won't drastically change our fortunes but we're hopeful it will bring us a step forward and closer to the front runners. Austin is a great city that we all love visiting. The Circuit of the Americas is a challenging track that often produces great racing, so we're excited to be back this year and hopefully put on a great show for the fans".
Alfa Romeo’s team manager Fréderic Vasseur declares his goals and expectation for his team:
"The race in Austin, as well as the one in Mexico City next week, gives us an opportunity to race in what should be more regular circumstances. There’s no denying we expected more from the races in Asia, especially from Japan as we were bringing some upgrades, but the conditions were such that we were not able to express our full potential. Still, our cars proved to be quick in the dry, and that’s the positive we brought back with us and on which we plan to build. Both Valtteri and Zhou spent time in the factory last week, working in the sim and preparing for the races ahead. As always, our goal is to get back in the points, to strengthen our position in the Constructors’ Championship and to finish the season on a high. We must be at the top of our performances from Friday on, to bring home results on Sunday. Finally, I would also like to congratulate the United States Grand Prix on reaching their tenth edition this year: it’s been ten years of action-packed, breath-taking racing, and I’m sure we will all do our best to celebrate this achievement on track".
Dave Robson, Williams’s Head of Vehicle Performance, talks about the current state of the car and Sargeant’s debut.
"As we start to head towards the end of the 2022 season, the car is essentially unchanged from Japan and our job is to maximise the options around us to best suit the demands of COTA. Although there are some similarities to Suzuka, the overall demands of the circuit are different, and we’ll need to make some changes to the car to suit both the track layout and the softer tyre compounds that Pirelli have made available this weekend. Logan Sargeant joins us on track for the first time this year having previously driven the FW43 at last year’s post-season test. He will drive Nicholas’s car in FP1 and will complete the usual engineering programme on that car. With this weekend having another extended FP2 session during which all teams will test candidate 2023 tyres for Pirelli, Logan’s input during FP1 will be vital to our progress. Although Nicholas will get a short amount of time to refamiliarize himself with the track before he starts the FP2 Pirelli programme, he will miss out on a lot of normal Friday running. However, he comes into this weekend off the back of a strong performance in Suzuka, and he will be able to use that momentum to get himself into a good position by qualifying. We know from previous experience of coming to Austin that the weather at this time of year can be very variable, but the forecast for this weekend is for hot and sunny conditions throughout, which will mean that tyre management will be key on Sunday".
Ottmar Sznafauzer, Alpine’s team manager, shares the latest updates about his car:
"It’s always great when we race in the United States - home turf for me - especially in Austin, which is a favourite among many of us in Formula 1. It’s a very demanding racetrack that usually brings some good racing with a fast first sector, the long, back straight and some slow-speed corners towards the end, which has some opportunities for overtaking. We brought a new floor to the car for Singapore and Japan and that worked as expected. We especially saw the improvements at Suzuka, which is a more conventional circuit than Marina Bay, and we were satisfied with how it performed and that bodes well for futures races. For Austin, we are bringing a small modification to the outer section of the latest floor, which is our final update of the year".
"To be making my FP1 debut at COTA in my home country is special moment for me. I’d like to thank Williams and Dorilton Motor Sports for this opportunity and the support they’ve given me since I joined the Academy this time last year in Austin. I’ve been spending a lot of time in the simulator at Grove and shadowing the team at previous race weekends to help with my preparations for FP1. It’ll be interesting to see how the new generation of cars compare to the what I previously drove at the Young Driver Test last year. I’m excited to jump in the car and make the most of the session".
Friday at the COTA circuit opens with many novelties. On track for the first free practice session there are in fact four rookies and a familiar face left out of the F1 2022 world championship. The new regulations stipulate that, in at least two first free practice sessions, the teams must let the young drivers try out. In America it is therefore the turn of Robert Shwartzman, in Leclerc's Ferrari; then Logan Sargeant in the Williams; Alex Palou in place of Ricciardo; Theo Pourchaire in Bottas' Alfa Romeo and finally Antonio Giovinazzi in the Haas left by Magnussen. For the Italian driver, the session unfortunately did not last long. Seven minutes after the green light that kicked off the weekend's activities, Giovinazzi's Haas slams into the barriers at Turn 6; the consequence of the collision is an inevitable red flag, albeit a brief one. Giovinazzi manages to get the Haas back to the pits, but clutch damage forces him to leave the track early. The Italian driver comments on his few minutes on the track:
"I wasn’t pushing but there were lots of gusts of wind and unfortunately I lost the rear, which got stuck in the barriers, and the session was over. It was only my second push lap in the session, my first with DRS, so apologies to the team. It’s racing and sometimes these things happen".
Haas' Team Principal Guenther Steiner, regarding Giovinazzi's session, adds:
"FP1 was a little bit troublesome with Antonio hitting the barriers in his first laps. We think he got caught out by some wind from the back, and then we only had one car driving out there".
The fastest in FP1 in Texas is Carlos Sainz. The Spanish driver puts his Ferrari ahead of everyone with a time of 1'36"857, beating two-time world champion Max Verstappen by 0.224s. Third, not far behind his 2021 season rival, is Lewis Hamilton. Indeed, the first free practice session at COTA shows a W13 more at ease with the track. In fourth place is an excellent Lance Stroll, leaving behind the other Red Bull, that of Sergio Perez, who on Sunday will have to serve a grid penalty for an engine change. Behind the top five FP1 finishers are, in order of finish, Fernando Alonso, George Russell, Pierre Gasly, Lando Norris and Sebastian Vettel, who rounds out the top 10. The four rookies, on the other hand, are at the bottom of the standings, with Robert Shwartzaman in P16, follows by Alex Palou, Theo Pourchaire and home driver Logan Sargeant. The latter comments on his F1 experience as follows:
"The main goal coming into today was to learn as much as possible and I feel like I did pick up on a lot. It was very different to what I honestly expected but in a good way. The way that the car reacts compared to what I’m used to in Formula 2 is massively different. Super reactive in the high-speed and so good on the brakes. A lot of potential to still pick up on and improve on, but I think it was a good start and happy with how it went. A massive thank you to Williams and Dorilton Motor Sports for their support and the opportunity today".
"We were finally able to get the first part of the 2023 testing program completed following the wet weather that cancelled the planned session in Japan. The work we did in FP2 here will allow us to analyze valuable data collected on the harder compounds, just as next weekend’s FP2 session in Mexico City will give us some useful information on the softer compounds. It was an important day, where a different style of FP1 and FP2 will put the emphasis on FP3 tomorrow to help formulate the best strategy for the race. The windy conditions and bumpy surface also underlined today how the Circuit of the Americas remains one of the most interesting circuits for drivers and engineers".
The final classification of the free practice session is indeed peculiar. Behind Charles Leclerc there are Valtteri Bottas and Daniel Ricciardo, followed by the other Ferrari of Carlos Sainz and Mick Schumacher who closes the top 5. The Spanish of the Maranello's team thus wins the best time among the drivers who worked with the 2023 tyres. After a first session pass with more difficulty than his teammate, George Russell does not go beyond thirteenth place in FP2. The young British rider is nevertheless satisfied with his work:
"Definitely a unique FP2 session with the tyre test, but good to learn and understand what tyres we will get for next year. Everyone was on slightly different compounds so let's see what we can take away from it in terms of our learning. The upgrades we've brought to the car felt okay so far. FP1 was an odd session today, with some teams looking unexpectedly fast and some other teams that weren't as quick as we expected them to be. With the different FP2 format we don't know yet, what the packing order will be but so far our car is feeling quite strong, which is promising. I'd like to hope that we will be ahead of the midfield this weekend. We're going to work as hard as possible overnight and trying to make sure we will have a fast car".
Carlos Sainz, who showed a very good feeling with both the car and the track, comments on the different Friday in America:
"It was a different Friday here in Austin. In FP1 we managed to complete our program, but FP2 was dedicated to the Pirelli test, so it was one and a half hours of trying next year’s tyres without changing the se- up of the car. This also means tomorrow’s FP3 will be even more important than usual ahead of qualifying. However, overall we have been relatively competitive today so we are confident going into tomorrow".
His teammate Charles Leclerc, with only one session played, says:
"This was probably the busiest FP2 I’ve done so far, but it was fun. We completed a lot of laps, which is good because I didn’t drive in FP1, and tested the prototype tyres for next year. It was a positive day overall, the feeling in the car was good from the start and I look forward to seeing what we can do tomorrow".
"FP1 I think was quite good, we tried a few things with the car and it was pretty positive. We did as much as we could in FP1 as we knew we had to test the tyres in FP2. I tested the C1 tyre which probably isn’t the best for this track, it was difficult to get a proper grip on it but at least we completed the program. Looking ahead to tomorrow, I think the long run is still questionable as we didn’t get the chance to do that in FP2. I did a track walk yesterday to see the bumps as they resurfaced parts of the track, also good for me to walk off the steaks I’ve been eating".
The claims make by the Dutch driver are also confirmed by the feelings of Sergio Perez, tenth at the end of FP2:
"We got good information during FP1 so, hopefully tomorrow after not being able to gain as much in FP2 due to the tyre test, we will be able to get everything right and have a decent qualifying session. Given that we have taken an engine penalty we need a good quali to be able to start as far forward as possible. I believe we can go well around this circuit and have a strong pace through the weekend. I think we need to work a little on the high-speed versus the low-speed balance, we need to improve that to help degradation and everything will come together".
It is Saturday and at 2:00 p.m. local time it is time for FP3 at the USA Grand Prix. During the first two sessions, we saw a dominant Red Bull, ahead of Ferrari and Mercedes. At the start of FP3 is awaited the FIA official statement about the new power units and the penalties on the starting grid. The session starts and Ferrari choses to go on track with different strategies: Leclerc is on soft tyres and Sainz on mediums. The Monegasque is the fastest in the first lap, with a time of 1'37"471. ahead of the two Red Bulls, while Sainz is fourth for the moment. Meanwhile, Mick Schumacher’s Haas presents technical issues, going very slow on the straightline. Carlos Sainz is now at two tenths from his teammate, while Max Verstappen gains the lead in 1'36"706. Charles Leclerc improves with 1'36"765. and goes back to the boxes together with Sainz and the two Red Bulls. Very well for the Mercedes in their first attempt on softs. Carlos Sainz is on track again and places himself second; then, he increases the pace and does 1'42"2., while Verstappen goes back to the boxes. Long-run practice starts for Ferrari and Red Bull with Sainz and Verstappen: the Spaniard does 1'42"5. on meidums, while the Dutch 1'43"0. on softs. Sergio Perez start to dictate the pace in 1'36"578. on used softs, while Verstappen goes wide at Turn 1 so has to do another attempt. Bottas on new softs gains the seventh place, with 7 tenths of detachment from the best time of Perez with the Red Bull. A quarter to the end of the session and Charles Leclerc and Max Verstappen are again on track with new softs for the last qualifying simulation. Good first sector and two bad mistakes for Lewis Hamilton, who despite all runs a good lap. Russell improves and is now sixth with a time of 1'37"064., less than half of a second behine the leader Perez. Sainz runs in 1'43"1. after 6 following laps on mediums. The best time is now that of Verstappen (1'36"223.) who is now ahead of Leclerc, who still need to do better. The Monegasque manages to improve with 1'36"145., but Max Verstappen flies with his Red Bull in 1'35"825. also thanks to a good wake in the straightline between Turns 11 and 12. Sebastian Vettel takes his Aston Martin at the command midfield, in seventh position. So, Verstappen is now the favourite on track, thanks also to Leclerc’s penalty, as the Monegasque has a 10-positions penalty for having changed the endothermic engine and the turbo. Before qualifying, at the FIA Saturday press conference, the Williams’ team representative Jost Capito, McLaren’s Zak Brown and Red Bull’s Christian Horner release some declarations about the budget cup and other aspects of the Championship. Christian Horner speaks about the latest news about the budget cap affair:
"The latest on that is that we are in a process with the FIA. We're hoping to get closure on that. And at that point in time, then all the facts will be laid on the table and we'll be able to talk very openly about the cap, and why we feel that our relevant costs are fully in-line. We're in the process, we're working with the FIA . They’re diligently trying to do their job and hopefully, in the near future, will have a resolution".
"Well, it's a new process. I mean, what you have to remember, with these regulations, is that they were introduced, obviously, at a level where the $175 million, it was then reduced by $30 million during the pandemic, it's a complicated set of regulations. It's 52 pages. And of course we've been through that process and 2021 was the first ever year of a set of very complicated financial regulations, which of course, have a varying… interpretations to them from different accounting specialists. So obviously, the findings of the FIA have been made public recently. And we're now in a voluntary process with the FIA, going through that process with them. And I hope you will be able to conclude it in the near future. But that's where we currently are".
Also Zak Brown explains his thoughts on the budget cap and on Horner’s words:
"Well, I think the budget cap is very important for the future of the sport. I think everybody recognises that and that's why it was put in place. It is complicated, it is new, I think none of us know any details. So, I think we need to wait for the FIA and Red Bull to finish up the process that they're in. And I think just even like on the Super Licence, it was a shame not to get Colton Herta into the sport. I think he too would have been an excellent addition to the grid. And I think with this being a new process, what we need to do is come out of the backside of this, and learn from it and see what we need to do - as we need to do with other regulations - modify them from time-to-time. I think we all have opinions but we need to kind of see it through and then - as the teams, the FIA and Formula 1 do - sit around a table and say this probably isn't perfect. I don't think anyone thought it would be perfect. And then go: ‘What should we do to modify it moving forward?’ But fundamentally, the cost cap is a very important part of Formula 1’s future".
Last week, Brown wrote a letter outlining his thoughts on any budget cap breaches. About that action, he says:
"Because all the teams have opinions, and some speak about it vocally, others don't necessarily always bring forward some specific views. So, I thought it was important from a transparency standpoint, we all sit around the table, there's a lot of times we discuss things openly and then there's a lot of back-channelling, and I thought I would just lay it out there – not knowing the facts of the case. So, it was more of a response of ‘if these types of things have happened’. It's not for McLaren to decide they have or haven't, but to put forward now that we understand the ramifications if you go over, what some of those benefits can be and how we should address them. So, it's the same conversation, I think, we would have had when we came up with the cap, we just never really spoke about what would be some of the potential consequences and, like all the teams do, suggest to the FIA some solutions for them to take onboard – but ultimately for them to decide".
Horner talks again about being in the process:
"Well, I think that, as Zak said, it's a process, it’s a new process. We made an interim submission in 2021. There was no feedback or suggestion that we were doing anything that was contrary to any regulations. And then, of course, the submission was made in March. Again, we didn't hear anything from that submission in March until the latter part of September. So, it's a significant period of time that there was… and, of course, there’s also duty within the regulations for the FIA to guide, to have effective compliance".
"No. Look, absolutely not. I mean, what you got to look at is what are the relevant costs? And what are the relevant costs within the cap and what's outside of the cap? And that's where the interpretation comes from. And our view is that our relevant costs are within the cap. Now, obviously, we are in discussion with the FIA about what those costs are, and what are mitigating potential circumstances, you know, etcetera. So, we had zero benefit from a development perspective or an operational perspective, either for 2021 or for 2022 from the way that we operated it within the cap. Our submission was significantly below the cap. We expected certain things to be potentially challenged or clarified, as is the process in a brand new set of regulations, but based on external, professional accounting third parties, the interpretation of those rules, of a 52-page document to police this, were very clear from our side. So, we absolutely and categorically don't feel that we've had any advantage either in 2021, or 2022, or ’23 or ’24 or some team’s even talked about ’26, is totally fictitious".
Horner is then asked to tell his thoughts about Brown’s letter:
"Well, obviously, Zak’s letter - which wasn't copied to us, obviously - we've had sight of that letter, and it's tremendously disappointing. For a fellow competitor to be accusing you of cheating, to accuse you of fraudulent activity, is shocking. It’s absolutely shocking that another competitor, without the facts, without any knowledge of the details, can be making that kind of accusation. And that goes… you know, we've been on trial because of public accusations since Singapore. And the rhetoric of cheats, the rhetoric of… that we've had this enormous benefit, that the numbers have been put out in the media that are miles out of reality, and the damage that does to the brand, to our partners, to our drivers, to our workforce, in an age where mental health is prevalent, we're seeing significant issues now, within our workforce. We’re getting kids that are being bullied in playgrounds that are employee’s children. That is not right, through fictitious allegations from other teams. And you cannot go around just making that kind of allegation without any fact, or substance. So, we absolutely are appalled at the behaviour of some of our competitors".
Zak Brown continues:
"Look, my letter set out that I think if someone - a team - spends more than the cap, they're going to get an advantage. And the cap is a rule, no different than the technical rules in the sport. We're not taking a view whether they did or didn't. My letter was: if someone has, then here are the things that we think should be addressed. No different than if a ride height is incorrect, or a flexi wing, or whatever the case may be. So I didn't mention any teams. It was a general response. Now that we are into the cost cap era, if someone breaches that, here's what we think some of the ramifications are. I have no idea what the number is, I know none of the details. If we had more money to spend, that would put us in a better light and performance, more people, more upgrades, whatever the case may be. So, we feel it's a performance benefit if someone has spent more than the allocated cost cap, that is up to the FIA to determine whether they have or haven't".
"The process, as per the regulations, is that we've been invited to enter into an ABA, which is for a minor breach, and a procedural breach, that you have the opportunity to discuss with the FIA and present your case, your position on this. And we’re in that process and have been for the last... pretty much, what, 10 days or so? Going backwards and forwards with the FIA. And I hoped for it to be resolved before this weekend. I'm hopeful that it can be resolved during this weekend. But should that not happen, the next process is it goes to the cost cap administration panel and then beyond that there's the International Court of Appeal. So, it could draw it out for another six, nine months, which is not our intention. We want closure on 2021. I think that we've had some healthy and productive discussions with the FIA, and I'm hopeful of being able to reach a conclusion in the near future".
When asked: Has this issue been impacted by amendments that came along after you submitted in March? For example, there's a suggestion that in June there was a change to the way unused spare parts are allocated to heritage departments and so on. So, have the goalposts moved on you? Horner says:
"Yes, in a simple answer to that question. We feel that, again, at such an immature set of regulations, there's going to be clarifications and tidying up, and I think, certainly how unused inventory was treated was, in our view, a change to the regulation. Then perhaps… Certainly we applied a very strict ruling in the way that we treated our new stock. And I think that a clarification came out in June that changed the application of that. That had a seven-digit effect on our submission. But, of course, retrospectively, we were not allowed to change your submission. What you have to remember is that the submission can constitute about 75.000 line items. So, there's an enormous amount of data that has to be inputted into these submissions and I think it's only natural that, in a first year we have a set of very complicated regulations, to be able to get its arms around everything, is almost impossible. Almost impossible. And interpretations have been made, maybe by other teams have been slightly different, and then a change like that has a huge swing in your application of how you've completed your form which, had we been able to resubmit at that point in time, we would have treated very, very differently. So, you know, there's probably several teams that have been affected in that manner".
Journalists then ask to Brown and Capito if this situation has affected their teams too. Capito answers:
"No, it didn't affect us, because we were in line with the regulation after the submission".
"I can only speak to our process with the FIA, which we found to be very collaborative, lots of clarifications, we asked lots of questions, we were right near the limit, which is, you know, one of the reasons why, in this year we've all dealt with the inflation issue. But you adapt your response. I've been managing budgets my entire life in business. So it's nothing that's foreign to me. And no, we found the process to be quite thorough, quite detailed, and very manageable".
Maybe it is the moment that people can conclude that this as a disgrace for the sport or is it too early to say that? And should we remember what Christian said that we hope for a fast solution - for instance, this weekend - but what happens if it takes another five or six, seven months? To these questions, Horner asnwers:
"I think it's in the interest of everybody, in the interest of the sport, in the interest of Formula 1 to get this situation resolved as quickly as possible. And I think there are many lessons that can be learned from it".
"I can't tell you that obviously. It's a confidential discussion between ourselves and the FIA. What I will say is that once, hopefully, this situation is concluded there will be complete transparency and I will talk you through the reasoning behind our submission and the position that we had, as to why we felt that each of the line items that have been challenged we believe there's a contrary position. So yes, and it should be transparent. The whole thing should be transparent. There's going to be no private, you know, secret deal. I think it would all be absolutely above board. This is very different to a previous situation".
Brown is asked if he is satisfied with the way that the FIA are handling this investigation, as they promised openness and clarity, and just being open with everyone. He talks about his feelings:
"Yeah, no, I think we have a lot of trust in the FIA. All we were doing was volunteering our opinion for them to take into consideration. I think it has been a transparent process so far, in that, you know, certificates were going to be issued, then it was delayed, but they communicated it was going to be delayed, they've communicated who's received, who hasn't, who had procedural. And I don't think it's right, that it's, you know… It shouldn't be a public hearing. And I've got a lot of confidence that it will be transparent at the end. So I think we need to let the process play out. And only then can you really take a view on what you think of the process. But I think so far it's gone according to how they laid out what the process would be".
Capito talks about the process:
"I think for us, we can say that we had a very open, very thorough and very constructive discussion with the FIA through the whole submission process, and thereafter, and before, through all of the season. As Christian mentioned before, it's not that you just hand the paper in and that's it. So it was lots of discussion. And this was very constructive with us. I believe that the FIA has handled it the same way with every other team as well. I think now it's the right way to first sort the things out and not go public every single day with something new. I think it has to be thoroughly handled. And I believe the FIA will do that with every team. And then when the time is right, and when they are ready, for sure they will be transparent and go public with what the situation is".
Then he argues about the impacts of this on the investors’ standing:
"The procedural breach we had had nothing to do with Williams Racing. So as you know, there are all kinds of companies that are linked to the owner of the team that have to submit an audit. They have companies all over the world. So one third audit company said a couple of days before that they will not finish that in time. That was contrary to what they said before. So it had absolutely nothing to do with Williams Racing. And it was completely beyond our control. So with that, it has no impact on the investors".
Horner says he wants closure through this whole situation and continues:
"We can't be waiting and being in October, November to find out, you know, the outcome of a previous year's championship and I think the FIA going to put the resource in to deal with that, because I think, what you have to remember is this set of regulations was placed upon the FIA to police and I think it's probably taken them by surprise during the last 18 months, just the scale, particularly with the scale of some of the teams and the complexity of it, to have to have to deal with it. And I think they've done obviously the best they can with the resources that they have, but, you know, obviously, the process, we're assured will be a lot quicker next year or for this year. And of course, you know, there are significant challenges within 2022 that when you look at the amount of crash damage some of the teams are having, some of the update levels that are going on, you know, there are precedents that will be set from 2021 will have to apply and with a consistency in 2022".
"Look, I mean, this year is a challenge with the energy costs and everything else associated with it. If I look at the facts, Max Verstappen has had the least amount of accident damage of any driver on the grid? Sergio Pérez is certainly at the lower end. If I look at the amount of developments compared to some of our rivals we are significantly below that. If I look at the quantity of parts that we're bringing, if I look at where we are in the freight, we're probably the sixth or seventh team that brings in terms of freight volumes to a Grand Prix. So, having been through this process, one can never say that you're fully confident. But you know, I cannot believe when we look at the statutory accounts of others, and so on, that we are in any way out of kilter with the rest of the field".
About the 5% window he declares:
"The 5% window. Again, I think it's part of the regulations that potentially need to be looked at, because the ranging suite of penalties, again, are totally subjective. And I think this is what's contributed to a concerted campaign for there to be a draconian penalty on Red Bull for what... At the end of the day, you know, we're talking probably... What is in contention with the FIA is a couple of hundred thousand dollars. So, and as I say, I will explain later why we have a differing opinion within that submission of, you know, what, what our position was versus another. But what has been just tremendously disappointing through this whole process is that the leakage that happened is that then suddenly we are tried and subjected to what, three weeks of effective abuse. And then to be seeing... I mean, Zak's got a very convenient memory of the letter that he wrote, accusing us of cheating and being fraudulent. You know, it's just not right. It's just not right. And this has to stop".
On this argument, Brown comments:
"Yeah, I think in hindsight, the 5% is way too high. It's something all the teams discussed and agreed upon. So I think that's something coming out of this that we need to look at, because five 5% is, you know, a very substantial amount of money in percentage basis to things like car development, or people to hire, or wherever you may choose to spend the money. So I think that definitely needs to be reviewed".
"Yeah, I've got the same opinion. It has to be clarified. And the 5% is quite a lot of money. But when you look at the past before the cost cap, and compare Williams to the top teams, they were outspending, five to 10 times, not 5%. So now with 5%, the gap is much smaller than it was five to 10 times before. But nevertheless, it has to be sorted still, as we want long-term the same kind of competitiveness. And when I hear comments that now everybody has the same cost cap and has the same budget, that everything is on the same playing level, well, if teams outspend another team by five to 10 times for a couple of years, they’re starting from a completely different level. Then the cost cap makes it very difficult for a team that didn't have the resources before to catch up, because we can't outspend the teams who outspent us the years before, even if we would be in the position to have the money. But nevertheless, it has to be cleared. And you don't have in the technical regulations, either the 5%. But I agree that it's the first time of these regulations, and they had a massive impact on many teams. So for the first year to have a kind of a threshold of 5% it must have made sense. But it has to be more strict and clearer in the future, as the FIA and the teams also get experience with the cost cap regulations. And it's complicated regulations, and they have to be complicated. We do not see that they can be simplified from the 50-plus pages to a five-page regulation. So it needs a lot of work and where I see when we work in the F1 Commission, the team's work very well together to find the solutions with the FIA, and with FOM".
"Apart from Turn 1, it was actually good. I lost three tenths in Turn 1 because of this bump in the middle that the whole weekend we’ve been ok on and managed to not get too jumpy over, but the car took this massive jump for whatever reason. I lost the rear after that bump and three tenths - we were up by one hundredth, so it’s a little bit unfortunate. It’s a new day tomorrow and it’s a track where you can race on and overtake, so if we have the pace we’ll be able to fight back".
Mick Schumacher is sad as he thought he could have done better:
"The pace looked alright and we had a car that would’ve been able to get into Q2 with the potential for Q3, so it’s very unfortunate that we haven’t been able to show that. The spin itself, it’s very windy up there, it’s bumpy and those cars are very much on the edge. It’s unfortunate that it happened in Turn 1 because we don’t know what the potential could’ve been but just in terms of a gut feeling, it was high. I didn’t drive much in FP3, so we’ll look at the data from Kevin to be able to learn and put the car together which hopefully gives us the potential to go forwards and fight for points".
Guenther Steiner, Haas’ Team Principal, thinks the pace was good, but the situation was not ideal:
"Not the performance we expected today out of the car. It looked like we could make it into Q2 at least, but we didn’t. FP3 was a little bit disrupted by the issues on Mick’s car, with the ERS water pump, he got some running in, but it wasn’t ideal. Both drivers didn’t put their second fast lap together and it’s so tight in the midfield - you can either be in Q3 or out in Q1 and we were out in Q1. The long run today from Kevin seemed respectable so hopefully we can fight in the midfield. Starting in P15 and P18 we can still move up, so now we’re getting ready for tomorrow".
Daniel Ricciardo explains his struggles:
"I'm not happy with that quali. We were struggling a lot with the rear and had a few moments through the first sector. We clearly just didn't get on top of it. We need to figure out why as it's not giving me what I want, but tomorrow there will be opportunities to overtake and think we'll hopefully have a bit more to show. We'll look at it overnight and do everything we can for tomorrow's race. We'll see what happens".
"It was a very tricky session with the wind picking up quite a bit from yesterday. I didn’t do the perfect lap on that last lap and got caught out by a few snaps with the wind not helping there. Today was the first representative laps I got on the Quali tyre so it could’ve been a bit better. It’s difficult to say what we can expect tomorrow but the conditions will be tricky for us with the heat and wind. We’ll aim to make the best of it".
Esteban Ocon talks about the tricky conditions on track:
"It’s been a tough day for us today. Going out of Qualifying in Q1 is always a tough one to swallow, especially as we have a competitive car, and we entered this race having qualified in fifth in Japan. The conditions were tricky today and, to be honest, I have not felt at one with the car all weekend. There is definitely work to do to find out exactly what went wrong today but, as always, I’m sure we’ll find those reasons. As for the race, we’ll give it everything to try and get back into the points".
Q2 starts: Albon, Tsunoda and Gasly are the first on track, and after a minute all the other drivers arrive, with Red Bull and Ferrari on used tyres. Leclerc does the best time in 1'35"246 and Verstappen is just 48 thousandths behind, while Sainz is three tenths behind. Good for Russell who is fourth ahead of Perez and Hamilton, while Alonso is one second behind the leader. At the moment the excluded are: Albon, Tsunoda, Stroll, Gasly (author of a lock-up at Turn 1) and Vettel, whose time has been cancelled due to having exceeded the track limits. Verstappen tries a second attempt on new softs while the two Ferraris and Sergio Perez remain at the boxes. At the end of Q2 the eliminated are: Albon, Vettel, Gasly, Zhou and Tsunoda. The Chinese and the Japanese driver have their times cancelled due to the track limits. Hamilton is now in P5 ahead of Perez. Alex Albon is surprised about the performance:
"Today was quite unexpected if I’m honest. It was quite a tricky weekend before qualifying and the wind is really difficult at this circuit, being hard to read. Track limits are always a talking point and one gust and you’re off the track. I was really struggling for rhythm so we made some changes from FP3 to qualifying which initially didn’t feel like they were helping too much but as the session went on, we just picked up improvements, got on top of the tyres and put everything together. I’m very happy with the day so looking forward to tomorrow".
Dave Robson, Williams’ Head of Vehicle Performance, says the drivers did what they could, but the conditions were tricky:
"The conditions were tricky today, but we got pretty much everything out of the car in qualifying. We were able to do a few more tests in FP3 to build on what we did yesterday, and this helped to refine the setup for today’s difficult conditions. Alex and Nicholas were effectively in a private shootout at the end of Q1 with Nicholas looking very strong in the first two sectors but then losing some time in the final corners. This meant that Alex just made it to Q2. The extra couple of runs in Q2 gave him the chance to push the car harder and he was able to go from strength to strength. His final lap was exceptional, helped by some very good work from the engineers and strategists to get him into a good position on track with his brakes and tyres in a good window. It was a shame to miss out on Q3 by 30ms or so, but nonetheless, P11 is a better result than we had anticipated this morning. There are some grid penalties to be applied before we start the race tomorrow and so Alex will start inside the top 10. Although we achieved a strong result today, we know that tomorrow will be tricky and will require another big effort from everyone if we are to stay in the top 10".
Zhou Guanyu is sad about his lap deleted:
"I had to give everything during the whole qualifying session, especially having missed out on FP3 because of technical issues, and I was happy to get into Q2. I think we had a good chance today, we had amazing pace, and I am gutted about having the lap that would have got me into Q3 deleted. It hurts because, looking at the replay, it feels I was out by just one or two millimetres. It’s one lesson to learn, but there are still quite a few positives from this session as we managed to get through to Q3 with Valtteri, and we showed strong performances with these new upgrades. I am looking forward to tomorrow, even though we will start from the back: I think it’s possible to overtake here, so hopefully we can have a good race and bring both cars into the points".
Sebastian Vettel is very disappointed:
"There was more speed in the car today, so I am disappointed with my final qualifying result. I was not happy with my lap in Q2 and I was struggling to find confidence with the rear. Sector one was quite tricky today with the tailwind, but I lost time straight away when the rear end snapped turning into Turn Three, so I lost quite a lot of time in that whole sequence. The rest of the lap was alright, but I was playing catch-up. Small margins made the difference today and that is why I missed out on Q3".
Pierre Gasly is frustrated as he had the potential to get into Q3:
"I’d felt happy in the car up until Quali, we’d done a good job in the practice sessions and been in the top 10, there was definitely potential to make it to Q3 today, so that’s why I’m frustrated. I struggled with the brakes and just couldn’t get the temperature into them, so it’s a real shame. Looking to tomorrow, I don’t see why we can’t fight for the points, we will need to capitalise on every opportunity, and I am confident that we can make up ground tomorrow".
Yuki Tsunoda is of the same mind:
"I’m frustrated with our performance in Quali today. Of course, I exceeded track limits on my last lap, but I don’t think it made that much of a difference, we didn’t have the pace to get through to Q3. We’ll go away tonight and see what more we can extract from the car. I’ll push as much as possible in the race to try and aim for a points finish".
Jody Egginton, AlphaTauri’s Technical Director, concludes:
"The setup changes we made overnight were not excessive, as the Friday balance was ballpark and FP3 car balance was pretty much as expected with no major issues. This meant our changes ahead of Qualifying were limited to the normal fine tuning of tools and some minor aero related optimisation. Going into Qualifying, we expected that there would be a very tight midfield battle to fight for a Q3 place, and indeed this is what we saw. We navigated Q1 without any fuss whilst Q2 was less straight forward, as Pierre struggled with his front brakes and Yuki reported that his car balance was a bit too much toward understeer on his last set. He then also exceeded track limits at Turn 9, although this in itself did not prevent him making the cut for Q3. Overall, I feel we have maybe not extracted the most from our package in Qualifying and we will go through the data to understand why and what we could have done better. Our focus now shifts to the race, with the objective being to get our cars moving forward into points scoring positions".
Green light and the first run’s order is: Bottas, Russell, Norris, Alonso, Verstappen, Leclerc, Perez, Sainz, Hamilton. Great time by Leclerc who is in the lead with 1'34"624 with Sainz immediately behind. Third is Hamilton with three tenths of detachment, while Verstappen is fourth as he found traffic in the first sector, with Russell slow after a little mistake. Then, there are Perez, Russell, Stroll, Alonso, Norris and Bottas. Carlos Sainz takes his third pole of the season in 1'34"356. Carlos Sainz Jr. takes his third career pole position, all of them prerogatives in this championship, after first-place starts in the British Grand Prix, where he later won his first career race, and Belgium, where he inherited pole position thanks to a Verstappen penalty. Among the drivers participating in the world championship, the Spaniard, seeking a top-five finish overall at the Circuit of the Americas, gets the same number of pole positions as Ricciardo. For Ferrari, it is the twelfth pole start of the season, the two hundred and forty-second in its history, and the first since the Singapore Grand Prix with Leclerc. The Maranello-based team, on its eighth pole position overall in the U.S. Grand Prix, its first on the Circuit of the Americas since its debut on the Formula One World Championship calendar in the 2012 season, and thus on the 51st different circuit in the history of the world championship, equals the record number of first-place starts achieved in a single championship in the 2004 season with Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello. Verstappen gets the third best time, but starts second thanks to a penalty given to Leclerc. Those who started in this position have always led the first lap of the race in four of the last six editions. Hamilton, with the fifth fastest time overall, starts third in light of Leclerc's penalty, equaling the best starting position of the season in the Singapore Grand Prix. With Russell, the sixth fastest, but starting in fourth position thanks to the Monegasque's penalty, it is the first time in the championship that both Mercedes cars are in the top four starting positions. Stroll is seventh, but finds himself starting in fifth position, again thanks to Leclerc's penalty. For the Aston Martin it is the best grid start from the same fifth position as teammate Vettel in the 2021 Belgian Grand Prix. Stroll gains access to Q3 for the third time this season, for the second time in a Grand Prix held on American soil, after the one in Canada.
Leclerc, the second-fastest but 12th fastest due to a penalty, has never won a race by starting beyond the front row and has never finished lower than seventh on the grid. Pérez, fourth fastest but ninth because of the penalty, has won three career podiums by starting outside the top eight on the grid, all of which came with the former stable named Sauber in 2012. Norris, eighth, but sixth on the grid thanks to Leclerc's penalty, qualified for Q3 only because of the lap cancelled to Zhou at the end of Q2, while Albon, 11th, but starting eighth thanks to other penalties handed out to other drivers, did not enter Q3 by 0"027. Only once in the last 11 races has Vettel, 12th but starting 10th due to other penalties, reached the final stage of qualifying, in the previous Japanese Grand Prix. Zhou's final time set in Q2 was cancelled by race management for exceeding track limits, otherwise it would have been the first time this season that two Alfa Romeo cars would have been in the top 10. Both Haas cars are eliminated in Q1 for the fourth time this season, as in the British Grand Prix, where they then both finished in the points. Ricciardo is eliminated in Q1 for the third time in the last five races, while Ocon, fifth in the previous Japanese Grand Prix, is eliminated in the same stage. Schumacher is eliminated in Q1 for only the second time in the last seven races. Latifi is the slowest driver in qualifying for the third consecutive Grand Prix after Singapore and Japan. Leclerc is automatically awarded the FIA Pole Trophy for the second time in his career after the 2019 season, when there are three Grands Prix to go, for the highest number of pole positions taken during the championship, nine up to this round. The Monegasque becomes the first non-world champion driver to win the accolade twice, as well as the first driver other than Hamilton, with five triumphs, to win at least two editions. At the end of qualifying, Scuderia AlphaTauri is fined 1.000 euros by the FIA because - during practice - Yuki Tsunoda exceeded the speed limit set in the pit lane. During qualifying, five times are cancelled by the stewards to drivers for not respecting the track limits. The times are those of Zhou Guanyu (twice, both at Turn 12), Lewis Hamilton once (at Turn 19), Sebastian Vettel (at Turn 9) and Yuki Tsunoda (at Turn 9). With a great lap in the second run which puts him in the condition to aim for the victory on Sunday:
"Qualifying went well right from Q1. I was feeling comfortable in the car and building the speed lap after lap until the last attempt in Q3. The wind was tricky today, so every lap was a bit different, but this made it an exciting qualifying as it always is here in Austin. Tomorrow we’ll give our absolute best in the race to convert this pole into a win, although we can expect a good battle with our rivals. Despite taking pole, I naturally feel sad after learning of the passing of Dietrich Mateschitz. He was an exceptional man to whom the world of sports owes a lot and he will be dearly missed. My deepest condolences to his family and friends and to the entire Red Bull family".
Second is Charles Leclerc, just 0.065 seconds behind the leader, but tomorrow he will start from P12 due to his penalty:
"A tricky qualifying with quite a bit of wind today. I won't be starting the race in P2 due to the penalty we have received, so my target for tomorrow is to make up as many positions as possible at the start and take any opportunity there is to fight my way to the front. I would like to offer my sincerest condolences to the family and friends of Dietrich Mateschitz. He will be sorely missed as a person and always remembered for his incredible achievements".
Laurent Mekies, Ferrari’s Racing Director, adds:
"The whole team did a great job in what was one of the trickest qualifying sessions of the season. Yesterday we did less preparation work than usual, as we only really had one session to do that, because of the 2023 tyre test. On top of that, as the session got underway, strong winds made life difficult and in this situation Carlos and Charles did a very good job, dialled in to their cars to the extent that in Q2, with both of them being able to go through to Q3 on a scrubbed set of tyres. Carlos put together the perfect lap and this pole is well-deserved after he has come within a few hundreds of being quickest on more than one occasion this year. If it was not for Charles’ penalty, we’d be looking at an all-Ferrari front row. Today’s result is also down to the team, at the track and in Maranello, allowing us to prepare and manage qualifying to perfection. the F1-75 is clearly very competitive here at what is one of the most complete tracks on the calendar, with its fast corners, long straights and slow speed sections, making it a really demanding test of a car. There are many variables that can affect tomorrow’s race, with tyre degradation a factor in addition to the tricky nature of the track. It looks to be a two-stop race and we know from today that the gaps are incredibly small between us and our competitors. We are gearing up for a six-car fight and it will be important for Carlos to get a good start and to manage his tyres well, while Charles will be coming through from the mid-field. Finally, we want to offer our condolences to the Red Bull and AlphaTauri teams for the loss of Dietrich Mateschitz. His passion for racing and indeed all sports will be much missed by everyone".
Verstappen qualifies in 3rd position, which will become 2nd due to Leclerc’s grid penalty:
"It was tough to hear the news ahead of qualifying, the result today doesn’t really matter. What does matter is reflecting on Dietrich and what he did for us as a Team, the whole of Formula One and the wider Red Bull family. Dietrich was always super kind and caring to me. I will forever remember the last visit I had with him a month ago or so, at the time it was very special but it’s definitely more special now. He believed in me from such a young age and many other younger drivers and gave incredible opportunities to so many people. Without him I would not be sitting here today. So, it’s an incredibly tough day".
Sergio Perez follows up on Verstappen’s condolences:
"This is a sad day for the whole Red Bull family, it makes you realise there are much more important things in life. Dietrich’s influence on sport and the way he supported athletes globally truly made a difference to the world. He gave me an opportunity that no one else ever gave me and I will always be grateful to him. It was a very sad moment when we heard the news because we know we are about to become champions and he won’t be here to see us do it. The whole Team is going to be racing for him and his family tomorrow and I really hope we can bring the result he would want from us. We couldn’t find the maximum today with just three sets of tyres but it was a weekend where we knew we had the penalty so we have put the focus on tomorrow and the race, hopefully that pays off. It will be tricky to get up there on this track but we will be trying our best because it would really mean a lot this weekend".
At Mercedes, everyone in the team expresses their opinions and thoughts on today’s difficulties. Lewis Hamilton, who will end up starting third on the grid on Sunday, expresses his disappointment on today’s performance:
"That was a very difficult qualifying session. I felt so optimistic all weekend: the car had been feeling good and everyone back at the factory worked so hard to bring the upgrade, so I was hopeful that we were going to be much closer than we are. Once we got to qualifying, I don't know if it's because temperatures dropped, or the wind picked up, but the car was such a handful suddenly and that made it hard to put the laps together, especially in the final sector. Looking at the race, I think we may be able to keep up with the cars in front - especially through the corners - but they have simply got more baseline pace than us. We are still pushing hard, so it's frustrating not to be closing down that gap to pole, but we will be giving it everything we've got tomorrow".
George Russell also expresses his difficulties and his worries about tomorrow’s race:
"It has been a difficult weekend for me, and I was off the pace in all the other sessions, so I'm pleased to be in a more normal position for qualifying. Six tenths to pole is a smaller gap than usual for us on Saturday, and we did bring some updates here which are working, so I'm excited to see what happens tomorrow. It will be a race of high tyre degradation and a lot of different strategic options in play, and I think the race will be won and lost in the choices we make - we will need to be dynamic in how we react. Ferrari looked strong yesterday and I think we looked reasonable to them and Red Bull on the long runs, so I'm looking forward to seeing what we can do from the second row".
Toto Wolff is more hopeful than the two drivers, but also expresses his sadness and condolences to everyone at RedBull:
"That was a decent session for us. I think we saw that the last update of the season is working well and there was a lap in the car that could have been up to three tenths of a second faster - but this car is still so tricky to drive, and that's how it goes sometimes. But overall, the car is working pretty well and we could have been closer to the pole - so I think we can be part of some fun games up front tomorrow. Today is a sad day, though, with the news of the death of Dietrich Mateschitz. He was one of the most incredible entrepreneurs in the world - he created an energy drinks market that simply didn't exist before him and built one of the best brands in the world. This sport owes him so much, not just for what he created in Spielberg but also for the two teams he owned and developed. We send our deepest condolences to his family and friends".
Andrew Shovlin, trackside engineering director at Mercedes, explains the struggles that the team has been facing:
"We've been struggling a bit in the windier conditions today, no doubt that's affected everyone but there are a few corners that were really well-balanced yesterday that today we couldn't seem to find a setup to compensate for the increased wind strength. The morning session ran without issue and the drivers were just getting used to that increased tailwind through the Esses which was making the car a bit less predictable. Qualifying was a disappointment given that we showed good promise at times, we were just struggling to put the laps together when it counted. We could also have executed the final session better, we'd decided to do a preparation lap on George's first run which knocked on to our final runs causing us to leave a bit late. That meant Lewis was stuck at the back and lost a bit of tyre temperature having to go slowly in the final few corners starting his lap. We will at least inherit a couple of places due to Sergio's and Charles' penalties which puts both cars on the second row. It's unlikely to be a straightforward race, the degradation has been high this weekend so no doubt a fair bit of tyre management will be required. We've also seen that our race pace is almost always better than qualifying so hopefully this will be one where we can stick with the front group and look for the opportunities as the degradation sets in and the first stops come around".
Stroll remains 7th, while Norris ends up 8th ahead of Alonso (who will have a grid penalty) in P9, and the Alfa Romeo of Bottas in P10. Lando Norris expresses his satisfaction with today’s results:
"Super-happy. Especially my Q3 lap, which I was really pleased with. A few people have penalties tomorrow, which will move me up a few places up the starting grid. I think it's going to be tricky to stay in position but I'm happy with today and the job that we all did, now we'll focus on tomorrow".
Andreas Seidl, Team Principal of McLaren, also shares his condolences, and comments on both Ricciardo and Norris’s performances:
"A challenging Saturday afternoon for us and a mixed result at the Circuit of The Americas. It wasn't easy to extract a clean lap in these conditions and unfortunately that meant an early finish for Daniel in Q1. Lando progressed and put in an outstanding Q3 lap to qualify P8 which, with grid penalties for a couple of cars in front of us, means we'll move further up the starting grid. Our full focus is now on race preparation. We're looking forward to an exciting US Grand Prix in front of a circuit filled with fantastic, sensational fans. Finally, we note with great sadness the passing of Dietrich Mateschitz. His impact on Formula 1 across the last four decades is immeasurable. Alongside the great successes of his teams, he contributed hugely to the development and expansion of the sport around the globe and supported many talented young drivers in their path through the junior formulae. He will be sorely missed. Our thoughts are with his family, friends and the Red Bull Racing and AlphaTauri teams this evening".
Fernando Alonso, on the other hand, is not feeling completely satisfied about his results, who will see him 14th on the grid tomorrow:
"It was very tricky with the gusty conditions and the car felt a little more difficult to drive today, especially through the high-speed corners. In the end, I’m still content with the result, as getting into Q3 was our target going into the session. We unfortunately have the grid penalty, and it would have been nicer to start higher than fourteenth. But we’ll have some fun in the race, and I think we can still score decent points with the top ten being the target for us".
Alan Permane, Sporting Director at Alpine, also shares his disappointment over the qualifying results for his team:
"It’s not quite been our day today and we’re certainly disappointed with our Qualifying results. Conditions were very challenging with strong gusts proving difficult for all drivers on track, especially in the high-speed first sector. Unfortunately, Esteban exited in Q1, and he hasn’t quite been at one with his car all weekend, so we have some work to do to identify areas for improvement. Fernando has looked strong in all sessions and he will be frustrated not to have qualified higher - at most seventh place - with the top three teams slightly ahead here. With grid penalties, we start in seventeenth with Esteban and fourteenth with Fernando, which, obviously, is not to our usual standards and we have a lot of work ahead of us if we are to come away with points from tomorrow’s race. That said, there are always possibilities on strategy and we’ll count on both drivers to race well in order to salvage something from this weekend".
Lance Stroll, who will end up starting in 5th place, comments:
"The car felt really good today; we found plenty of grip and the car gave me confidence. It gives us a great starting position for tomorrow. I am really pleased for the team because we have made good progress with the car recently and we are looking stronger on Saturdays. I really enjoyed it out there, even though conditions were tricky with the wind. It looks like we will start from fifth place, with a couple of penalties for the cars ahead, which means we are in the mix to pick up a good result on Sunday".
Mike Krack, Team Principal of Aston Martin, also states:
"The team performed strongly today. Lance achieved a very good seventh-fastest time in Q3, which we believe will translate to a P5 grid slot for tomorrow’s race owing to penalties incurred by [Charles] Leclerc and [Sergio] Perez. Unfortunately, Sebastian failed by a small margin to progress through to Q3. Nonetheless, owing to penalties for drivers who qualified ahead of him, he will start tomorrow’s race from P10. So we are in a strong position to challenge for points. Last but far from least, I would like to take this opportunity, on behalf of everyone at Aston Martin, to offer our sincerest condolences to all at Red Bull, and to the family and friends of Dietrich Mateschitz, on the occasion of the passing of a great man who has done an enormous amount for motorsport over the past quarter-century".
Valtteri Bottas, who manages to qualify in the top10, shares his satisfaction on the car’s progress:
"Getting into the top ten was today’s target, and we hit it. We knew the upgrades we brought for this weekend would give us a boost and it took just a small improvement in performance to bring us back into Q3. Starting in the top ten - I believe it could be in seventh place, once all penalties are applied - is really good and it will help with our objective for tomorrow, which is scoring points. We need to score to help us in the battle for sixth in the championship, which is all-important for us. We are making progress, now we have to focus on our own race, do things properly and get some points home".
Tomorrow’s race, starting at 2:00 p.m. local time, will be of utmost importance for Red Bull, which is extremely close to securing their first Constructors’ Championship title since 2013. Sunday, October 23, it is finally race day. The conditions are quite good but there is a very strong wind, around 20-25 km/h. Carlos Sainz is on pole, followed by Max Verstappen. In the second row there are both the Mercedes drivers. Sergio Perez is in ninth position, Charles Leclerc in 12th, both due to a penalty. Magnussen, Schumacher, Alonso and Ocon are starting with hard tyres, while the other drivers are on mediums. The lights go out and the race starts. Max Verstappen is immediately ahead of Sainz with a very good start. The poleman is about to pass the first turn when suddenly he is hit by George Russell. The Spanish driver goes back to the pits and his race ends after just one lap. After the contact, Russell is passed by Stroll and he is given a 5 seconds penalty. On lap 4 Latifi loses some positions due to a spin. Meanwhile Verstappen complains about the strong wind (21.6 km/h) and Perez has a broken wing due to a contact. On lap 13 Hamilton pits for hard tyres and emerges in 6th position. The following lap Verstappen and Russell pit for hard tyres as well: the Red Bull driver emerges second, the Mercedes one is ninth. Charles Leclerc has completed his comeback and is now in second place, when suddenly Bottas goes into the gravel, so the Safety car is deployed and the Monegasque driver opts to pit for hard tyres on lap 19. The same do Alonso, Ocon and others. Safety car ends but this situation lasts only for one lap because on lap 22 Alonso and Stroll have a bad crash that can remind that of Webber in 2010. Another Safety car is deployed and while Alonso goes back to the pits to change his tyres and continue to race, Stroll is unfortunately out of the US GP. On lap 30 Charles Leclerc overtakes Perez and is now in third place behind Verstappen and Hamilton. Gasly is given a penalty for not keeping less than 10 cars under the Safety car. On lap 35 Hamilton stops and puts on new hard tyres. Both Leclerc and Verstappen pit for a second time on lap 36, but the Red Bull driver has a problem, for his pit stop lasts 11,1 seconds and he is now behind the Ferrari driver.
Verstappen and Leclerc overtake each other on lap 39 but at the end the Dutch driver manages to get ahead of the Monegasque in third place. Hamilton overtakes Vettel and the German driver pits, but since he loses some time with this he emerges in 12th place. Incredible performance by Fernando Alonso, who is now in 7th place after a strong comeback. On lap 50 Verstappen overtakes Hamilton and is back in first position. Both drivers have a black and white flag for exceeding track limits. Meanwhile Leclerc struggles to keep his thirrd position. The race ends on lap 56: Verstappen is the winner, Hamilton is second and Leclerc third. Max Verstappen wins his 33rd career Grand Prix, sixth overall for most races won in the history of the category, the second consecutive race after the previous Japanese Grand Prix, as well as his 13th victory in the season, confirming his victory for the second consecutive U.S. Grand Prix after the one in 2021. The Dutch driver of Red Bull Racing's two-time world champion equals the record number of wins achieved in a single championship by the two Germans Sebastian Vettel, also with Red Bull Racing, in the 2013 season, and by Michael Schumacher with Ferrari in the 2004 season. Having also won the first edition of the Miami Grand Prix, Verstappen is the first driver to win twice in the United States of America in the same season since Alan Jones' triumphs in the 1981 U.S. Grand Prix of America-West and the Las Vegas Grand Prix of the championship. Verstappen's number of victories, 33, matches his traditional race number, as well as matching the total number of Formula 1 victories of all American drivers combined. Starting second on the grid, he testifies that out of ten editions of the race run on the Circuit of the Americas all have been won from the front row of the grid. For the Austrian team, it is the eighth consecutive victory, one length away from the record of nine wins in a row in the 2013 season, the 90th overall in its history, as well as the 15th of the season, a new record, in addition to being the third total success in the U.S. Grand Prix, all on the Circuit of the Americas.
It is confirmed victorious for the second consecutive edition of the race with engines under a different name, Red Bull Powertrains, abbreviated RBPT, unlike its last triumph in 2021 powered by Honda engines. Thanks to its results, the Austrian manufacturer won the constructors' world championship for the fifth time in its history, the first in the turbo-hybrid era, under a different name for its powertrains, for the first time since the 2013 season with Vettel, in which it was powered by Renault engines. The Milton Keynes-based stable ends a record streak of eight consecutive constructors' world championships won by Germany's Mercedes between 2014, the first season of the category's turbo-hybrid era, and 2021. Hamilton ran his Grand Prix number 307, ranking fourth overall for number of Grands Prix run in the history of the category, behind Fernando Alonso with 352, Kimi Räikkönen with 349 and Rubens Barrichello with 322. The Briton of Mercedes, in second place and his first podium finish since the Hungarian Grand Prix, maintains the record of finishing every edition held at the Circuit of the Americas among the top four positions. The 5.023-second gap to winner Verstappen is the one with the lowest margin for Hamilton by a win in this championship. Thanks to third position, Leclerc regains second place in the drivers' standings, two lengths ahead of Pérez. For the Monegasque, in his first podium at the Circuit of the Americas, it is the fifth in a row, the longest streak of his career. For Russell, fourth place was his 16th top-five finish of the season, while Norris finished sixth, after finishing seventh and eighth in the last two editions of the race. Vettel, eighth, represented Aston Martin's third consecutive top-eight finish. The German driver led the 3500th lap of his career. Magnussen, ninth, ends a seven-race streak without scoring points for Haas, the longest of any team. The local stable gets points in its home country for only the second time in its history after Romain Grosjean's 10th place finish in the 2016 edition.
Tsunoda, tenth, gets points after contesting thirteen Grands Prix, the longest streak of any driver. For Sainz Jr. it was the second consecutive retirement, having completed only one lap in the last two races, an occurrence that has already occurred in two other Grands Prix in the championship, in those of Australia and Emilia-Romagna. Winner Verstappen leads the drivers' standings by the highest margin ever over the second, Leclerc, who is 124 points behind. It is also the widest gap ever recorded in the history of the world championship when there are three Grands Prix to go. The United States Grand Prix sees the awarding of the constructors' title for the seventh time. Previously, the title was decided in the 1966, 1970, 1973 and 1974 editions, all run at Watkins Glen. The successes were the prerogative of British stable Brabham, British Lotus, twice, and compatriot McLaren, respectively. On the current venue of the Circuit of the Americas, the constructors' title is awarded for the third time after the 2012 and 2017 editions, where the Austrian Red Bull Racing and the German Mercedes always triumphed, respectively. On U.S. soil, the title was also decided in the 1976 U.S. Grand Prix-East, also run at Watkins Glen, where the Italian Ferrari won, and in the 1982 Las Vegas Grand Prix, held at the Caesars Palace circuit, with Ferrari triumphant again. During the race, 30 times were cancelled by the stewards to drivers for not respecting the track limits, during the race. In particular, the times of Mick Schumacher (all times at Turn 19), Alexander Albon three times (once at Turn 12 and twice at Turn 19), Pierre Gasly (once at Turn 11 and twice at Turn 19), Sergio Pérez (once at Turn 19 and twice at Turn 6), Lewis Hamilton (all times at Turn 19) are cancelled, Max Verstappen (once at Turn 19 and twice at Turn 9) and Zhou Guanyu (twice at Turn 12 and once at Turn 19), twice Daniel Ricciardo (both times at Turn 19) and Lando Norris (both times at Turn 19), once Fernando Alonso (at Turn 19), Yuki Tsunoda (at Turn 19), Kevin Magnussen (at Turn 19) and George Russell (at Turn 19). About his win and his team work Max Verstappen says:
"It was not made easy for us but in the end of course, extremely happy to win in this difficult weekend for us. I think this was actually a race that he [Mateschitz] would have loved to see. Of course I’m sad, but I’m also incredibly proud of the whole team of the way they’ve operated the whole weekend - apart from the pit stop, but that was a gun failure and these things can unfortunately happen. But we kept it together and we won also the constructors’ [title], so I’m very proud of everyone. Also, the people who don’t even come to the track, back at the factory, the effort they put into the car this year has been enormous and I’m very proud of everyone to secure this. What he has done for everyone, the only thing we could do today was win and even though after the pit stop it was not looking great, I gave it everything out there and pushed it to the limit to come back. I mean, I said it before that we are also doing more races a year, so [these records] are not always justifiable. I mean, I think we are having an amazing season, but when you have a great car, you can win a lot of races. Of course, I’m proud of winning a lot of races but I don’t really look at these kind of stats - I’m just happy winning races".
As Verstappen said, Red Bull has won the 2022 Constructors Championship. On this and on his result, Sergio Perez comments:
"It certainly means a lot for us. You know, it’s been a big dominance by Mercedes in the last few years, so I really hope that the era of Red Bull starts now and that we are able to dominate the next few years. Yeah, it was quite an intense battle out there. It was a shame that we got half of the front wing damaged, and I think that did hurt us quite a lot through the race, and I think once we realised it was missing half of the front wing, we tried to manage it out with the [differential] and so on - but in the end I think I needed one more lap".
Christian Horner remembers Dietricht Mateschitz and what he meant especially for Red Bull:
"This has been a hugely emotional weekend. That was the best possible way we could’ve won that race. I think Dietrich would have been very proud of that. Max obviously had to fight back after a difficult pit stop [where] we had a problem with the front wheel gun. He just got his head down. I thought there was only going to be one outcome of that race, and to win the constructors’ World Championship after eight long years is incredible. I think there is a hunger within him that I have never seen within another driver - there is a determination. He is growing, maturing, and he’s reading races incredibly well. He was obviously pretty upset after the pit stop but very quickly got his emotions in check, got his head down and paced himself so that he didn’t burn his tyres up, and then was able to get the passes done. This means everything to us. It’s been such a journey. Dietrich was a very private man, but he was passionate - passionate about life, passionate about sport, and he was especially passionate about Formula 1. He had a dream which was to have a Formula 1 team. He did that and, in the end, he had two. He gave us all an opportunity. He believed in us, he backed us, and this is for him. We are just tremendously grateful for everything he has done for us as individuals, as a team, and we are going to celebrate in his honour tonight".
Mercedes has done a good job, with a P2 for Hamilton and a P5 for Russell. On his race and on his battle with Verstappen Hamilton says:
"I'm shattered. It felt amazing to be in the lead, but the car was a handful today. We came here with upgrades, and we closed the gap a little bit. It was so close, and I did everything I could to try and stay ahead, but Red Bull were just a little bit too quick. We've been working so hard as a Team over this year, and there are lots of positives from this race, as a team we showed great pit stop and strategy performance. I'm also happy with my performance and it was showing when we have a competitive car, I can bring it home. So we'll keep pushing and we'll try and give it everything we can over the next three races - it'll come to us at some stage".
George Russell could have done better than this placement, but he had the 5 seconds penalty after hitting Sainz:
"It was a difficult afternoon for me - very unfortunate, how things unfolded at the start as I don't want to be in a position where I contribute to another driver having to retire. It's probably the furthest we've been away from the midfield and the closest we've been to the front for quite a while so a good step forward this weekend. The team back at the factory are doing a great job continuing to update the car, trying to make it a little bit lighter and understanding what we need to work on for next year and that's where most of our focus currently is. Obviously, I want to get back on the podium, because the last time feels like an age ago. We had such a good run of form, but the last couple of races didn't go well in terms of my personal performance. Truly fighting for race wins is still the goal for us. Even if we don't achieve a race win, we want to be in a position where we have a chance to fight for the win".
Mercedes’ Team Principal Toto Wolff talks about next week race in Mexico:
"First, congratulations to Red Bull and to Honda for winning the Constructors' Championship; given the sad news yesterday about Dietrich Mateschitz, it was fitting that they should secure the title today. From our side, this weekend was a step forward for us and we showed encouraging performance. No doubt, Red Bull are still ahead of us, but I think we're getting closer to them and Ferrari - and that's a positive outcome for us. We brought an upgrade to Austin and we've seen that reflected in terms of car performance. Obviously, an unfortunate start for George, colliding with Carlos, which I would classify as a racing incident. Lewis had a strong race today and was giving it everything. He had a tyre deficit on the Hard because he simply didn't have any Mediums to choose and still holding on to a potential win felt feasible at that stage, but once Max was past Charles and he couldn't fight back, it was just a matter of time. Next up is Mexico, which we're looking forward to and hopefully can continue to show our performance. On paper, this should be a track that suits our car, but as we've learned this season, it can be a bit unpredictable where we actually stand in reality".
Andrew Shovlin analyses the Mercedes drivers’ race:
"Congratulations to Red Bull and Honda on the Constructor's Championship, we know very well how much work it takes to win - they started this year well and improved from there. There were moments in today's race where we thought the win was going to be on and it does feel like we've made some good progress with the latest update, but we've clearly got a bit of work to do. The pace was reasonable, but the car hasn't been easy for the drivers to work with and that's an area that we understand a bit better now compared to a few races ago but something we need to improve for next year. George's race was hurt by the turn one clash with Carlos; that damaged the wing which cost him some pace along with a five second penalty. We felt that the line Carlos took contributed to that contact so in our view it was a racing incident but clearly the stewards had a different view. Lewis had a very strong race, and it was good to remind ourselves what it feels like to fight at the front; we're disappointed that we couldn't convert this into a win, but it's only going to add to our resolve to dig deep and find more lap time. A lot of hard work has gone into bringing this kit to the car and the pace is getting better with every update so we can take some satisfaction from the fact that every step takes us closer to where we want to be. We'd had tough races in Singapore and Suzuka, so it's been good to see stronger performance here and we are still hoping to get that first win before the season is out, so we'll be working very hard over the next few days to prepare for Mexico".
On the podium there is also Charles Leclerc, who started on P12 due to a penalty. On his race the Monegasque comments:
"It was a fun race and I really enjoyed the battles with Max (Verstappen) and Checo (Perez) on track today. I had a solid start and after that, the first few laps were all about practicing patience. Things looked quite good and we even got lucky with the timing of the Safety Car, but unfortunately we had a little too much tyre degradation for the rest of the race and couldn't fight for higher positions. It was great to be back in the US and see how much popularity our sport has gained here over the past years".
Bad day in Texas for his teammate Carlos Sainz, who completed only one lap after the contact with Russell:
"Not much to say today. I got hit by the Mercedes going into turn 1 while battling with Max (Verstappen), I managed to come back to the pits but the car was too badly damaged to continue. I feel the pace would have been there and it would have been an interesting race, but I prefer to look ahead and start focusing on Mexico. It’s not easy to catch a break this season, but we’ll keep going at it until the end".
Mattia Binotto, Ferrari’s Team Principal, explains the feelings of the team and his thoughts on the last races of the season:
"Obviously, there are mixed emotions after today’s race. Through no fault of his own, Carlos was out after the opening lap. Charles meanwhile staged a great climb up the order, which took him all the way to the podium. We know that currently, we are lacking something in the races when compared to Red Bull, who by winning the title today honoured their founder in the best way possible. We will continue to work on giving them a hard time, starting right from next week in Mexico and naturally, we are also working hard on our preparation for the challenges that lie ahead next season".
Different feelings in McLaren as well. Lando Norris has finished P6 taking points, while his teammate Ricciardo has finished P16. The British driver is happy as it can be understood from his words:
"A good race! Races like these are more enjoyable compared to just being on your own, even though it's a lot tougher. It was very enjoyable, especially the race with Fernando. I had a tricky start, getting caught behind an incident ahead. We also picked up damage halfway through the race, so I'm very happy to have finished P6 today. We came away with the best result possible and picked up some decent points".
Daniel Ricciardo explains his problems during the race:
"I hoped today was going to be better. I really thought after yesterday we had a bit more to show but it was really tough today. I could tell from early on in the race that it was going to be tricky. We unfortunately just didn't have the grip. I couldn't really push the car like I could see the others around me doing, so it was just a struggle. We'll keep our chin up and try to find a way. Obviously, days like this are pretty painful to try to deal with and understand as we put a lot of effort in but didn't get rewarded. We'll keep going".
Andreas Seidl, McLaren’s Team Principal, comments:
"An eventful race here at the Circuit of the Americas, in front of this enormous crowd. The team made some good strategy calls, executed great pit-stops coupled with a stellar drive from Lando, including some great overtaking in the final stage of the race, which secured us an encouraging P6 and gave us good points in our Constructors' Championship battle. On Daniel's side we struggled to extract a similar performance, which didn't allow him to progress in the race. We'll study that in the next few days and work out where we can improve. Thanks to the team here, and back home, plus our colleagues at Mercedes HPP for all of their work. Our congratulations go to Red Bull Racing on securing the Constructors' Championship. Five days and we go again in Mexico".
A driver who has done an incredible race is Fernando Alonso. After the accident he was able to keep racing and he finished P7:
"It was a fantastic race for everybody today. We were lucky with the first Safety Car and we were very fast after that on the Medium tyres. At the restart I tried to overtake Lance [Stroll], he moved towards me and we touched wheels. I thought that I would retire the car after the incident, and it was pretty scary. But the car is made of strong stuff and we were able to carry on after changing the front wing. I’m very proud of our efforts today as a team. It’s incredible that we were able to make the tyres last on the final stint and despite losing out to Lando [Norris] on the last few laps, we still come away from this race with some good points".
The other Alpine driver, Esteban Ocon, says:
"We were very close to finishing in the points after starting from the Pit Lane. We can be pleased to recover from the back to eleventh place with the car showing good pace. I think more was possible - some points would have been fantastic - so we’ll review what we could have done to achieve that next time. We’ll debrief, learn, and move forward to come back stronger as a team. Mexico is next weekend, so that’s a chance for us to go again and score points.. The battle for fourth place is close, and every top ten finish will be valuable for us. Congratulations also to Red Bull Racing for their very much deserved Constructors’ title".
Alpine’s Team Principal Otmar Szafnauer tells:
"That was quite the race and we’re more than satisfied to come away with six points with Fernando in seventh place. The race was a fitting match for an electric atmosphere in Austin today, and I’m happy that we could put on an exciting show for the fans. After Fernando’s unfortunate incident with Lance [Stroll] it looked like we would do well to even reach the chequered flag, so credit to Fernando for driving superbly to score well deserved points. On Esteban’s side, it was always going to be a challenging race after starting from the Pit Lane. He did a good job to close in towards the top ten and was very close to sneaking tenth place at the end. Overall, we have some areas to assess as this weekend has been far from our best. We have another race next weekend in Mexico where we’re keen to demonstrate our true potential with both cars in order to further consolidate our Championship position. Congratulations to Red Bull Racing on winning the Constructors’ Championship. They deserve it after a very dominant year, and it’s a fitting tribute to the late Dietrich Mateschitz - the pioneer and visionary of their successful project".
Another driver who has done a brilliant race is Sebastian Vettel, who finished P8 after a not so good pit stop:
"In the end it was a good recovery drive to score four points today. I really enjoyed the last few laps, especially the final-lap fight with Kevin [Magnussen]. When I crossed the finish line, the adrenaline was really pumping. Without the slow stop, I think we had sixth place easily in the bag so we should focus on the positives of our competitive car pace today. We were strong all race; the start was great and I was up in fifth place early on. It was also nice to lead the race for a while because it has been a while since I was in that position".
Unfortunately Lance Stroll couldn't finish the race after the crash with Alonso:
"We had a good start to the race; everything was feeling great with the car and we were sitting in third for a little while. Unfortunately, we had contact with Fernando [Alonso] which was a shame. There was a big difference in speed and I was defending. I gave him plenty of room on the left of the track, so it was not as if I squeezed him against the wall. He could have moved earlier or moved more to the left. Thankfully, it was not a big impact with the wall, I did not hit anything hard, and I am OK after the contact".
AM’s Team Principal Mike Krack observes:
"Having been third and fifth on lap one, clearly we are disappointed to have come away with only a DNF and a P8. But that is racing. After the Safety Car that had been triggered by [Valtteri] Bottas’s ‘off’, we were running sixth and seventh, looking set for another good points haul, but then Lance and Fernando made contact, ending Lance’s race, and Sebastian was delayed by a problem with his second pit stop, dropping him to P13. Thereafter he launched a great recovery drive that resulted in a fine eighth place, the highlight of which was a tremendous dice with Magnussen on the final lap, which happily went Sebastian’s way".
Kevin Magnussen, who finished P9, speaks about his race and Vettel’s overtake in the last lap:
"I’m super happy. For us as a team, it’s very important to get these points at our home race in the US - and it’s very big on the weekend that we announce a great title sponsor with MoneyGram - it couldn’t come at a better time. Of course, I’m gutted to lose a position to Sebastian. I have to say it was some driving from him, that’s when you realize why he’s a four-time World Champion. The strategy that we pulled off was purely by guidance with the team. As such a small team to put on a fight like this, it’s great".
Mick Schumacher hasn't finished in a good position due to a damage in his car:
"I think we were on for good points today for sure, but it seems like we picked up a big piece which damaged the car quite a lot and then we couldn’t extract the maximum out of it anymore because of that damage. We got it in the second stint and the car didn’t feel the same anymore, and I couldn’t keep the pace of before which was very promising. It’s a shame as it feels like bad luck follows us".
Günther Steiner, Haas’ Team Principal, talks about Magnussen’s good race and Mick car's problems:
"After two difficult days, a good result. The whole team did a fantastic job, you cannot ask for more as the car was fast and Kevin was sure he could get to the end with his tires. I wouldn’t say we took a gamble, we took a chance, but we had a back-up strategy to go onto the soft tires and we brought home some points. I’m not really happy about what happened out there with the other cars that are losing bits and pieces and don’t get called in like we normally do, so we will follow-up on that one. Mick had very good pace on his first stint, doing a fantastic job and then when the accident happened he must’ve picked up some debris and lost some downforce. We haven’t seen the car yet but I guess the diffuser has got some damage and he just couldn’t do the same times with the new set of tires. Having MoneyGram as our sponsor for the first event, our home race, we are very happy to give them that result - it’s a team effort".
The last driver to score points is Yuki Tsunoda. The Japanese driver says:
"It was a really hard, but fun, race today and I’m happy to be back in the Top 10 again after a long gap. I’m glad that I could finish in the points this weekend and to honour the memory of Mr Mateschitz. The pace on the Mediums was really good, which we didn’t quite expect, and I was able to get some good overtakes in. We struggled a bit more on the Hards, which was a shame, so we need to go away and understand why this compound doesn’t work that well for us. Overall though, I’m pleased to be scoring points again and hope we can carry this on until the end of the season".
The other AlphaTauri driver, Pierre Gasly, finished P14 but he seems to be not so sad:
"I was happy with the car in the race, the pace was strong from the start, and I had a lot of fun driving out there today. It is a shame we had the penalties but for sure I wasn’t trying to be smart or gain any advantage. There are referees that decide, it is unfortunate, but there are still plenty of positives to take from today. I was involved in many awesome battles and overtakes, which showed the car can be competitive, with points being possible. I am looking forward to the next few races, to see what we can do".
Jody Egginton, AlphaTauri’s Technical Director, says:
"Firstly, as a team we’d like to say a big congratulations to Oracle Red Bull Racing for securing the Constructors’ Championship this weekend. Now looking at our race, we need to get into the details later, but we have missed an opportunity for more points today. Pierre was leading the midfield pack of cars, fighting for seventh until his second stop, but dropped behind this pack due to the penalty we picked up under the first Safety Car. This issue, and a subsequent further penalty, effectively ended his chance of points. With Yuki, he did well to also get into this pack from 19th on the grid, but he struggled a bit on the Hards, meaning it took too long to get past a couple of cars ahead. Therefore, he ran out of time to get on to the back of Magnussen and put him under some pressure. However, we’ve got three races to go and there’s still a lot to play for".
Only two teams didn't score points this weekend and these are Alfa Romeo and Williams. Valtteri Bottas is disappointed as he couldn't finish the race after going into the gravel:
"We were looking really strong for points, so it’s disappointing to finish my race early. At the start, I was going into Turn Nine on the opening lap and saw Perez diving in at the very end: it was very close, and I had to go wide losing momentum and a couple of places, but luckily we just touched. I passed Albon, settled into a rhythm, but when I was trying to close the gap to Gasly to get into DRS rangeI made a mistake in Turn 19 and lost the rear end. I later found out that, at the same time, there was quite a big gust of wind, so a combination of that and pushing too hard put an end to my race. It was very unfortunate, as our pace was promising, and a points finish could’ve definitely been possible today. I’m looking forward to turning the tide next week in Mexico and bringing home some points".
As well as his teammate, Zhou Guanyu isn't satisfied with his race:
"We knew today was always going to be difficult, starting from the back: we tried to make something happen, but, towards the end, holding off drivers who were mounting newer tyres compared to ours became almost impossible. We tried to stay out hoping for something to happen that would favour us, but eventually it didn’t quite work out. Overall, it’s been quite a tricky day for the team, but at least we go again next week in Mexico: as a positive, we showed good performances on track. For sure the upgrades we brought here helped a lot, we’ve been so much stronger especially in one-lap pace, and we saw both cars had the pace to get into Q3".
Frédéric Vasseur, Alfa Romeo’s Team Principal, comments:
"It’s been quite a difficult day for the team, and it feels like a big opportunity to score points missed. The race held a lot of promise, as we were starting in a good position with Valtteri and both drivers seemed really at ease with the car. We suffered early on, as the contact between Valtteri and Perez meant we dropped places and got caught into a battle we wouldn’t have been in, and when Valtteri retired we knew we’d have a really big job ahead of us to bring home some points. Zhou did really well, starting from 18: he kept out of trouble on a day that caught out many, and the race plan helped him make up ground. In the end, however, that was not enough to bring home the points he would have deserved. It feels like an opportunity that got away from us, but the silver lining of the day is that we’re still in sixth place in the championship. We know we’ll need to fight tooth and nail in the final races to secure this position, but we can rely on our updated package to hopefully be able to score the points we need for this important objective".
Williams drivers finished P13 and P17. Alex Albon says:
"We really fought today and gave it everything we had. I had a tricky start with a flat spot into Turn 1, nursing the fronts for the first 10 laps with huge vibrations, so we had to pit early but then we were offset. It was a shame, but I don’t think we had the pace for points today, but we were very close. It was tricky out there and we tried our best and were aggressive on strategy but with the tyre degradation, I was hoping to try repeat something like in Spa and hold them off but the tyres took another step of degradation and once this happened, I tried to fight but just couldn’t hold them off anymore. Points might have been too much to ask for but we gave ourselves a good opportunity".
Nicholas Latifi comments:
"The car was better than I was expecting it to be today that’s not to say it was still tricky to drive. I made a mistake at the beginning of the race with the spin getting caught out with the balance in the high-speed corners. I didn’t manage to do any high fuel race running beforehand so I was exploring as I was going along. We got back into the race with the Safety Car but in the end, I was fighting cars that were much quicker behind me to hold them off which was detrimental to my race but beneficial to help the team. The penalty I received was justified and I have no issues with it. It wasn’t intentional as I tried to brake as late as I could, but I committed to my braking point, locked up and couldn’t get the car to turn".
Williams’ Head of Vehicle Performance Dave Robson explains:
"It was a tough race today with both drivers having to pit earlier than planned due to flat-spotting their tyres. Alex locked-up badly at Turn 1 of the first lap and struggled throughout the first stint, but to make the strategy work, we needed to get some laps done before we could pit. He was able to recover later in the race with a well-managed stint on the Prime. As we have seen many times before, he is a very good racer and can defend brilliantly when required. He was able to hold on to a points-scoring position until just a few laps from the end despite suffering with some driveability issues in the final stint. It was a frustrating end to the race but given where we were after the early first stop, it was a good recovery from Alex and his team. Nicholas had a more frustrating race and struggled more with his car. However, he was able to race the faster cars that pitted behind him, holding them up from catching Alex. We thought that the FW44 would struggle in these conditions and at this circuit, and it has certainly been a tricky few days. Whilst it was a shame to get this close to the points, the result nonetheless represents a good weekend from the team in Austin and back in Grove. We now turn our attention to Mexico where we will look to build on what we did here in Austin".
On tyres strategies and on the race in general Mario Isola, Pirelli Motorsport Director, says:
"With Max Verstappen winning the race and his team clinching another constructors’ championship, we offer our congratulations to Red Bull Racing, obviously along with our condolences for the sad passing of Dietrich Mateschitz. The race today was an intense one, interrupted by two safety cars that helped to reduce tyre degradation - which we nonetheless observed was lower than expected in these warm conditions. Strategy proved to be all-important once again, with Lewis Hamilton attempting to undercut Verstappen, and the race coming down to a breath-taking duel between them. Before, we also saw a great fight between Verstappen and Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc. The two drivers on different compounds during the final stint was a real point of interest for the huge American crowd; around 440.000 people were treated to a thrilling battle to the finish. Both drivers were pushing to the maximum, but their tyres were certainly up to the fight".
Now there are only three races left in this Championship and even if all the titles have been assigned, there is anxious wait for the Mexican GP. In Mexico, Max Verstappen will try to win the 14th race in this season and beat another record. That will also be Sergio Perez home GP, so he can have another motivation to fight for the victory.