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today is Aug 12, 2022

Max Verstappen, Charles Leclerc, Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel were RaceFans’ Star Performers of the United States Grand Prix. Here’s why.


Max Verstappen

  • Took pole position despite spots of rain falling on his final lap
  • Made a slightly slower start than Hamilton and lost the lead to him
  • Pursued the Mercedes driver closely throughout the first stint and delivered a superb out-lap after pitting to move into position to take the lead
  • Managed his tyres carefully over a long final stint to beat Hamilton to the flag by little over a second

Lewis Hamilton

  • Qualified second, beating his team mate and splitting the Red Bulls
  • Took advantage of the useful second place grid position to claim the lead at the start
  • The Mercedes clearly wasn’t a match for the Red Bull on the medium tyre compound and Verstappen swarmed all over him in the first stint
  • After losing the lead to Verstappen he eked his tyres out over the opening stints to attack at the end of the race
  • Slashed Verstappen’s lead in the final stint but couldn’t draw within DRS range early enough to attack before the chequered flag

Charles Leclerc

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, Circuit of the Americas, 2021 The midfield scrap quickly faded in Leclerc’s mirrors
  • Outqualified his team mate by nearly two-tenths of a second and beat both McLarens
  • Decisively quicker than the other cars in his ‘class’, pulled away comfortably and was almost 25 seconds ahead of them when the race ended

Sebastian Vettel

  • Had a strong qualifying, given his grid penalty – placed best of the drivers starting from the back, while still having free tyre choice
  • Made up three places at the start and continued his progress during the middle stint, which both Aston Martins did on mediums
  • Based Giovinazzi and benefited from Raikkonen’s spin to claim the final point, only two second behind Tsunoda in ninth

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Nikita Mazepin

Nikita Mazepin, Haas, Circuit of the Americas, 2021 Extra stop notwithstanding, Mazepin was far behind Schumacher
  • Lost out to his team mate in qualifying by three tenths of a second – one of his smaller gaps to Schumacher
  • Was delayed early in the race pitting to have a loose headrest fixed. Also suffered a burning sensation in the footwell of his cockpit during the race
  • Took the chequered flag nearly a minute and a half behind Schumacher having made an extra pit stop, which he estimated cost an extra 25 seconds

Lando Norris

  • Blamed himself for late-lap errors losing time in qualifying, putting him behind both Ferraris and his team mate
  • Passed Sainz on the inside of turn 12 at the start, though the Ferrari driver held the position by going off
  • Sainz eventually relinquished the place on lap eight, but immediately re-passed Norris, who didn’t seem to notice his rival diving for the inside at turn 12
  • Came in eighth, dissatisfied with his afternoon’s work

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And the rest

Valtteri Bottas

  • Qualified fourth, failing to minimise the impact of his five-place grid penalty
  • Started the grand prix ninth, fell behind Tsunoda and was told to let Gasly past after running wide at turn one
  • Passed Tsunoda after their pit stops and took Sainz with two laps to go for sixth place, albeit 78 seconds behind his team mate

Sergio Perez

Sergio Perez, Red Bull, Circuit of the Americas, 2021 Unwell Perez played his part in Red Bull’s race tactics
  • Was quickest after the first runs in Q3 but fell to third, blaming the rain which started to fall at the end of the session
  • Was unwell during the weekend, suffered diarrhoea at one stage, and a broken drinks system made for a punishing race
  • Stayed close enough to Hamilton to play a strategically useful role in the first stint, but dropped back in the second as he had to use mediums while the others ran hards
  • Finished on the podium, albeit over 40 second behind his team mate

Daniel Ricciardo

  • Outqualified his team mate eight hundredths of a second but failed to get ahead of the Ferraris
  • Was somewhat fortunate to get ahead of Sainz at the start, who mistakenly waved him by believing he was Norris
  • Kept Sainz behind with some robust – or as his rival put it, “dirty” – defending
  • Took fifth place, well behind the other Ferrari of Leclerc

Lance Stroll

  • Went out in Q1, blaming timing of his lap
  • Was knocked into a spin at turn one by Latifi at the start
  • Elected not to pit for front wing repairs due to the potential time loss
  • Ran medium tyres in the middle stint, like his team mate, and passed Raikkonen for 12th place on the final lap

Esteban Ocon

  • Failed to make Q3, despite his team mate being on hand to assist with a tow
  • Lost two places at the start and damaged his front wing which forced him into the pits early
  • Was running 17th when he retired in the second half of the race with an unspecified car problem

Fernando Alonso

  • Made it through to Q2 and would have started last of the drivers who took grid penalties had Russell’s lap time not been deleted
  • Complained again that other drivers gained positions by going off at turn one at the start
  • Gained three places at the start
  • Was infuriated at being passed off-track by Raikkonen on lap 16
  • Went off himself passing Giovinazzi and had to give that place back
  • Passed Giovinazzi but the Alfa Romeo driver went off to keep his place and had to give it back
  • Retired with a rear wing failure

Carlos Sainz Jnr

Carlos Sainz Jnr, Ferrari, Circuit of the Americas, 2021 Report: “Dirty” contact with Sainz wasn’t deliberate, says Ricciardo
  • Regretted being locked into starting on the soft tyres after not managing to get through Q2 on the mediums
  • Qualified behind Leclerc but beat both McLarens
  • Went off at turn 12 on the first lap while fighting the McLarens. Correctly realised he had to let Norris by, but waved Ricciardo through by mistake
  • Eventually let Norris by on lap eight, but did it close enough to the DRS detection point that he was able to swiftly re-pass his rival
  • Recovered the lost ground to Ricciardo and tried, unsuccessfully, to pass the other McLaren, taking seventh place

Pierre Gasly

  • AlphaTauri weren’t quick in practice but both cars made it into Q3
  • Gasly qualified ahead of his team mate and arguably did the best job he could have, given the AlphaTauri’s relative pace to cars ahead and Q3 shaking out in team order
  • Lost places to his team mate and Bottas at the start, though the Mercedes driver had to relinquish the place
  • Having qualified and started on mediums, was infuriated at being left behind his team mate as his soft tyres went off
  • His race didn’t last long after Tsunoda pitted – he retired as a suspension problem put him out

Yuki Tsunoda

  • Reached Q3 again, although had to use soft tyres to do so. Qualified slowest of the top ten, eight-tenths of a second off his team mate
  • Passed Gasly at the start and held Bottas behind
  • Ran two stints on the hard tyre to secure ninth place, two second ahead of Vettel

Kimi Raikkonen

A late spin ended Raikkonen’s points hopes
  • Out in Q1 and slower than both Williams – while his team mate beat them
  • Made another of his usual good starts, gaining three places
  • Had all four wheels off the track when he overtook Alonso on lap 16 yet was allowed to keep the position, to Alonso’s displeasure
  • Moved ahead of his team mate but a late spin on 21-lap-old hard tyres dropped him to 12th before he was passed by Stroll

Antonio Giovinazzi

  • Made it through to Q2, was able to beat his team mate and one Williams but would have been slower than Russell, had the Williams driver’s lap time been allowed
  • Moved up to 11th at the start but pitted early for another set of mediums
  • Let his team mate by and was passed by Vettel, but regained a place when Raikkonen spun at the end, finishing 11th for the second race in a row

Mick Schumacher

  • Outqualified his team mate as usual
  • Dived up the inside of turn one at the start to the consternation of Latifi, who blamed it for his tangle with Stroll
  • Inadvertently played a role in the fight for the lead by first delaying Verstappen on the penultimate lap, then giving him the benefit of DRS, though he complied with the blue flag signals
  • Finished far ahead of his team mate

George Russell

George Russell, Williams, Circuit of the Americas, 2021 Russell got away well from the back of the grid
  • Reached Q2, which was as far as he wanted to progress to preserve free tyre choice for his back of grid start
  • Strayed beyond track limits on his Q2 lap, his time was deleted and he had to start last of those with grid penalties
  • Made a terrific start, gaining six places to run 14th
  • Finished in that position but was unable to keep the Aston Martin drivers behind him

Nicholas Latifi

  • Went out in Q1 again, nearly three-tenths of a second slower than his team mate, who was able to reach Q2
  • First-corner tangle with Stroll was a racing incident, though it left him 19th and he had to make an early pit stop
  • Managed to make a two-stop strategy work despite coming in early and recovered to finish 15th, one place and half a minute behind Russell

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2021 United States Grand Prix

  • Red Bull pin hopes on high altitude tracks after “Hamilton stronghold” COTA
  • F1 announces revised starting times for 22 rounds of 2021 season
  • Official: Australian and Chinese GPs postponed, Bahrain and Imola to open season
  • Algarve and Imola in the frame to hold races as China joins at-risk list
  • F1 confirms record 23-race calendar for 2021 but no race in Vietnam

Browse all 2021 United States Grand Prix articles