Formula One fans in the United States rejoiced as the series headed west and closer to their timezones. The Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas boasted record attendance this weekend despite the addition of the Miami Grand Prix earlier this year and next year’s race in Las Vegas, a sign that the popularity surge in America shows no sign of slowing down.
All eyes were on Red Bull Racing, who had the chance to lock up the constructor’s championship this week and also announced the death of co-owner Dietrich Mateschitz. When the strong winds settled, they were celebrating. Here’s how it happened.
It’s me. Hi, I’m the only recapper this week. It’s me. I’ll try to do my best.
I have to admit, it surprised me a little how good it felt to see F1 engaging with American culture and to hear the drivers talk about how much they like this race. And the race delivered!
Unfortunately for pole sitter Carlos Sainz, the action started with his crash on lap 1. From there, the excitement was mostly in the mid-pack until a tire gun failed during Max Verstappen’s final pit stop, opening the door for Lewis Hamilton and Charles Leclerc. We were treated to some wonderful action between three very good drivers, but in the end, the Red Bull car still has a tremendous straight line speed advantage. When you add in DRS, there’s nothing a Ferrari or Mercedes driver can do. Verstappen tied the record for most wins in a season, and the question isn’t if he will break the record, but if anyone else will stop him in the last three races.
Driver of the race
I refuse to just hand this to Verstappen every week, even though he did pull off some gutsy overtakes. Instead, I’m going to choose Lewis Hamilton for coaxing the absolute most out of a car that just isn’t as good. They changed his front brakes minutes before the race started and then he navigated track and strategy perfectly to put himself in a position to take advantage of a Red Bull mistake. Sadly, even a seven-time world champion can’t win a gun fight with a knife.
Moment of the race
Verstappen’s rocky pit stop was probably the most significant moment with an impact on the outcome of the race. But maybe the most amazing visually was a crash between soon-to-be teammates Fernando Alonso and Lance Stroll. Alonso went left to pass Stroll, who blocked him at the last moment. Rear tire hit front tire and launched Alonso’s car into the air. Despite the rough landing and contact with a barrier, Alonso managed to continue racing. It was pretty astonishing considering how delicate F1 cars can be. (See: Sainz being forced to retire after much lighter contact.)
Thoughts moving forward
I’m hopeful that Mercedes’ progress is a sign that next year will be a more even fight — at least between the top three constructors. As Verstappen battled with Leclerc and Hamilton, I couldn’t help but think that this is what makes F1 so exciting and we need more of it next year. The sport is better when other cars can challenge the top dog.