Max Verstappen has confidently topped Friday afternoon practice for Red Bull Racing at the Mexico City Grand Prix while title rival Lewis Hamilton struggled with set-up.

Verstappen’s best time of 1m 17.301s was almost half a second quicker than anyone else. Valtteri Bottas, fastest in the morning session, was next in the order, but the Finn was 0.424s off the pace.

Lewis Hamilton trailed in third and 0.085s further back after a messy session for the reigning champion and 2019 Mexico winner. He had an early lap time deleted for setting a time during double waved yellow flags before destroying a set of hard tires with a lock-up into Turn 1.

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Max Verstappen beat Lewis Hamilton at his own game to claim victory in a nailbiting United States Grand Prix, reasserting himself as the championship favourite in this dramatic season.

Max Verstappen scored an impressive victory over Lewis Hamilton in a thrilling United States Grand Prix, and with five rounds to go and a handy points lead, it could have been a championship defining race too.

The United States Grand Prix was almost a microcosm of the season to date. Form swung wildly between Mercedes and Red Bull Racing from first practice to the chequered flag, and in the end there was practically nothing between Verstappen and Hamilton on track. Either could have walked away a worthy winner.

But tiny percentage called got the job done for the challengers to put Verstappen in a strong position atop the title table, and Red Bull Racing closed its deficit to Mercedes in the constructors stakes to re-enliven its hops of a title double.

BACKGROUND

Around a month ago the Circuit of the Americas would have been considered a neutral venue for the two leading teams, favouring neither over the other. Two weeks ago it had moved into the Mercedes column thanks to the German marque’s performance at Istanbul Park, a track that makes similar demands of the car.

After first practice those more recent predictions appeared sure to come true. Mercedes led Red Bull Racing by almost a second, its car looking substantially more at ease through the high-speed corners in particular.

But the unexpected heat of the weekend, above 30°C, and the bumpiness of the track meant major changes were required for both cars overnight.

Mercedes had to raise its ride height so as to not risk floor damage, particularly on full tanks, while Red Bull Racing had Sebastien Buemi spend the night in the simulator at Milton Keynes to identify superior set-ups.

When the cards were put on the table on Saturday it was RBR and Verstappen who emerged with the better package.

But there was uncertainty around how these changes would affect race pace, particularly on the hard tyre. Knowing early that the hard compound would be key to a likely two-stop race, few drivers sampled the white-walled tyre, saving them instead for Sunday at the expense of understanding its longevity.

THE RACE-WINNING MOVE

For a moment it seemed Verstappen’s race would be undone in a moment, with Hamilton acing his start to take the lead at the first turn, but it quickly became clear that the W12 was no match for the RB16B on the medium tyre. Verstappen could easily follow Hamilton, even noting how much the Briton was sliding around on his overheating rubber.

But rather than try to launch a move or hang back and let Hamilton chew his tyres, Verstappen was handed the aggressive option of an early pit stop, coming in for the hard tyre on lap 10.

Mercedes was forced to make a decision: cover the early stop or stick it out on the ailing medium tyres. Without the benefit of having run the hards in practice, the team assumed they’d be similarly as delicate as the medium and that therefore splitting 46 laps between a pair of them would be too much to ask of the rubber. … Continue reading

Max Verstappen has treated a sell-out Austin crowd to a nailbiting last-lap victory over Lewis Hamilton at the United States Grand Prix.

Max Verstappen withstood a late Lewis Hamilton lunge for victory to record a nail-biting win at the United States Grand Prix.

The two title contenders were running different tire strategies that brought them together on track for the final two laps of the race, with Verstappen defending on eight-lap-older tires.

Hamilton clung to the back of the Red Bull Racing car but struggled to break through the DRS threshold ahead of the straights, Verstappen nailing his launches to keep himself just far enough ahead to maintain a gap, taking the flag by 1.3s.

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Max Verstappen will start the United States Grand Prix from pole position, and despite lining up alongside title rival Lewis Hamilton, he does so from a position of strength.

Title rivals Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton will share the front of the grid after the Dutchman beat the Briton to pole in front of a packed house at the United States Grand Prix.

Max Verstappen will start alongside Lewis Hamilton on the front row of the grid after beating the Briton to pole in a thrilling conclusion to qualifying at the United States Grand Prix.

Red Bull Racing overcame a substantial deficit on Friday to dominate the qualifying hour, but it was Sergio Perez who led the way in the pole shootout, stealing a 0.019s advantage from his teammate after the first laps.

Mercedes looked down and out, and Hamilton’s first lap looked visibly disjointed compared to the hooked-up Bulls, leaving him 0.384s adrift.

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With only eight rounds remaining and little to separate the title race, the pressure is ratcheting up for crash-prone protagonists Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton.

The Dutch Grand Prix couldn’t have gone any better for Max Verstappen and his legion home fans on a weekend Mercedes began the painful process of renewing its driver line-up.

Max Verstappen has beaten Lewis Hamilton to victory at the first Dutch Grand Prix in 26 years to regain the title lead.

The Dutchman had a blistering start from pole position while the two Mercedes drivers briefly sparred into the first turn. By the end of the first lap his lead was up to 1.7 seconds over Hamilton, and he added an extra two seconds to that by lap 20.

Mercedes, sensing its window of opportunity closing, brought Hamilton into the pits for the undercut, but Verstappen stopped the following lap to maintain his advantage, albeit reduced by two seconds.

But Mercedes’s potential ace was Valtteri Bottas, who had been left on track to inherit the lead. The team hoped he could sandwich Verstappen between himself and the tailing Hamilton to generate an opportunity for the Briton to pass on a circuit that otherwise made overtaking difficult.

Verstappen closed on the Finn on lap 29, but the battle didn’t last long. Bottas’s worn tyres forced him into a mistake on lap 30, allowing the Dutchman and Hamilton to sail through out of the last corner of that lap.

Hamilton had one final card to play, making his second stop aggressively early and onto the medium-compound tyre when Verstappen had only the slower hards remaining, but the stop was badly timed. Hamilton rejoined the circuit among lapped traffic, squandering any first-mover advantage, and Verstappen’s car turned out to have strong pace on the hard tyre anyway,

Strategic options exhausted, Mercedes waited until Hamilton’s tyres expired late in the race before bringing him back to the pits for the qualifying tyre to allow him to score a consolation point for fastest lap.

Verstappen had seen off Mercedes’s full armoury without breaking a sweat, and he took the flag to thunderous applause from the 70,000-strong Dutch crowd.

“As you can hear already, it’s just incredible,” he said. “Of course the expectations were very high going into the weekend, and it’s never easy to fulfil that, but I’m of course so happy to win here and take the lead as well in the championship.

“It’s just an amazing day. The whole crowd — incredible.”

Hamilton tried to cling to Verstappen, keeping the Red Bull Racing car just in his sights for much of the race, but he never had the pace to close, and the Briton admitted Mercedes simply lacked performance to take the fight to the leader.

“Max did a great job,” he said. “I gave it absolutely everything today — flat out.

“I pushed as hard as I could, but they were just too quick for us.”

Bottas was an anonymous third, fading from the lead fight after being passed by Verstappen and Hamilton early, and his day was compounded by a late safety stop and instruction not to try to set the fastest lap to ensure his teammate could add the point to his championship campaign.

“Unfortunately for me it was pretty uneventful,” he said. “We tried, but we didn’t quite have the pace today.” … Continue reading

Max Verstappen scored an emphatic victory at his home Dutch Grand Prix to retake the world championship lead from second-placed Lewis Hamilton.

The Dutchman’s triumph was never in doubt despite several Mercedes attempts to challenge his grasp on the lead at the pit stops. Hamilton attempted to keep up with the race’s blistering pace with an alternative tire strategy, but his rubber inevitably faded late, allowing the home hero to cruise to a comfortable win.

A perfect start was his foundation, getting away cleanly to control the racing line into the first turn. The second phase of Hamilton’s launch was slower, dropping him into the clutches of teammate Valtteri Bottas.

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Max Verstappen has pipped championship rival Lewis Hamilton to pole position for the Dutch Grand Prix in a thrilling finish to qualifying.

Max Verstappen snatched pole for the first Dutch Grand Prix in 36 years by less than a tenth of a second from title rival Lewis Hamilton in a tense qualifying finish at Zandvoort.

Verstappen looked comfortably in control atop the standings for the first two segments of qualifying and after the first laps of the pole shootout held a three-tenths margin over both Mercedes drivers. So good was the Dutchman’s lap that he could squeeze only 0.038s of improvement with his second attempt.

Hamilton, on the other hand, had left plenty on the table to gain with his second attempt, correcting several snaps of oversteer in the key traction zones to run Verstappen close.

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Max Verstappen made a claim to pole favorite for the Dutch Grand Prix with the fastest time of final practice at Zandvoort, comfortably ahead of both Mercedes drivers.

The Dutchman was quickest in every sector to set a time of 1m09.623s, gaining a little time thanks to a slipstream from teammate Sergio Perez out of the final banked corner.

Valtteri Bottas was next best, but the Finn was 0.556s adrift of Red Bull Racing’s benchmark, with Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton a further 0.2s behind.

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The Belgian Grand Prix has been called off and Max Verstappen classified the winner after heavy rain prevented the race from getting underway in the first place.

The 2021 Belgian Grand Prix has been abandoned and Max Verstappen declared the winner amid torrential rain at Spa-Francorchamps.

Half points were awarded to the drivers in qualifying order — less Sergio Perez, who dropped to last thanks to a crash on the reconnaissance lap — after two laps were completed behind the safety car to satisfy the regulations to produce a classification, short of the 75 percent required to award full points.

Rain had lashed Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps all day and intensified in the lead-up to the race. By the time pit lane opened grip was so low that Sergio Perez slid off the road at Les Combes and embedded himself in the barrier, leaving him unable to make it to the grid.

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Max Verstappen will start alongside Williams driver George Russell in a shock front row for the Belgian Grand Prix after a marathon wet-weather qualifying session delayed for a monster crash by Lando Norris.