US GP: Some Hee-Haw and Tim Cook’s flag-waving battery at 10%
It was a weekend of mixed emotions at the Red Bull camp. This after the news that Red Bull co-founder Dietrich Mateschitz, an avid motorsport supporter, has died. Two decades ago, he bought the then-Jaguar F1 team, and the rest is history. Rest well, big guy. Your legacy speaks for itself.
Beyond the sombre note, there was a fair deal of excitement around the Circuit of the America’s race. Logan Sergeant got the nod from Jost Capito. This confirmed that if he achieved sufficient super license points in his last F2 race, he’d have Nicholas Latifi’s seat in 2023. No Pressure there. Another driver’s market newsreel is that there isn’t confirmation around Haas yet. Giovinazzi’s FP1 crash certainly didn’t help his chances against seat contenders Nico Hulkenberg and Mick Schumacher. The cost cap saga continues, with Red Bull taking the full brunt of damning comments from other teams. It’s become a bit of a whinge fest. So far, with the infringement, we’re looking at a penalty that may result in less wind tunnel testing for the Austrian outfit.
Ultimately, it’s about the racing, and the Austin circuit always promises excitement. Its layout demands high g-forces and undulation, keeping drivers busy adjusting settings all lap long.
Qualifying and Esteban Ocon’s failure to move past Q1 raised an eyebrow with Daniel Ricciardo’s efforts to secure a seat not looking good either, getting stuck in Q1. Mick Schumacher missed an opportunity, spinning into Turn 1. A setback he could not afford. Since the news that he’d be leaving, Pierre Gasly has been rather outspoken in the Alpha Tauri. He has not held back on the team radio with the critique.
The Ferraris both showed great pace throughout qualifying. Hamilton and his Mercedes also showed speed in the process but lost 0.3 seconds in his final push, meaning he could have split the Red Bulls. Still, Sainz snatched pole position ahead of his teammate Leclerc with Verstappen third and Perez in fourth. Honourable mention going to Lance stroll, who looks eager to lead the charge of the “best of the rest” contest putting this Aston Martin in P7. Along with Vettel’s performance, this is a sign of good things for F1 if the team can keep up the momentum.
Sainz’s moment of triumph only lasted the duration of the main straight after he got spun by George Russell at the first corner. Russell received a five-second time penalty for causing the incident. The Spaniard then needed to retire, another blow for Ferrari, who could do with the extra run time to polish the strategic game. A Safety Car at Lap 19 showed signs of promise for Charles Leclerc to pit and get a jump on Verstappen. He only managed to get back out in fourth place, though. Stroll’s ambitions fell to none as some erratic movement on lap 22 caused some wheel tangling with Fernando Alonso. This launched the Alpine into what seemed to be the stratosphere. Fernando continued to finish the race, another sign of how strong these cars can be.
A slow pitstop for Verstappen, thanks to a faulty wheel gun, caused a further mix-up in the space. Hamilton now stood a chance of winning the race and keeping his record of being the only driver to win a GP every year he has raced. Charles got into a proper scrap with both Red Bull cars after passing Sergio earlier on Lap 30. Then the switch on Max Verstappen on Lap 39 in a move that sent the crowd into the same stratosphere Alonso’s car was in earlier. Are you not entertained? Sadly, it wasn’t to last as Verstappen set off to reel in Hamilton and, with better grip, got the job done on lap 50 with six laps to go.
Sebastian Vettel is throwing everything into his final season with another mammoth effort in an Aston Martin that looks better with each race. He finished P8 with valuable points for the team after a ‘knife-out’ fight with Magnussen on the last lap. He could have easily been fighting for a podium had it not been for a painfully lethargic pitstop. Speaking of painfully lethargic, Tim Cook, the big boss of Apple, looked like his iPhone battery was at 10% waving the flag in what can only be described as the most dismal effort in the history of flag waving.
Verstappen’s win now makes that 13 wins in a season, tying with Michael Schumacher and Sebastian Vettel. The win also secures the Manufacturer’s Championship for Red Bull and a fitting dedication to Dietrich Mateschitz. Hamilton finished in P2, with Leclerc taking the final place on the podium. The world’s most expensive travelling circus heads to Mexico for this week’s visit to Sergio Perez’s home GP. Did someone say tequila?
Words: Brent vd Schyff