AUSTIN — Purple Bull driver Max Verstappen received the Method 1 race at Circuit of the Americas right here on Sunday, holding off Lewis Hamilton’s charging Mercedes within the last laps.
“You’ll be able to see, it was very near the tip!” Verstappen mentioned after the race. “I used to be having loads of hassle braking.”
That is Verstappen’s fifteenth Grand Prix win in 2023, equaling his file he achieved final yr and chasing Method 1 historical past after profitable the world championship for the third time in a row this month. The victory got here after he began from sixth place after a mistake in qualifying that confused the same old standings.
“It is unimaginable to win the fiftieth jackpot right here,” he mentioned. “Very pleased with course, and we’ll proceed to attempt to push for extra.” He joined the elite membership, the place Hamilton, Michael Schumacher, Sebastian Vettel and Alain Prost have received no fewer than 50 races.
On the podium ceremony after the US Grand Prix, loud boos stuffed the group as Texas Governor Greg Abbott, a Republican, introduced the winner’s trophy to Verstappen.
It was an attention-grabbing race involving competing methods and tire administration in excessive temperatures, with the Purple Bull crew reaching one other main class by committing early to 2 pit stops for Verstappen.
McLaren driver Lando Norris, who had an excellent begin and took the lead into the primary nook, tried to cease as soon as earlier than switching to 2 stops, which gave Verstappen the benefit over him. Hamilton additionally guess on the one-stop race by aiming to make his new tires final a very long time, earlier than abandoning that technique and stopping once more. Hamilton overtook Norris for second place within the closing levels.
Excessive warmth and enormous crowds
McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown advised NBC Information that Circuit of the Americas deserves “loads of credit score” for bringing Method 1 again to the US in 2012 after a racing drought.
“It has been constructed and constructed and constructed and it is nice to see all of the American followers right here. They love Method One,” Brawn mentioned on the grid moments earlier than the race began. “It is solely going to develop. We did not even have Vegas but. Now we have a brand new TV contract. We have got a Brad Pitt film coming. So all of these items will proceed to speed up Method One’s progress.”
Enormous crowds packed the stands over the weekend regardless of scorching temperatures that exceeded 90 levels Fahrenheit. Followers complained concerning the excessive costs as curiosity in tickets elevated.
Leo Garcia, govt vice chairman of operations at Circuit of the Americas, mentioned his crew restricted ticket gross sales with the intention to steadiness the necessity for a constructive fan expertise.
“For the group and the followers, it is a very huge occasion for all of us,” Garcia mentioned. “Figuring out that it is being proven on TV, realizing that there are thousands and thousands of followers all over the world watching this race, that is thrilling for us.”
A wrestle for second place within the championship
Whereas Verstappen has already clinched the Drivers’ Championship this yr, the battle for second place is heating up.
One other Purple Bull driver, Sergio Perez, began the season neck-and-neck with Verstappen, however after a poor spell, Hamilton closed the hole to 19 factors, consuming one other eight factors off his lead on Sunday.
Perez, a Mexican who says Austin appears like a second house run, was greeted all weekend with chants of “Chico! Chico! Chico!” -His nickname.
After the race, Purple Bull crew principal Christian Horner mentioned in a brief interview that ending first and second within the Drivers’ Championship can be “incredible” and expressed confidence in Perez to take action.
“It isn’t like profitable a championship, but it surely’s one thing we have by no means executed earlier than,” Horner mentioned.
Hamilton, the seven-time world champion, mentioned that overtaking Perez within the championship can be a “demonstration of resilience, power and depth from our crew” after a tough 2022.
“I do not know if we’ll catch Sergio or not, however given how completely different our vehicles have been all through the season, I am actually pleased with the work we have executed,” Hamilton advised reporters on Friday. “We simply must preserve our heads down, preserve combating, and preserve pushing.”
There’s a battle for second place within the constructors’ championship with Ferrari in search of to carry off Mercedes. Behind them stands rookie McLaren, which has simply overtaken Aston Martin, which began the season strongly and has been on the decline ever since.
Method 1 stars utilized to the rising American fan base
Over the weekend, drivers additionally mirrored on the rising American fanbase, which the game is betting huge on with a file three US races – in Miami, Austin and the first-ever Las Vegas avenue race subsequent month.
“Two years in the past, you can drive again to the lodge in 20-25 minutes, no downside. You’ll be able to exit for dinner, no downside. You’ll be able to stroll round, no downside, whereas now, driving to the lodge takes 40-45 minutes,” he mentioned. Verstappen quipped: “There are loads of followers within the metropolis. They actually prefer it. It is an enormous crowd subsequent to the observe. “Sure, I’ve slept rather a lot and I feel it is nice to see right here in fact but in addition in fact like in Miami, you possibly can see the crowds and I can solely think about what Vegas goes to be like so yeah, it is good to take a look at that.”
His opponents agreed.
“The change is big,” Leclerc mentioned. “In Austin, we might stroll round and nobody would acknowledge us. Now it is a bit tougher. Nevertheless it’s good. Method One is rising all over the place. And I feel the place the place we felt essentially the most distinction is unquestionably right here within the States.”
Norris mentioned the ambiance “has modified rather a lot” and praised the “good meals” and “nice golf programs” he remembers about Austin, together with the bigger fan base.
“It is grown massively. A number of that is because of Netflix and issues like that,” he mentioned, referring to the favored collection “Drive to Survive” that has introduced in new followers. “Even the Netflix occasion we have now in Vegas goes to be nice.”
However nobody has witnessed this transformation greater than Hamilton.
“I have been right here because the starting in 2012. In that point we had a tremendous crowd. However there is a completely different power, a distinct pleasure, larger than earlier than, and it is rising yearly,” Hamilton mentioned. “And that is one thing you possibly can actually really feel.”