Sports Desk, Oct 24 (EFE).- Dutch Formula One driver Max Verstappen, with Red Bull, battled British F1 title rival Lewis Hamilton before a massive crowd at the Circuit of The Americas in Austin, Texas, on Sunday, winning the US Grand Prix for his eighth racing victory so far this season and doubling his lead in the championship standings.
Verstappen, 24, had started in the coveted pole position and went into the race with a six-point lead over Hamilton in the F1 standings, but with the win he is now 12 points out in front of the Briton with five races to go.
Hamilton, driving for Mercedes, was gaining on Verstappen during the final 18 laps of the race and cut his rival’s end-stretch lead to less than 1 second by the last lap, but he was unable to pass the Hollander yet again before crossing the finish line.
The next race for the pair will be in Mexico City.
Hamilton is on the hunt for a record eighth F1 title this season, but, although he has won five times at the Austin raceway, he could not take the Grand Prix to draw even with Verstappen in the point rankings.
Mexico’s Sergio Perez, also driving for Red Bull, came in third and Spain’s Carlos Sainz, with Ferrari, ended the race in seventh, while the latter’s countryman, Fernando Alonso (with Alpine), had to withdraw from the race with just 5 laps to go.
The contest was a thrilling one all the way through and although Verstappen started in the pole position, Hamilton immediately got the jump on him from the second spot, although he could not open up much of a gap between them.
On the contrary, Verstappen got a better rhythm going for himself than Hamilton could muster and was able to take the lead from the Briton by the 11th lap.
Hamilton was able to gain 16 seconds when Verstappen made a brief pit stop in the 30th lap, but “Mad Max” reduced that lead to 11 seconds when the Mercedes driver had to change tires.
The pair exchanged the lead position four times during the 56 laps of the race.
Charles Leclerc of Monaco took fourth place, Australia’s McLaren driver Daniel Ricciardo took fifth and Sainz conceded the sixth spot in the final seconds to Finnish Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas.
After the race, Verstappen said, referring to Hamilton’s taking the lead early on, “We lost out in the start, so we had to do something else. We were aggressive, and I wasn’t sure it was going to work. But the last few laps were fun. I’m super happy to hang on.”
And Hamilton said, in post-race comments, “Congratulations to Max, he did a great job today. It was such a tough race. We gave it absolutely everything, but at the end of the day, they had the upper hand this weekend.”