Lewis Hamilton, Max Verstappen, Circuit of the Americas, 2021

Verstappen out-runs Hamilton in nail-biting finish to United States GP

2021 United States Grand Prix summary

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Max Verstappen held on to win the United States Grand Prix ahead of a charging Lewis Hamilton.

The Red Bull driver took the chequered flag a little over a second over his rival, who closed an eight-second gap on him over the final laps of the race.

Verstappen lost his advantage from pole position at the start of the race. Hamilton got away quickly from second on the grid and threw his Mercedes down the inside, forcing the Red Bull wide.

Hamilton wasn’t able to pull a lead out over his rival, however, and Red Bull brought Verstappen in his his first pit stop at the earliest available opportunity. Hamilton stayed out three laps longer, but couldn’t afford to wait any longer as Red Bull brought the pursuing Perez in.

By mid-distance Hamilton held a three-second lead over Hamilton, who was beginning to edge closer to him on his slightly fresher tyres. Verstappen was the first of the two to pit again, but by this time Perez had dropped further back and Hamilton was able to hang on for eight more laps.

Hamilton finally came in for fresh tyres on lap 38 and, after a steady few laps, began hacking into Verstappen’s lead. But once he closed within two seconds of the Red Bull he struggled to make further progress, slipping back occasionally.

By the penultimate lap Hamilton had the gap down to 1.1 seconds and looked poised to strike as the pair picked their way past the lapped Mick Schumacher. However while Verstappen was able to activate his DRS as he closed on the Haas, Hamilton didn’t draw close enough to do the same, and Verstappen scampered around the final lap to win.

Perez came in a distant second, over 40 seconds behind his victorious team mate having lost time running his middle stint on the medium tyre compound.

Charles Leclerc took a comfortable fifth, 24 seconds ahead of Daniel Ricciardo, who split the Ferrari drivers on the first lap. Carlos Sainz Jnr kept Lando Norris behind but the pair were overhauled by Valtteri Bottas, who got his Mercedes up to sixth.

The lapped Yuki Tsunoda and Sebastian Vettel completed the top 10. Both Alpine drivers retired, as did Pierre Gasly.

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2021 United States Grand Prix reaction

Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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97 comments on “Verstappen out-runs Hamilton in nail-biting finish to United States GP”

  1. I initially thought its Spain once again but I clearly underestimated Max, this is a character defining race for Max, what a racer.

    1. Yes, Max the strategist has come out this year.

      It was fairly obvious that if he did an early stop he would have to baby his tyres early on to retain traction and grip to avoid having a fast Mercedes pass him with DRS on the back straight with fresher tyres. It really didn’t matter when Lewis caught up, Max doesn’t do scared and keeps his head under pressure relying on the Merc being sub-optimal in dirty air.

      Well though out win.

  2. That was an absolutely epic battle, we are so lucky! I was sure Lewis has it after the start, I was sure Max has it when MB didn’t react to Max’s first stop, and I was sure Lewis has it with that big tyre offset at the end. The two-stoppers just bring so much more intrigue.

    1. U can’t say it often enough! This season is a real treat for all of us. I wish the hate in the comments would turn it into friendly banter 😅 and we just all enjoy this

      1. Amen. Let’s drop the negatives and just enjoy these great drivers.

      2. You’re right Tim. That’s what sports should be about :)

  3. Big ham fan but I can’t even be mad. Really a great race.

    1. Lewis usually looks a bit gutted to finish 2nd but he didn’t today. I think both drivers drive an incredible race and they both knew it. Awesome to watch.

    2. I’m not keen on Hamilton but he needs to stay in the sport longer as otherwise Verstappen will just walk away with it in the future

      1. Nah, a few other drivers would be right there if cars were closer.

      2. I don’t agree you have a lot of great young drivers who can compete in the future: Norris, Leclerc, Russell and perhaps Sainz as well

        1. I meant compete for the WDC

      3. so true! this is great racing! both of them drove 30s away from the rest. truly nailbiting last few laps. Loving this season due to their competition.

        1. Because their car is 30s faster

        2. Thanks for saying what I hope the majority of readers think. To watch such a race and then find such comments is so disheartening. I will stick

      4. Agree that we want Hamilton to stay in the sport, but here’s hoping the next years aero rules even out the field and give more challengers for the title!

      5. Yours are the type of comment that makes me look elsewhere for my F1 news.

        I come back hoping things improve, but eventually similar comments arise again. Honestly, what value does “We do know for a fact Verstappen is WAY better than Hamilton. On one lap, on race pace, on everything.” add? Support your driver by all means, but telling me what I ‘know’ or proclaiming yourself the purveyor of ‘facts’ does not make enjoyable discussion.

        1. Montréalais (@)
          25th October 2021, 3:18

          Thank you for echoing my thoughts, @cairnsfella. I am seriously sick of the football hooligan style trash talk here. I no longer enjoy this forum and I hope that @keithcollantine will forgive me for cancelling my membership.

        2. @cairnsfella I agree completely. The fact that Racefans offers no option to block obnoxious and abusive commenters is a disgrace.

      6. Even if Max is 2021 WC i think 2022 makes it very hard to repeat that as the rules makes the cars totally different. But if Lewis stop i think Lando, Charles and George are in those teams which easy can battle Red Bull.

    3. As a Verstappen fan, I have to say this was potentially one of the best (if not the best) race of the season.

      The start/opening lap was very clean and the the key elements of the remainder not the race was real edge of the seat racing. Great race and a thriller of the season.

      My biggest bugbear of the race is the Sky commentary and the absolute brown nosing from them regarding Mercedes.

      1. Great, especially because it was clean.

        1. Indeed, but i can imagine the flak on Max if he defended the way Lewis did in the first corner.
          He pushed max of the track and i do not have any problem with that.

      2. I decided to listen to the bbc 5 live and sync the audio to sky feed. The radio is about a minute ahead of the TV. Sooooooooooooo much better than Sky. Not happy that Ham didn’t win but half way through the season my gut has been saying Max is gonna win the WDC this year as he and redbull have done the business. Still a cracking race.

        1. I do the same thing but watch the Dutch TV and sync with the Sky audio mainly for Martin Brundle and his view on the strategy. I don’t think we can listen to bbc 5 live here in holland.

          1. @grapmg There are a couple of sources for the BBC R5 commentary, firstly the official F1 app uses that feed as the live commentary and secondly you might be able to get it direct from the BBC sports website.

          2. @ju88sy thx for the info will try it next race Dutch commentators are oke but not on the same level. Next year we have to watch through “NENT VIAPLAY” so looking for alternatives like F1tv.

      3. Didn’t think it was that bad. Aren’t they just trying to make the race interesting through commentary?

  4. Fine drive of Bottas to 6th
    Best drive of the day by Vettel
    Kudos to Max keeping the faster race car with a 7x DWC behind

  5. This season is a true gift.

    These 2 drivers are in a class of their own.

    1. @trib4udi +1 .
      I still personally believe that Mercedes has had it easy 7 times. But this season has made me realize that mighty advantage has only been possible by having Hamilton as a team leader (most of the time?/ whenever he doesn’t trash talk about them?). For example, in 2017 and 2018 it was not only Ferrari/Vettel dropping the ball. It was also the talent of Hamilton. Since he lost the WDC in 2016, it seems to me he is more focused on extracting the best of himself and the machinery at his disposal.
      About Max, he has learned his lessons as well. He has stopped being the all-or-nothing guy (he DID crash with Hamilton twice, but to be honest they were both guilty in both ocassions. Maybe the heat of the moment got the best of them?), and he is the first driver in a long time to have more wins than Hamilton in a year. He could have at least one more if it weren’t for that tyre blow in Baku.
      This season is the best in many, many years.

  6. The strategy mostly won for RB, although Hamilton’s fightback effectively stopped when he got within 2 seconds.

  7. I just dont understand why merc pitted ham so late and didnt react earlier to maxs stop. they had the pace to challenge for the win but just not enough laps

    1. I guess Merc weren’t expecting Verstappen to pit this early and then they had to choose between putting the next lap and probably still losing the lead anyway (the undercut seemed quite effective) or going long so they went long.

    2. Because of the offset in tyre difference. It almost worked out, but Max just had enough to hold on. It looked like Hamilton forgot to open DRS on the last lap. A fantastic race today, Verstappen the worthy winner but two great drivers.

      1. @john-h I don’t think he was within 1 second in any of the DRS detection points.

        1. Max got drs from the Haas at the detection point lewis was 1.084 sec behind and missed the drs

    3. I think they were close but I feel Red Bull had the edge

  8. Two top drivers at the absolute top of their game. One of the best drives of the season from both Verstappen and Hamilton.

    1. Nail biting it was…what a great race.

      1. An average speed of more than 121 m/h on this circuit! That’s insane! Both drivers did a more than excellent job today.

  9. Great Battle between two matadors. Enthousiastic public and nice podium.
    What a season.

  10. What a race, and what a season it is!

  11. Hamilton held a three-second lead over Hamilton,

    Yeah, what can you expect, nobody else seems to exist here

    1. A feat worthy only of god. Makes sense

    2. It’s never good to get ahead of yourself.

  12. There wasn’t any wheel to wheel stuff but you just knew that both Lewis and Max were giving it everything they had and were watching each other like hungry hawks.

    Good stuff ;)

  13. Regardless of wins, this has been for me the best f1 season for a long time with two drivers going neck and neck. If you are not enjoying this then you just dont enjoy F1!

    1. Unexpectedly too. I think a lot of us were thinking this year was just going to be a repeat of last year when they announced the 1 year delay for the new regulations. How wrong we were!

  14. Great race. Wow, Max and Lewis are special. I’m thoroughly relishing their battle. I’m so impressed with how Maxis handling his first real chance at a championship battle, and really impressed with how Honda have stepped up after their dark years, their reliability has been bulletproof. Given this, Mercedes engine issues, and with Mexico and Brazil coming, surely Max is the favourite, but you know that regardless Lewis will fight to the end. I’m so excited for the conclusion of the championship, bring it on

    1. If that is right probaly yes but could be Mercedes sandbagging as with Lewis engine is no problems.

      Rumours says Mercedes put their engine on higher engine mods but that gives some problems in the reliability and Bottas is used on how high they can put the engine so that the reason Bottas has to swap so many enignes.

  15. Article needs a bit of an edit, Leclerc was 4th!
    Great race by him btw.

    1. Yes I was about to point out that this particular piece seems rushed. Too many mistakes.

      Hamilton 3 second lead on Hamilton?
      Perez distant second?
      Leclerc fifth?

      Please take time to proof read before rushing to get the articles out.

      I dont critsise small mistakes usually but this is very pretty low standard.

  16. I’m just glad to be around to experience this season. Hope the new cars don’t change everything and give one team a huge advantage.

  17. Cherish this season. It’s very rare to have two greats facing each other in similar machinery barely putting a foot wrong. The last time I would say we had this level was 2006 when Alonso in the Renault was up against Schumacher in the Ferrari. Hopefully we continue to have racing this close without luck playing too big a part. I know Max seems to have a slight advantage now but let’s not forget he had a 30 plus points advantage earlier this season and we know what happened next.

    1. @brum55 Couldn’t agree more, lets just sit back and cherish this season, these two are at the top of their game. It’s such a joy to watch I don’t think it’s even worth caring who wins, only admiring how they got there.

    2. Agree about the comparison to 2006.
      2 drivers from 2 different teams on the edge of perfection right until the end of the season. Doesn’t get any better

  18. These two are at their peak, particularly Verstappen. Those last two laps from him were one of the best I’ve ever seen, absolutely on the edge of what that car could perform at that point – and me on the edge of my seat. Hamilton is as good as he ever was, I think some of his best performances have come out of this season but at the same time slightly more errors. He has gained speed and race craft but sacrificed some consistency.

    1. These two are at their peak, particularly Verstappen.

      Nope, only growing every season and there is no end in sight..
      Lewis on the other hand is over his peak i think. To may mistakes under pressure this year.

  19. Absolutely thrilling race, was on the edge of my seat the whole time. On mediums the RB looked faster than the Mercedes, but on the hards I think the Merc was better. Wonderful battle between two greats, but somewhere I believe if the race lasted for 2-3 rounds more Hamilton might have catched Verstappen. But it was not. Bring on the rest of the season!

  20. Also +1 the enthousiastic crowd!

    1. Indeed. Great vibes there.

  21. We are very lucky to have such a close contest. If Max had not had a tyre blow out from the lead and then had not been taken out on two other occasions he would now be anywhere from 40 – 60 points clear. One drivers misfortune is our gain.

    1. I want him to win but yeah, this is MUCH more entertaining.

  22. Really good race! I think the race was saved when Lewis took Max at the start. I feel had Max been out front, there was no way Lewis was going to catch!

  23. The RedBull was just too quick today. You don’t chase in Lewis’ DRS for ten laps straight without the quicker car. But it was an entertaining race. Max did what he had to do. If he wins the championship he is a deserving champion. There has been lesser ones.

    1. Lewis fan…must have been the car.

    2. They were about 50/50. Faster at different stages.

      But that Redbull surely can follow closer.

  24. Exceptional race from two exceptional drivers in an exceptional F1 season. Fans are the winners here.

  25. While I understand the need to limit the number of PU component and penalize teams when they exceed, I feel there needs to be some common sense applied when the replacement is necessitated by accident damage when the accident was caused by someone else. It undermines a Teams performance when they take a hit for something they could not possibly control.

  26. I’m a Max fan. But I really don’t see any need to underrate Hamilton today.
    In a way this race has shown that these 2 drivers are absolutely better than anybody else. No more “it’s the car” nonsense to be honest, going for any of them. When two teams are this close, and their top drivers can show why they are so great, it’s amazing. I’m really glad the first lap was tight but clean on both sides. Imagine if a first-lap tangle had robbed us of this slow-burn but great race!
    Good or bad luck aside for any of them, if Max becomes champion this year, we will know it will have been deserved. And the same goes for Hamilton. I really hope there are not any awkward bad luck situations for any of them until the end of the season.

  27. Some really great, positive, and balanced comments on this thread today. Great stuff and great race. Nail biter is exactly how I described it after the chequered flag too. With about 16 laps to go LH was about 8 seconds back and I thought that him needing half a second a lap Max was safe, but of course as the laps continued I was not at all sure of that, but then of course the old ‘one thing to catch, another to pass.’ Just shows how much tension, excitement, and entertainment there can be even without much passing. Great stuff.

  28. Anyone know why Mercedes didn’t react to RB’s pitting Max to undercut Lewis?
    Seemed so obvious to do at the time….??

    1. Undecisive. Haven’t made their minds yet.

    2. Because Perez was just out there complicating Mercedes strategy.

    3. Because of the long lap and the fast degrading mediums, Verstappen was already going to be ahead of Lewis even if Lewis pitted just 1 lap later.

    4. This race was really the mirror image of the Bahrain Grand Prix, where the second car would aggressively undercut the leader, but sacrifice its overall strategy. Verstappen’s tire management in the final stint was clear to see (Pérez was a second faster directly after his stop), so he had enough tire life left to fend off Hamilton at the end of the race. Very high-quality stuff from both drivers.

  29. Qas a great tense battle in the front hats off to both verstappen and lewis. Some mid field action as well. Very good race overall. Even thought lewis never win i still enjoyed it very much

  30. Masterclass of a drive from Max today, he really schooled Jam and his Merc rocketship, who looked sloppy and out of his depth again.

    Next year will be even more brutal for him with an actual teammate in George.

  31. I have to say I am dumfounded.

    I posted a perfectly polite comment about the less than constructive posts by Fantomius (which I stand by, and was agreed with) and my post was deleted and his/hers remain.

    This world gets stranger by the minute.

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