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

Verstappen wasn’t sure Red Bull’s “aggressive” strategy would pay off for win

2021 United States Grand Prix

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Max Verstappen praised Red Bull’s strategy which won him the United States Grand Prix, but admitted he doubted it would work early in the race.

The championship leader was passed by Lewis Hamilton at the start, but Red Bull got him back ahead by bringing him in first for his pit stop. They repeated the strategy when the drivers pitted again, but that allowed Hamilton to attack Verstappen on much fresher tyres at the end.

Verstappen held on, however, and took a win which extended his championship lead to 12 points. He praised his team’s tactics on the radio after the race. “I like the way we played this strategy,” he said, “it’s good to be aggressive sometimes.”

Speaking after the race Verstappen admitted he wasn’t sure the team’s pit stop decisions were going to pay off.

“Of course we lost out in the start, so we had to try and do something else,” he said. “But the tyre wear is quite high around this track.

“So we did go aggressive and I was not sure it was going to work. But the last few laps were fun. A bit sideways through the high speed corners but super happy, of course, to hang on.”

Verstappen won by just 1.3 seconds at the chequered flag after Hamilton slashed the Red Bull driver’s lead during the final stint. Hamilton said Red Bull were too quick for Mercedes over the weekend.

“Congratulations to Max, he did a great job today,” said Hamilton. “It was such a tough race.”

While Verstappen was quicker than Hamilton in the opening phase of the race on the medium compound tyres, Mercedes appeared stronger after switching to the hard rubber.

“I got a good start, gave it absolutely everything,” said Hamilton. “But at the end of the day, they just had the upper hand this weekend and we couldn’t really ask for more.

“But a big, big thank you to my team for great pit stops, great hard work throughout the weekend and what an amazing crowd, to perform in front of [them] is such an honour.”

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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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7 comments on “Verstappen wasn’t sure Red Bull’s “aggressive” strategy would pay off for win”

  1. These 2 are in a league of their own. Granted, Bottas started from way back, but Perez who looked in better form this weekend ended up 40 seconds behind the leaders. That’s almost 1 second per lap.

    1. Perez had no water though 😅

      1. This has happened before to many other drivers, in tougher conditions. Both Bottas and Magnussen have had no water in Singapore. I think Bottas had this issue in 2017 and had blurred vision near the end of the race.

        1. Worth noting in this case that Perez was already sick before the race started.

      2. Yeah dehydration alone can easily cost you several seconds over such a long distance.

  2. Max and Lewis really are in their own league though. We talk about suspension tricks, weather, graining, ICU’s and penalties, collisions etc. But the reality is Checo and Valterri have been nowhere near them this season other than the occasional spark.

    I’m not sure if Max or Lewis will win it, nobody does, that’s the beauty of it. I’m not sure which is the quicker car if you aggregate it over the season. Both cars have their merits.

    Whichever of the two of them loses, shouldn’t despair on it, they’re both performing incredibly. And I know it’s a cliche, but ‘neither of them deserve to lose’.

    But someone has to win.

  3. From being poor on strategy with some face-palm moves in the past, Red Bull is now doing the right call more than Mecedes which is quite something, but of course easier when they had two cars against one for once, with Perez preventing Hamilton from doing the one-stop.

    Mercedes also probably not used to having this kind of competition, and showing the strategy dept. up a little. Reacting, instead of acting.

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