Verstappen Extends Lead at COTA


I had the pleasure of experiencing this race in person this weekend. I attended practice 1, practice 3, qualification and the race. This was my first live Formula 1 event, and it did not disappoint. My family and I trekked all over the 3.4-mile track attempting to find a balance between the best view with the quickest way to exit since I had an event to attend at 7:30 Sunday evening. Circuit of the Americas (COTA) is a wonderful way to dip your feet into live Formula 1 action!

The key to win this weekend was engine and tire management. Valterri Bottas, Fernando Alonso and George Russell all had to change their engines during this weekend. Days one and two were extraordinarily hot, taxing the engines and tires to the max. Early the morning of the race, the heavens opened and dropped rain all over COTA changing the conditions of the track. The teams that managed these new conditions would do the best.

The start of the race was exciting. Lewis Hamilton started in second but had a better launch than Max Verstappen. Hamilton quickly took first position and pushed Verstappen off the track at the top of turn one. Nicholas Latifi ran his Williams car straight into the rear left wheel of Lance Stroll at the top of turn one, spinning Stroll out as lap one was just beginning. Later, in the lap Daniel Ricciardo managed to pass Carlos Sainz around turn 16. Coming out of Turn 2, Estaban Ocon’s Alpine was clipped by an Alpha Romeo causing him to go into the pit and change his front wing.

Most of the excitement in the race occurred in lap one and lap 56. Tire changes started happening around lap 10. Verstappen came in at lap 11 and dropped to 5th. Once everyone including Hamilton came in for a tire change, Verstappen finally took the lead and never gave it up. Throughout the race there was a nice battle between former Champions Kimi Raikkonen and Fernando Alonzo. They both drive for different teams now, but they battled throughout the race just like they did in their younger years, bumping and banging each other throughout the middle of the race. Unfortunately, Alonso had to retire his Alpine at lap 51. Meanwhile, Raikkonen finished 13th.


The last few laps of the race were extremely exciting. Hamilton was edging closer and closer to Verstappen. Likewise, Bottas edged closer to Carlos Sainz as the final laps ticked off. The battle was exciting to watch live. Sitting between turn 16 and 17 we could see Bottas give Sainz all he could handle thru the S turns. There was no real battle for second place as Sergio Perez was 30 seconds behind the leader. As a fan, it was nice to have the gap because we could focus on the fight between Verstappen and Hamilton and then we could focus on battle between Bottas and Sainz. There were other battles towards the middle of the field. Sebastian Vettell drove his Aston Martin into the points at lap 53 as Raikkonen ran off the track at turn 6. A lap earlier he passed Antonio Giovinazzi.

All of COTA held their breaths for the last 4 laps every time Verstappen and Hamilton hit the top of turn one as Hamilton put tremendous pressure on Verstappen. During the last two laps the headwind began to pick up challenging the drivers thru the turns. As they started the last lap, Hamiton drove close enough to get DRS on the front straight, however Verstappen also gained DRS because he was lapping Mick Schumacher. Verstappen’s boost of speed carried him thru turn one and allowed him to stay ahead of Hamilton the last lap and win the US Grand Prix. Further back in the field, Bottas managed to get past Sainz in the last lap, securing 5th place. Prior to Sunday, Lewis Hamilton has won the last 5 races at COTA. Everyone expected Mercedes to have a strong showing. They did. However, Verstappen secured pole and won the race. This is a key win for Verstappen he extends his lead on Hamilton in the Championship standings.

The crowd at COTA was electric. Redbull, Ferrari, McLaren and Mercedes were all well represented by their fans. Hearing all the Hispanic fans cheering on Sergio Perez was a special experience. He secured third place on Sunday and the crowd went wild! When Verstappen took the lead the whole of COTA erupted. This year’s race at COTA was truly special as we all learn how to deal with COVID. It was also a special day for Redbull as they earn their 200th podium. If you are looking to experience Formula 1 and you are unable to travel overseas, COTA is a great venue to enjoy this sport.

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