Here we go again gear-heads, It’s time for Austin, Texas and the Circuit of the Americas! Celebrating its tenth year on the calendar COTA attracts a lot of fanfare and good vibes and it doesn’t hurt that the sport is riding the wave of the Netflix series to fill seats. The only real thing I am looking forward to is Carlos Sainz getting pole position for Sunday and how would he recover from last week’s DNF. We are almost certain that Red Bull will have another thing to celebrate but will they let up off the gas since they have virtually nothing to play for? Only time will tell.
Now let’s get on to the big winners
Certainly didn't look like it was going to be in the cards for Max Verstappen after a pit stop gone
wrong. This infamous pit stop lasted 11 seconds, which is an eternity in F1, and left him behind
Charles LeClerc in third position. This left a lot for Verstappen to make up. And boy did he ever, he quickly made up the 11 second difference to LeClerc and lapped him and eventually caught Lewis Hamilton in first place with seven laps to go here. Max won the race and to put a bow on this performance put a 3 second difference between him and his rival from last season. A fitting tribute from Max as news of the former founder of Red Bull Dietrich Mateschitz having died on Saturday was made public. Along with his 13th win of the season tying Schumacher and Vettel’s joint record for wins in a season, he and Checo finally secured the constructor’s championship for Red Bull after 8 years of dominance from Mercedes. it won’t make up for the loss of such a leader in their organization but I am sure it gives them solace that they honoured the faith that this man instilled in everyone at Red Bull.
On Sunday we saw a bit of the old Lewis back. Leading for what felt like a majority of the race, it
looks on the cards for the Brit to be in the win column again. He looked quick and wasn’t making
any mistakes and because of the bad pitting of Red Bull, gave him the hope that he could take home the win. P2 is what he ultimately settled for and unfortunately for him and Mercedes it showed the gulf of class between the W13 and the RB18. He is running out of real estate if he is
to get that illusive win he’s been chasing all year so hopefully we get a repeat of Brazil last year
going from P20 to winning the whole thing on Sunday. I am not sure this car can do it but doubting whether he can pull it off is something I can’t sign off on.
After announcing his retirement Sebastian Vettel has been on a tear. And his performances just
keep getting better and better. The car has steadily improved and he and his drives with Lance have launched Aston Martin to within a point of 6th position in the constructor’s title when they were seemingly rooted at the bottom. This has been mostly off the backs of Vettel, obviously his seat has been replaced by Fernando but it begs the question under this form, why is he retiring? He’s driving fantastically, so much so that he was leading the US Grand Prix towards three fourths of the way through! Finishing in P8 from P10 doesn’t really tell the whole story but it was really breath-taking stuff. He’s got three more let then it’s off to greener pastures.
What a brave performance! Not much to celebrate these days with Haas and Kevin might not have a seat for 2023 but on this race day he was a Viking God. Going on medium tyres for 38 laps is utter madness and what’s even crazier is that it was his call. So let me explain, medium tyres shouldn’t really go past 12-20 laps and Kevin took them for 38 laps! This alone makes him a win and starting P13 and ending up in the points at P9 is the proof in the pudding.
Now gear-heads, off to the losers from the weekend!
This is the Spaniards second DNF in a row and after getting pole position from Saturday this one stings. There was nothing that should have got in his way but a collision with George Russell on the first turn of the first lap just left his fans dumbfounded. Into turn one Max zoomed ahead of
Carlos leaving him no option but to cut back towards the inside of the apex only to be met by the
Mercedes number 63. Day over and left with a sour taste in his and Ferrari’s mouth. ¡Qué pena!
Unlike Mr. Sainz, Lance Stroll was having a brilliant day but very much like Sainz got into collision that ended his day prematurely. The Canadian had been in form coming into this race at COTA but having made a late move directly in front of Fernando Alonso caused the Spaniard to slam into his Aston Martin and sent Alonso's wing up in the air, more on that later. Stroll’s collision brought out the safety car almost directly after our next unlucky soul who did the same thing. Thankfully for Stroll he’s okay and his team for which his father is the owner are doing much better and are one point off the 6th position in the constructor’s championship.
Things for Valtteri have not gone to plan for him when he made this move away from Mercedes
last year. Sure there have been some races where he has been somewhat competitive but
nothing like the previous few years with Lewis, at least he was winning the odd race here and
there. Spinning out into the gravel and causing a safety car to extract his Alfa Romeo was
obviously not what the former US Grand Prix winner had in mind when he entered into his car on
Sunday. Now the situation might get worse as his team have dropped a sizeable lead to Aston
Martin and if they are not careful could cost them millions of pounds in prize money for next year’s season.
On an ordinary day if you had seen the stats and heard what had happened to the Galician god of
racing you would have said it was a magical day and deserves to be with the winners. Valiantly he recovered from what looked to be a horrendous crash with Stroll, but his car lifted towards the sky and only thankfully hit the fencing on the straightaway that kept him in the race with minimal damage. Ironically he had just pitted on medium tyres and then this which meant
he had to pit again and put those hard tyres back on to have any chances of salvaging anything.
And salvage he did. He raced his socks off and was able to clip Vettel to P7 on the final lap but
there was more. Due to the crash, Alonso’s side mirror snapped off and Haas made a complaint to the stewards for what I can only assess as endangerment of the other drivers. The FIA agreed with Haas and a 30 second penalty was levied and Alonso goes from P7 to P15. What a beautiful run wasted and I can’t imagine how angry this man feels. I think we are going to see some fireworks in Mexico.
Alright, gear-heads, what a race! That was some vintage stuff from our winner and second place
finisher. They have now had more 1-2 results than the previous holder Lewis and former teammate Nico Rosberg. Equally Red Bull have their 5th constructor’s title and their first since
2013 which was the final year of Sebastian Vettel’s fourth consecutive world title season. I think
that this was the weekend that F1 needed in that there was no rain or any delay of any sort and to show the world that America and its market is primed and ready to go all in on the sport; brilliant stuff.
Now it’s off to La Ciudad de Mexico and the Mexican Grand Prix. This is Checo’s home turf so
here’s hoping we see a strong performance from him. The major honours are done but that
doesn’t mean there’s nothing to fight for as the midfield and back of the pack battle have started to heat up.
That’s it from me, check back next week to find out who left track as a winner or loser. Till next