Red Bull Clinches the Constructor’s Championship
A record-setting attendance of four hundred thousand fans at the Circuit of the Americas awaited Formula 1 for the United States Grand Prix in Austin, Texas and those fans got their money’s worth. Max Verstappen having already claimed the Driver’s Championship a week earlier at the Japanese Grand Prix had two missions to complete the first was helping Red Bull clinch their first Constructor’s championship since 2013.
The formula was simple Verstappen and his teammate Sergio Perez had to outscore Ferrari by nineteen points. Ferrari on the other hand battling for personal pride did not want to hand the constructor’s title over so easily even if it was a foregone conclusion. Verstappen’s second mission was to claim his thirteen victories of the season) which would tie him with legend Michael Schumacher and Sebastien Vettel for the most wins in a single season.
Celebrities from across North America and the world littered the paddock at COTA under beautiful sunny skies for qualifying. Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc had an incredible series of laps throughout the sessions, knowing full well that in whatever position he qualified, he had a penalty to serve. Leclerc’s Ferrari needed to add new engine components surpassing the allotted number allowed during the season punishing him with a ten-place grid penalty.
In the third qualification, the session seemed like Leclerc would claim the pole and be relegated to eleventh place for the race, if not for his teammate Carlos Sainz Jr. Sainz on the very last lap of Qualifying performed the fastest lap of the day claiming his second pole position of the season and third of his career. Verstappen had a solid qualifying session in the third, but Leclerc’s penalty was moved up to the second place.
Leclerc was not the only driver who was going to be penalized and the qualifying order went through multiple changes. Perez who qualified in fourth was bumped down to ninth allowing Mercedes Lewis Hamilton to move up to third on the grid followed by his teammate George Russell in fourth. The front of the grid was set and looked promising for an interesting race at the United States Grand Prix.
Sun and Clouds danced in the sky with nearly no chance of promising the United States GP was going to be a clean race. Max Verstappen was the previous winner at the track winning in 2021 and starting the race in second place put him in a prime position to claim back-to-back races at the Circuit of the Americas. Ninety percent of the teams elected to use medium compound tires while the rest of the teams elected to go with hard compounds adding as per usual strategic importance for the pit stops.
After the star-spangled banner was sung the United States Grand Prix at the Circuit of the Americas was r primed to take off as everyone awaited the red lights on the track to go off. The Red lights turned dark and Max Verstappen got the best of Carlos Sainz who could keep his pole position at the e start of the race spinning his tires and losing precious ground to the current world champion.
Sainz dropped to second place and was then struck by George Russel and his Mercedes knocking the Ferrari out of the race. Russel would later be penalized for his actions with a five-second penalty he could serve during one of his pit stops. Lewis Hamilton tried to give chase to Verstappen but could not keep up staying in P2 followed by Aston Martins Lance Stroll in P3.
Sebastien Vettel had the best start out of the bunch jumping five spots from P10 to P5. Ferrari’s Leclerc after a couple showed off the Scuderia’s power surging through the pack going from P12 to P7 with ease.
Verstappen and the rest of the field settled down on the racetrack and so did the action until Lap 18 when Alfa Romeo’s Valtteri Bottas exited the race triggering the first safety car of the day. Leclerc was the first driver to take advantage of the free pit spot going from P2 to P4.
The race restarted on Lap 21, and it seemed that there were no incidents to report until Aston Martins Lance Stroll dangerously moved into the path of Alpine’s Fernando Alonso and future teammate sending the Spaniard’s front wheels airborne and into the wall. Stroll’s race finished but remarkably Alonso’s Alpine proved to be sturdily surviving both impacts. Alonso limped back to the pits for a new front wing and a set of the new tire and was back into the race.
A safety car was once again required onto the track to allow the clean-up to be done safely. The third start of the race took place at the end of lap 25 and this time there no accidents occurred. Leclerc put on a show with Red Bull’s Sergio Perez battling for third place, keeping everyone on the edge of their seat. Leclerc caught Perez by surprise breaking late and completing a beautiful set of moves to claim P3.
Pit stops came into serious play when Hamilton who sat in second pitted to try to undercut Verstappen in 1st place on Lap 35. One lap later Verstappen entered the pits and experienced a horrific pit stop when his crew could not secure his left front tire, his precious time was and by the time the champion was back on track he was in sixth place. Hamilton seemed to be in a position to claim his first victory of the season and continue his streak of winning a race in every season in which he has participated.
Leclerc and Verstappen put on a battle for all to enjoy with Leclerc winning the first round of overtakes that featured a double switch of positions keeping the Ferrari ahead of the Red Bull. Verstappen eventually had too much speed for Leclerc and overtook easily later in the lap.
The hunt was on for 1st place and Verstappen could not be stopped from reaching Hamilton with a handful of laps to the race. Hamilton put up a valiant effort, but his Mercedes could not slow the charging Red Bull. Verstappen took over the lead of the race and crossed the chequered flag for his second consecutive win at the United States Grand Prix.
Verstappen’s victory tied him with Schumacher and Vettel for the most wins in a single season with thirteen and also secured Red Bull’s claim to their fifth Constructor’s Championship in F1 history. Both team and driver had plenty to celebrate while Hamilton had come so close yet so far to win his first in staying second place followed by Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc in third.
In one week, the Mexican Grand Prix awaits Verstappen with the opportunity to claim his fourteenth win of the season which will give him the most wins in a single season.
Rest of the Pack
Like in qualifying the final order of the race would later be determined by many on-track penalties issued by the stewards penalizing drivers with time penalties dropping them down the rankings. Nonetheless, Perez who finished in P4, and George Russel in P5 would not face such consequences staying put in the spot they finished. McLaren’s Lando Norris was also unscathed staying in sixth place while Alonso who finished in seventh was handed a thirty-second penalty for losing his mirror on the track. Alonso fell from P7 to P15 out of the points.
Vettel who had a stellar race and performed a beautiful overtake of Kevin Magnussen on the final lap of the GP was promoted to P7 benefiting from Alonso’s penalty. HAAS’ Kevin Magnussen finished in P8 followed by Alpha Tauri’s Yuki Tsunoda in P9. Grabbing the last point and consolation prize for Alpine was Esteban Ocon in tenth place.
The Mexican Grand Prix is next up on the menu and you can bet that despite both championships secured by Red Bull there will still be plenty of rivalries that will need to be settled on the track
2022 UNITED STATES GRAND PRIX( COTA) FINAL STANDINGS
|1||MAX VERSTAPPEN||NETHERLANDS||RED BULL|
|4||SERGIO PEREZ||MEXICO||RED BULL|
|7||SEBASTIEN VETTEL||GERMANY||ASTON MARTIN|
|9||YUKI TSUNODA||JAPAN||ALPHA TAURI|
|11||ZHOU GUANYU||CHINA||ALFA ROMEO|
|13||PIERRE GASLY||FRANCE||ALPHA TAURI|
|RETIRED||LANCE STROLL-LAP 21||CANADA||ASTON MARTIN|
|RETIRED||VALTERRI BOTTAS-LAP 16||FINLAND||ALFA ROMEO|
|RETIRED||CARLOS SAINZ JR-LAP 56||SPAIN||FERRARI|