The first thing to mention is what a fantastic city Austin is. If you haven’t been, then you should, especially if you’re into music. The party atmosphere on 6th Street is unlike anything you will find on the rest of the F1 calendar. The Texan’s pride themselves on their food & hospitality and you will get a fantastic reception wherever you go.
Onto the Grand Prix itself and COTA served up another treat. On paper the results may look predictable – Alonso retired, Ferrari not quite quick enough for Mercedes etc… The reality was very different and we were treated to a race that provided excitement, lots of overtaking and wheel to wheel racing throughout.
Sebastian Vettel got off to a flying start, taking the lead from Lewis Hamilton at Turn 1, however, the Mercedes man quickly reeled in his prey regaining the lead on lap 4. It was then business as usual for Hamilton who went on to record his 5th victory in 6 years of racing at Circuit of the Americas. He now has both hands firmly on the Drivers’ Trophy.
From current champions, onto future ones and we would be remiss not to mention Max Verstappen. The Dutch driver took a 15-place grid penalty and started down in 16th but quickly sliced his way through the field up into 6th. The top cars were understandably more difficult to pass, but pass some of them he did and by the end of the race Verstappen found himself in 4th place and hot on the heels of Kimi Raikkonen, before overtaking the Finn on the final lap.
A brilliant podium, or so everyone thought, but in the drivers’ waiting room Verstappen was handed a five-second time penalty for leaving the track during his move on Raikkonen. This was the correct decision if we apply the letter of the law but extremely unpopular with Red Bull Racing & the Verstappen camp. More importantly, it has also been heavily criticised by neutral F1 fans the world over. People want to see competitive racing with the type of grandstand finishes that Verstappen delivered on Sunday. The onus is now on the FIA to make sure this can happen in future races.
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