By Ana Chauhan, Chief Editor, The Pawprint
Red Bull driver Max Verstappen won this weekend’s grand prix in Austin, Texas, increasing his lead over Lewis Hamilton for the Championship Title to 12 points.
Though he has won many races in the past, this season he has had to deal with the pressure of a championship challenge against 7-time champion Lewis Hamilton.
Hamilton had done a great job in qualifying to get himself into provisional pole in Q3, but Verstappen unqualified him by two-tenths of a second.
Fans were worried about the two of them sharing the front row during the race start due to their previous collisions at Silverstone and Monza, but Hamilton ensured that Verstappen had no choice but to yield at Turn 1.
Hamilton had a better start, but the Redbull driver was able to strategize with his team in order to regain his lead. From the cockpit, he was reporting that Hamilton was sliding a lot and struggling, which helped the undercut. He even suggested that they pit Sergio Perez to stop Hamilton from going too long in order to gain a larger tyre offset.
A driver trying to strategise his teammate’s race is fairly uncommon, but Redbull duly brought Perez in, and Hamilton was forced to cover him. Redbull has been sacrificing Perez’s races every now and then, purely to increase Verstappen’s chances for the title. Even in Silverstone, they pitted Perez just so he could get the fastest lap instead of Hamilton.
Verstappen managed to seal the win in the end on hard tyres to hold off Hamilton, who had eight-lap fresher tyres.
Once Hamilton was undercut at the first stop, Redbull ensured their win by pre-empting their second stop and pitting early.
Verstappen now has a 12-point lead, the most either driver has had since Silverstone. The next race is Mexico, which has usually been an Achilles’ heel for Mercedes. On top of this, Hamilton has the probability of another engine penalty hanging over him.