Good performance from Leclerc, who remains off the podium as usual. Kimi sparks against Alonso, but then misses
Texas, land of bulls, cowboys and rodeos. In that of Circuit of The Americas, where 400,000 people in three days set record numbers for F1, the Red Bull wins, complete with a gore to the cowboy Mercedes. And Max Verstappen gives an important tear in the head-to-head world champion with Lewis Hamilton. Here are the report cards of the US GP.
Max Verstappen: 10
The eighteenth victory of the career is that of maturity, on various fronts, but first of all in the sign of one word: management. Management of the strategy after an insufficient start, of the tires (after the degradation of the first hard set, he managed the second perfectly), of the distance and Hamilton (never in the final allowed him to get close under the second gap, therefore in zona Drs), of the overall scenario to the point of suggesting to the team what to do with the second machine, that of Perez (Make sure, with Sergio, that Hamilton doesn’t stay out for long). now The General. Fabio Quartararo won the title in the MotoGP, the feeling that F1 is also preparing to crown a young champion, in the name of the inevitable generational change.
Austin Audiences: 10
A biblical crowd is the manifesto of a world that wants the old normal and the proof that F1 has perhaps conquered the United States for good.
Red Bull: 10
Two hundred podiums, with Verstappen’s triumph and Perez’s third place. Max was faster than Hamilton in the first stint, but at best he was able to get close: he would not have overtaken him on the track. So the strategists worked on the undercuts and even anticipated the first stop quite a bit. Necessary but risky choice. The rapid degradation of the hard tires seemed to suggest it was a mistake, but after the second change, Max took steps to take the situation in hand. On the part of the team there remains the idea of great clarity: all compact and on the piece. What Mercedes did and does not do now anymore (at least not always).
Lewis Hamilton: 9
He placed the best start of the season, took the lead and perhaps this was a surprise compared to Mercedes’ battle plans. Then he ended up behind, sucked into the choices of Red Bull, and from hare to hunter. He tried to the last and from a seven-time world champion the least that should be expected. But this time it didn’t work, also because while Perez was working for Verstappen, Bottas was asleep in the middle of the group. It’s hard to win 1v2 and Lewis explained it more with silences and body gestures (he even gave a little slap on the wheel before getting off the W12) than with phrases on the radio. But when he spoke, he even thunderstruck Toto Wolff who urged him to try to win: Brother, leave me alone. I’ll try.
Sergio Perez: 8
If you look at the final gap, it is concluded that Verstappen (who drives his own car) and Hamilton are of a different kind. But Sergio is not seated, far from it, and in this phase of the World Championship he is playing the best role he must have, that of a useful if not fundamental number 2 for the cause of his captain. Deny the podium to Leclerc and Ferrari, the next race will be at his home in Mexico.
Charles Leclerc: 8
He puts his heart and his desire to do beyond the objective limits of Ferrari today, but he does everything to chase third place and not leave Perez calm. In truth, he never really gets to bother him and thus collects another wooden medal (aka fourth place), but at least he leaves a red memory on a track colored by the Red Bull blue and the silver-black of the Mercedes.
Once again he remains at the foot of the podium, with the unpleasant feeling of having collected much less than possible on a track, among other things, historically unwelcome. It is clear that the package is still incomplete and that in the face of the certified quality of the new power unit (improved by a lot in the hybrid component) there is a frame that does not support the need to take a step forward. In this strange, preparatory limbo – the fans hope – for the turning point in 2022, the Red team must find the strength to grab third place among the Constructors. McLaren has gnawed other points (there are only 3.5 left to recover), now there are favorable tracks for overtaking.
Daniel Ricciardo: 7+
For some GPs he seems to have risen on a swing: a little up and a little down. In Austin, the Kangaroo is back (quite) high, if only because he revisits his dog’s grit in defending the position. The duel with Sainz was beautiful, in the end also won because McLaren (vote 5) was less consistent than in other GPs.
Kimi Raikkonen: 7
The Kimi who loses the car and sends it into a spin by 5. But first we had seen the old lion who does not lift his foot: the rustic duel with Alonso, who rewarded him, alone deserved the price of the ticket. So, let’s get the half-full glass of Iceman.
Carlos Sainz: 6.5
Condemned to a penitential race by the obligation to start on soft tires (which led to slower strategies, as Pirelli had predicted), he collects a second problematic pit stop – the third time that happens in as many GPs: evil eye, perhaps? – after which he has blunt weapons to attack Ricciardo and to defend himself in the final from Bottas who snatches the sixth place.
Yuki Tsunoda: 6+
Once again the battle jp manages to get noticed for the hand-to-hand combat, in which you can hear perhaps a re-edition of the samurai. If nothing else, a lively presence in no-man’s-land, where there are no ranking ambitions and where you have to get by a bit.
Has it lost the magic touch? Maybe not, but imperfections are certainly no longer counted. He fails to turn Hamilton’s perfect start into an advantage and on the contrary, as he goes, he finds himself with Red Bull in command of operations. The car was slower, while the decision to change Bottas’ internal combustion engine (making him collect a penalty) did not pay off, even if the pilot’s sloth probably comes into play here.
Alfa Romeo: 5
Ugly, very ugly the categorical imperative – something like: Give him the position and shut up – imposed on Antonio Giovinazzi after a controversial phase of the duel with Alonso. That poor Giovi (vote 7 for patience in enduring) no longer suits the well-known team principal Vasseur, but there is a way and way to treat a driver.
Valtteri Bottas: 5
From winning with honors in Turkey to returning to anonymity, it is irritating to Mercedes because it doesn’t help Hamilton in the sports war with Verstappen. Once again it confirms its characteristic: when it comes to reassembly, it is almost never there. Iceman II melted in the Austin heat: he too was a victim of global warming.
Both machines go to the ground and worrying (and dangerous) in particular the crash of the rear wing of Alonso (who here and there tries to be the usual, old warrior: the sufficiency deserves it): bad proof on the reliability front for a decidedly disappointing team this year despite Ocon’s victory in Hungary.
October 25, 2021 (change October 25, 2021 | 12:28)
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