The American Grand Prix will be held again this weekend. Max Verstappen has already secured his title but is still chasing the record for most wins in a season. At the Circuit of the Americas, Verstappen put on a special performance in his Toro Rosso seven years ago. F1Maximal looks back at the then young Dutchman’s strong performances.
Verstappen told the media after the race, “It was probably my best race so far. The Toro Rosso youngster did something special by finishing fourth in a car that normally wouldn’t have been in that position. The race in which Lewis Hamilton won his third world title was marred by confusion and confusion thanks to Verstappen’s subtle but classy performance. Dominated by excitement.
On Saturday it became clear that it was going to be a unique race weekend. Due to heavy rain, today’s qualifying round was postponed to Sunday morning. At 9:00 am local time, the battle for the best starting positions began. On the wet circuit of the United States, only the first two parts of qualifying were held. Conditions deteriorated to the point where a third qualifying round was simply impossible. The results of Q2 were used to determine the starting phase. Nico Rosberg took pole position and Verstappen finished tenth.
Due to several details and grid penalties, Verstappen was eventually allowed to start from eighth place. The track was still wet and it immediately created a scene. Lewis Hamilton pushed his team-mate Rosberg off the track and there were a few crashes in the backfield. A virtual safety car is taken out of the closet to keep the field under control while cleaning debris. As he rejoined, Daniel took the lead from Ricciardo Hamilton, who switched to dry weather tires moments later. Meanwhile, Verstappen battled Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel for sixth place.
Confusion brings back tension
Up front it was a matter of switching between Ricciardo, Hamilton and Rosberg. Mercedes came back to life on dry weather tires while the Red Bulls slipped away. After Marcus Ericsson stopped halfway through the race, the safety car came out. The grid was shortened again and the tension returned further into the race. On the restart, the Red Bulls lost further positions to Vettel and Verstappen. To make matters worse for Red Bull, Daniel Kvyat lost his car in the closing stages, meaning he almost certainly had no chance of a podium.
Verstappen was now fourth thanks to several smooth overtaking maneuvers. Rosberg began to lose sight of Hamilton and his last hope for the title. Meanwhile, unlike Verstappen, Vettel kept up the Mercedes’ pace reasonably well. Hamilton secured his title with first place and Verstappen secured the best result for Toro Rosso.
Hamilton is the equivalent of childhood hero Senna
After the race, of course, it could only be about one thing: Hamilton’s third world title. In 2015, the Briton equaled the world championship tally of his childhood hero Ayrton Senna. It made the title extra special, Hamilton said after the race. ‘This is very special to me. Equaling my hero’s feat is something very special. Amidst all the buzz, Toro Rosso threw a small party to celebrate a great finish for the team. Verstappen’s team-mate Carlos Sainz had a few points with a seventh-place finish.
Verstappen equals the best result
“It was a very chaotic race,” Verstappen told us afterwards NBC. “My start wasn’t great, but I stayed on the inside of the first corner and regained some places. I was able to give the Ferraris a hard time, so our pace was good. Kimi Raikkonen was unable to pass the Dutchman in the opening stages and went out with a mistake, causing great disappointment. Verstappen on the other hand really enjoyed the fight and the result. “It was a fun race, especially the fight with Raikkonen. He might have liked it a little less.’
The most exciting thing in the race was the switch to dry weather tires. As Verstappen also observed, it’s always difficult for drivers to judge when to switch. “We gambled this race well and did everything right.” His tires miraculously kept Verstappen alive until the end. He couldn’t hold off Vettel, but he successfully defended his fourth place. “I knew I couldn’t stop Vettel, I wanted to save my tires.” The way the Dutchman did this was another sign to the media that he would become a special driver. “You’re making an impact in your first season,” said the American reporter, to which Verstappen “may say yes.”
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