The United States Grand Prix granted a sparkling race with the unexpected victory of Max Verstappen and many close battles but what did the drivers have to say about their race in the teams’ race reports?
Haas didn’t particularly shine in their home Grand Prix, with Schumacher even lapping his teammate.
The German was overall satisfied with his performance: “It was fun – I enjoyed it. Overall, we expected worse so we’re happy with what we managed to do with the package we had. I had some tight battles, especially at the start and we were right in the mix, and all of those things are preparing me for next year. We were catching up to Latifi in the last few laps and I think with five more laps we probably would’ve been close enough to make a move. I really enjoy being in the States and the fans are great spectators – I’ve loved racing in front of them.”
On the other side, delusion came from Mazepin’s weekend: “Unfortunately, it wasn’t very busy because at turn two on the opening lap the headrest came off in my car. It was quite a sketchy lap because my headrest lifted and blocked both of my mirrors. I had to ask the team if there was anyone around me, hoping there wasn’t because I couldn’t know where to turn in or not, and then that’s over 25 seconds of race time for an unnecessary pitstop. It made it pretty difficult from there onwards as I was driving on my own and trying to make one pitstop work, but with these temperatures and these tires, it was just not possible.”
A weekend to forget at Enstone as both drivers had to retire the car due to mechanical issues.
Fernando Alonso was one of the main protagonists of the race, battling for many laps with different drivers and showing hard and fun-to-watch racing: “It was an unfortunate end to today and overall a challenging weekend for us. Our race was quite good considering we started from the back of the grid. We were heading towards a possible top ten finish after a few back and forth battles with the Alfa Romeos and Aston Martins. There were some incidents that perhaps we need to look at. Two of them were penalised and one was not. As we were pushing towards the end of the race the rear wing broke on the penultimate corner and I looked in the mirror and it was visibly damaged, so we had to retire the car. We need to analyse it because at the moment we’re not sure why it happened.”
Esteban Ocon agreed with Alonso on the need to further analyze the issue that led Alpine to the delusion in Austin: “It was a tough day for us as a team with both Fernando and I retiring. We suspected we had a problem with the rear of the car and that’s why we retired towards the end of the race. Our afternoon was compromised early on with the contact with an Alfa Romeo on the first lap through sector one. The car felt OK, but we had to pit as there was front wing damage and from there it was a difficult race. It’s not an easy one to take, but the important thing now is that we reflect and recover as a team. The aim is to come back stronger for the next run of races.”
A mild weekend for Grove, that wasn’t able to shock as always but didn’t perform too badly in the States.
George Russell admitted the lack of opportunities for Williams in Austin: “I had some good fun today but we didn’t really have the pace this weekend to challenge for the points paying positions. I made a good start and moved from P20 up to P14 but was then struggling to keep Fernando (Alonso) and Sebastian (Vettel) behind me. Once they were past it was a long, lonely race from then on in. It was a tricky weekend overall but none of our rivals scored any points so it’s onwards to Mexico.”
Nicholas Latifi reflected on the first-lap contact and its consequences on the race: “Unfortunately, my race came undone in the first corner. One of the Haas cars made a lunge up the inside, and I could tell I was going to become sandwiched. Sadly, I was in the middle of a pack of cars so there wasn’t much I could do as it was too late to back out. I picked up some front-wing damage and that meant I had to pit much earlier than we wanted to, so our second and third stints were then much longer than ideal. I think our pace was also impacted by trying to keep the tyres in the right window, which I’m sure was a challenge for everybody, so it was definitely a race to learn from.”
Alfa Romeo provided plenty of entertainment this weekend with both Kimi Raikkonen and Antonio Giovinazzi challenging for the points. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out in the end but good progress was shown.
Kimi Raikkonen reflected on the many duels during his race: “The car felt really good, especially in the first part of the race, and we were able to fight in the top ten. Unfortunately, at the start of the second stint I had a clash with Alonso and I got some floor damage: it didn’t really affect the balance of the car, but we seemed to run out of tyres a lot quicker afterwards. By the end of the race, I didn’t really have much rears left just as I tried to push hard to stay ahead of Sebastian [Vettel]. It is a shame not to bring home any point today: we always seem to be there or thereabout but it wasn’t to be this time.”
Antonio Giovinazzi was left hopeful in the improvement shown: “It was a good race, with some nice fights along the way, in particular with Fernando [Alonso]. I tried to hold him back as much as I could but in the end he was just faster: still, it is nice to be fighting with someone like him, a world champion. We went once again very close to the points, and probably the second stint is where we missed out as we couldn’t get those tyres to work well. We did a good work as a team, swapping places when Kimi when he could push more in that part of the race, and that very nearly paid off.”
Another difficult race for Aston Martin, which only ended in a single point scored.
Sebastian Vettel admitted the difficulties encountered. However, the German was happy with the strategy chosen: “We only scored one point today and we had to fight hard. It was a good recovery after the grid penalty yesterday and when we were in clean air the pace was good. As we expected, it was a difficult race for everybody trying to manage the tyres with the hot track temperatures. I was happy when everybody pitted quite early because we knew we would have a chance by running longer. It gave us fresher tyres at the end, when it mattered, so we could move up into the top 10. It was a good strategy by the team. With a couple more laps, we would have caught [Yuki] Tsunoda, but, from where we started, I think scoring a point is a good result.”
Lance Stroll showed disappointment, as he expressed the wish to redeem himself in the next race: “It was not our weekend. After yesterday’s qualifying, where we were affected by the yellow flags, I was hit at Turn One on the very first lap today. The contact dropped me to the back of the field and I picked up a significant amount of damage on the front wing. It cost us some performance, but we still managed to fight our way up the field. However, points were just out of reach in the end. It is a race to forget, and we will move on and look to come back stronger in Mexico.”
In the 2021 season, AlphaTauri is collecting less than expected. In Austin, mixed feelings governed the white and blue garage.
On one side, Pierre Gasly was forced to retire: “Unfortunately, we had a suspension problem today, that forced us to retire the car. At the moment we don’t know the real cause, so we’ll have to go away and investigate this. It’s very frustrating because we know every point counts at this stage in our midfield battle. It would’ve been really good to go until the end of this race, as the atmosphere has been incredible this weekend, right from the very beginning, so it’s a shame to not be seeing the chequered flag.”
On the other side, Yuki Tsunoda conquered a good result and showed a good improvement as a driver: “It’s been a good day, I’ve managed to score some important points for the team in the Championship, so I’m really happy with that. It was really tough out there as it was so hot! It wasn’t easy starting on the soft tyre, as I had a different strategy to everyone around me, but it meant that I had the advantage on the opening lap, and I tried to make the most of it. The pace today was quite good, so I’m pleased to be coming away with points.”
Mixed feelings as well for the Papayas, who didn’t particularly surprise under the Texan sun.
Lando Norris’ disappointment was obvious as the Brit struggled all weekend: “A very difficult race today. The wind conditions and the temperature made it very difficult to look after the tyres, so that meant we struggled quite a bit with pace compared to the Ferraris, who were strong today. I also think there were some areas I could’ve done better, including defending on some moves. The start was pretty exciting but we just weren’t able to stay ahead of the Ferraris in front. So, not a great day today, but we’ll pick ourselves up and look forward to Mexico. I just want to get back in the car already and keep working hard to make some progress in our championship battle.”
Daniel Ricciardo concluded a satisfying weekend in the States: “I’m really happy. Really happy. We weren’t quicker than the Ferraris, so I’m happy to beat one of them. I had to defend pretty hard for a few laps there, so I’m happy to have held him off. It was a tricky race. I was fighting quite a bit to hold what I had, but I think on paper fifth is really good. It’s good points. We stole a little bit from Carlos [Sainz], and Valtteri [Bottas] got him at the end, so that was a bit of damage limitation. We’ll come back in Mexico and hopefully have a bit more to show against them. The fans were awesome, the crowd was sick, hopefully they enjoyed it.”
Maranello once again proved the upgrades are working and the hopes (and expectations) for the future are only getting bigger.
Carlos Sainz had a difficult race, earning less than deserved: “It was a frustrating race for me because we had the pace to finish P5 but things didn’t go our way today. I had to fight with both McLarens on lap 1. It was an intense battle, with cars switching positions a lot, and in the end I let Ricciardo by thinking it was Lando. In the second stint, I was soon behind Daniel: we went for the undercut and it would have worked very nicely, overtaking him and having clean air behind Charles, but unfortunately we had a slow pit-stop and I was again stuck behind Daniel. I damaged my tyres trying different lines to pass him and eventually that allowed Bottas to catch us at the end. I’m frustrated because the result did not live up to the potential of our package and I just hope our luck changes a bit after two consecutive races with unfortunate stops. On the positive side, the feeling with the car was good, so we’ll carry that into the upcoming triple header.”
Charles Leclerc conducted a good lonely race to bring home a good amount of points and close the gap to P5 in the Drivers’ Standings: “What a race. It was definitely one of the most physical drives of my career. The rear was moving quite a lot and temperatures were high throughout. I am satisfied with my personal performance. I don’t think that I left much on the table today and I really pushed the car to its limit on every lap. Our pace was a positive surprise. Although we are mostly focusing on 2022, the few upgrades we have brought this year have allowed us to make some important steps forward. I would like to say a big thank you to everyone back home in Maranello at our factory as well as at the track for all the hard work they have put in. This weekend the result of their efforts has shown. Being back in the United States has been great and it’s been a real pleasure to race on this amazing track again. Next up is Mexico, which I am also very excited for. The track there should suit our car fairly well and we will push to continue on this positive trajectory.”
Mercedes arrived at the Circuit of the Americas as the favorites but were only able to limit damages in both Championships.
Lewis Hamilton admitted hoping in the victory, that in the end wasn’t reached: “Firstly, congratulations to Max, he did a brilliant job today. And also, a big thank you to the amazing crowd we’ve had in Austin all weekend, to perform in front of such packed grandstands and passionate fans has been a real honour. I really thought for a second we might be able to win, I gave it absolutely everything out there. It was such a tough race, but unfortunately, we couldn’t convert it. Red Bull just had the upper hand, and we couldn’t match them. It looked like they had a better and more stable rear end on their car, with less sliding. The start was obviously great and closing the gap towards the end, but I got into the dirty air and the tyres overheated in the last few laps. Thank you to the team for amazing pit stops and so much hard work over the weekend. We didn’t quite get it this time, but we’ll move onto the next one.”
Valtteri Bottas had a difficult start to the race, having to deal with the latest engine penalty and wasn’t able to make a real difference: “It was a pretty uneventful race for me, we tried the best we could, but it wasn’t easy to fight through the field. Making progress was difficult and we knew it would be, because of the temperatures here and the characteristics of the track. In the first stint I got stuck behind the Alpha Tauri’s and that cost me quite a lot of time. Once I was behind slower cars, the pace difference wasn’t quite big enough to make passes easily. There weren’t any Safety Cars or other situations for us to make the most of, but with the grid penalty and where we started, I’m not sure what more we could have done. Not the strongest weekend for us, but in free air the car felt good and there are plenty of learnings we can take forward as a team.”
A dream weekend for Red Bull, who was able to win in one of Mercedes’ historically favorite tracks.
Sergio Perez had to suffer through the race to conquer the third place on the podium: “That was the hardest and longest race of my life. I wasn’t feeling great before the race and then my drinks system stopped working on the first lap and with the hot weather today it was very physical and a pretty tough afternoon. I was struggling massively and by lap 20 I was done, so it was a shame I couldn’t keep up with Max and Lewis but there are a lot of positives to take from this weekend and back to back podiums are always nice. It’s a good result for the Team, the undercut worked well and Lewis had no option but to cover me which helped Max out in front, so we can be very happy as a Team. I’m so looking forward to Mexico, the Team have done well there in the past and I think we’ll have a good package for my home race. I can’t wait and I hope to be on the podium again in front of my home fans.”
Max Verstappen was the man of the moment in Austin, conducting a dominant race and surprising even Red Bull itself: “It was an exciting race and it feels incredible to win here in front of all the fans. The pressure was on for the whole race and not knowing how quickly Lewis would catch up. I actually thought I had a decent start, but Lewis had an even better one. So we went for an aggressive strategy after losing the lead into turn one and we pitted early in the first stint. Then for the middle stint we were in that undercut range, so we had to respond and we went for track position which made the last stint very long, especially in this heat. The last two laps were definitely difficult on the tyres, there wasn’t much grip left. But, then with two laps to go, I had the Haas in front of me and I was able to benefit from the DRS, so we managed to hang on in the end. We definitely gave it our all today as a Team and it was great to have Checo up there with me on the podium.”
Headline Image: Red Bull Content Pool
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