Max Verstappen fends off charging Lewis Hamilton to win US Grand Prix and extend title lead

Lewis Hamilton narrowly failed to pull off a brilliant comeback win at the United States Grand Prix in Texas as Max Verstappen extended his lead at the top of the drivers’ championship to 12 points with a superb drive of his own.

In a thrilling contest, Mercedes gambled on leaving their man out longer after each of the two pit stops, banking on fresh rubber to overcome the deficit on the timesheets. 

From 8.2sec away, the seven-time world champion got to within 1.333sec at the finish but it was not to be, Verstappen taking his eighth win of the season. Honour was apparently satisfied, with both team principals on the radio immediately to congratulate their drivers on a wonderful performance.

It was a wonderful weekend all round. There had been a real sense of returning to pre-Covid days in Texas, with crowds numbering well over 100,000 each day, parties going on into the night, and a serious squeeze on hotel rooms and hire cars in downtown Austin. After an 18 months which has felt rather anaemic much of the time, the buzz is back. Journalists have been allowed back into team paddock homes for the first time since Australia last year, and back on the grid, too, which was positively groaning with celebs and hangers-on. Probably busier than it has ever been. 

Martin Brundle was spoiled for choice on his grid-walk with basketball legend Shaquille O’Neal, rapper Megan Thee Stallion and tennis superstar Serena Williams mingling with mechanics and drivers and FIA bigwigs. Not that Williams was up for talking (“It’s a double fault,” quipped Brundle as the 23-time grand slam singles champion made her apologies a second time).  

But the crowd was here for a reason. And after the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders and the Texas Longhorns marching band had finished doing their thing, and we had had a rousing rendition of the Star Spangled Banner, not to forget a flyby of Apache helicopters, it was time for the race to start.

All eyes were on the front row, of course, where pole-sitter Verstappen knew he would be coming under immediate threat from Hamilton on the steep climb up to Circuit of the Americas’ fabulous turn one. And he was not wrong.

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