Thursday, February 29, 2024

United States Grand Prix: Verstappen wins sprint


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Los Angeles, Oct 22: In a momentous debut at UFIn a thrilling Formula 1 race today, the reigning world champion Max Verstappen put on a masterful performance to maintain his lead, leaving his rivals in the dust.
Verstappen’s Red Bull skillfully fended off an early challenge from Charles Leclerc’s Ferrari, and while Lewis Hamilton briefly loomed as a threat, the Dutchman eventually cruised to victory. Hamilton finished the race a distant nine seconds behind his 2021 title rival, while Leclerc managed to barely hold off McLaren’s Lando Norris at the finish line.
Leclerc’s determination to challenge Verstappen at the start ultimately proved costly for the Ferrari driver. Verstappen executed a daring move on the inside, pushing the limits of what’s acceptable in racing, which compromised Leclerc’s entry into Turn One. As they exited the corner and descended toward Turn Two and the high-speed Esses, Hamilton seized the opportunity to pass Leclerc.
Though Hamilton initially stayed within a second of Verstappen in the first couple of laps, Verstappen progressively increased his lead on the third lap, dashing any hopes of a challenge from the seven-time champion. Verstappen later commented on the tight Turn One maneuver, stating, “It was quite tight, but luckily there is a lot of space, so that helps. After that, we could do our own pace, and I had a bit of fun at the end, pushing a bit more.”
Leclerc, on the other hand, said, “There was a gap, and I tried. It was tight, and I lost the position to Lewis, but in the end, they were a bit stronger today in race pace, so we need to work to understand what we can do a little bit better tomorrow.”
Verstappen faced a setback during qualifying, starting from the sixth position on the grid after a pole position lap was disqualified for exceeding track limits. However, he looked forward to the race, stating that the lower starting position might add some excitement.
Unfortunately, for the spectators, the battle for the lead during the sprint race offered little thrill as Verstappen dominated unchallenged throughout.
Hamilton also acknowledged the performance gap, saying, “Their pace is undeniable at the moment, but I’m happy to be on the podium.”
Hamilton consistently outperformed Leclerc, who maintained a comfortable lead over his competitors for most of the race. Carlos Sainz, in a daring tire choice, initially benefitted from softer tires but eventually lost pace. This allowed Norris and Perez to overtake him after a few laps of defense.
As Norris closed in on Leclerc, the race’s intensity increased. Leclerc struggled with his rear tires, and Norris was less than a second behind as they crossed the finish line.
George Russell, driving for Mercedes, faced difficulties passing Sainz, who had a five-second penalty for an off-track pass earlier in the race.
Despite his fading tires, Russell couldn’t get close enough to make a pass and was ultimately demoted behind Pierre Gasly of Alpine, who secured the final point for eighth place.
In the latter stages of the race, George Russell, racing under a five-second penalty for an off-track pass earlier in the race, found himself unable to make up enough ground to offset the penalty. Despite his relentless pursuit, Russell couldn’t close the gap on Sainz, who was grappling with fading tires.
Pierre Gasly of the Alpine team managed to seize the opportunity, securing the final championship point for eighth place.
While he didn’t feature at the front of the race, his consistent performance in the later laps rewarded him with a valuable point, highlighting the unpredictable nature of Formula 1 racing.
As the teams and drivers evaluate their strategies and performances from this race, they’ll be looking ahead to the next Grand Prix with a determination to adapt and improve, knowing that the competition in the world of Formula 1 leaves no room for complacency. (AP)


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