Battles and crashes create excitement in Austin Grand Prix
After a tense and exciting race, another win for Verstappen at the Austin Grand Prix has secured Red Bull’s win in the constructors’ championship.
A great fight between Hamilton and Verstappen near the end of the race for P1 was reminiscent of last season’s title fight for many fans, but once again it was Verstappen and Red Bull that came out on top.
A surprising qualifying on Saturday saw Sainz put his Ferrari on pole, beating Leclerc who took P2 and Verstappen in P3. However, Leclerc took a ten-place grid penalty for changing multiple parts on his car, including the engine, meaning he started the race in P12. Perez and Alonso also took five-place grid penalties for changing their engines.
On Sunday, the race started poorly for Sainz, who was overtaken by Verstappen before the first corner and then hit by Russell, forcing him to retire the car after receiving significant damage. Russell received a puncture and a five-second time penalty for causing the crash, but managed to carry on.
Perez picked up major front-wing damage, but the team chose to keep him out as it would have cost more time pitting and replacing the front wing than was being lost by sustaining the damage, as he had already made it up to P4 by lap eight.
Hamilton started the rush to the pits on lap 13 and put on hard tyres, closely followed by Verstappen, then Russell, who served his five-second time penalty, and Perez who pitted but still didn’t get his front wing changed.
On lap 18, Bottas took a huge spin off the track and went into the gravel bringing out the safety car for three laps. However, when the racing finally started again, Alonso attempted to make a late overtake on Stroll down the back straight, crashing straight into the back of his car when Stroll attempted to defend, lifting the car into the air. This brought the safety car back out as Stroll was unable to continue and had to stop on track.
Alonso managed to continue, but had to pit during the safety car which finally came in on lap 25. Gasly then received a five-second time penalty for being more than ten car lengths behind the safety car, which is an infringement of the rules.
The race was incredibly exciting and reminded fans why the Austin Grand Prix is always a favourite of the season
On lap 30, Leclerc made a good overtake on Perez and put himself up into the podium positions. Then six laps later, both Verstappen and Leclerc pitted, but due to a long 11-second pit stop from the Red Bull team, Leclerc managed to overtake Verstappen in the pits.
It wasn’t until lap 39 that Verstappen made an attempt to overtake Leclerc which resulted in close wheel-to-wheel battling, until Verstappen finally won the place back.
Vettel, who was yet to pit for the second time, found himself leading the Austin Grand Prix for a short time, in which he made it to 3,500 laps leading a race throughout his career. As Vettel is leaving Formula 1 at the end of the season, many fans were delighted to see him reach this milestone.
On lap 41, Hamilton overtook Vettel for the lead of the race, and Vettel took the opportunity to pit and change his tyres. In what should have been a quick pitstop, allowing him to rejoin the race in P6, Vettel was actually held in the box for 16 seconds after a mistake from engineers and came out into P13.
With Hamilton leading the race and Verstappen hunting him down, many fans were reminded of last season in which every race was a head-to-head battle between the two drivers. By lap 50, Verstappen was within DRS range and attempting to make the overtake. Despite Hamilton’s expert attempts at defending, Verstappen finally won P1 and took the top step of the podium in Texas.
This win from Verstappen secured Red Bull enough points to take the title in the constructors’ championship for the 2022 season, making it a very successful year for Verstappen and the Red Bull team.
Alonso was hit with a 30-second time penalty after the race had finished due to Haas claiming that his car was unsafe to drive after his right wing mirror fell off laps after his collision with Stroll. However, Alpine are protesting this decision, saying the race marshals had every right to show the black and orange flag to Alonso during the race if they thought the car had been dangerous at the time, but they didn’t.
Overall, the race was incredibly exciting and reminded fans why the Austin Grand Prix is always a favourite of the season.
Next weekend, F1 is racing in Mexico at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez circuit. As this is Sergio Perez’s home race, he will be desperate to impress fans and climb onto the top step of the podium!
- Max Verstappen (Red Bull, 391)
- Charles Leclerc (Ferrari, 267)
- Sergio Perez (Red Bull, 265)
- George Russell (Mercedes, 218)
- Carlos Sainz (Ferrari, 202)
- Red Bull (656)
- Ferrari (469)
- Mercedes (416)