Team boss Christian Horner congratulated him with tears in his eyes, Max Verstappen dedicated the triumph to his sponsor: “That was for Dietrich. I gave everything.” With another world-champion performance, the Dutchman won the Emotions Grand Prix for Red Bull in the USA and one day after the death of Red Bull founder Mateschitz, he also secured the Formula 1 constructors’ title .
Verstappen fought his way back to the top on Sunday after a botched second pit stop and achieved his 13th Formula 1 win of the season ahead of Austin record winner Lewis Hamilton in the Mercedes and Charles Leclerc in the Ferrari. The two-time champion, who had started from second place, matched the record set by Michael Schumacher (2004) and Sebastian Vettel (2013).
The Hessian himself was doing well in the race in the Aston Martin for a long time, but after a tire change that also went awry, he slipped back a little and finished eighth. Mick Schumacher also showed a long and courageous race in the Haas and was even in the points. A contact with Nicholas Latifi in the Williams cost more places. He clearly missed the top ten in 15th place and was therefore unable to meet his team bosses’ demand for points for a new contract in the fourth-to-last race of this year.
At the front, Verstappen made the decision with six laps to go when he overtook Hamilton. The 37-year-old Briton is still waiting for his first win of the season – he has celebrated at least one in each of his career years in the top motorsport class.
Red Bull can now no longer take the team title in the three remaining races. Since 2013, the former industry leader has been waiting for the next triumph in the financially important constructors’ championship, eight years in a row the winner there was Mercedes. On a weekend marked by great emotions with the Zoff over the additional expenses in 2021 and the death of the company founder in Texas, the time had come.
Before it even started, applause erupted. The organizers displayed a photo of the Austrian on the monitors, under which was written: “Thanks Didi.” More than 100,000 spectators honored the deceased Mateschitz together with all the teams and the drivers, including of course the former Red Bull successful driver Vettel. The 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013 champion seemed to be fighting back tears, while his former and current Red Bull team boss Christian Horner was able to smile at least a little after the sad news less than 24 hours beforehand.
Before it started, he and his wife Geri – once a member of the Spice Girls – showed superstar Ed Sheeran Verstappen’s racing car in the Red Bull box. Otherwise it was business as usual. Wearing sunglasses, Horner waited until Verstappen had parked his car in second place on the grid. Team-mate Sergio Perez, who ended up fourth, started from ninth after an engine penalty. The declared goal: now to make the world championship title in the constructors’ championship perfect for Mateschitz.
And after the first corner, Verstappen had already created the ideal conditions for this. Thanks to an excellent start, he pushed past pole man Carlos Sainz in the Ferrari on the mighty uphill stretch. The Spaniard then slowly took the left turn, pulled inwards a little and was then pushed slightly from behind by Hamilton. The problem: On the inside, Hamilton’s Mercedes colleague collided with Sainz, for whom the race was over.
A water leak at the Ferrari after the collision, for which Russell was given five seconds. Because Perez was also one of the winners in the second Red Bull in the first phase of the race after ninth on the grid and placed behind Verstappen, Hamilton and Russell – without the five additional seconds – everything was headed towards Red Bull’s next title triumph. Charles Leclerc had to start from twelfth place after a ten-place penalty, Monegasse struggled, but was on his own after Sainz was eliminated.
At the very front, Verstappen was only affected by the wind, but he controlled the race and was determined to make his sponsor Mateschitz proud. “Without him I wouldn’t be sitting here now,” he emphasized before the race.
Valtteri Bottas then caused new tension when he landed in the gravel bed with the Alfa Romeo and triggered a safety car phase. Vettel, who had fought his way up from tenth place after a good start, took the opportunity. Likewise Schumacher, who was able to start from 16th place after a botched qualification (19th) due to the penalties for competitors. As soon as the safety car drove back in, Fernando Alonso caused a shock when he crashed his Alpine into Lance Stroll’s Aston Martin at high speed.
The Spaniard’s car took off at the front and only continued on the rear tires. Stroll’s car crashed into the barrier and was pretty wrecked. The safety car had to be deployed again, but luckily the drivers were not injured. Alonso was even able to continue. Verstappen again skillfully defended his lead against Hamilton when the safety car drove back into the pits. But then a bad tire change slowed the Dutchman down. “Fine, fine,” he radioed cynically into the pits. He had fallen behind Hamilton and Leclerc.