Formula 1: Red Bull Wins the Double


Red Bull raced their way to the finish line in Texas. (Courtesy of Twitter)

Over the weekend, Formula 1 continued its 2022 season as it rolled into the Lone Star state for the United States Grand Prix. Situated in Texas, the Circuit of the Americas has quickly become a favorite amongst fans and drivers since its introduction in 2012. Despite Red Bull’s Max Verstappen clinching the driver’s championship last time out in Japan, the constructor’s championship was still in play with Red Bull in the driver’s seat. With a huge lead over Ferrari, all Red Bull needed from the weekend was 26 points to secure their first constructor’s crown since 2013.

When it was time for qualifying, Carlos Sainz’s Ferrari grabbed pole position ahead of his teammate Charles Leclerc. Verstappen qualified third with his teammate Sergio Perez in 4th. However, both Leclerc and Perez had engine penalties due to exceeding their initial allocations, promoting Verstappen to second and sending Leclerc and Perez to 12th and 9th, respectively. This also promoted the Mercedes duo of Lewis Hamilton and George Russell to third and fourth, respectively.

When the lights went out, Verstappen got an amazing start and took the lead from Sainz before the first turn. As the drivers approached turn one, Sainz was tagged by Russell, causing the Spaniard to enter a spin and fall down to last place, forcing him to retire from the race. Verstappen was now leading ahead of Hamilton and already had a gap of a few seconds. Russell was still in fourth but passed Lance Stroll’s Aston Martin to get into third. After a few laps, Perez was able to get himself into fourth.

Hamilton pitted first on lap 12 to attempt an undercut on Verstappen. However, Verstappen pitted the next lap and was followed in by Russell, who had to serve a five second penalty due to the Sainz collision. When Verstappen emerged from the pits, he was ahead of Hamilton but behind Perez who still hadn’t pitted at the time. Perez then pitted on lap 14 and was able to get out in front of Russell due to the penalty in third after the pit stops.

On lap 18, the full safety car was called out due to Valtteri Bottas’ Alfa Romeo getting stuck in the gravel between turns 19 and 20. Leclerc, who hadn’t pitted, was able to get a “cheap” pit stop and emerged behind Perez in fourth. The top five was now Verstappen, Hamilton, Perez, Leclerc and then Russell. On lap 22, the safety car was brought in and the race resumed. However, halfway into the lap, the safety car was summoned again due to a collision involving Stroll and Fernando Alonso’s Alpine. Alonso attempted to pass Stroll on the left on the straight, with Stroll suddenly moving left to block the pass. Alonso crashed into the back of Stroll, launching him in the air. Stroll had to retire from the race with Alonso able to continue but with damage to the car.

On lap 26, the incident was cleared up and the race resumed, with Verstappen immediately creating a gap to Hamilton. Meanwhile, Leclerc was trying to pass Perez for third. On lap 30, Leclerc was finally able to stick his car ahead of the Red Bull and move into third. At this point, it was clear that a two stop was going to be the better strategy, so now it was down to which driver would pull the trigger and force the other drivers/teams to respond.

On lap 34, Hamilton once again attempted the undercut and pitted first. Verstappen pitted the following lap but had a horrendous pit stop, forcing the champion to be stationary for 11 seconds. Due to the rare mistake by the usually impeccable Red Bull pit crew, he even lost a place to Leclerc who also pitted at the same time as Verstappen. Hamilton was now in the de facto lead with Leclerc in second and Verstappen in third. On lap 39, Verstappen was able to pass Leclerc. With 17 laps remaining, there was a 4.4 second gap to Hamilton.

At this point, everyone had pitted again so Hamilton was now leading the race with a fast Verstappen starting to reduce that gap. With 10 laps to go, the gap between Hamilton and Verstappen was 2.2 seconds. On lap 50, Verstappen was able to get within a second and use the drag reduction system to pass Hamilton on the straight to retake the lead of the race. Hamilton tried to recover the place, but Verstappen placed his car perfectly to prevent such a move.

After 56 laps, Verstappen crossed the finish line to win the United States Grand Prix with Hamilton finishing second and Leclerc in third. Due to Red Bull winning the race via Verstappen, it clinched the constructor’s championship for the team from Milton Keynes, their first one since 2013 and giving them the double (winning both driver’s and constructor’s championships). Red Bull team principal Christian Horner dedicated the title to the late owner of Red Bull Dietrich Mateschitz, who passed away over the weekend.

Despite both the driver’s and constructor’s titles wrapped up, there is still a lot to play for. Second in the driver’s championship is up for grabs between Perez and Leclerc. As for Verstappen, with this victory he equalled the record for the most wins in a season with 13. And with three races left, expect Verstappen to attempt to break that record, a feat that should be possible due to how he’s performed in the season. The next race is this week in Mexico at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez for the Mexican Grand Prix. The race will be at 4 p.m. and can be viewed on ESPN.