2021 United States Thoughts
THE BIG PICTURE: Could this be the beginning of the end of the championship fight? Verstappen gained points on a Mercedes track with two Red Bull tracks coming up and only five races left. You certainly can't count out Mercedes, but there's this feeling Red Bull has started to firmly grasp the trophy for its top driver.
EVENT: There were more fans there on Saturday for qualifying than some European venues get for Sunday. So, let's stop hearing it from snobbish European F1 fans that America does not embrace Formula 1.
TRACK: The bumps, though improved, add to the character of the track. Billiard smooth finishes can be boring.
QUALIFYING: No big surprises through Q1 and Q2, Red Bull peaks at the right time as Verstappen snatches pole and Perez nearly steals it, while the teammate battles have Leclerc beating out Sainz at Ferrari and Ricciardo topping Norris at McLaren.
RACE: Another super close race that wasn't decided till the waning laps with the fans having no idea which way it would go thanks to differing strategies.
START: Hamilton has a much better reaction time, Verstappen tries to muscle him off to no avail, almost costing Max second to Perez, Ricciardo gets insanely aggressive, and the two Canadians tangle.
VERSTAPPEN: Max out Hamiltoned Hamilton. A brilliant drive combining tire management, patience, knowing when to push and not to push, and controlling the pace just right from the front to keep the gap out of DRS range in the last few laps.
HAMILTON: He had the strategy used in the past, but this time Lewis couldn't make the comeback win work.
PEREZ: Already feeling ill, to go through such a hot day on such a physically demanding track with nothing to drink makes Sergio the iron man performer of the year.
BOTTAS: Another grid penalty, another tough time getting through the slightly slower traffic.
LECLERC: Came out on top of the epic race-long Ferrari-McLaren four-way battle.
RICCIARDO: Probably the most fun Daniel has had on a race weekend. And that's saying a lot when it comes to Ricciardo.
SAINZ: Got a bit rough with his old pal, Lance.
NORRIS: But Lance was okay with it, putting most of his disappointment on himself.
GIOVINNAZI: Extremely racey. Very impressive considering it came against a two-time world chamption who's still mighty good with a superior car. Antonio has certainly upped his game, but probably too late.
ALONSO: A very busy driver. Mixing it up with both Alfa Romeos, sometimes controversially, and (wrongly) complaning a lot of the time.
FIA: The FIA wants to limit the number of engines used in F1, pushing teams to be more and more reliable. Then, why do they lessen the penalties the more the teams use engines? Shouldn't it be the other way around? Oh, that's right, this is FIA logic. Silly us...
WORD OF THE WEEKEND: Packed.
STAT OF THE WEEKEND: 400,000 -- The number of fans for the entire weekend. Once again, show us a European venue pre-pandemic days that had those kind of numbers. That's what we thought...
HISTORICAL STAT OF THE WEEKEND: This was Red Bull's 200th podium. Their first came at the 2006 Monaco GP where David Coulthard finished third, trailing winner Fernando Alonso (Renault) and Juan Pablo Montoya (McLaren-Mercedes). It was also Montoya's last F1 podium as well as his and Jacques Villeneuve's last Monaco GP. This was also the race with the infamous Rascasse incident in qualifying by Michael Schumacher who stopped on purpose to protect his pole position. For which, he was penalized and sent to the back of the grid.
TWEET OF THE WEEKEND: Any tweet which showed Daniel Ricciardo's massive smile after getting to drive Dale Earnhardt, Sr.'s NASCAR racer.
QUOTE OF THE WEEKEND: Christian Horner on those last few laps, "I think I've aged 50 years!"
QUOTE OF THE WEEKEND RUNNERUP: Toto Woolf, totally understanding a driver's mindset, when he said on the grid, "The algorithms are not worth much when the flag drops."
SCHEDULE: They head south of the border where Sergio Perez will be the man.
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