RACE DEBRIEF

    Max Verstappen extended his championship lead over Lewis Hamilton to 12 points after coming out on top in what was an absorbing United States Grand Prix. We’ve picked out our six winners and five losers from a thrilling race in Austin...

    Winner: Max Verstappen

    Rock solid. That was Max Verstappen at the Circuit of The Americas as the Dutchman absorbed pressure from title rival Lewis Hamilton to secure his first victory since the Dutch Grand Prix, and first triumph in the United States.

    Previously, Verstappen had only led two laps in Austin but that all changed on Sunday. His triumph was Red Bull’s first in Austin since 2013 and increases his championship lead to 12 over Hamilton, his largest advantage since Austria eight races ago.

    READ MORE: ‘The whole race, the pressure was on’ – Verstappen explains how he held off hard-charging Hamilton to win in Austin

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    Another strong drive from Verstappen has doubled his lead in the championship

    Loser: Lewis Hamilton

    Mercedes were considered the favourites heading into Austin, but after a strong first practice, they fell backwards and while Hamilton got a stunning start to steal the lead, he couldn’t hold on and was overhauled by Verstappen to finish second.

    It means the Mercedes driver has not won at the Circuit of The Americas since 2017 and his difficult run of form is highlighted by the fact he led more laps on Sunday than in the previous nine Grands Prix combined (11 laps).

    READ MORE: ‘We gave it everything and they were just quicker’ says Hamilton after losing out to Verstappen

    Winners: Red Bull

    Privately, Red Bull were expecting Mercedes to have the edge in Austin with a focus on damage limitation, but they found some impressive pace overnight on Friday to become the team to beat.

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    It was a brilliant performance by Red Bull, who nailed their strategy when it mattered

    With Sergio Perez finishing third, Red Bull had both cars on the podium for consecutive races for the first time since Malaysia-Japan in 2017, while Checo moves ahead of Lando Norris into fourth in the drivers’ championship. Red Bull have also cut Mercedes’ lead in the constructors' to 23 points with five races to go.

    Losers: Alpine

    Alpine’s run of 15 races in the points came to an end in Austin, as the Enstone team suffered their first double DNF since the 2019 German Grand Prix.

    Esteban Ocon, who was tracking just outside of the points, was the first to retire with the team saying they detected an issue at the rear of the car. Later in the race, as Fernando Alonso chased a 12th points finish of the year, he was forced out with rear wing damage.

    READ MORE: ‘I nearly crashed’ – Alonso on why he retired in Austin, and THAT battle with Raikkonen

    2021 United States Grand Prix: Alonso wins epic two-part battle with Giovinazzi

    Winner: Charles Leclerc

    With so much going on, you may not have seen Charles Leclerc much on the coverage, but he was quietly cracking on with one of his most impressive drives as he finished fourth for the second successive race and sixth time this year.

    The Monegasque didn’t put a foot wrong throughout the 56-lap race to score for the fifth time in six Grands Prix and move ahead of team mate Carlos Sainz into sixth in the drivers’ standings.

    READ MORE: 'I was thinking about the podium' says Leclerc as he admits drive to P4 was 'unexpected'

    Loser: Pierre Gasly

    Things were looking difficult for Pierre Gasly even before the lights went out when his AlphaTauri detected suspension problems.

    He took the start, but lost a position to team mate Yuki Tsunoda and then the suspension issue ultimately forced his second retirement in four races and third of the season.

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    A day to forget for Gasly, who had to retire early on with technical issues

    Winner: Daniel Ricciardo

    You would struggle to find a happier person in all of Austin than Daniel Ricciardo this weekend, the Australian giddy with excitement when he got to drive his hero Dale Earnhardt’s 1984 Nascar around the Circuit of The Americas.

    But he didn’t let that distract him from the job in hand and on Sunday delivered arguably his most accomplished drive of the season, outside of his Monza triumph. It was his third top-five finish in three races with Australian looking like he’s finally cracked how to make the McLaren sing.

    READ MORE: ‘A strong defence’ was needed says Ricciardo after contact in battle with Sainz at COTA

    Losers: Alfa Romeo

    Alfa Romeo have been hustling around the outside of the points for the last few races and looked set to score at least one with Kimi Raikkonen fighting hard to run 10th. But a late spin dropped him out of the points into 12th.

    Antonio Giovinazzi didn’t quite have the same pace but ended up in 11th for the second race in a row. Time is running out for Alfa Romeo to catch Williams for eighth in the constructors’ championship, the deficit still 16 points.

    2021 United States Grand Prix: Ricciardo wins stunning Lap 1 fight between McLaren and Ferrari

    Winner: Yuki Tsunoda

    This was the error-free Grand Prix Yuki Tsunoda has been waiting for in the second half of the season, the Japanese driver first putting up an impressive defence against Valtteri Bottas and then managing his strategy solidly.

    Ninth was his first points finish since the summer break and fifth of the season. With Alpine not scoring, it helped AlphaTauri close the gap to the French manufacturer to 10 points in the fight for fifth place.

    RACE HIGHLIGHTS: See all the key moments from the US Grand Prix in Austin

    Losers: Williams

    Williams knew Austin would be a more challenging race for them, but they were determined to put on a good show for their American owners Dorilton.

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    The fans were out in huge numbers all weekend, as a party atmosphere engulfed COTA

    Unfortunately, it started badly when Nicholas Latifi made contact with Lance Stroll at the first corner to damage his front wing and thereafter had a lonely race. And while George Russell fought valiantly from the back of the grid, he never got close to points. As a result, they failed to score for the second straight race.

    Winner: Circuit of The Americas

    From the minute the Circuit of The Americas opened its gates for this weekend’s race, the place was a bubbling hive of excitement. They welcomed an impressive 120,000 fans Friday and again on Saturday, with a bumper 140,000 making it on Sunday. There was not a spare seat in the house.

    READ MORE: United States Grand Prix Facts & Stats - Red Bull’s 200th podium and Honda’s first US win since Senna

    The crowd was hugely knowledgeable, cheering every pass that was made on Sunday and were in great voice throughout to create an electric atmosphere. F1, it seems, is starting to crack America.