Verstappen dedicates record-equalling victory and constructors' title to late Red Bull co-founder Mateschitz
Max Verstappen cut an emotional figure in Texas after Red Bull secured their fifth-ever constructors’ championship, with the Dutchman taking a record-equalling 13th win of the season.
Verstappen snatched the lead from pole-sitter Carlos Sainz going into Turn 1, where George Russell made contact with Sainz and caused him to retire from the race. Verstappen seemed to have control of the race despite a brace of Safety Cars punctuating the United States Grand Prix, but a slow 11-second pit stop cost the Dutchman and gave Lewis Hamilton the lead.
After passing Charles Leclerc and then, with six laps remaining, overtaking Hamilton for the lead, Verstappen dedicated the victory, and the team's first constructors' title since 2013, to late Red Bull co-founder Dietrich Mateschitz, whose death was announced on Saturday.
“It was not made easy for us but in the end of course, extremely happy to win in this difficult weekend for us. I think this was actually a race that he [Mateschitz] would have loved to see,” said Verstappen.
“Of course I’m sad, but I’m also incredibly proud of the whole team of the way they’ve operated the whole weekend – apart from the pit stop, but that was a gun failure and these things can unfortunately happen. But we kept it together and we won also the constructors’ [title], so I’m very proud of everyone.
“Also, the people who don’t even come to the track, back at the factory, the effort they put into the car this year has been enormous and I’m very proud of everyone to secure this.”
Before joining team advisor Dr Helmut Marko on the podium, Verstappen said: “But we gave it everything out there today. Of course, it’s a very difficult weekend for us, so this one is definitely dedicated to Dietrich himself.
“What he has done for everyone, the only thing we could do today was win and even though after the pit stop it was not looking great, I gave it everything out there and pushed it to the limit to come back.”
The reigning drivers’ champion also secured his 13th victory of the season, a feat only ever achieved by Michael Schumacher in 2004 and Sebastian Vettel in 2013.
“Ah, I mean, I said it before that we are also doing more races a year, so [these records] are not always justifiable,” said Verstappen. “I mean, I think we are having an amazing season, but when you have a great car, you can win a lot of races.
“Of course, I’m proud of winning a lot of races but I don’t really look at these kind of stats – I’m just happy winning races.”
Team mate Sergio Perez added: “It certainly means a lot for us. You know, it’s been a big dominance by Mercedes in the last few years, so I really hope that the era of Red Bull starts now and that we are able to dominate the next few years.”
The Mexican driver, who recovered from a five-place grid penalty that saw him start ninth, shrugged off front wing damage and finished fourth behind Leclerc.
“Yeah, it was quite an intense battle out there,” continued Perez. “It was a shame that we got half of the front wing damaged, and I think that did hurt us quite a lot through the race, and I think once we realised it was missing half of the front wing, we tried to manage it out with the [differential] and so on – but in the end I think I needed one more lap.”