Following Sunday’s late night US Grand Prix, for those of us in the UK, it is safe to say that COTA delivered beyond expectation and created one of the best races of the season. Upon reflecting on the race, it was clear to see that the veterans put on quite a show proving exactly why they are the most accomplished drivers on the grid. Let’s take a look into the spectacle that was the United States Grand Prix.
The action kicked off on lap 1 with Carlos Sainz making and early exit after being spun round by the Mercedes, the race then began to settle in until that collision on lap 22. Stroll’s late move to defend against Alonso saw the Spaniard go flying into the wall in an explosive crash that initially looked as though both drivers would be forced to retire. However, with Alonso being Alonso of course he continued on to come home and finish in P7 assuming we ignore the absurd 30 second post-race penalty that was applied. Moments like that showed exactly why Alonso is a 2x world champion and is arguably worthy of a couple more championships. For most drivers that would have been a race ending collision but with Fernando he proved why he is undoubtedly one of the best drivers on the grid, if not of all time, as he went up against drivers half his age with a damaged car, missing wing mirror and still somehow managed to outscore his teammate and finish in the top 10.
In a similar vein, the race stepped up another notch when Redbull made a rare error on lap 36 that saw Verstappen endure and 11.1 second pit stop which saw his drop to p6 as he was overtaken by Leclerc in the pits. This signaled a dramatic change in the race as what initially looked like an easy win for Max now turned into a box office battle between Hamilton and Verstappen, reminiscent of the unforgettable rivalry that dominated the season last year. Lap 41 saw Hamilton take the lead and it looked as though he had a realistic chance of taking his first win of the season, as Verstappen hunted him down. The two went wheel to wheel on lap 50 but in the end the pace of the red bull on medium tyres proved to be too much for the Mercedes on the hard tyres. Although this battle relied on a Redbull’s mishap it demonstrated why you can never count out Lewis Hamilton, since the summer break he has been driving at his best and in my opinion comfortably out driving his teammate, even if this if not reflected in the points. If Mercedes can get their car back on track for 2023, could we be in for another titanic showdown that would take the championship down to the wire again?
The final bittersweet moment that comes to mind when looking back at this race is Sebastian Vettel’s stellar performance that saw him temporarily lead the race and, despite a 16.8 second pit stop blunder by the team, he ferociously battled his way back through the field with him going up against Kevin Magnussen in the final few corners to secure p8 in a race that could’ve been much more. Vettel’s racing in his final US GP took us all back to his championship winning days, showing that he never lost it and still has so much more to give to a sport that only has 3 races left with the 4x world champion. The Aston Martin came alive this weekend in the hands of both drivers, and they were able to capitalise off their increased performance, although Vettel was the only driver of the two who was able to bring home some much-needed points, pushing the team up to 7th in the Constructors and only 1 point off Alfa Romeo. Vettel’s performance left the impression in the minds of many that it is too soon to retire and whilst his career may be coming to an end, there is no denying that he has provided us with legendary moments to close off a legendary career.
This weekend really highlighted why Alonso, Hamilton and Vettel share 13 world championships between them and are some of the most successful drivers to ever grace he sport. In an ultra-competitive era of Formula one with younger drivers entering the sport each year the veterans showed this weekend that they are not only able to keep up with the new generation, but they are able to challenge those at their peak and show no signs of slowing down any time soon… unless you’re Sebastian Vettel. We are currently witnessing the best drivers of their respective generations go wheel to wheel, reviving the sport and providing epic battles that will hopefully continue in the future.