F1 | US GP | Verstappen dedicates victory in Austin to Mateschitz: “The only thing we could do today was win”
Max Verstappen fought his way to a brilliant victory at the Circuit of the Americas after a slow pit stop relegated the Dutchman to third place in the final stint of the race, as he overtook both Charles Leclerc and Lewis Hamilton to win the race, which he dedicated to the late Dietrich Mateschitz, founder and co-owner of Red Bull.
Verstappen took the race lead on the start and never looked back until a clumsy, 11.1 seconds pit stop on lap 36 demoted him to third place, behind Charles Leclerc and Lewis Hamilton, with just 20 laps remaining.
The reigning double world champion used the pace on his new set of medium tyres to shoot past Leclerc and start the chase on his 2021 title rival Lewis Hamilton, which he completed with a move down the back straight on lap 50, before prevailing in a tense final few laps with both drivers on the verge of being penalised for exceeding track limits over three times.
It marked Red Bull’s fifth constructors’ championship in its history, as the team sealed the title with three races to spare, and Verstappen’s 13th race win this season, and one that comes a day after the team lost its most senior figure, Dietrich Mateschitz, Red Bull founder and co-owner, who passed on Saturday.
Speaking after the race, Verstappen emphasised how the “longer” pit stop complicated his race, and dedicated the moment to Mateschitz:
“It was a tough one,” said Verstappen. “It was all looking good, and then of course the pit stop was a bit longer than we would have liked, so I had to fight my way forward again.
“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 [Mateschitz] himself, [for] what he has done for everyone, the only thing we could do today was win. And even though after the pit stop it wasn’t looking great, I gave it everything out there, and I pushed to the limit to come back.
“Of course we had a big chance to win the constructors’ [championship] here, and of course we wanted to do it in style, so I think we did that today.”
The Dutchman said his battle with Lewis Hamilton was “really enjoyable” and praised the characteristics of the COTA circuit for allowing racing to carry on for several turns:
“It was a few corners,” he said. “But this is a great track anyway for battling. If you pass on one corner, you can come back in the next – it’s really enjoyable to drive here.”
Verstappen said the win “means a lot” and that team wanted to put on a good show and a good result in honour of Mateschitz:
“It definitely means a lot to me, to the team, because he was so important to the whole team, he was so instrumental. Of course, it will continue, but we wanted to have a good result [for him] today and this is of course amazing.
“It’s been a tough weekend for us, that’s why we really wanted to do well today.”
WORLD CHAMPIONS!!! ⭐️— Oracle Red Bull Racing (@redbullracing) October 23, 2022
Congratulations to all the Team from MK to TX! 🏆 #GivesYouWings pic.twitter.com/7ZWoYJ8OzT