UNITED STATES GP

Autosport (UK) - - PIT + PADDOCK/LETTERS -

BY HIS OWN AD­MIS­SION ,V ER­STAP­PEN DID NOT PRODU CEA great per­for­mance in qual­i­fy­ing for Oc­to­ber’s race at Austin, and a grid penalty for an en­gine change made life even harder by send­ing him back t o1 6th on the grid. But Ver­stap­pen never knows when he’s beaten.

The Red Bull ace go tu p t o1 3th o nla po ne, was into the top 10 by the end of three and climbed back to his orig­i­nal sixth po­si­tion af­ter just 10. He even­tu­ally as­sumed the lead by run­ning a long first stint, be­fore get­ting repassed by race win­ner Lewis Hamil­ton, then pit­ting o nla p 24 of 56.

Ver­stapp enc om­pleted his out-lap 21.754 sec­onds be­hind the leader, with a 10s deficit t ok imi Raikko­nen’s Fer­rari. Over the re­main­ing dis­tance, Ver­stap­pen hunted the lead­ing group down. He over­took Valt­teri Bot­tas’s strug­gling Mercedes fo rf ourth, then chased af­ter Raikko­nen over the fi­nal four laps, be­fore lung­ing in­side the Fer­rari on the fi­nal lap to claim a sen­sa­tional podium.

But the stew­ards ruled Ver­stap­pen cut the in­side of the track in mak­ing the move, so docked him five sec­onds and handed third back to Raikko­nen. Ver­stap­pen was fu­ri­ous but, penalty o rn op enalty, it was still a bril­liant, stir­ring per­for­mance from F1 ’sm ost ex­cit­ing young tal­ent.

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