With just five more dates left in the Formula 1 calendar for this year, it is becoming the most nail-biting watch to see who'll end up as World Championship title holder in recent memory. TrackDays brings you our lowdown of who's currently leading the way with our regular grid-side roundup…
In front of an audience of 140,000 at the Circuit of the Americas, the Austin Grand Prix in Texas was won in comprehensive style by Max Verstappen this weekend. Securing his 8th win of the season and 18th overall of his career to date, the Belgian driver for Team Red Bull has also extended his points lead in the season standings to date by 12.
With a final race time of 1:34:36, not even the late challenge from - who else? - current World Championship holder Lewis Hamilton racing for Team Mercedes was a match for him, as his current rival crossed the finish line 1.3 seconds after he did. Verstappen's fellow Red Bull teammate Sergio Perez meanwhile, rounded off the top 3 with a bronze finish.
Writing on his Twitter account after his win, Verstappen said "We did it … Great job guys, Red Bull and Honda, really really good … And you fans, thanks for all the support. Just amazing." A principal for Team Red Bull was also overheard on the radio to Verstappen during the slowing down lap saying "That was sheer class, Max … what a drive."
After last year's Austin Grand Prix was cancelled owing to restrictions of the time pertaining to the COVID-19 pandemic, this was the first US GP to be held in almost two years, which undoubtedly added to the excitement of the resulting race.
It was a positive atmosphere felt by all in attendance clearly, drivers and teams alike; a welcome change after previous GPs this season which have often ended on sour notes or disputes of some form or another.
Even Lewis Hamilton was gracious in defeat, noting the impressive performance of Verstappen but adding "What an amazing crowd - to perform in front of you guys is such an honour. This is definitely our acceptance into the US. I hope we get more races out here and the sport continues to grow."
Indeed, with the likely return of the Austin GP next year together with the first ever Miami Grand Prix next May, it seems as if F1 mania across the Atlantic isn't going to let up anytime soon.
One interesting bit of reading that came our way at TrackDays HQ this week was the results of the Global F1 Fan Survey. The largest survey of its kind to be conducted by Formula 1 in association with Motorsport Network and Nielsen shows some surprising results on what the leading motorsport series' audience are loving.
For instance, asked about favourite teams, and despite only ranking third for teams in the overall season rankings at present, Team McLaren were the most popular with 30% of those surveyed, no doubt owing to their strong driver line-up of Daniel Ricciardo and Lando Norris.
Team Red Bull have previously been the favourite team for the last few times the survey has been conducted but are second in this year's poll. However, what has been true of the grid this last weekend is also true of the survey; Max Verstappen is overall favourite driver, followed by Lando Norris (2nd) and Lewis Hamilton (3rd).
Speaking in an executive summary, James Allen, President of Motorsport Network who helped conduct this year's survey said that the results showed "F1 is in rude health, certainly the best I have known it in my 30 year career in the sport … the powerful majority view is that F1 is 'the pinnacle of motorsport'."
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