By winning the US GP, United States Grand Prix, Max Verstappen drove like a champion in waiting. For once Verstappen curtailed the over-aggression and replaced it with a brilliant bait-and-wait victory. He didn’t panic when Hamilton took the lead going into the first corner on the opening lap. Verstappen finally showed respect towards Hamilton as the two went wheel to wheel. For once he didn’t bang wheels or try to intimidate his only rival for the 2021 drivers championship. He gave Hamilton as much room as he wanted and no more. And when there was no more room left he opted to drift wide and concede position. He gave Hamilton a proper race. He finally realised that you can not win a 70 lap race in the first corner on the opening lap. He drove like a champion.
He regained the lead with the so-called undercut, but towards the end, Verstappen was on 8 laps older tyres than Hamilton. Hamilton sniffed victory, he had the advantage and began an ominous march towards closing the gap between himself and a win. However, Verstappen decided to manage his tyres and this allowed Hamilton to get to within a second of the Red Bull. Verstappen, for once, played a very smart game. By managing his pace, Verstappen saved tyre life and had enough in reserve to actually turn the advantage to his favour.
In the end, Verstappen held off Hamilton’s charge by using his brain and keeping the brawn contained. He seems to have learned, the hard way, from his DNFs at Silverstone and Monza. And if he goes on to win the 2021 F1 drivers championship, then he won at the US GP.
This new ‘smart watch’ Verstappen was much better than ‘caveman’ Verstappen. But can ‘smartwatch’ Verstappen upgrade to version 2.0 or will ‘caveman’ Verstappen grab Hamilton by his hair in order to wrap up the 2021 drivers championship?