Max Verstappen confessed on Sunday after the United States Grand Prix that he had taken a gamble by entering the pits early twice for new tires. Red Bull’s tactical choices paid off, however, as the Dutchman managed to keep his rival Lewis Hamilton behind and strengthened his leading position in the Formula 1 World Cup standings in Texas.
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“Since I lost first place at the start, we had to try something different. We decided to go for a super aggressive strategy. I wasn’t sure if it would work,” Verstappen said after the finish. He went in twice considerably ahead of Hamilton for new tires. “It was a logical decision. That’s why we came back for it every time. It did mean I had very few tires left at the end of my second stint. I had to keep it up. It just worked out well enough.”
The Red Bull driver saw the Briton’s Mercedes come very close in the final laps, but an ultimate attack by the seven-time world champion was not forthcoming as Verstappen remained cool. “The last laps were super fun. I’m very happy that I was able to keep the lead,” said the Dutchman, who received the trophy for the winner from former top basketball player Shaquille O’Neal.
Verstappen increased his lead over Hamilton in the World Cup to 12 points, with five grands prix to go. In two weeks, the title fight will continue in Mexico, where Red Bull has always performed strongly in recent years. “I am very happy that we have scored points here. We could have easily fallen behind,” said Verstappen. “We have to try and really take advantage in Mexico and then in Brazil. Those two games are very crucial for us before the end of the championship.”