Formula 1's Max Verstappen is setting his sights high, aiming for a third consecutive win at the United States Grand Prix. Riding on the momentum of a commanding performance by Red Bull Racing, the Dutch driver is hopeful that the pace he demonstrated at the Austin Sprint will carry through to Sunday's main event.
Sprint Victory Buoys Confidence, Despite Earlier Setback
In the buildup to Sunday's race, Verstappen displayed impeccable skill, leading all three sessions of the Shootout and clinching victory in the 100KM dash. Despite facing stiff competition from Ferrari's Charles Leclerc and Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton, Verstappen managed to maintain a lead.
This was epitomized by the nine-second gap he pulled on Hamilton, marking his third Sprint win this season. However, the journey to the top wasn't without its hurdles. An oversight led to Verstappen's pole lap being deleted due to a breach of track limits.
As a result, he's set to start from sixth place on Sunday. Reflecting on this turn of events, Verstappen stated, “The pace has been always there, just unfortunate with a track limits in the first qualifying." However, he remains undeterred.
On his Saturday performance, he shared, "But today has been pretty straightforward... At one point I could just look after my tyres till the end and have a bit of fun at the end trying to push a bit more”.
Facing Challenges Head-On
Although Verstappen’s Sprint journey seemed dominant, it was not without its share of pressure and concerns.
Notably, he was pursued closely by his 2021 title adversary, Hamilton. The former also voiced concerns over engine and driveability issues during the Sprint. Addressing these challenges, Verstappen clarified, "It was always like eight, nine tenths for a few laps, but that was all controlled...
Once I cleared the DRS, we all settled into our own rhythms, and I think the pace of the car was very good today”. As the main race day approaches, Verstappen remains optimistic and determined. When quizzed about the Sprint’s impact on his confidence level, he expressed, “I’m definitely going to try.
It’s five cars to pass which is never straightforward... We will find out tomorrow but for sure this was a very positive day for us and hopefully we show something similar out there tomorrow”.