British F1 star Lewis Hamilton admitted it was a “tough race” having come second despite such a solid start to the race
It is a title race for the ages – and Max Verstappen remains on track to end Lewis Hamilton’s historic reign in Formula One.
The Dutchman has watched Hamilton clinch five of the six championships he has contested since arriving as F1’s highly-rated prospect back in 2015.
He has waited patiently for Red Bull to give him a car capable of challenging for the title – and now he’s in a hurry to deliver.
That was evident at the US Grand Prix as Verstappen recovered from a stuttering start to end his three-race winless run and extend his lead over Hamilton to 12 points heading into the final five races of this season.
Last night’s result will come as a huge blow to Hamilton who is bidding to to eclipse Michael Schumacher’s record of seven world championships.
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“It was such a tough race,” admitted the Brit. “I got a good start, gave it absolutely everything but at the end of the day, they just had the upper hand this weekend and we couldn’t really have asked for more.”
Hamilton’s brilliant start saw him streak past his rival at the start – but his advantage didn’t last.
Verstappen had his team to thank for regaining the lead with their pit-stop strategy allowing him to undercut his rival, and he used all of his speed to edge further ahead in the standings.
It has been a cat-and-mouse title tussle all season, though Hamilton was unable to edge close enough to his rival last night to truly lay down a challenge.
The tile lead had changed four times in the previous seven rounds, but this momentum may well prove crucial come the end of the season.
Hamilton enjoyed a dream start by getting his Mercedes in front of Verstappen at the first corner, forcing the Red Bull star to concede the lead.
But it didn’t take the Dutchman long to display his pace and within eight laps, Hamilton was wary of the challenge from his title rival.
Verstappen couldn’t find a way past though and Red Bull rolled the dice on lap 11, opting to pit him in a bid to undercut Hamilton.
Mercedes held firm for three laps but, when they did finally call in Hamilton, Verstappen reduced the deficit and the Brit, much to his dismay, returned to the track behind his rival.
Hamilton kept the pressure on but was unable to force his Mercedes back to the front, and Verstappen came in for fresh tyres for a second time on lap 30.
Mercedes boss Toto Wolff was in no doubt what Hamilton, whose tyres had done seven laps fewer than Verstappen’s, needed to do.
“Lewis you are racing for the win,” he told his racer.
Hamilton huffed and puffed but fell agonisingly short, trailing Verstappen by 1.333 seconds at the flag.