Verstappen had to fend off a charging Hamilton in a thrilling conclusion to the first race at Austin for two years with both drivers running on opposite strategies. 

With eight-lap fresher tyres after going longer into the race than Verstappen, Hamilton hunted down his championship rival and reduced an eight-second deficit down to a second entering the final lap. 

But Hamilton was ultimately unable to get within a second of Verstappen to gain a crucial DRS boost as the Red Bull driver held on in a nail-biting finale after expertly managing his tyres in the second stint. 

The victory - Verstappen’s eighth of 2021 and 18 of his career - sees him move into a 12-point advantage over Hamilton going into the final five races of the season. 

Some 40 seconds behind the battling championship contenders, Red Bull’s Sergio Perez took the final spot on the podium despite completing the entire race without a working drinks bottle. 

Aggressive strategy pays off for Red Bull 

XPB_1116226_HiRes.jpg

A perfect launch enabled Hamilton to surge past Verstappen on the run to Turn 1, with the Red Bull driver forced wide at the exit of the corner as Hamilton snatched the lead. 

With Verstappen unable to respond despite running within a second of Hamilton’s Mercedes, Red Bull opted to pull the trigger by committing to an undercut strategy just 10 laps into the race as Verstappen pitted first. 

Hamilton ran three laps longer before making his first stop and returned to the track some 6.7s behind Verstappen.

With Hamilton picking up the pace and reducing Verstappen’s lead to 2.7s, Red Bull again called the Dutchman in early for his second pit stop on Lap 29 in order to cover off the threat of an undercut. 

Mercedes once again kept Hamilton out for longer before he eventually stopped for the second and final time on Lap 37. 

He re-emerged just 8 seconds behind Verstappen, setting up a grandstand finish with Verstappen just doing enough to stay ahead. 

SI202110240872_hires_jpeg_24bit_rgb_news.jpg

Behind the top three, Charles Leclerc turned in a brilliant drive on his way to a lonely fourth place for Ferrari, 24 seconds up the road from McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo

Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas struggled to make significant progress as he could only recover three places to finish sixth after taking an engine penalty. 

Seventh place went the way of Carlos Sainz, who fended off Lando Norris’s McLaren by just 0.8s at the chequered flag. 

AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda and Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettel completed the rest of the points-paying positions in ninth and 10th respectively. 

Full race results from the 2021 F1 United States Grand Prix.