There are still six races left in the exciting battle for the Formula 1 World Championship.
Austin (dpa) – Even ahead of the expected highs for race day in Texas, championship contenders Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen have reached operating temperature – especially emotionally.
After a wheel-to-wheel duel throughout the start and end of training, Red Bull driver Verstappen insulted the world champion in the Mercedes as a “stupid idiot” and showed Hamilton the middle finger. Six points separate the two opponents in the World Cup standings. Verstappen is ahead, but Hamilton is the favorite to win in the United States.
After significantly better times in the first practice session, the painted black Silver Arrows weren’t as superior in the second session of the afternoon and had to give up the best time to Sergio Perez in the Red Bull. His teammate Verstappen did not do the very fast lap he was hoping for and was therefore audibly pissed off. “I’ve had enough,” the world championship leader said over the radio after being blocked from driving again by other cars. He entered the pits and went into test mode for the long haul.
“Mercedes is very fast, there is no doubt about it,” said Helmut Marko, director of Red Bulls Motorsport, in an interview with Sky. “But we took a big step forward from the first training session to the second. Max didn’t complete a lap due to traffic, but the one-second gap has narrowed considerably. “
In the first practice session, Verstappen was 0.932 seconds behind Valtteri Bottas and Hamilton’s Mercedes. With afternoon tarmac temperatures of 38 degrees, Perez and Lando Norris in the McLaren were faster than Hamilton and Bottas. “It will be a tough race this weekend. But it is not as clear on the side of Mercedes as it was previously thought ”, analyzed Marko.
Marko described the fact that Hamilton sat in the curve before the straight ahead of Verstappen, kept him on the outside lane and therefore clearly succeeded in provoking his challenger as “unnecessary”. “We already know they don’t go out to dinner together more often.”
With five wins from the previous eight races, Hamilton is the favorite on Sunday. But Verstappen has also had very good results in the past on the popular racetrack.
Positive for Red Bull: Bottas, like Sebastian Vettel in the Aston Martin and George Russell in the Williams, got a new engine and will be punished for it on the grid on Sunday. He must move back five places and therefore start from the third row at most. “We are suffering a bit in terms of reliability this year, I think this is the sixth engine for Valtteri,” said Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff. Vettel and Russell each get their fourth training unit. Because they have changed other pieces, both have to start the race from the back of the peloton.
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