The Ross Brawn Column – United States Grand Prix edition

Max Verstappen absorbed huge pressure from Formula 1 title rival Lewis Hamilton to take victory in the United States Grand Prix, in a race that had an intensity throughout the field. Formula 1 Managing Director, Motorsport, Ross Brawn discusses the key talking points from Austin…

The two main protagonists duel once more

F1’s return to the United States for the first time in two years was an incredibly tense contest all the way through. Mercedes varied their strategy, which gave Lewis a tyre advantage over Max and Red Bull at the end – but it was unclear whether it would be enough. As it turned out, it wasn’t.

This was a race to be glued to the screen, studying the gaps and the tyre strategy to see how the race was evolving. It was far from certain until the end who would come out on top. Neither Lewis or Max put a foot wrong – and that’s the fantastic thing about this championship. We’ve got two drivers who are driving immaculately, and I don’t think I really saw a mistake from either of them, nothing significant anyway.

And it capped off a sensational weekend with huge sell-out crowds every day, great weather, great atmosphere and a great vibe about the place.

We’re seeing a very strong engagement with American fans now. For years, F1 was a cult hobby in America but we are now seeing a genuine increase in engagement. Fans know the drivers, they know the personalities, they know the nuances of F1. It’s very exciting and I think it demonstrates F1 can comfortably have two races in the USA – and maybe more – because of the passion of the fans we’ve experiencing this weekend.

My Driver of the Day – Max Verstappen

Max edges this because of the pressure he came under from Lewis for an awful lot of the race. He kept in touch with Lewis for the first part, after losing the lead at the first corner – and then controlled it from there, looking after his tyres beautifully. To not put a foot wrong in 56 laps was impressive.

The Circuit of The Americas is a tricky track. The promoter has done a great job of smoothing it out in places, but it’s still a challenge and one where it’s so easy to make a mistake.

I know from talking to those at Red Bull that they had pencilled this race in as a Mercedes track and one where they had to minimise their losses. That wasn’t the case – but it was close – as it has been all year. And maybe we’ll see the opposite play out in Mexico and Brazil, which are tracks that Red Bull might feel will move to them. This championship has still got an awful long way to go.

Perez delivers on expectations

Checo was best of the rest – and finished on the podium for the second successive race. It is good to see him putting in more consistent performances.

He had a bit of a shot at pole on Saturday and turned in a pretty solid and strong performance on Sunday, despite feeling a little under the weather.

If he does that every weekend, Red Bull will be delighted. It would have been nice if he could put a bit more pressure on Lewis, but those two were in a class of their own.

Ricciardo revels in being back in America

Drivers are professionals. They must focus on the challenge of driving these cars and the challenge of the racing, but there are ones that also give the fans and the crowd even more – and Daniel is definitely doing that.

The NASCAR car he drove was one that was raced by one of his childhood heroes – Dale Earnhardt. Daniel wore a Texas Longhorns T-shirt and a Stetson at times during the weekend and really got into the spirit. It was wonderful to see.

There was so much great stuff over the weekend, such as basketball Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal arriving at the podium with the trophies in an awesome Longhorn car. He came and had a chat to me afterwards and it turns out he’s a bit of a petrolhead.

This was a very American weekend and it was all the better for it. We love races like this. It’s fantastic to be so close to a great city like Austin, and great to see 380,000 fans turn up across the weekend and create a cracking atmosphere.