Max Verstappen wins the 2021 Austin GP - presented the winners trophy by NBA legend Shaquille O'Neal. (Photo: Formula One)

Formula 1 ventures to the US this weekend for the 10th anniversary of the Austin Grand Prix. There’s been plenty of high drama moments over the decade, and the 2022 edition of the race proves to be no different.

Drama, suspense and a lot of fun – here are The Inner Sanctum‘s top five moments from the Austin Grand Prix since joining the F1 calendar for the first time in 2012.

1. Kimi breaks win drought

No less than 113 races after his 20th Formula 1 victory at the 2013 season-opening Australian GP, the man who remains Ferrari’s most recent world champion in 2007 was at last a race winner again.

When Kimi Raikkonen crossed the line to win the 2018 United States Grand Prix, even the Finn couldn’t help but note how long the wait had been. Raikkonen thanked his Ferrari team before quipping: “f**king finally…”

Holding off a fast Max Verstappen in the Red Bull and Lewis Hamilton in the Mercedes, Raikkonen won the race in what would be the last time in his career.

Kimi Raikkonen atop the podium in 2018. (Photo: Formula One)

2. Verstappen’s strategic battle beats Mercedes

The 2021 F1 season was full of drama and suspense, and the Austin GP proved to be no different with Max Verstappen holding off a fast finishing Lewis Hamilton.

Verstappen gambled to make his second stop early on lap 30, whilst Hamilton held out to pit late in the race on lap 38.

The aggressive strategy meant Hamilton closed in on Verstappen in the final laps with tyres that were eight laps newer. After his second stop on Lap 38, Hamilton needed to make up 7.8 seconds in 18 laps.

With back markers and yellow flags to deal with, It proved too much for Hamilton, with Verstappen taking out the victory by just 1.3 seconds. The race went down as one of the greats in COTA track history.

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3. Rain delay showcases Ricciardo’s entertainment

Taking it back to 2015 in a rain delayed qualifying for the United States Grand Prix, all the teams were trying to make the most of the drenched situation.

What stole the show was then teammates Daniel Ricciardo and Daniil Kvyat dancing in the middle of a soaked pit-lane.

The Aussie showcased his sparkling smile was able to create a moment for fans to enjoy; a highlight that will be remembered for quite some time in F1 fans’ memories.

4. Hamilton and Rosberg hat saga

2015 proved to be an eventful race weekend for fans’ viewing.

The Sunday race was ultimately the championship deciding result, with Lewis Hamilton taking victory in what was then his third world championship.

The post race cool down room was the highlight however, when tensions got heated between Nico Rosberg and Hamilton.

While Rosberg dwelt on defeat, an elated Hamilton, who had just achieved a lifelong dream, remained a bundle of energy, taking it upon himself to divvy up the three podium caps. 

Rosberg obviously taking the gesture the wrong way, threw his second placed hat back at Hamilton live on the broadcast. Now known as ‘cap-spat’, this moment is one that F1 fans clearly remember to this day.

5. ‘NEOOOOOWW’ guy

The sounds of Formula One cars flying by on screen or live at the track are unmistakable.

In 2018, fans across the world were treated to some fantastic and hilarious impressions of those noises thanks to a fan who found a broadcasting track microphone.

Thought lasting only for a moment, the man was recreating car sounds, shouting “neow” into the microphone and thoroughly enjoying himself.

Through the intense nature of F1, this was surely a moment in COTA’s history that will live on across social media forever.

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