Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen congratulate one another after finishing first and second in a action packed race in Austin.(Photo:@F1/Twitter).

Max Verstappen has returned to his winning ways, taking out the US Grand Prix to extend his lead over Lewis Hamilton to now 12 points.

Max Verstappen has won his first US Grand Prix in a tight finish over rival Lewis Hamilton to extend his lead atop the Drivers Standings to now 12 points.

The win was much needed for Verstappen who had not won a Grand Prix since his home race in the Netherlands at the start of September.

The start of the race did not go to plan for the Dutchman who started in pole position with Hamilton who started in second the quicker to react. The two went wheel to wheel with Verstappen pushing Hamilton wide, however, the seven-time world champion had the better racing line and was able to get in front on the first corner.

Verstappen remained on the tail of Hamilton for a large majority of the opening 10 laps before Red Bull decided to pit him on lap 11 to attempt the undercut.

The decision paid dividends just a few laps later with Red Bull also pitting Sergio Perez which forced Mercedes to pit Hamilton, allowing Verstappen to fly past him and back into first place.

From there Verstappen held a commanding lead with Hamilton slowly cutting into the deficit. On lap 30 Verstappen opted to pit for a second time as his pace was beginning to slow and Hamilton was beginning to close the gap.

Mercedes chose to keep Hamilton out until lap 38 when he did pit which allowed Verstappen back into the lead.

The final 18 laps were tense with Verstappen’s tyres being older than Hamilton’s he was able to slowly bridge the gap again between the two and found himself on Verstappen’s tail on the final few laps.

Verstappen however stayed strong and was able to hold off Hamilton, winning the race. Hamilton finished in second place and Verstappen’s teammate, Perez rounded out the podium in third.

The one positive which Hamilton could take from the result is he got the fastest lap giving him an extra point, slightly minimising the gap between him and Verstappen.

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Ricciardo battles it out with Carlos Sainz

Australia’s Daniel Ricciardo put in another solid performance in Austin, earning a fifth-place finish after having to battle with Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz.

Ricciardo who started in sixth had a brilliant start able to pass the fifth-placed Sainz on the first corner before Sainz was able to joust back the position a few corners later. Ricciardo remained determined and continued to fight on the opening lap able to again overtake Sainz and secure fifth place where he remained for most of the race.

Ricciardo’s biggest issue occurred on lap 31 when he came in for his second pit, needing to make sure he came out ahead of Sainz who had attempted the undercut. Fortunately for Ricciardo, the undercut was unsuccessful coming out in sixth place ahead of Sainz.

After a slow start to the 2021 season, Ricciardo has now secured point finishes in three of his last four races which has allowed him to climb up the Driver Standings sitting in eighth place now only 14.5 points behind Sainz.

Strong performances from Ricciardo will be crucial to McLaren who want to maintain third position in the Constructors Championship, where they currently hold a lead over Ferrari.

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