In a win that brought on the passion from Formula 1's biggest rivals, 24-year-old Max Verstappen won his first U.S. Grand Prix as he bested seven-time champ Lewis Hamilton by less than a second at Austin's Circuit of the Americas on Sunday.
Hamilton, who has won the USGP for Mercedes seven times before, snuck up on Verstappen's lead for the final 15 laps but was unable to beat the Dutchman as Verstappen took a more decisive lead in the 2021 standings. Verstappen is now 12 points ahead of his veteran foe with just five races to go.
Max extends his lead on Lewis by 1⃣2⃣ points..
Five rounds remain 👀#USGP 🇺🇸 #F1 pic.twitter.com/EZHlQDra0M
— Formula 1 (@F1) October 24, 2021
After a weekend of big-name performances, celebrity appearances and wacky entertainment, all eyes were on Austin as the fest came to a dramatic end for the final 2 p.m. race.
The 56-lap Texas showdown saw plenty of lead changes between the two stars.
It was Red Bull Racing's Verstappen who nabbed the pole position in a stormy qualifying race on Saturday, but Hamilton quickly closed the 260-yard-gap to take the first lead of the final race. With a well-timed pit stop from Verstappen, however, the young driver edged out Hamilton by six seconds early in the race.
Hamilton's younger tires won him over for the next several laps as he closed the lead, while a slowing Verstappen opted for a new set of hard tires as he took another pit stop in the 29th lap. Hamilton's brief lead lasted until a pit stop of his own that once again had him trail 7.8 seconds behind his competitor in the 37th lap.
With 15 laps to go, Hamilton had halved his lead and took the fastest lap of the race to earn an extra point in the season's standings. It was anyone's battle as the final five laps saw a bumper-to-bumper showdown between the two as Hamilton cut down to less than within one second behind Verstappen. But with Verstappen's cool head and a gust of dirty air, Hamilton was unable to make a last-ditch effort for another U.S. title as he lost the race by 1.33 seconds.
Win number EIGHT of 2021 for @Max33Verstappen 🤘#USGP 🇺🇸 #F1 pic.twitter.com/hxKAJAPc0i
— Formula 1 (@F1) October 24, 2021
Despite losing the race, Hamilton fist-bumped Verstappen at the end and said the competition's far from over between the two racing greats.
"What a great race down to Turn 1," Hamilton told reporters. "I thought for a second that we might be out to win the race, but we'll have to win the next one."
What a race from our title contenders 👏👊
Take a bow @Max33Verstappen and @LewisHamilton! #USGP 🇺🇸 #F1 pic.twitter.com/2jQkylJ8C3
— Formula 1 (@F1) October 24, 2021
Verstappen's teammate Sergio Perez, a Mexico native, saw thousands of supporters from his home country as he landed the third-place title in the race. Meanwhile, Hamilton's teammate Valtteri Bottas edged past Carlos Sainz to win a bumper-to-bumper battle for sixth place in the last lap of the race. Ferrari's Charles Leclerc and Mercedes McLaren's Daniel Ricciardo rounded out the top five in fourth and fifth, respectively.
While the lead has widened between the sports' biggest rivals, there is still plenty of time for either to take the throne as they head into the final five races.
Despite losing a race that they normally win, Mercedes' Toto Wolff said they are very much in the running as they head to Mexico City for another showdown at the Mexican Grand Prix on Sunday, Nov. 7.
"We are right there," Wolff said. "It's just good fun for everybody and there's pressure, but it's positive pressure."
Hamilton and Verstappen will once again face off in North America for the Mexican Grand Prix on Sunday, Nov. 7 in Mexico City.
Here are the biggest highlights and final results for the first U.S. Grand Prix since 2019:
- Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing
- Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes
- Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing
- Charles Leclerc, Ferrari
- Daniel Ricciardo, McLaren Mercedes
- Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes
- Carlos Sainz, Ferrari
- Lando Norris, McLaren
- Yuki Tsunoda, AlphaTauri
- Sebastian Vettel, Aston Martin
- Antonio Giovinazzi, Alfa Romeo
- Lance Stroll, Aston Martin
- Kimi Räikkönen, Alfa Romeo
- George Russel, Williams
- Nicholas Latifi, Williams
- Mick Schumacher, Haas
- Nikita Mazepin, Haas
Lap 50—1.5 seconds separates the leaders
Hamilton has improved a six-point deficit for first as his younger tires take him within 1.5 seconds of Verstappen by the 50th lap. With six laps to go, Hamilton continues to beat out Verstappen in lap times, but some think Verstappen is holding out on speed.
Hamilton will need to bully his way past Verstappen very shortly if he's to take his seventh U.S. Grand Prix title, while Verstappen will need to keep his wits if he's to take his first.
Lap 43—Bumper car battle for fifth
With just over half of a second between the two, Sainz and Riccardo briefly get a bit too close as both cars make contact in the 43rd lap.
Dirty talk abounds—Sainz says Riccardo drove "a bit dirty" with a wide turn in Lap 10—and a bit of damage to Sainz's left-wing may not bode well for him in the remainder of the race. Meanwhile, Bottas encroaches both drivers with less than a second behind himself and Sainz in seventh place.
Lap 41— Hamilton encroaches Verstappen
Hamilton charged Verstappen for the final half of the race. (Austonia)
While Verstappen works to weave past the back of the pack as he laps them, Hamilton briskly follows. By Lap 41, he logs the fastest lap of the match, beating Sergio Perez, with a time of 1:39.781. He's now just 3.8 seconds behind a leading Verstappen with less than 15 laps to go.
Lap 37—Hamilton pits, Verstappen takes lead
Despite a decently quick pit stop—over two seconds shorter than Verstappen's—Hamilton falls 7.8 seconds behind Verstappen as the lead once again switches hands.
Lap 29—Verstappen returns to pit, Hamilton closes lead
After falling by as many as six seconds near the beginning of the race, Hamilton slowly began encroaching on Verstappen's lead. The Mercedes driver came within three seconds of Verstappen before the leading Dutchman took a pit stop in the 30th lap to opt for a fresh set of hard tires.
Meanwhile, a battle for fifth place has seen both Carlos Sainz, who was less than a second behind Daniel Ricciardo, to take a pit stop. Ricciardo soon followed. Hamilton's teammate Valtteri Bottas earns a temporary fifth place slot, and Ricciardo keeps a lead over Sainz in sixth.
2:25- Verstappen wins over strategy
Hamilton may have grabbed an early lead, but Verstappen's well-timed pit stop in lap 11 put him six seconds ahead of his British foe by lap 14. Verstappen is now comfortable as Red Bull Racing wins the strategy side of the race.
Meanwhile, Red Bull's Perez has reached the No. 3 spot with Hamilton sandwiched in between. The middle race is beginning to expand as Charles Leclerc advances his fourth-place lead over a fifth-place Ricciardo.
2:08 p.m.—Hamilton takes lead, sets fastest lap
Hamilton is edging out Verstappen in the U.S. Grand Prix race. (Austonia)
Even with a 260-yard deficit, it's Hamilton who edges out Verstappen to take the lead at the start of the race despite being squeezed by Verstappen at the top of the hill. A few minutes later, Hamilton sets a lap-best time at 1:41.071.
Sunday, 1:30—drivers, cars heat up for the big race
Hamilton, Verstappen and the other 20 drivers are warming up their cars and minds as the clock ticks down for the final race.
The starting grid is buzzing with excitement as Verstappen arrives at around 1:15, with Hamilton hitting the grid around 10 minutes later.
The rivals' cars are wheeled just 260 yards apart, a small margin that Hamilton will attempt to close by the end of the first lap on the 20-turn track.
Sunday—Celebrities take COTA as the race heats up
As one of the United States' premier racing competitions, it's no surprise that a star-studded cast—and audience—have contributed to the excitement of the race.
Performances from Twenty One Pilots, Billy Joel and Travis Scott have riled up the crowd, while NBA star-turned-DJ Shaquille O'Neal will be performing as DJ Diesel for the race after party.
IndyCar racing great Danica Patrick is commentating nationwide for the race after a decorated career as one of the most prominent female drivers ever in the sport.
The U.S. Grand Prix has seen anyone from former President Bill Clinton to star chef Gordon Ramsey in past crowds, and this year is no different. Shaq's fellow NBA star Chris Bosh has been spotted this weekend as well as tennis star Serena Williams, Texas rapper Megan Thee Stallion and actor William Fichtner.
There's sure to be many more celebs embedded in that thousands-strong crowd, so keep your eyes peeled!
Sunday—Chadwick takes W Series Championship title
Formula 1 may be taking the limelight this weekend, but a high-stakes competition took place just before the big race on Sunday morning as the Women's Series' Jamie Chadwick took her second consecutive championship title in Austin.
The 2021 W Series champ took her crown after winning both races this weekend. After taking the Saturday race, Chadwick cruised to victory with a five-second lead over a second-place Abbi Pulling to win the championship over rival Alice Powell.
Chadwick defeated Powell for her second U.S. Grand Prix win since the last race in 2019, earning $500,000 in the process. The W Series, which is free-to-enter unlike Formula 1 and hopes to level out the financial playing field for men and women, is a developmental league that also provides 15 FIA super licence points to season winners. With enough super licence points, W Series drivers can level up to Formula 3 competitions and eventually beyond as they begin to compete against male drivers.
Saturday, 4 p.m.—Verstappen wins first, Hamilton takes second in qualifiers
In a three-round battle on Saturday, Verstappen flipped the switch from the day's practice rounds as he took a last-second lead over Hamilton to win the pole position, or first slot, in Sunday's starting grid on Saturday's qualifiers.
But it wasn't an easy battle. Verstappen's teammate Perez, a Mexico native, earned cheers from plenty of fans from his neighboring home country as he held the lead through the 10-minute round. Hamilton, who had been flanked behind both Red Bull foes, pulled a last-second lead to finish the finals and looked to take the pole position.
As rain began to fall, however, Verstappen pumped the gas for one final lap and won the pole position from his Team Mercedes foe.
It's Verstappen's first pole position on U.S. soil as he looks to take his first U.S. Grand Prix.
Click here for more information on the qualifiers.
Saturday morning—Ricciardo drives Earnhardt's 1984 car
Just as early fans began to trickle in, McLaren Mercedes' Daniel Ricciardo broke the crisp morning air with a roar as he drove some donuts in Dale Earnhardt's 1984 Wrangler car.
Ricciardo fulfilled his childhood dream—unlike many of his competitors his racing heroes growing up were his dad and Earnhardt, a seven-time NASCAR champion. Ricciardo collected many of Earnhardt's model cars growing up, but he never got his hands on this one until now, according to a report from ESPN.
After the exhibition laps, a breathless Ricciardo told reporters about the exhilarating experience.
"I can't speak," Ricciardo said. "That was fun, I think I'm still a little bit high right now."
Ricciardo's joyride caught the attention of Dale Earnhardt's son, NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt, Jr, who responded with a tweet that gave Ricciardo "goosebumps."
"I'm happy for Daniel," Earnhardt Jr. said. "I'm also appreciative for how he celebrates my father. That makes a lot of dads family members and fans smile."
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Downtown may be recovering from the pandemic but the priorities residents want in their city center are changing, according to the City Pulse Survey done by design firm Gensler.
After studying 7,500 people in 15 global markets, including Austin, Gensler found that life in COVID has pushed city-dwellers to want more outdoor activities, social spaces and entertainment venues in bustling business districts.
Post-pandemic, the highest-rated downtown activities were shopping, visiting parks and just “hanging out.” The need for more public spaces like parks jumped from sixth on the list to second this year.
Although globally people view downtown as a business district for task-based activities, across the U.S., downtown districts are viewed more as a vehicle for entertainment. This is especially true for Austinites, where people surveyed said they would rather see more entertainment and cultural venues than shopping or public transit downtown.
For Melanie Gartman, a manager at construction software company Levelset who has been living in Austin for most of her life, the needs and wants of the average resident closely align with her own.
Austin clocked in second-most desirable downtown, tied with Charlotte, North Carolina. Like the 78% of Austinites in the survey, Gartman said she thinks Downtown Austin is hanging on to its lovable charm.
“Even now with fewer people out and about it's still very vibrant and lively. I feel like I saw life come back to downtown a lot sooner than I expected it to,” Gartman said. “It's still holding on a bit that Austin vibe and with the high rises coming in, it's scary that we could lose that. I think it's holding on better than I would have expected, especially within the last two years of everything that happened.”
As Austinites eased back into downtown, the first stop Gartman made was to go see music again. Since venues opened back up, Gartman and her loved ones have seen live music at their favorite venues: Moody Amphitheatre, Mohawk, The Parish and Empire Control Room.
Blackillac opened for Gary Clark Jr. at the Moody Amphitheater's first show back in August. (Laura Figi/Austonia)
Entertainment is most important for Gartman’s life in Austin—seeing Gary Clark Jr. in August brought normalcy back into her routine—and said our local downtown is the ideal out of other cities in Texas.
“I've always noticed that between Houston’s downtown and Austin’s, Houston's is so Monday to Friday, eight to five, maybe a post-work happy hour,” Gartman said. “Growing up, downtown (Austin) was always the place to go. It has always been the hub and I think Austin is unique in that way.”
Traffic in downtown areas is way down overall, even though concern over pandemic safety has taken a backseat. Shopping traffic has decreased by 28%, dining out and entertainment attendance dropped by 33% in the post-pandemic sphere.
Even though her office is located downtown, Gartman usually works from home. Her downtown visits tend to be for the purpose of entertainment and she said the lack of parking sometimes becomes problematic.
“I feel like all these high rises are taking over all the parking,” Gartman said. “It used to be for go-to parking, I would just park under I-35. No big deal. But now, that’s kind of scary, especially if you're by yourself. The party parking is a barrier to actually making it down there.”
But with the rise of the hybrid work model, it’s likely that the downtown sphere is going to change all across the U.S. For now, survey participants said they would like to see their downtown reduce traffic, add more green space, improve the cityscape and increase parking capacity as we shape the future of cities.
3 Akins High School students caught with ammunition, magazines after report of armed person on campus
Akins Early College High School, 10701 S. 1st St., was on lockdown Wednesday morning as district police investigated a report of an "armed subject." The three students, which a witness said they saw with a weapon, have since been identified and located.
The lockdown took place just after 10 a.m., when someone reported three students in the restroom with a possible handgun. The three were then identified and located in different classrooms. One of the students had two magazines, one with ammunition. A weapon was not located by police.
The district deescalated the lockdown to a hold at 12:25 p.m., which meant students could go to the restroom and be picked up if parents chose to do so. No shots were fired and all students and staff were safe throughout the whole lockdown, according to police.
The three students will not be returning to school tomorrow. Austin ISD police said the students' punishment with the school or charges have not been identified since the investigation is in the early stages. Additional officers will be on campus this week to investigate.
"We take these events seriously and we prepare so that at the end of the day, everyone can go home safe," Austin ISD Police Chief Ashley Gonzalez said.
The Taylor Police Department is investigating an apparent murder-suicide that left four people dead on Tuesday.
Officers responded to a call at around 1 p.m. for a welfare check at 616 Symes St. in Taylor, Texas, where the Taylor Fire Department helped force entry into the home since it was locked, police said. Once inside, officers found four dead bodies: 57-year-old Anthony Davis, 45-year-old Araceli Lopez Davis, 20-year-old Cynthia Abundiz and 18-year-old Pedro Navarro.
Police believe the deaths to be a murder-suicide with Anthony Davis shooting the other three victims before himself. TPD is investigating with the help of the Williamson County Sheriff's Office and the Texas Rangers.
Later that day, another murder was reported in Taylor, which police say is unrelated.
Police responded to a shooting at 2100 Whistling Way around 4 p.m. Tuesday. They said a family member found 33-year-old Jonathan Hitch with a gunshot wound to his head. It is being investigated as a suspicious death.