First, he is a three-time world champion, the man who wins every Sunday. Then, he is the driver who also wins on Saturdays (6 out of 11 races contested), when Formula 1 imposes these sprint races on us which serve no purpose except, sometimes, to give us a spectacle.
Yesterday, the first experience of the sprint in Texas confirmed all this. A little suspense at the start when Verstappen, poleman in the morning despite an error – again, after that of Friday in qualifying – pushed Leclerc into the grass or Hamilton took advantage of the open door to get rid of the Ferrari. For five laps, we thought we were back in 2021 when the Mercedes and the Red Bull were engaged in a merciless battle. The Briton even found his old habits of denouncing his rival on the radio while keeping pace with the champion.
7th place for Gasly
And then, Verstappen regained his rights. He left without Hamilton on a Mercedes, although greatly improved this weekend with some new features that his driver liked, could not resist. The champion inflicted incredible gaps in less than 20 laps: almost ten on the second, more than fifteen on the third and more than thirty on the 7th, Gasly, thanks to the five second penalty inflicted on the other Mercedes which was ahead, that of Russell, for overtaking off the track.
Afterwards, Saturday evening mass was said. Hamilton managed, Leclerc too, even if Norris in the last laps gave everything to get his McLaren back on a podium which was not one. Nothing to sink your teeth into under this endless refrain of the limits of the slopes, however widened. For the Grand Prix, the spectacle should be there this time. The champion who missed Friday in qualifying will start on the 3rd row (6th), far from poleman Leclerc. He will have to fight to get back up. But given his pace and talent, the question is unfortunately not if but when.