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Red Bull boss Christian Horner believes Max Verstappen’s performance at the United States Grand Prix was a “landmark” moment in the fight for the championship as the Dutchman extended his lead by 12 points over Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton heading to Mexico City.
Mercedes had previously dominated at the Circuit of the Americas, starting on pole for every race at COTA since the start of the turbo-hybrid era.
Dubbed “Hamilton territory” by Horner coming into the weekend, Mercedes, alongside Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas, once again looked strong in first practice.
But their pace gradually fell away, with Verstappen storming to pole position on Saturday and Hamilton lining up alongside him in second with the second Red Bull of Sergio Perez starting in third.
Despite a strong start from Hamilton, who briefly took the lead of the race, Mercedes were outfoxed by Red Bull who performed the perfect undercut in the first round of pit stops to retake the lead.
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Hamilton fought back hard until the end of the race but eventually ran out of laps, with Verstappen extending his lead at the top with five races remaining.
Speaking after the United States Grand Prix, Horner remained humble in his approach this season.
“They’re all important but this one is a big one because this has been such a stronghold of Lewis and Mercedes so to get the pole was a landmark moment for us and then to convert it into a win even not leading on the first lap,” said Horner.
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“A great team performance because on Friday P1 we were on the back foot and it looked like it was going to be a tough weekend but the whole team worked very hard to manage to turn it around.”
But the Briton did conclude the performance sends a strong warning to Mercedes this year, especially after the seven-year dominance from Mercedes since 2014.
“For the team, to get the pole on Saturday was a big moment particularly with the domination that Mercedes have had,” explained Horner.
“We gave that away into turn one and then we went aggressive on the strategy to bank track position.
“We were always going to be exposed at the end of the race and Max was just able to hang it out and it was all about rear tyres.
“I think the traction out of turn 11 was always going to be crucial and he was able to keep the tyres in a decent pace to have just enough left at the end there.”
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