Verstappen impresses again to finish fourth in Austin

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Max Verstappen’s sensational rookie season in Formula 1 continued in Sunday’s United States Grand Prix as he matched his best race result, finishing fourth at the Circuit of The Americas in Austin, Texas.

Verstappen, 18, made his F1 debut at the beginning of the year after just one year in single seater racing, but has proven his ability with a series of impressive performances in 2015 that show an ability beyond his years.

The Dutchman qualified well at COTA on Sunday morning before spending his race battling well up the order, pitting under the first safety car to give himself fresh tires and track position.

Although he was unable to hold off the charging Sebastian Vettel and claim his maiden podium finish, Verstappen crossed the line in fourth place to match his best result from the Hungarian Grand Prix in July.

“It was a bit of a crazy race,” Verstappen told NBCSN after the race. “The start, [I] didn’t have the best getaway. Then I just dived up the inside and I think I took three guys or something, was very good.

“he pace wasn’t too bad. Struggled the first lap but then we could keep up with the Ferraris, but was stuck behind the Force India because the straight line speed they had was quite impressive.

“From there on I had a lot of enjoyable battles, especially with Raikkonen. I enjoyed that one a lot, maybe he didn’t but surely I did. From there I didn’t make any mistakes. We did right call to switch to slick tires. The team did a very good strategy.

“It was very difficult because you didn’t want to go too early. Then you lose a lot of time. Wait and see when someone else goes. Someone else was, it was not too bad, and I said now we go.”

Verstappen admitted that he did not fight with Vettel for third at the end due to his fading tires, but was delighted with another fourth place finish.

“For sure, I was not fighting Sebastian,” he said. “I was just trying to save the tires. It was quite a risky move to go with the softs for so long. But we managed it.

“The points we’ve scored is quite impressive for the moment. I’m very happy with that and hopefully score some more in upcoming races.”

Report: Spencer Pigot out at Ed Carpenter Racing

Joe Skibinski / IndyCar
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Spencer Pigot will not return to Ed Carpenter Racing in 2020, according to a story Thursday by RACER.com.

The 26-year-old Floridian, who won the 2015 Indy Lights championship, is expected to be replaced in the No. 21 Chevrolet by 2019 Indy Lights runner-up Rinus VeeKay.

“I’m appreciative of the opportunity ECR gave me,” Pigot told RACER.com. “I understand the reasons they had to go in a different direction, and wish them all the best.”

In 56 NTT IndyCar Series starts, Pigot has 15 top 10 finishes, with a best finish of second at Iowa in 2018. He finished 14th in the 2019 point standings.

VeeKay, who tested in an Indy car twice for ECR in 2019, has six wins in 18 Indy Lights starts, including a weekend sweep of the final two rounds of the season at Laguna Seca in September.

A representative from ECR told NBC Sports Thursday that the team currently could not comment on any driver rumors as the team currently does not have any drivers under contract for the 2020 season, although it is presumed that owner/driver Carpenter will return to the No. 20 entry for the oval rounds.

NBC Sports will provide updates on the story once more information becomes available.