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Shaq had the time of his life at the US Grand Prix, arriving in a huge convertible before getting turned into a F1 meme

Insider
Insider
 2021-10-25

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Shaq was holding the winner's trophy as he was driven in.
  • Shaq showed up to the US Grand Prix podium in an epic longhorn car before becoming an F1 meme.
  • Shaq handed the winner's trophy to Red Bull 's Max Verstappen who won for the first time in Austin.
  • The basketball legend was taller than some of the drivers even when they were stood on the podium.

Basketball legend Shaquille O'Neal seemed to have the time of his life at the Formula One United States Grand Prix on Sunday as he handed out the winner's trophy to title leader Max Verstappen.

Shaq, who had been watching the race at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas, showed up to the trophy presentation in truly ludicrous fashion, pulling up in an elongated convertible decked out with a pair of Texan horns and covered in what appeared to be cow hides.

Shaq sat in the back holding the trophy aloft as a delighted looking chauffeur drove him down the pit lane towards the podium where Red Bull 's Max Verstappen , title rival Lewis Hamilton, and third-place finished Sergio Perez waited.

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Shaq was taller than Lewis Hamilton despite the Brit being stood on the podium.

As the drivers ascended to the podium, the NBA legend waited between Hamilton and Verstappen to present the trophy.

Standing at seven-feet, one-inch-tall, Shaq towered over the five-feet, seven inch-tall Lewis Hamilton even though the seven-time world champion was stood on top of the second-place podium.

So noticeable was the height difference between the behemoth Shaq and the relatively slight F1 drivers that he was quickly turned into a meme.

O'Neal remained on the podium until the drivers started spraying each other with F1's traditional victory champagne, at which point he was seen heading out.

Shaq was not the only star in attendance with George Lucas, Ben Stiller, Meghan Thee Stallion, and Serena Williams also pictured trackside.

Verstappen survives Hamilton pressure to extend championship lead

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Victory was a case of who had the best race strategy.

With a star-studded crowd watching on, the sport's biggest stars battled it out for a victory which could prove vital in this year's title race.

Championship leader Verstappen, having earned pole during Saturday's qualifying, found himself behind Hamilton after the Brit got an excellent start. The Red Bull's pace, however, meant he was able to keep within a second of his great rival.

With the two drivers separated by such a fine margin, it became a matter of strategy with both teams contemplating when to pit.

The advantages of pitting earlier than your rival - known as an undercut - were clear but Mercedes was worried Hamilton, who had been struggling on his medium tires, would find similar difficulty switching to hard.

Red Bull had no such concerns so when Verstappen pitted first, it meant it was only a matter of time until he took the lead.

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Red Bull staff flee as cans of the energy drink start being sprayed.

With Verstappen back in front, it was Red Bull's turn to be faced with a decision of when to pit again.

Verstappen came in for a new set of tires during the 29th of 56 laps, eight laps before Hamilton, which led to concerns Red Bull had pulled the trigger too early.

With the Brit on fresher tires, he set about chasing down Verstappen but a faultless drive from the young Dutchman meant Hamilton ran out of laps.

Hamilton was just over a second behind Verstappen as he crossed the line, and with a couple more laps could well have overtaken the Dutchman.

As it was, Verstappen took his eighth win of the season and extended his lead in the title race to 12 points. F1 returns in two weeks for a high altitude race in Mexico City, where Red Bull is clear favorite thanks to its Honda engine, which tends to perform better at high altitude than Mercedes' in-house built engine.

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