Report – Lewis Hamilton extended his lead in the Formula 1 world championship to a commanding 24 points by beating main rival Nico Rosberg to victory in the US Grand Prix.
Having taken a brilliant pole position on Saturday, Rosberg narrowly led Sunday’s F1 race at Austin through the first round of pitstops, as Hamilton nursed a set of soft Pirelli tyres that he flat-spotted during qualifying.
The German seemed less comfortable than Hamilton when they switched to the medium compound tyre though, and his Mercedes team-mate pounced to take the lead by using DRS and diving down the inside under braking for Turn 12 on lap 24 of 56.
Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo overcame a poor start to beat both Williams drivers and complete the podium. The Australian’s slow getaway from fifth on the grid cost him four places initially, but he climbed back up to sixth before the end of the opening lap, when the safety car was deployed after Sergio Perez’s Force India bounced off Kimi Raikkonen’s Ferrari and into Adrian Sutil’s Sauber.
Ricciardo dived past Fernando Alonso’s Ferrari to take fifth at the restart, before jumping both Williams at successive pitstops to climb to third. The Williams drivers finished fourth and fifth, Felipe Massa coming home ahead of team-mate Valtteri Bottas after jumping him at the start. Ricciardo’s Red Bull team-mate Sebastian Vettel gambled on a pitlane start and low-downforce settings, after exceeding the five-engines-per-season limit at this race. The reigning world champion found it difficult to make progress initially, but climbed as high as sixth before being passed by Alonso’s Ferrari (on a much fresher and softer set of tyres) in the closing stages. Vettel then plummeted to 14th place after making a late stop for fresh rubber, but recovered back to seventh as the cars ahead battled to the end on much older rubber.
Kimi Raikkonen ran close behind Ferrari team-mate Fernando Alonso early on, but lost ground with a late first stop and never recovered.
The 2007 world champion finished a disappointing 13th, ahead of the Sauber of Estaban Gutierrez and the second Toro Rosso of Daniil Kvyat, last of the classified finishers.
|3||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull/Renault||25.560s|
|7||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull/Renault||1m35.734s|
|10||Jean-Eric Vergne||Toro Rosso/Renault||1m48.863s|
|11||Romain Grosjean||Lotus/Renault||1 Lap|
|12||Jenson Button||McLaren/Mercedes||1 Lap|
|13||Kimi Raikkonen||Ferrari||1 Lap|
|14||Esteban Gutierrez||Sauber/Ferrari||1 Lap|
|15||Daniil Kvyat||Toro Rosso/Renault||1 Lap|
|–||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India/Mercedes||Power Unit|
|–||Sergio Perez||Force India/Mercedes||Collision|
Kimi Raikkonen: “This weekend was very complicated and again today in the race, I wasn’t able to give my maximum. Up to the first stop, the car behaved well, but after fitting the Mediums the situation got tricky, with higher degradation than expected, so I lacked grip and after a few laps I began to have problems with the front end. I tried to save the tyres in any way possible, slowing in some parts of the track and turning into the corners, but even so I had to take on a set of Softs earlier than expected, which meant I had to make a third stop in the closing stages. Now we will continue to work to try and solve our problems. It won’t be easy, but we won’t give up all the way to the end of the last race.”
Marco Mattiacci: “After all the news this week, today, it was particularly pleasing to see that the grandstands were packed. The response of the American public was an encouraging sign, which shows how much the interest in our sport is growing in a country where we would like to strengthen its presence. It was a shame we could not give our fans a better result, with a Ferrari capable of fighting for the top places. Today, with Fernando, we were able to maintain his start position, while Kimi had some of those difficulties that we are working hard to solve as a team, to ensure he has a better car. On track, we continue to learn a lot and at home we are working tirelessly to reach our goals as soon as possible.”
Pat Fry: “Today, both drivers got away well at the start, even though they were on the dirty side of the track, making the most of one of our car’s strong points. When the Safety Car came out, we decided not to pit, aware that from then on we would have had to deal with the traffic of the group that was stopping. With Fernando we managed to maintain position, even if, unfortunately, we lacked the pace to keep up with those ahead of him. The collision with Perez might have damaged the left rear on Kimi’s car and unfortunately he then had traffic on his second stint and excessive degradation that meant he had to make an extra stop. When we get the car back, we will try and see if there’s something wrong with it, although an initial look at the telemetry data revealed nothing. For both Kimi and Fernando, the Mediums did not perform as expected and so it was after the first stop that we began to lose ground to the leaders. After another difficult race, we will now focus on Brazil where, in a few days’ time we tackle the penultimate race of the championship.”