Race Report: Hamilton conquers US at Austin Grand Prix

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The United States Grand Prix (USGP) was an event to behold with big cowboy hats, Mario Andretti wheeled out to mumble a few words about the grandeur of the Circuit of the Americas as one of a precious few American Formula 1 world champions—I could be wrong but I think Bernie Ecclestone may be taller than Mario. It was replete with vendor food, live donkeys, sunny weather and a wonderful performance by Lewis Hamilton—America’s new adopted son of England.

The week started well enough with a Today Show appearance for Lewis as New York swooned over his boyish charms and death-defying bravery as well as porkpie hat trappings. He promptly came to Austin and led every session but qualifying in which his teammate, Nico Rosberg, claimed pole position for the race.

Starting a race from second place is such a non-issue for a driver like Lewis Hamilton and as expected, 24 laps into the race, he passed his teammate and never looked back. His win gives him his 10th of the 2014 season and his 32nd career win which makes him the most successful British driver in the history of the sport.

Rosberg finished second and a spirited drive from Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo completed the podium. Ricciardo had some terrific moves to best both Williams F1 cars as well as Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso. Ricciardo’s teammate, defending champion Sebastian Vettel, had a tough weekend starting from pit lane but ultimately set the race’s fastest lap and clawed back through the field to finish 7th.

Williams finished 4th and 5th with a wonderful drive from Felipe Massa besting his teammate Valtteri Bottas.

There were some terrific battles further down the field with Toro Rosso’s Jean-Eric Vergne in 9th (later dropped to 10th over a penalty for a lunging pass) and McLaren’s Kevin Magnussen in 8th but perhaps a real badge of accomplishment goes to the much-maligned Pastor Maldonado who claimed the final point in 10th place.

Win

Win

Lewis Hamilton…enough said. Also, Daniel Ricciardo’s performance was one not easily purged from memory as he personally made a race out of it through sheer genius and driving ability.

Another win for Magnussen and Maldonado who placed in the points ahead of their teammates and to Massa who had a really nice drive to fourth and was at one point reeling in the leaders—presumably during the lift & coast portions of their races.

The safety car period had a unique twist that saw a pickup truck park in front of the tractor as it hauled Sutil’s stranded car from the track on the first lap. Poor Adrian can’t get a break but the presence of the truck was intended to shield a collision with the massive tractor and one would presume that hitting a truck is less dangerous than a tractor—apparently the FIA felt so. Nice to see them at least taking it seriously.

Speaking of taking it seriously, there was a penalty handed out for speeding under yellow flags on Sunday as well so the FIA are more closely monitoring the driver’s speed in caution zones.

Fail

Fail

Nico Rosberg needed a win desperately to keep his title hopes alive and while he still can win the world championship, this weekend made that notion very difficult indeed. Nico’s inability to hold off Hamilton could be the season deciding move.

Jenson Button had a tough race and it is a shame because he really looked on it during practice and qualifying. But in the race he fell from 8th the 12th with worn tires.

Romain Grosjean looked to be very handy on Sunday but that fell away and finished 11th with his teammate ahead of him which, in its own unique way, is demoralizing.

WTH

Sergio Perez had a clear momentary lapse of reason as he out-braked himself on the first lap and ruined any chance Sauber’s Adrian Sutil had in scoring a vital point and taking the 10th place from absent Marussia. HE also clouted Kimi RAikkonen’s Ferrari and caused damage which only got worse as the race went on and ruined the Iceman’s race too.

Boycott rumors—born on the back of the absence of Marussia and Caterham—were a real buzz kill and I was half expecting the fans to show up in their Guy Fawkes masks because the paddock and Twitter was ripe with accusation and chants about “the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer”—a choir led by Force India’s Bob Fernley no less.

Excuse me if I find the thought of Vijay Mallya as a poor person begging for sustenance. The guy has multiple homes around the world and an epic car collection. Let’s get some common sense here folks and stop the sophomoric rhetoric. F1 has always been a series with the have’s and the have yachts. Get a new line of acidic damnation if you’re looking to chime in on the F1 financial crisis.

Results

PosDriverCarGap
1Lewis HamiltonMercedes1h40m04.785s
2Nico RosbergMercedes4.314s
3Daniel RicciardoRed Bull/Renault25.560s
4Felipe MassaWilliams/Mercedes26.924s
5Valtteri BottasWilliams/Mercedes30.992s
6Fernando AlonsoFerrari1m35.231s
7Sebastian VettelRed Bull/Renault1m35.734s
8Kevin MagnussenMcLaren/Mercedes1m40.682s
9Jean-Eric VergneToro Rosso/Renault1m43.863s
10Pastor MaldonadoLotus/Renault1m47.870s
11Romain GrosjeanLotus/Renault1 Lap
12Jenson ButtonMcLaren/Mercedes1 Lap
13Kimi RaikkonenFerrari1 Lap
14Esteban GutierrezSauber/Ferrari1 Lap
15Daniil KvyatToro Rosso/Renault1 Lap
Nico HulkenbergForce India/MercedesRetirement
Sergio PerezForce India/MercedesRetirement
Adrian SutilSauber/FerrariRetirement
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