Sebastian Vettel stretched his unbeaten run to a record eighth race with a superb victory at the US Grand Prix in Austin, Texas. The reigning World Champion started from pole and was faultless as he drove a measured race to surpass Alberto Ascari’s record that has stood since 1953.
Romain Grosjean was an excellent 2nd, while there was a starring performance from Valtteri Bottas to score his first ever Formula One points.
Lap one proved the most exciting part of the race, as Webber’s initial good getaway came to nought and he was passed by Grosjean and Hamilton on the exit of the first corner. The Australian took full advantage of the Mercedes’ tyre-saving struggle to retake 3rd and began his measured pursuit of Grosjean. A coming-together between Sutil, Maldonado and Gutierrez on the fast straight between turns eight and nine resulted with the Force India in the wall and the safety car at the head of the field.
Racing resumed on lap five and Vettel ensured he was clear of Grosjean when the DRS zone was eventually activated on lap eight; by lap ten he was 3.6 seconds ahead. Warnings from Red Bull tempered his charge, and the gap remained around ten seconds for the next twenty laps.
Webber pitted on lap 28, one lap after Vettel, and soon cut the gap to Grosjean in 2nd. However, he dropped back with ‘unbelievable vibrations’ for a short period before recovering and again pulling himself up behind the Lotus. Lap forty eight saw him begin the first of a series of attempts to DRS his way past the Frenchman, but he struggled for straightline speed and degraded rear Pirelli’s ended his challenge.
The battle for points between 4th and 10th place proved the most absorbing action, with Gutierrez’s long run after a lap one pitstop to repair damage placing him among many of the combatants at various stages before lap thirty; it only served to increase the stakes for Fernando Alonso and Sergio Perez who fought hard for 6th place. The Spaniard prevailed and suddenly increased his pace on lap thirty nine to close up on Hulkenberg and Hamilton ahead. On lap forty five he ambushed the Sauber at turn one and moved up to 5th.
Team-mate Massa couldn’t match his tyre-preservation skills and was forced to make a second pitstop on lap thirty eight that ended his muted contest with Jenson Button over 13th place; both men inexplicably off the pace. The Briton seized his opportunity to snatch 10th place from Riccardo on the final lap.
‘I’m speechless’ exclaimed Vettel as he performed his now-obligatory donuts after the chequered flag.
“We have to remember these days, there’s no guarantee they’ll last.”
What They Say
“It’s the day after, normally on the Monday, when you feel what you have achieved. It’s a great feeling, you have a grin on your face and it’s nice. On Sunday things happen fast and you don’t always realise what has been achieved until later. It’s down to team effort today. Everyone is willing to push; this morning the guys were working hard as we had some concerns about reliability on the car, so they were flat out trying to fix the problem and the car ran okay all race, so a big thanks to them. I’m not sure what we have done since the summer break in order that we have been winning races, but whatever it was it has worked.” Sebastian Vettel, DEU, Red Bull
“We knew a good start would be the key, so making up one place in the first corner was really important and the car was just fantastic from there onwards. The whole team here and at Enstone are doing an amazing job. Every day I see them working hard together to keep us at the front and when you look at the gap to the next nearest challenger, it’s clear that we’re the second best team after Red Bull right now. I think this place must bring me luck; this time last year I found out my wife was pregnant and now I’ve equalled my best finish in Formula One, so I can’t wait to come back again and see what happens next year!” Romain Grosjean, FRA, Lotus
“The initial launch and my getaway was pretty good. Romain had a good start too, I wanted to get on the right for the breaking point at the first corner, but that’s what everyone did too. I got boxed in and didn’t get a good exit off the corner, but after that it was a strong race. Our pace was good, but you have to manage the tyres well here. Qualifying was where a lot of the race was decided. In the end I did what we could, but I think we left some on the table yesterday. I have some family and friends here this weekend, so it’s good to get a strong result.” Mark Webber, AUS, Red Bull
“I had a great start today and that was crucial to my race. We had to give up third place to Mark fairly easily to make sure our tyre management and strategy worked as it was more important for the team to finish ahead of Ferrari. There was no way I was letting Fernando past at the end; I was ready for him to make his move and had a couple of tenths ready to pull out if he did! We’ve had a few difficult races on my side of the garage and I’m so proud of the team for all the hard work they have put in.” Lewis Hamilton, GBR, Mercedes AMG
“In the first part of the race, we weren’t quick and we decided to save the tyres and then attack round the pit stop. We were more competitive on the hards, we passed Perez and set off to get Hulkenberg, but even if our situation compared to Mercedes has improved, we were unable to beat them. I am very proud of this second place in the drivers’ Championship, it’s a small reward for me, the same as being first of the “mortals” behind Red Bull. My back is okay, as I did a good warm-up before the race and it didn’t bother me. I feel more tired from all the tension of the race, but now I have three days to rest and arrive in Brazil feeling a hundred percent.” Fernando Alonso, ESP, Ferrari
“If I’m not mistaken, since Monza that would have been the eighth points finish in a row if it wasn’t for the brake disc failure in India and the drive through in Abu Dhabi. That’s a pretty impressive statistic. It was an interesting race. I didn’t have to fight that much, only at the end with Fernando, which was good fun. Unfortunately in the crucial part of the race, about 10 to 15 laps before the end, we didn’t quite have the pace of Fernando, so he was able to overtake me. During the last lap going into turn one I passed him, but then I just missed the apex and he was able to get me back at the exit.” Nico Hulkenberg, DEU, Sauber
“Even though I was only battling for a single world championship point, I still wanted to do the best job I could this afternoon. As in all the past few races, I made contact with another car on the first lap – and that contact broke my left-hand front-wing endplate. It wasn’t quite as bad as in Abu Dhabi, but it still left me with quite a lot of understeer. We considered changing the nose-box at the pit stop, but, instead, the mechanics added some extra front wing, and that helped to re-balance the car. It still wasn’t ideal, because losing downforce at the front doesn’t affect only the front-end, it affects air-flow across the whole car as well. Still, I enjoyed the race.” Jenson Button, GBR, McLaren
“The whole weekend has been good from setting up the car in practice through to the strategy and pitstops in the race. We managed the tyres well today and I had good feedback from my engineers on them throughout. We did have a bit of pressure from Rosberg at the end but I was able to keep pushing and hold the position. I want to say a big thanks to everyone in the team and at the factory as they have all been working so hard and really deserve this result.” Valtteri Bottas, FIN, Williams
“We were pushing to do a one stop race, but the tyre wear was a bit higher than expected and I ran out of tyre performance with nine laps to go. It was hard to defend my position so I had to make a second pit stop. It’s a shame because we were quite optimistic before the race and we thought the warmer weather might play into our hands.” Paul Di Resta, GBR, Force India
“I lost 15 seconds in the pit lane and the reality is that you are simply going to hit the blue flag phase much earlier and pay a hefty price for that in the second half of the race. I’m pleased with the job I did to try to play catch-up and I think my fastest lap reflects that. Unfortunately the other factors defined my race. On the bright side, I’ve finished yet another race – my 18th out of 18 – and the car is performing well versus the Caterhams, so we’ll throw everything we have at the final race next weekend.” Max Chilton, GBR, Marussia
CLASSIFICATION – RACE – US GRAND PRIX
|16||Di Resta||GBR||Force India|
|19||Van Der Garde||NED||Caterham|