November 18th, 2013 (F1plus/R Baillie).- The US Grand Prix may not have been the most exciting race we’ve seen this season but there are plenty of things to talk about including Vettel’s eighth consecutive win, Sutil’s DNF and Vergne’s post race penalty.
Let’s review how each driver race went.
1. Sebastian Vettel - Red Bull Racing - 25 Points
The quadruple world champion was peerless around the Circuit of the Americas and took his eighth consecutive win. He is now the only driver to have won eight races in a row in one season.
Shortly before the race there were some concerns with his gearbox about whether it could do 56 laps around the track. Luckily for Vettel those concerns came to nothing and he led the race from light out, only handing over the lead very briefly after making his stop.
He certainly isn’t getting bored of winning and said it’s important to enjoy the team’s success because you never know what’s around the corner.
“I kept saying that there’s no guarantee for the next race or the one after that or after that! You never know what is coming next, so you have to enjoy today and look forward to tomorrow.” Vettel said.
2. Romain Grosjean - Lotus - 18 Points
Second place is Austin was the Frenchman’s equal best finish and his fourth trip to the podium in five races.
Grosjean had a great start and managed to catch out and pass Mark Webber going into the first corner.
From then on he managed to keep Webber behind him and performed well under pressure as Webber tried to find a way past his E21.
“I had to have probably one of my best ever drives to keep Mark [Webber] behind and it’s a great feeling to have tamed at least one of the Bulls in Texas as they clearly had the fastest package today.” Grosjean said.
His performance of late shows he’s come a long way from the incident prone driver who was labeled a ‘first lap nutcase’ by Webber last year.
3. Mark Webber - Red Bull Racing - 15 Points
Though the Australian had a good start he was caught out by Grosjean’s even better start and was boxed in heading into Turn 1 which saw him drop down the 3rd place.
“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.” Webber explained.
Webber set multiple fastest laps throughout the race and started to come back at Grosjean at a couple of points throughout the race but was forced to keep dropping back to save his tyres and just couldn’t find a way past the Frenchman.
4. Lewis Hamilton - Mercedes - 12 Points
The Brit enjoyed the US Grand Prix and said he was happy with a fourth place finish and that a recent chassis change has made a noticeable difference to his performance.
“I’m really happy with fourth place. It was so nice to have a race where I could fight for position and make progress. The car felt much better today than recently so the change in chassis has definitely made a difference” Hamilton said.
Towards the end of the race Fernando Alonso started catching him and putting pressure on him and Hamilton said he was ready to make it difficult for him if he tried to pass.
“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!”
5. Fernando Alonso - Ferrari - 10 Points
The Spaniard lost a position to Perez on the opening lap and wasn’t really able to beginning passing other drivers until after they’d stopped for the hard tyres.
“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.” Alonso said.
Towards the end of the race Alonso came under pressure from Nico Hulkenberg who managed to pass him, though he swiftly took the place back.
It isn’t all doom and gloom for the double world champion as his fifth place finish was enough to secure him second in the Drivers Championship.
“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.”
6. Nico Hulkenberg - Sauber - 8 Points
The German had a strong US Grand Prix picking up eight points for the Hinwil based team.
He looked set to finish ahead of Ferrari’s Alonso but said he didn’t have the pace to keep the Spaniard at bay. On the last lap he came back at Alonso but missed the apex allowing Alonso to take the position back.
“Unfortunately in the crucial part of the race, about ten 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.” Hulkenberg said.
Though he was unable to clinch fifth place he was happy to finish so close to his competitors.
“we finished just a couple of seconds behind our competitors. I think it’s been a good weekend with a gain of a good eight points” he said.
7. Sergio Perez - McLaren
The Mexican made up a place on the opening lap after passing Alonso and managed to keep the Spaniard at bay until being called into the pits on lap 23.
Perez was hoping for higher than 7th place finish but didn’t dwell on it for too long and thanked his fans.
“To be honest, I was expecting to achieve a little bit more than seventh today.” He said.
"I want to say a big ‘thank you’ to all my Mexican and American fans for the support they’ve shown me all weekend.”
“They came here to watch me perform, and, while I would love with all my heart to have given them a better result than seventh, it was still amazing to have their support throughout what has been a difficult but very special weekend.”
8. Valtteri Bottas - Williams - 4 Points
The Finn picked up his first points in Formula One after clinching eighth place at the US Grand Prix.
“I’m very happy to get my first points in Formula One today. The whole weekend has been good from setting up the car in practice through to the strategy and pitstops in the race.” he said.
Bottas managed his tyres well and was able to push and maintain the gap between him and Nico Rosberg towards the end of the race when Rosberg began closing the gap.
“We did have a bit of pressure from Rosberg at the end but I was able to keep pushing and hold the position.” said Bottas.
9. Nico Rosberg - Mercedes - 2 Points
Unlike his teammate Rosberg ‘didn’t have a great weekend’ and said the issue started during qualifying where he struggled to get temperature into his tyres and qualified 12th.
“I didn’t have a great weekend here in Austin unfortunately. It really started yesterday in Qualifying where I struggled with getting temperature into the tyres and starting from 12th place makes your race really difficult, especially in a one-stop race.” Rosberg explained.
Rosberg went on to say that the one stop strategy prevented him from showing the cars real pace.
“I made some nice overtaking moves but we weren’t able to do much with the strategy today because of the single stop so it’s disappointing to only have finished ninth as our car was quicker than that today.”
10. Jenson Button - McLaren - 1 Point
On the opening lap of the race the Brit made contact with another car which damaged his left front-wing endplate which affected the cars handling.
“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.”
On the penultimate lap Button passed Toro Rosso’s Daniel Ricciardo to pick up one point.
“Still, I enjoyed the race. The first 30 laps, during which I was stuck behind Felipe [Massa], were particularly tough, but I was able to make some good moves at the end, and that made our day a bit more interesting.”
11. Daniel Ricciardo - Toro Rosso
The Australian looked like he was on for a points finish until his tyres suddenly lost grip a few laps before the end of the race.
“in the last five laps, I lost pretty much all the grip I had and I saw the guys closing in on me. I tried to hold them off but I didn’t have enough left in the tyres to do it.” Ricciardo said.
Button passed him on the penultimate lap knocking Ricciardo out of the points.
12. Felipe Massa - Ferrari
The Brazilian had a tough race after struggling with pace and to get the tyres up to temperature all weekend.
During the race he found himself stuck in traffic and the team decided to pit him again incase there was another safety car, unfortunately the gamble didn’t pay off as there was no second safety car and no one’s tyres wore dramatically in the closing stages of the race
“We knew that making a second stop was not the best choice, but I already found myself in a difficult situation and so we decided to risk stopping for a set of Medium tyres: if anything had happened ahead of us, maybe a Safety Car, we might have profited from the situation.” Massa said.
“Unfortunately, nothing happened and the tyre wear of those ahead of me was very low, so I was behind them ending up in the same position from which I started.”
The Brazilian feels next weekend’s race will be an emotional one as his career at Ferrari draws to a close at his home race.
“Now we must keep concentrated for the final round of the season in Brazil, my final race with Ferrari on my home track: it’s bound to be a very emotional weekend because of that.” He said.
13. Esteban Gutierrez - Sauber
The Mexican took a 10-place grid penalty on Saturday after impeding the Williams of Pastor Maldonado, meaning he started in 20th rather than 10th.
Gutierrez had a strong start and was up to 14th by the start of the second lap.
“It was a very tough race starting from P20. We had to make up a lot of positions on track. I managed a good first lap.” Gutierrez said.
Sauber opted to pit him under the Safety Car to try and put him on a different strategy, though Gutierrez says he doesn’t know how much that helped him.
“We decided to pit in order to put me on a different strategy to the other cars. We need to analyze the situation now and see how much we gained from that. I think all in all the problem came from the ten place grid penalty, which made it complicated at the end.” he explained.
14. Heikki Kovalainen - Lotus
The Finn who is replacing fellow countryman Kimi Raikkonen for the last two races of the season had a tough US Grand Prix.
“My start wasn’t great but then it was going okay until the first pit stop as I was racing with the pack with the car feeling quite good. After the pit stop I started to have a few problems, but it was difficult to know exactly what was going on.” Kovalainen said.
Kovalainen’s front wing was changed during his second stop as he had issues with downforce and also suffered with a KERS issue though he said that wasn’t enough to explain his lack of pace.
“We had issues with downforce so we changed the front wing and after that it was much better, although still not as good as it’s felt previously this weekend. There was a KERS issue too, though not enough to account for my lack of race pace.” He explained.
15. Paul di Resta - Force India
The Scot had a good start and was in ninth place by the end of lap one after starting 11th.
“I made a good start and was in reasonable shape for the first stint. But it soon became clear that we were struggling for pace and not really in the zone with the tyres.” di Resta said.
Force India were planning for di Resta to have a one stop race but were forced to change that to a two stop strategy after he ran out of tyre performance and he was struggling to defend his position.
16. Jean-Eric Vergne - Toro Rosso
The Frenchman had a fairly quiet race and said that although the result wasn’t ‘special’ he felt he’d had a good race.
“The final result was nothing special, but I feel I had a good race.” Vergne said.
“We had planned a two stop, but switched to a single tyre change and for the second part of the race, I was told I had to manage my Options carefully, but I was given the go ahead to push again with 15 laps to go and at that point my race pace was quite good.”
On the final lap as Vergne was trying to pass teammate Ricciardo and fight off Gutierrez who was trying to overtake him, he and Gutierrez made contact. The stewards investigated the incident after the race and handed Vergne a 20 second time penalty which demoted him to 16th place.
17. Pastor Maldonado - Williams
The Venezuelan had a very difficult race in comparison to teammate Bottas who finished in the points.
On the second lap Adrian Sutil moved across in front of Maldonado, which damaged his front wing. He tried to stay out but was shown a black and orange flag by the marshals meaning he was forced to pit for a new front wing that compromised his strategy.
“It was a difficult race for me as the incident with Sutil compromised the strategy. We did manage to get 40 laps out of the prime tyres which was pleasing on a track like this.” Maldonado explained.
18. Jules Bianchi - Marussia
Though he finished ahead of both Caterham drivers Bianchi said the US Grand Prix was one of the toughest races of his F1 career.
“It’s fair to say that today was the toughest race of the season for me. With just the one pitstop, switching from the Medium to the Hard tyre, it was a really long race with so much of my focus being given to looking after the tyres.” he said.
Bianchi had a strong start which enabled him to pull ahead of Caterham’s Giedo van der Garde and had the pace to keep the Dutchman behind him for the rest of the race.
19. Giedo van der Garde - Caterham
The Dutchman didn’t have good start and was unable to push and challenge Bianchi as he said both of their cars were too evenly matched.
“I didn’t have a good start and was behind Bianchi at the end of the first lap. From there it wasn’t possible to pass him as, even though I had a quicker car round the whole lap, his straightline speed was better than mine and every time I got close my front tyres started graining because the car was understeering a lot so I couldn’t make a move past him stick.” van der Garde explained.
“Sometimes it’s like this, there’s not much you can do when you’re so evenly matched.”
20. Charles Pic - Caterham
The Frenchman, who started last after incurring five place grid penalty after Caterham were forced to change his gearbox, was able to pass Chilton off the line and began catching up with van der Garde and Bianchi.
Pic said the car lacked the pace he needed to push and try to challenge his teammate.
“The car balance today was the same as it’s been all weekend, just not quite there, which meant I couldn’t push at all. I was keeping up with my teammate for the whole race” Pic said.
Towards the end of the race he was given a drive through penalty for ignoring blue flags and holding up Hamilton, though this didn’t affect his position, as he was able to serve the penalty and return to the circuit in 20th place.
21. Max Chilton - Marussia
Following qualifying the Brit was handed a drive through penalty to serve in the first three laps of the race for impeding Maldonado and Sutil during qualifying.
He described the race as ‘lonely’ due to the time lost due to his drive through penalty.
“Heading into this race with the drive-through penalty to serve, I was always aware that this would be a tough and lonely race for me. I lost 15 seconds in the pitlane 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.” he explained.
Chilton has now finished 18 out of 18 races, which means that if he finishes next weekends Brazilian Grand Prix he will be the only rookie to have finished every race in his rookie season.
DNF - Adrian Sutil - Force India
The German was the only driver not to finish the US Grand Prix after an incident with Maldonado on the second lap saw him career into the barrier.
“In the race I made a good start, gained a few positions and was racing ahead of Maldonado on the back straight. For some reason he hit my left rear wheel and I immediately lost control of the car and crashed into the barriers.” Sutil said
“I don’t really understand why he was so close to me because the track is so wide there. I stayed on my line and there was a lot of space to the right and the left. So it was an early finish and a very disappointing day.”