Tag Archives: United States Grand Prix

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2016 F1 Grand Prix of the United States — Results & aftermath

Hamilton storms to much-needed victory in America, Rosberg limits damage with P2; Ricciardo strong again for Red Bull with 3rd place

Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton finally had the end to a race weekend he was looking for at a track he absolutely owns. Facing a victory drought dating back to Round 12 in Germany that also saw his championship lead ceded to his teammate and archrival Nico Rosberg over the course of those five winless Grand Prix, Hamilton was peerless in the USGP at the beautiful Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas. After setting a blistering pole time on Saturday, Hamilton finally made a good start when the lights went out, avoiding his chronic clutch-bite problems and warding off his nearest challengers, Rosberg and the two chasing Red Bulls, as they all climbed the iconic hill into Turn 1. The Englishman was never seriously challenged for the rest of the race and flew away to an unsurmountable lead free of any pit dramas or mechanical gremlins that might cost him this certain victory. In the end it was a drama-free and flawless run for Hamilton’s 50th Formula 1 victory, which also put him the exclusive 50-win club that heretofore counted only Alain Prost (51) and Michael Schumacher (91) as members. Even more mind-blowing, it was Hamilton’s astounding 4th victory in five races at COTA and his 5th overall US Grand Prix win in 6 contests dating back to 2012 at Indianapolis. Rarely has driver been so simpatico with a circuit and a country as Hamilton is with COTA and the USA. Truly, racing deep in the heart of Texas was the tonic the Briton needed to get him back on the front foot in his quest to overhaul Rosberg and take his third world title in a row. Hamilton now trails his German teammate by 26 points in the Drivers’ Championship with three races left to be run.

Pics courtesy GrandPrix247.com

Pics courtesy GrandPrix247.com

Facing a Hamilton utterly in tune with a track and his car, the day for Nico Rosberg was one of damage limitation. While the current points leader had nothing for his Silver Arrows squad-mate, Rosberg drove a very solid race and avoided problems and contact that might have cost him valuable positions and points. Using matching tire strategies, Mercedes was able to correctly anticipate Red Bull’s plays and match them, using a Virtual Safety Car to quickly pit for fresh rubber and their chassis’ overall superiority to run a very long closing stint on the Medium tires, the hardest compound on offer this weekend. That kept Rosberg safely out of the clutches of Daniel Ricciardo and allowed him to score a valuable P2 that limited Hamilton’s gains and kept Rosberg looking like the favorite for his first-ever title.

Red Bull’s Ricciardo was foiled by that VSC period and must have been doubly flummoxed when he found out it was produced by his teammate Max Verstappen’s on track engine failure on Lap 31. Until then it looked like the smiling Aussie had a decent shot to fight it out with Rosberg for the second step on the podium. But with Mercedes capitalizing to make that quick pit stop and Ricciardo still out circulating at reduced VSC speed Rosberg came out well ahead. Ricciardo would never again have an opportunity to make it close and finished 15 seconds adrift of Rosberg. Still, it was good run for Red Bull’s veteran driver and a solid P3 for the team. Unfortunately, they had to reckon with Verstappen’s DNF and even before that the young phenom had inexplicably pitted without the team calling him in. So the Dutchman’s race would have already been somewhat undone by the time his engine expired, though he almost certainly would have scored points.

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Fortunately for Red Bull and their goal of second place in the Constructors’ Championship, Ferrari had problems of their own. Looking to capitalize on a strong run at Suzuka two weeks ago, the Scuderia instead scored an own goal when the team botched a pit stop for Kimi Raikkonen and failed to properly tighten a wheel nut. The Finn, who had been running very strong and might even have had something for Ricciardo at the end, instead had to stop at pit out on Lap 38 with a loose right rear wheel, backing in ignominiously to retirement after that unsafe release. That left it to Vettel to fly the flag for the Prancing Horse and the former 4-time World Champ was able to manage his tires well enough to take P4.  But with Verstappen already out of the race on Lap 31 this was a golden opportunity to make up ground on Red Bull with a strong double-points finish and Ferrari frankly flubbed it. With only three more contests remaining in the 2016 season Ferrari now trail Red Bull by a seemingly insurmountable 53 points.

McLaren saw some promising glimmers of hope at COTA despite a mostly dismal and desultory year so far. After being shut out of the points at their engine supplier Honda’s home track at Suzuka two weeks ago, Fernando Alonso showed real pace in Texas and was able to dispatch with some competitive cars and capitalize on retirements to take a hard-earned P5. Better yet, Alonso’s teammate Jenson Button clawed his way up from way back in P19 after a frustrating qualifying to come home a remarkable P9. It was only the fourth time this year that both McLarens finished in the points and the strong result gave the team hope that the future could well be brighter than these last two subpar rebuilding years.

Torro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz also got a superb result for both himself and his beleaguered team when he gave a very strong effort to take P6 at the checkered flag. While he was overtaken late by a storming Alonso, Sainz still had to be well pleased at being able to show his quality again on such a big stage and giving the disappointing Toro Rosso team valuable points and a much-needed lift. Meanwhile, Felipe Massa managed to come home P7 in his last USGP but he was the sole Williams to finish in the points, as Valtteri Bottas was undone by a first lap puncture from which he could never recover. The Finn could never really recover and finished a disappointing P16, another poor result for a 2016 campaign that underwhelming Team Williams would like to forget.

Force India’s Sergio Perez was also forced to fly his team’s colors all by his lonesome in the Lone State State, coming home an acceptable P8 after his teammate Nico Hulkenberg was taken out in a Lap 1- Turn 1 melee with Vettel that was also responsible for Bottas’ puncture at the start of the race. The normally steady German has now retired in three consecutive F1 Grand Prix at COTA and has never finished higher than P6 in the US Grand Prix. He’ll be hoping for better things in the USA when he’s driving for the factory Renault team next year. Romain Grosjean took the last points-paying position with P10 in his Haas. It was nice moment for the French driver and his American team, as Haas were able to score in their maiden run at their home GP. It also broke an 8-race scoring drought for the first-year team.

Top 10 finishers in the United States Grand Prix:

POS NO DRIVER CAR LAPS TIME/RETIRED PTS
1 44 Lewis Hamilton MERCEDES 56 1:38:12.618 25
2 6 Nico Rosberg MERCEDES 56 +4.520s 18
3 3 Daniel Ricciardo RED BULL RACING TAG HEUER 56 +19.692s 15
4 5 Sebastian Vettel FERRARI 56 +43.134s 12
5 14 Fernando Alonso MCLAREN HONDA 56 +93.953s 10
6 55 Carlos Sainz TORO ROSSO FERRARI 56 +96.124s 8
7 19 Felipe Massa WILLIAMS MERCEDES 55 +1 lap 6
8 11 Sergio Perez FORCE INDIA MERCEDES 55 +1 lap 4
9 22 Jenson Button MCLAREN HONDA 55 +1 lap 2
10 8 Romain Grosjean HAAS FERRARI 55 +1 lap 1

Complete race results amiable via Formula1.com.

The next race is but a week away — The Grand Prix of Mexico from the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez. Hope to see you then to find out if Hamilton can keep up the pressure on Rosberg and keep his championship dream alive for another week!

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2016 F1 Grand Prix of the United States — Qualifying results

Hamilton dominates with blistering lap for pole at COTA, Rosberg P2; Ricciardo P3 for Red Bull

Lewis Hamilton served notice that he is not ready to relinquish his championship just yet with a blistering lap at the Circuit of the Americas good enough not only for pole but also the F1 record at this relatively new circuit. After a string of disappointing results and bad mechanical luck, Hamilton’s stunning 1:34.999 time earned him the top starting spot for Sunday’s Grand Prix and reaffirmed his mastery at a track where he has always seemed to have a special affinity. Remarkably, Hamilton has won three out of the four F1 contests ever held at COTA. His Mercedes teammate, archrival and current points leader Nico Rosberg was just a blink beheind at 1:35.215, proving once again that there is very little to separate this dynamic but disparate duo. Hamilton must, repeat must avoid the clutch-bite issues that have plagued him and ruined so many of his starts this season if he is to regain momentum and get himself back into championship contention. One slip and Rosberg has shown repeatedly that he has what it takes to capitalize and drive perfectly from the front to victory and one step closer to his first-ever and much coveted Drivers’ Championship.

The Red Bulls showed the next best pace in the field, with Daniel Ricciardo pipping his younger teammate Max Verstappen, P3 to P4. Verstappen was nearly 4-tenths faster than the nearest Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen in P5 and the other Prancing Horse of Sebastien Vettel was another 2-tenths behind that. The fabled Scuderia looks to have essentially conceded second in the Constructors’ Championship to surging Red Bull and will probably shift to expending their considerable resources on next season’s much changed specification.

Nico Hulkenberg was very strong for his soon to be former team, Force India. It was announced after the Japanese GP two weeks ago that Hulkenberg will be leaving the overachieving little Indian team for a factory drive with Renault next year. The two Williams had a reasonably encouraging day with both Valtteri Bottas (P8) and Felipe Massa (P9) sneaking into Q3 for a change. And Carlos Sainz finally gave badly underachieving Toro Rosso a small glimmer of hope by taking P10 on the starting grid.

Top 10 qualifiers for the US Grand Prix:

POS NO DRIVER CAR Q1 Q2 Q3 LAPS
1 44 Lewis Hamilton MERCEDES 1:36.296 1:36.450 1:34.999 13
2 6 Nico Rosberg MERCEDES 1:36.397 1:36.351 1:35.215 13
3 3 Daniel Ricciardo RED BULL RACING TAG HEUER 1:36.759 1:36.255 1:35.509 12
4 33 Max Verstappen RED BULL RACING TAG HEUER 1:36.613 1:36.857 1:35.747 12
5 7 Kimi Räikkönen FERRARI 1:36.985 1:36.584 1:36.131 12
6 5 Sebastian Vettel FERRARI 1:37.151 1:36.462 1:36.358 13
7 27 Nico Hulkenberg FORCE INDIA MERCEDES 1:36.950 1:36.626 1:36.628 12
8 77 Valtteri Bottas WILLIAMS MERCEDES 1:37.456 1:37.202 1:37.116 12
9 19 Felipe Massa WILLIAMS MERCEDES 1:37.402 1:37.214 1:37.269 12
10 55 Carlos Sainz TORO ROSSO FERRARI 1:37.744 1:37.175 1:37.326 14

Complete qualifying results available via Formula1.com.

Tomorrow’s US Grand Prix airs live at 3PM Eastern tomorrow on NBC. Can hamilton convert pole into a much needed win to keep his championship hopes alive? Or will Rosberg foil him yet again en route to his his first title? Hope to see you then to find out?

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2015 F1 Grand Prix of The United States — Results & aftermath

Hamilton repeats as World Champion in thrilling USGP; Rosberg blows lead, holds off Vettel to help teammate clinch

An emotional Lewis Hamilton clinched his second consecutive Formula 1 Drivers’ World Championship and third overall in thrilling fashion, culminating an epic Grand Prix weekend at Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas, as well as the English driver’s season-long quest to defend his title. That also completed the double for the Mercedes factory team, as the Silver Arrows had already won the Constructors’ Championship some weeks ago, also the team’s second in a row. Hamilton’s three total World Championship now puts him in an elite group of drivers with 3 titles that includes the late Jack Brabham, Jackie Stewart, Niki Lauda, Nelson Piquet and Hamilton’s personal hero, Ayrton Senna. As the newly crowned champ circulated on his victory lap, he could be heard over the radio in a voice thick with emotion proclaiming this the best day of his life. And who could argue with him?

After the eastern edge of Hurricane Patricia battered the track all weekend long, forcing the postponement of Qualifying to Sunday morning, the precipitation lightened leading up to the 2:30pm Central race start time. The F1 drivers acquitted themselves extremely well in the rare and very wet race day-morning qualifying session and all the cars started on the Intermediate wet weather tires, with Hamilton in P2 and his Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg on the pole. But going up the big hill that leads to turn one of COTA, Hamilton’s P2 actually gave him the preferred inside line and he muscled Rosberg off the edge of the track limits and into the large runoff area, snatching the lead of the race in decisive fashion just as he has so often done the past two years. In the early going it looked like not only would Rosberg be nipping at Hamilton’s heels all race long but also the two Red Bulls, which looked very well planted on the saturated circuit. In fact, Russian Daniil Kvyat snuck by Rosberg when he was pushed wide and ran very close to the Hamilton on the opening laps, with teammate Daniel Ricciardo pursuing the agitated Rosberg for P3.

But Rosberg was able to hold Ricciardo off while maintaining the gap to Kvyat and after a virtual safety car period for debris ended on Lap 7, Rosberg surged by the young Russian on the restart to reclaim his second place and try to take the fight to his nemesis and teammate. By now, between the excellent drainage of this new circuit and the sudden lack of rain, it seemed only a matter of time before enough of a dry line would form and some brave soul would make the switch to slicks. Sure enough, Lotus’ Romain Grosjean became the first to take the gamble for dry weather tires on Lap 11. But it was slightly too soon and the Frenchman could find no grip or pace. However, the circuit was now definitely drying enough to do damage to the grooved intermediate tires and it seemed especially to be wearing out Hamilton’s rubber. Ricciardo’s Red Bull was still performing well on his original set of intermediates, however, bagging both Kvyat and Rosberg and was soon breathing down Hamilton’s neck, as well. On Lap 15, Ricciardo passed him for the lead.

That was the cue for the Mercedes team to get their drivers onto slicks and the struggling Hamilton came into the pits first on Lap 19. The Englishman would emerge back in 4th position with Rosberg assuming the overall lead temporarily. But on Lap 27 Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson came to an abrupt stop on track when he lost power, prompting a safety car. This saw Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel make arguably the move of the race, as he dove into the pits and his team put him on the harder Medium compound tires, meaning that he should be able to go to the end of the race without stopping again, unlike the other contenders. Vettel, who was forced to start from 13th on the grid after an engine change penalty, had been charging through the field from the start of the race and now appeared to be sitting in the pound seats. Indeed, after the Safety Car pulled in, Vettel quickly passed Kvyat and Ricciardo to jump himself up to third overall, a remarkably good performance by the German 4-time consecutive World Champion.

After another Safety Car period caused by Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg bashing into Riccardo on Lap 36, ending what had been an excellent drive for the German Le Mans winner, Rosberg pitted for his last set of tires while Hamilton stayed out. It was now Hamilton leading, Vettel P2, and Rosberg P3. But Rosberg’s fresh rubber enabled him to pass Vettel and a lap later Kvyat crashed heavily after  losing it when his rear tire got onto the still very wet and slippery astroturf just beyond the track limits on the second to last corner. This brought out yet another Safety Car and it looked for all the world like Rosberg would be able to ride away for the win with Hamilton doomed to pit again, forestalling the Englishman’s Championship for at least one more week. Hamilton did pit under the Safety Car, as did Vettel. They returned to the track with Hamilton in P2 and Vettel P4 behind Toro Rosso’s teenaged wunderkind Max Verstappen. But Verstappen’s older rubber was no match for Vettel’s freshly shod Ferrari and he quickly conceded 3rd place to the German. With the laps dwindling, it still looked like Rosberg’s race to lose, though, and that meant that Vettel’s slim title hopes were still mathematically alive.

Until, that is, Rosberg inexplicably lost control and ran wide on Lap 49, enabling Hamilton to capitalize and recapture the lead. If Rosberg did not despise Hamilton so much one might almost think team orders were at play with the intention of Rosberg ceding the lead to Hamilton to eliminate Vettel. That was the end result in any case even though Rosberg would likely rather eat glass than give Hamilton any gifts. Nevertheless, Hamilton took the present and ran, never looking back and once again making his Championship dream come true. Rosberg finished in second place in the race and third in the Championship, his unforced error in the US Grand Prix a fairly perfect symbol of his two years of frustration in trying to out-duel his teammate, who quite simply is a better driver and much better under pressure. Vettel could not get by Rosberg and had to settle for the last spot on the podium but still had a brilliant run in making up 10 total positions. Even if the German Ferrari man was downcast after the race with his faint Championship hopes finally extinguished he will hno doubt look back at his first year with the legendary Scuderia and be well pleased with both his and the team’s genuine return to excellence after an awful 2014 for both of them.

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For Lewis Hamilton, yesterday was only confirmation of something every savvy race aficionado has known for some time: he is quite simply one of the all-time Formula 1 greats. Despite his sometimes prickly personality, he is a peerless competitor with a cutthroat style against any potential rival, whether on his team or nin a different livery. If you had to pick one of the current drivers you needed to pull off a successful overtaking move under pressure, Ham’s your man. Rosberg can whinge about getting manhandled all he wants but winning talks and bullshit walks. Hamilton will push the limit as far as it will go for the win, sometimes even to the point of overstepping it. And that’s what separates a winner like Hamilton from a talented also-ran like Rosberg in the dog-eat-dog world of F1, where winning justifies just about everything. Hamilton embodies that spirit for good or for ill and is a worthy Champion once again who stands toe-to-toe with the legends of the sport, past and present. You know once he dries his tears of joy and despite already wrapping up the Championship, he’ll finish out this exemplary season with maximum effort and that same hunger for total victory. And he’s probably already thinking about gunning for Vettel’s 4-title mark next season.

Top 10 finishers in the US Grand Prix:

POS. DRIVER COUNTRY TEAM TIME POINTS
1 LEWIS HAMILTON GBR MERCEDES 1:50:52.703 25
2 NICO ROSBERG GER MERCEDES +2.850s 18
3 SEBASTIAN VETTEL GER FERRARI +3.381s 15
4 MAX VERSTAPPEN NED TORO ROSSO +22.359s 12
5 SERGIO PEREZ MEX FORCE INDIA +24.413s 10
6 JENSON BUTTON GBR MCLAREN +28.058s 8
7 CARLOS SAINZ ESP TORO ROSSO +30.619s 6
8 PASTOR MALDONADO VEN LOTUS +32.273s 4
9 FELIPE NASR BRA SAUBER +40.257s 2
10 DANIEL RICCIARDO AUS RED BULL RACING +53.371s 1

Complete race results available via Formula1.com.

The next race is next weekend and marks the return of the Mexican Grand Prix to the schedule. Turnout should be amazing and after this absolutely thrilling weekend in Austin it should be must see tv to find out what thrills await us South of the Border. Hope to see you then!

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2015 F1 Grand Prix of The United States — Qualifying results

Rosberg ends up on top in Austin after delayed & truncated qualifying, Hamilton P2; Ricciardo snags 3rd in the wet

With the eastern edge of Hurricane Patricia dumping rain on the Circuit of the Americas at a record clip, Formula 1 found itself in the unusual position of postponing the traditional Saturday Qualifying until race day morning on Sunday. And while the rains never stopped they did let up enough to get in two sessions of the scheduled three knockout rounds of qualifying to determine the grid for the United States Grand Prix, which is to be run at 2:30 Central/3:30 Eastern today. Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg managed the best lap in treacherous conditions at the wonderful new track in Austin, Texas, just pipping his Championship-leading teammate Lewis Hamilton for the pole by a tenth of a second. With Hamilton all but fitted for this year’s title crown, however, and the weather supposed to be gradually improving as we count down to the race, it’s not at all certain that Rosberg’s accomplishment will really mean anything significant in the big picture.

Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo was also excellent under the persistent threat of aquaplaning and managed the 3rd fastest time while his teammate Daniil Kvyat took P4. Force India’s Sergio Perez was an impressive P5 and teammate Nico Hulkenberg solid at P6. Felipe Massa pulled himself up to P7 late in the going, with teammate Valtteri Bottas a distant P10, and rookie Max Verstappen was P8 for Toro Rosso while Fernando Alonso drove superbly in his woeful McLaren to grab P9. The Ferraris of Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen are facing 10 grid-spot penalties for engine changes and will start P14 and P18 respectively, greatly improving Hamilton’s chances of clinching his second consecutive title this weekend. Vettel is his nearest if still distant pursuer and starting so far back really hurts the German’s chances of scoring enough points to keep his hopes alive for the next race in Mexico.

If anyone doubts that Formula 1 drivers are the best in the world they have only to look at the remarkable footage of them manhandling their machines in the deluge at COTA to make them a convert. It was truly one of the more amazing performances by a group of drivers that I’ve ever witnessed. Here’s wishing them less treacherous conditions for the race!

Top 10 Qualifiers at COTA:

POS. NO. DRIVER TEAM Q1 Q2 Q3 LAPS
1 6 NICO ROSBERG  MERCEDES 1:56.671 1:56.824 16
2 44 LEWIS HAMILTON  MERCEDES 1:56.871 1:56.929 14
3 3 DANIEL RICCIARDO  RED BULL RACING 1:56.495 1:57.969 16
4 26 DANIIL KVYAT  RED BULL RACING 1:57.640 1:58.434 16
5 11 SERGIO PEREZ  FORCE INDIA 1:59.284 1:59.210 16
6 27 NICO HULKENBERG  FORCE INDIA 1:58.325 1:59.333 16
7 19 FELIPE MASSA  WILLIAMS 2:00.902 1:59.999 17
8 33 MAX VERSTAPPEN  TORO ROSSO 1:58.689 2:00.199 17
9 14 FERNANDO ALONSO  MCLAREN 1:59.704 2:00.265 16
10 77 VALTTERI  BOTTAS  WILLIAMS 1:59.569 2:00.334 16

Complete Qualifying results available via Formula1.com.

The teams and drivers will really have to turn it around quickly as the race begins in just about an hour. It can be seen live on NBC here in the states.