The US Grand Prix was the weekend Lewis Hamilton needed to recalibrate and take a serious charge at defending his world championship since he entered the weekend in Austin 33 points behind his teammate, Nico Rosberg. Did Lewis have an answer? He certainly did.
The 2015 world champ was quick all weekend and set the fastest lap ever around the Circuit of the Americas (COTA) as he took pole position on Saturday afternoon. Red Bull tried a split strategy to keep Mercedes honest but they stubbed their own toe and let the Mercs finish 1, 2 with Lewis taking the win and Nico finishing second followed by a strategy-spoiled Daniel Ricciardo in a Red Bull.
The big win has to be Mercedes who looked to have fallen prey to Red Bull’s split strategy and a quick drive from Daniel Ricciardo and his teammate Max Verstappen. While the Red Bull strategy got spoiled by Verstappen’s stopped car and the subsequent Virtual Safety Car (VSC) and this handed the 1, 2 finish to Mercedes. Not that Merc didn’t do their homework, they had a re-calibrated strategy to cover the Bulls and did so.
A win for Lewis Hamilton who needed the top step if he has any chance of trying to win the title but he needs misfortune from Nico Rosberg and that’s the second win as the German retained 2nd and he can do that for the last three races and win the title. It’s Lewis’s first win since Germany earlier this year and his 50th GP win which puts him in rare air indeed.
A win for Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz who has been bleeding outright pace all summer long due to an old Ferrari engine but he managed to qualify well and then raced even better tussling with another Spaniard in the form of Fernando Alonso to finished 6th provisionally given that Alonso has a possible penalty for his clash with Williams driver Felipe Massa. Sainz is arguably the driver of the day.
Felipe Massa needed a good day and got one to stay ahead of the sole Force India to claw back some points in the constructor’s championship.
A win for McLaren who didn’t qualify well and said the track didn’t favor their car but they did manage a 5th place for Alonso (provisionally) and a 9th place for Jenson Button.
Equally, a win for Haas F1 to score the final point in 10th as Romain Grosjean manhandled his car to a points finish for the home crowd.
It seems like it was a win for the folks at COTA and US F1 fans in general with a good turnout at the Austin venue. I haven’t seen the attendance numbers but it looked good to me.
A fail for Ferrari who seemed to have a tough weekend trailing the Red Bulls and having a tough race with Kimi Raikkonen being released with a loose wheel and Sebastian Vettel having a difficult car to manage to 4th place thanks for Red Bull’s DNF for Verstappen.
It’ll be a fail for Red Bull who had a split strategy to take the fight to Mercedes and looked like they may actually be in the hunt until Max Verstappen had car trouble, prompted the VSC and consequentially spoiled his teammate’s race dropping him back to third from second.
A fail for Daniil Kvyat who had an early collision with Sergio Perez and couldn’t match his teammate’s performance to get into the points.
A fail for Valtteri Bottas and Nico Hulkenberg who both collided at the start and it left Nico out of the race and Bottas back in 16th.
A WTH for Venus Williams for snubbing Martin Brundle on the grid walk…whatever Venus.
A WTH for Ferrari’s unsafe release leaving Kimi to roll back down the hill and in to the pit lane and out of the race. What a junior move for such a veteran team.
A WTH to NBC for leaving the USGP to go to NASCAR leaving us hanging on the post-race commentary and insight.
A WTH for Lindsay Vonn who looked like a high school girl following Lewis around in full smitten mode. The broadcasters had her talking about the weekend and I was wondering what she has to do with F1 and why I care what she thinks about the race and qualifying.
You could argue a WTH for Alonso who punted Massa and will most likely experience a penalty. As a veteran, he got a little carried away with his new-found speed at COTA.
A bit of a WTH moment for Renault who had drivers fighting to stay ahead of each other and I was wondering if they didn’t throw away a chance to get a point.