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Photo by: www.kymilman.com/f1

After a serious downpour in the morning, the sun came out and exposed a green Circuit of the Americas for the US Grand Prix in Austin. Could Lewis Hamilton convert his 72nd pole position into a 6th win at a US Grand Prix which would be the most wins of a US Grand Prix for any Formula 1 driver?

After turning the start of a grand prix into a US boxing event and NFL-style pomp, the race got away quickly just like Sebastian Vettel’s Ferrari but wresting the lead away from Hamilton’s Mercedes was never going to last due to DRS and the superior shove of the Merc.

It was a gamble to pit Vettel late for new tires but he did everything he possibly could and still delivered a 2nd place finish. The Ferrari just didn’t have the legs at COTA and Lewis took his 4th consecutive US Grand Prix win.

Win

A big win for Mercedes who secure their fourth constructor’s championship on the trot and Lewis for his 6th US Grand Prix win and 4th in a row. The entire team put yet another capital season together with a terrific mid-season push from Lewis Hamilton to secure the title.

A great start by both Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton but slightly better from the German to take the lead. A lead Ferrari needed but weren’t able to keep through seven laps due to the massive shove of the Mercedes and DRS.

Photo by: www.kymilman.com/f1

A big win for Max Verstappen who started way back on the grid and managed to make it to the podium only to be denied third to a 5s penalty assessed for running off track and getting an unfair advantage. This, of course, led to accusations about Mika Salo (guest steward) and many strains of mobocracy armchair philosophy which was tedious and exhausting to read. All the DVR kings were scrolling back over the race looking for anyone who went wide there to heap scorn on the FIA and Salo.

Red Bull boss Christian Horner said:

“There’s been cars going off track all day today and no action at all so I think it’s unbelievably harsh to give Max a penalty for that,” the Red Bull team boss told Sky F1’s Ted Kravitz. “It’s wrong, it’s wrong.

“For me, it was fair, hard racing and I think that’s a bad judgement by the stewards to have made that call. We’ve seen cars off track all weekend so to penalise him at this stage is not right.”

A win for Esteban Ocon and Carlos Sainz who put on a great show for 6th and 7th Sunday with the latter nearly equaling the team’s best result this year on his first outing in the car. A great job by Carlos Sainz.

Photo by: www.kymilman.com/f1

With all the talk of Brendon Hartley, for good reason, Daniil Kvyat quietly scored points in a good run for the Russian. Brendon deserves some credit too as he hasn’t been in an F1 car in six years so it was a tall order but he represented himself very well.

To be fair, it was a good run for Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson who may have finished in 13th had he not been given a penalty which I found to be a bit harsh.

Fail

A fail for Renault who couldn’t manage to keep Nico Hulkenberg in the race longer than four laps. Retiring the car for mechanical issues and denying Nico a shot at the points.

Red Bull Racing gave Max Verstappen a new engine for the race but Daniel Ricciardo’s gave up the ghost on lap 16. Daniel looked set for a possible podium and had some great battles with Valtteri Bottas but it wasn’t to be.

Photo by: www.kymilman.com/f1

A fail for McLaren who couldn’t get the Honda-powered car of Alonso’s to the end of the race causing yet another DNF.

Tough weekend for Lance Stroll who’s teammate was in the points but he languished back in 11th. Equally a tough weekend for Haas F1 who failed to score in their home race.

WTH

I was watching the first pit stop by Brendon Hartley and then some of the close-up shot of corners seemed to have a lot of rubber balled up off line. It rained hard in the morning so it seemed the Ultrasoft tires were taking a beating early on.

A WTH for DRS once again. Sure, Mercedes may have had the more powerful engine and the Ferrari of Vettel may not have ultimately held off Hamilton’s charge but the DRS was a free pass and the system deprived us of a good battle that would have forced Lewis to make the pass. To artfully set Vettel up and make a real effort at getting by his main rival in the championship. What we got was a sitting duck in Vettel and a massive gift to Lewis to not have to work at all to pass his rival for the lead and win. The fact is, this is happening every race weekend and we just don’t see it in the mid-field battles but this system has got to go.

Lewis stuns crowd with levitation act
Photo by: www.kymilman.com/f1

You can’t say it is the same for Vettel because his car didn’t have the shove to take advantage of it but he may have had enough shove to keep Lewis behind him long enough to allow the undercut to work etc. It is a ham-fisted system that has got to go.

What’s the deal with Valtteri?

Results:

1. Lewis Hamilton (Britain) Mercedes 1:33:50.993
2. Sebastian Vettel (Germany) Ferrari +00:10.143
3. Kimi Raikkonen (Finland) Ferrari 00:15.779
4. Max Verstappen (Netherlands) Red Bull – TAG Heuer 00:16.768
5. Valtteri Bottas (Finland) Mercedes 00:34.967
6. Esteban Ocon (France) Force India – Mercedes 01:30.980
7. Carlos Sainz Jr (Spain) Renault 01:32.944
8. Sergio Perez (Mexico) Force India – Mercedes 1 lap
9. Felipe Massa (Brazil) Williams-Mercedes 1 lap
10. Daniil Kvyat (Russia) Toro Rosso – Renault 1 lap
11. Lance Stroll (Canada) Williams-Mercedes 1 lap
12. Stoffel Vandoorne (Belgium) McLaren 1 lap
13. Brendon Hartley (New Zealand) Toro Rosso – Renault 1 lap
14. Romain Grosjean (France) Haas – Ferrari 1 lap
15. Marcus Ericsson (Sweden) Sauber – Ferrari 1 lap
16. Kevin Magnussen (Denmark) Haas – Ferrari 1 lap
r. Fernando Alonso (Spain) McLaren 32 laps
r. Daniel Ricciardo (Australia) Red Bull – TAG Heuer 42 laps
r. Pascal Wehrlein (Germany) Sauber – Ferrari 51 laps
r. Nico Huelkenberg (Germany) Renault 53 laps
(rank: r = retired, nc = not classified)
Fastest Lap: Sebastian Vettel,1:37.766, lap 51.

Drivers Points
1. Lewis Hamilton (Britain) Mercedes 331
2. Sebastian Vettel (Germany) Ferrari 265
3. Valtteri Bottas (Finland) Mercedes 244
4. Daniel Ricciardo (Australia) Red Bull 192
5. Kimi Raikkonen (Finland) Ferrari 163
6. Max Verstappen (Netherlands) Red Bull 123
7. Sergio Perez (Mexico) Force India 86
8. Esteban Ocon (France) Force India 73
9. Carlos Sainz Jr (Spain) Renault 54
10. Felipe Massa (Brazil) Williams 36
11. Nico Huelkenberg (Germany) Renault 34
12. Lance Stroll (Canada) Williams 32
13. Romain Grosjean (France) Haas 28
14. Kevin Magnussen (Denmark) Haas 15
15. Stoffel Vandoorne (Belgium) McLaren 13
16. Fernando Alonso (Spain) McLaren 10
17. Jolyon Palmer (Britain) Renault 8
18. Pascal Wehrlein (Germany) Sauber 5
19. Daniil Kvyat (Russia) Toro Rosso 5
20. Marcus Ericsson (Sweden) Sauber 0
21. Antonio Giovinazzi (Italy) Sauber 0
22. Pierre Gasly (France) Toro Rosso 0
23. Brendon Hartley (New Zealand) Toro Rosso 0

Constructors Points
1. Mercedes 575
2. Ferrari 428
3. Red Bull – TAG Heuer 315
4. Force India – Mercedes 159
5. Williams-Mercedes 68
6. Toro Rosso – Renault 53
7. Renault 48
8. Haas – Ferrari 43
9. McLaren 23
10. Sauber – Ferrari 5

REVIEW OVERVIEW
Overall race
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An F1 fan since 1972, NC has spent over 25 years in the technology industry focusing on technology integration, AV systems integration, digital media strategies, technology planning, consulting, speaking, presenting, sales, content strategy, marketing and brand building.
  • pmr

    Not Mika Salo but gary connely is the problem, he jumps at every chance he get’s to penalize Max. And we he can’t convince the other stewards to sing off on it, he’ll go to to team involved to convince them to file a protest (Japan last year). If that move was illigal, fine. But then they sould also penalize Botas and Vettel for going off track to defend position or Sainz for going off track overtaking Ocon. And i’m sure there were more.

    • Qarbon Nubia

      I think you mean Perez?

      • pmr

        Indeed it was Perez

    • Salvu Borg

      The 2016 Japanese GP cars number 33 and 44 /Gary Connely story was of the making of Autoblid, and further fueled by number 44 inputs, who ever believed it done so at his own peril, and who ever believes what they can dream and push out also falls in the same category. just this week-end their headline said “Binoto to replace Arrivabene”.

  • Junipero Mariano

    I remember Paul C. stating that when he directed races for the junior formula, he’d let drivers run wide all the live long day, but cutting a corner was verboten.

    Running wide is sometimes faster like at Copse in Silverstone. That there is a tradeoff between speed gained vs. extra distance covered.

    And sometimes going wide is slower, like Vettel today at turn 19 when Hamilton was pitting. That outcome depended on how well Vettel had executed the previous phases of the corner. He blew it, and wasn’t able to get around Hamilton.

    Whereas cutting a corner is always faster, you’re driving less distance than the other driver at that section of the track, right?

    • subcritical71

      I’d agree with the penalty more if it wasn’t for all the in car shots of practically anyone going through the T5-T9 complex doing the same thing… almost all race.

      • Dr. Bob

        All those cases of going off course through T5-T9 did not result in an immediate, lasting advantage.

        • subcritical71

          I respectfully disagree. If there were no lasting advantage it would not have been so common. There was one turn in particular, I believe it was atone turn 9, that most drivers were cutting the inside corner to get a better angle for the next turn. The lasting advantage in these cases was lap time, the drivers probably didn’t lift later to give back that time. I was really surprised that they were not penalizing anyone, or at least warning drivers.

          • jakobusvdl

            You’d think with the telemetry and video information available that if they wanted to, the FIA could enforce track limits 100%.
            Presumably there are arguments from influential others (Liberty Media?) for less enforcement of rules that impinge on ‘the show’.
            I’d prefer that track limits were enforced stringently, we know the drivers wouldn’t be exceeding track limits if there were no advantage, but I expect there would be a strong kick back from the ‘mobocracy’ if there was strict enforcement.

          • subcritical71

            100% enforcement would be great in the regards of the track limits are now strictly enforced, but I think the racing would suffer.
            If you watch Lap 1 Turn 1 you will see Vettel put all 4 over the white line and no penalty. I’m not saying I want to see a penalty, just that if there is any consistancy to enforcement then by the rules it should have been a penalty. I personally like the good racing. Put other hinderances in the way to discourage over use of track limits.
            The danger in brute enforcement would also be a driver goes off track and looses time because he simply missed the turn… now he’s handed even more of a penalty… doesn’t seem justified.

  • johnblair7

    I thought it was a great race. Max should be driver of the day, a pity about the penalty. I thought Seb would win it but pleased Lewis did. Roll on Mexico

  • Mike White

    Really liked Hamilton’s pass on Verstappen. Shows the difference in race craft and experience between the two as Lewis set him up nicely for that move. Vettel on Bottas was nice too.

  • subcritical71

    I’d like to add a WTH to NBCSports for the unannounced NASCAR spoiler during post race. I just sat through 3 hours of F1 coverage and was going to watch the NASCAR race immediately afterwards (or at least the highlights while I fast forward through it to catch up). Thanks to the spoiler I was already caught up…. I understand they want to advertise the race which is going on, but there are ways to do that so as not to ruin the race for those that have intentions to watch later.

    • Formerly Known As

      What I hate the most when I use to record races due to work scheduling conflict is coming home and trying my dang hardest to avoid any sports or racing channel on the tele only to find the results as a ticker tape running below the bottom of the screen while watching a local channel.

      Indy 500. 1. Joe Blow 2. John Hancock. 3. Juan Valdez 4. Annie

      You get the picture. Then I fly off the handle.

      Now I watch on a tablet given to me by my son and since I’m retired, can now watch most races live without commercials or interruptions. I usually watch the Channel 4 or Sky F1 stream but I did watch the NBC stream just because the race was in the US and I do love Hobbes and Matchett and saw that they announced the Nascar results. I’m surprised you didn’t throw the remote at the tele. I don’t watch Nascar anymore so it didn’t bother me one bit. I used to watch stock when Yarborough used to race and they used to show it on ABC Wide World of Sports, but that was a long, long, time ago.

  • Andrea_Rae

    I can’t help but feel a bit ripped off, I would have loved to see this season replayed with Rosberg in a Mercedes rather than Bottas.

  • jakobusvdl

    Congratulations to Mercedes on securing the Constructors Championship for the fourth year in sucession.
    The power unit has been a bit part of their success, but their chassis, team work, drivers and management have kept them at the top.
    That said, my fingers are crossed that its a much closer fight in future seasons.

  • jakobusvdl

    Clearly a ‘driver of the race’ performance by Brendon Hartley.
    Steady pace through the race, nearly jumped Stroll, and showing his endurance racing skills with his tyre usage and winding up the pace towards the end of the race, another 22 hours and he’d have won!

    • Salvu Borg

      Yes good race by Brendon, at 31 seconds back of Kvyat it was clearly a price to pay for being a total newbie in a formula 1 car.

  • Tom Firth

    Does anyone know what happened to Grosjean in the closing laps. I know he was on old tires so did they just go off? Graphics didn’t seem to indicate he went in the pits but dropped behind Hartley.

    Thought Brendon Hartley did a good race, seems completed the objective. Also had decent pace relative to Stroll for the majority of the race.

    Really want to know what happened to Vettel, how he lost the lead so quickly, TV didn’t show that either, besides the actual pass. Great race by Hamilton, Sainz, Ocon and others.

    I wonder how Jolyon Palmer feels this morning? His sixth place at Singapore still betters that of Sainz 7th but this was Sainz first race in the car and he already looked far stronger than Palmer did. Expect lots of strong results for Sainz going forwards.

    • Formerly Known As

      Re: Vettel

      This is what Hamilton said at a post race interview:

      “When Sebastian got a better start than me, I didn’t know how it was going to go but then I noticed I was able to remain relatively close. Did I know I was going to be able to overtake him? Initially I was just thinking I needed to stay close and wait for the pit-stops. But then I could see him pushing and I was thinking ‘I am pretty good on my tyres right now and he is going through that corner too quickly, he is going to kill his tyres’. And that’s what he did – he was driving too quick through some of those corners when he didn’t have to. He blew. If he had backed off in those places he would have been able to keep me behind, I’m certain.”

      • coolhand64

        I don’t think Seb had the optimum setup on his car, due to the chassis change. Kimi & Valtteri were catching him prior to the second pitstop. Mercedes should’ve pitted Bottas as well, I believe he would’ve got second place.

        • Formerly Known As

          I can’t confirm if Vettel had the optimum setup but he did an amazing quali lap on the new chassis.

          I just wanted to post what Lewis thought gave him the opportunity to retake the lead. This is what he observed following Vettel for a few laps.

          I can’t decide on Bottas anymore. He says it’s the tires. Lewis just knows when and how much to extract from them. This was also confirmed by Wolff in a recent interview. Even with fresh boots, I doubt Bottas would have progressed but it surely was a missed opportunity. You’re right, they should have at least tried it.

          Vettel’s second pitstop was inspired as he could have been ran down by Max if he did not pit. Great strategy on Ferrari’s part. Now Seb is still mathematically in the championship. Anything can happen as they say in F1.

          • Tom Firth

            Thanks all :-)

        • I think you are right there. He did all he could do to stay ahead of Lewis but chewed his front left up in the process. I think the chassis wasn’t quite balanced to their liking and that’s something I think Lewis’s team did a great job of curing from Friday to Sunday. As for Lewis surprised he didn’t fight more to defend, perhaps, but I thin the DRS made that a pointless action.

          • Formerly Known As

            With regards to Lewis not defending the start abit more, I’ve always thought that it was the main difference between him and Rosberg when they were the only two drivers fighting for the lead in the Mercedes.

            If that was Rosberg, he would have kept on fighting, even going off track and losing more places than he should. Lewis knows when to back off to fight another lap.

            How many times did we see Nico get pushed back to 4th or lower after starting from pole just because Lewis had a better start and pushed Nico wide on the first turn, which is exactly what Sebastian did to Lewis in Austin. It’s just that Lewis had the sense to give up the corner and as you alluded to, bide his time and work his way for a DRS assisted pass. Other drivers do the same as Lewis and I was always amazed why Rosberg kept doing it. He probably is a stubborn man, which actually served him well, as he did win a championship being a hard head. He never gave up and it paid off, regardless of how it transpired.

          • Salvu Borg

            The number 5 FERRARI race problem was simple, in race trim it wasn’t as fast as Mercedes number 44. the “in race tyre” situation was totally reversed between the tow cars in Austin, but interestingly not between FERRARI number 7 and Mercedes number 77.

  • Tom Firth

    By the way, how did the driver introduction part not reach the WTH category this weekend?

    • Formerly Known As

      “Let’s get ready to tumbbbble!”

      That the average viewership declining even more. Especially when gimmicks like this are brought in.

      WTH indeed!

  • Andreas

    I’ve tried writing a comment about the race without mentioning the driver presentation, but I can’t seem to do it. I mean, WTH was that about? And the “gentlemen – start your engines” followed by silence, while engineers twiddle with laptops :-) Good grief…!

    The race itself was fairly interesting, with the different strategies playing out. Great start from Vettel – I had a small hope that with the Ferrari in clean air and the Mercedes (which is famously tricky in dirty air) behind, he’d be able to keep in front. But no such luck – the Mercedes (and Lewis) was just too quick.

    Vettel did pull off a fantastic pass on Bottas, though (lap 51, turn 1) – that was a superb move, and definitely worthy of my pass of the race!

    Overall, though, track limits were on my mind throughout the race. Not just because of the Verstappen penalty at the end – people were going off track left and right all through the race, and it has to be policed somehow. With the modern tracks we have, where there are few natural boundaries, the stewards need to be much more forceful about it. Personally, I don’t care about the “gaining a lasting advantage” discussion – if you run off the track, it was because you were carrying too much speed, so should cost you time.

    Jos Verstappen’s comments on Twitter and to Dutch tv are probably best left behind, but I did hearMax commenting to Sky that he felt that “with these stupid decisions you really kill the sport”. So basically, in order to keep the sport alive, drivers should be allowed to cut corners? Ok… I wonder why track & field is still alive? I mean, those pesky officials keep flagging off long jumpers who step over the mark, and where’s the fun in that?

    All in all, a good race. Congrats to Mercedes on the WCC. Personally, I’d have liked Sebastian to with with Lewis a little further back, just to keep the driver’s championship alive a little longer. But it is what it is, and there’s really no stopping Lewis this year.

    • subcritical71

      My thoughts exactly on the track limits throughout the race. On my drive into work it got me to thinking about a system that could be used and the technology exists today…
      Use the roll hoop mounted cameras, process this video image off-car in which positioning of white lines occurs. Since this is a fixed camera it should be relatively easy to determine when a white line exceeds a boundary. Inputs could be a) camera, b) steering wheel input, c) GPS positioning. Any automated infraction would notify the stewards and and investigation launched.The GPS data could be used to automatically download relevant video feeds from that location to assist in coming to a decision.

      If its possible for a 35KUSD car (Tesla Model 3) to have the hardware for this type of functionality already then I would think it could be done for F1.

      • Andreas

        Sure, it’s not a lack of technology that is the issue. The FIA tried pressure pad sensors a year or so ago, and it worked fairly well. There’s also camera/eagle eye-based solutions that could be used, as you’re suggesting. And you could quite easily bury a sensor wire half a car width outside the white line outer edge, then fit a transducer (it could be something as simple as a magnet) under the car, right on the centerline. Any time a transducer passes the wire, you know that the track limit has been breached, and you could quickly review why and what happened.

        So the technology is simple enough to sort out. The question is more whether they want to or not. The last time FIA/Charlie tried to crack down on track limits, the drivers mostly accepted it, but there was a backlash among the fans. People apparently didn’t want F1 to be overly policed, and didn’t like it when an otherwise fantastic qualifying lap was deleted. Then they tried physical barriers (baguette curbs, sleeping policemen etc) which broke the cars, since some drivers insisted on going over them anyway.

        So we ended up with the “gaining a *lasting* advantage” rule, which is quite ambiguous. It’s easy enough to see if you pass someone while being off the track, but if drivers go wide through a specific turn all day (as was the case in Austin), is that a *lasting* advantage? Maybe, maybe not. But at the end of the day, what fans (and, as it seems, many drivers and team bosses) see is a rule that is only enforced some of the time, which is confusing. Time for a rethink, and I believe the only way forward is to mostly make the track itself penalise any off-track driving (using grass, gravel, baguette curbing etc), and combine that with (fiercely policed) electronic means only where it’d be dangerous to use physical constraints.

        • Tom Firth

          They still use the pressure pad sensor system at several British circuits including Brands Hatch as the MSA is rather keen on track limits too. It works very effectively.