2015 United States Grand Prix: Race Report
Lewis Hamilton wins the 2015 USGP for the fourth time in his career and clinches his third title at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin Texas. He was followed by team mate and pole sitter Nico Rosberg in second and Sebastian Vettel in third. In the all time greats he now equals his idol Ayrton Senna to which he said “I wanted to equal the three Ayrton had.. There is no one else to equal or emulate now.” The Briton joins the hall of fame of other triple champions like Niki Lauda, Jack Brabham, and Sir Jackie Stewart.
After a rain drenched weekend, cancelled practice, and wet qualifying, a breathtaking race like this was just what the viewers and track audience needed after cancelled sessions on Friday and Saturday. The 56 lap race had eight retirements in total , that of Nico Hulkenberg, Kimi Raikkonen, Daniil Kyvatt, Marcus Ericsson, Felipe Massa, Romain Grosjean, Valtteri Bottas, and Will Stevens. There were a total of two Virtual Safety Car periods and two Safety Car periods.
The mathematics of the championship before coming to USA was such that Lewis had to score two points more than his teammate and nine more than Vettel to seal the title in Austin. But at several points in the race the championship run was challenged by Vettel till the penultimate stages of the final lap. Had Vettel succeeded passing Rosberg for second place, the math would have been different and the title race would have rolled on to Mexico. However Rosberg managed holding off Vettel, resulting in Hamlilton sealing his third championship with three more races to go in the season.
Mercedes: “Both titles sealed”
Triple titles for the team and Lewis Hamilton, so it couldn’t get better for them. However there has been a growing rift between the two drivers as seen with Nico’s grim expressions post the race. Today was a good chance for Nico to bounce back into the championship, but he seems to have cracked down under pressure when during Lap 49 when he was passed by Hamilton. From there on the German lost his game to Hamilton, and in the closing laps he was even pressurized by Vettel for his second place. The two drivers were aggressive at the start resulting them in making brief contact, and getting lucky to have not spoilt each others weekend.
Ferrari: “A third place for Vettel and retirement for Kimi”
Since Ferrari had planned their fifth engine unit to be used this weekend, both their drivers were handed 10-place grid penalties. For Sebastian Vettel who started fourteenth and finished third, it was a startling drive but he could have passed Rosberg on that penultimate lap to stay in the game or make roll the championship to the next race. For Kimi it wasn’t an unfortunate weekend, but his own mistake to which he admitted. He was running fifth, when he ran wide at lap 20 skid into the gravel and then bumped into the barriers. Despite that he managed his way back into the race with a broken front wing. After which he dropped to 13th after pitting for soft tyres but couldn’t manage staying the race for more than seven laps because that incident damaged his front brakes, and sent the temperatures spiraling due to which Ferrari called him in to retire his car.
Red Bull Racing: 200th GP
For their 200th GP weekend, they had a fantastic start where both Daniil Kyvatt and Daniel Ricciardo split the two Mercedes cars. For the first thirty laps of the Kyvatt and Ricciardo challenged the front runners with the hope that atleast one podium was theirs and maybe considering a double too. However, as the race unfolded both of them succeeded in grabbing the lead at certain stages of the race but were unable to hold onto it. To what could have been a game-changing weekend for them and the Championship title, Daniel Ricciardo managed a 10th place finish after starting third on the grid and Kyvatt had a retirement. Kyvatt who could have proved his worth today had a collision with Carlos Sainz, after which he had to pit and that cost him many places. He spun out at the final corner of lap 43 after which the final Safety Car was deployed.
Williams: Double retirement
The team has confirmed that both cars retired with suspension and damper problems. Valtterri Bottas had an issue during qualifying in the morning as well due to which they made a gearbox change and he was handed a 5 grid place penalty.
Sauber: 400th GP
Initially the two Saubers made contact in the opening laps of the race. Felipe Nasr managed finishing the race in ninth place in the points. For Marcus Ericsson who started the race at P9 the race ended with a power failure.
For the Silverstone based outfit, ahead of the Mexican GP, the popular Mexican in their team Sergio Perez managed a fifth place finish. However, scenarios were different for Nico Hulkenberg who made contact with Daniel Ricciardo, which lead to him damaging his front wing and forcing him to retire. The incident lead to a virtual safety car period and was also under investigation. The FIA finally decided that the to take no further decision due to “ a mechanical failure on the car in the braking zone at turn 12.” The front wing was dislodged from the car before making it unstable and ineffective braking when it was needed at the corner, further resulting in the collision with Ricciardo.
McLaren: Buttons top best with McLaren in the season
Jenson Button finished the race at P6 whereas Fernando Alonso missed out on his points finish by a whisker after running in the top 10 for the majority of the race. The Spaniard was heard complaining about loss of power around lap 49 when he dropped few places and missed his points finish.
Lotus: Romain Grosjean got involved in a first corner collision where his car got damaged when it was hit from the back. The Frenchman who was under close watch in America since he moves to Haas F1 team next season, had an unfortunate retirement around lap 10. Pastor Maldonado however had zero incidents throughout the race and finished in eighth place.
The Red Bull sister team had Max Verstappen finish fifth made an attempt at a podium finish yet another time in the season. Carlos Sainz who started the race last after crashing out in qualifying, a P7 finish was impressive. He was running P6 but his clash with Daniel Ricciardo lead to him being slapped with a 5-second penalty and dropping to P7.
Alexander Rossi became the first American to race at a home Grand prix after Scott Speed in 2007. The American finished the race in last place at P12. Both the Marussias had collided at the first lap which lead to Will Stevens suffering a puncture and breaking his rear wing. Stevens could not continue racing for more than a lap after the incident and retired at the end of lap 1.
With the current championship title in both drivers’ and constructors’ titles sealed, the next race in Mexico will see a run between Sebastian Vettel and Nico Rosberg. With three more races to go now one can look forward to the action further down the grid where drivers will be fighting for their spots or giving a try to the podium finishes. With both Kimi and Bottas retiring a fight for fourth place can be seen. Further down the midfield teams will also be putting in their best right upto the last race. The next race in Mexico and the grand prix weekend will span from the 29th October to 1st November, 2015.
Link : Race Check-Up: A Drenched Title : http://www.thepaddockmagazine.com/2015/10/race-check-up-a-drenched-title/