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2014 US F1 GP: Hamilton Extends Lead In Texas While Ricciardo Shines Photo:
 
 
Peter Anderson | Nov, 04 2014 | 2 Comments

Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton took an unexpected victory at the Circuit of the Americas, defeating pole-man and teammate Nico Rosberg to the flag.

Daniel Ricciardo drove another brilliant race to take third ahead of the Williams pair.

The race may have had four fewer cars than expected, owing to the absence of Caterham and Marussia, but there wasn't any less drama with a few starring drives.

 

PRACTICE AND QUALIFYING

The factory Mercedes team led the way in every session, with McLarens, Toro Rossos, Ferraris and Williams all swapping around in the top ten.

Vettel worked hard on a race setup after electing to start from pitlane following an engine penalty.

The Mercedes cars fought over the front row, with Hamilton complaining of constant lock-ups, the Briton eventually flat-spotting the tyres on which he would start the race.

Rosberg gained the ascendancy and held on by a reasonable margin.

The Williams followed behind with Bottas third and Massa fourth, Ricciardo fifth. The Ferraris were split by Magnussen, Sutil performed well for ninth and Maldonado scored tenth.

 

RACE

The Sunday afternoon start was under a clear blue sky and a gentle breeze blew the proud display of American flags and a good number from nearby Mexico.

Rosberg shot off the line and led Hamilton up the hill, while Ricciardo was forced to recover from a poor start. The Australian dropped six places and clawing his way back to sixth by the end of lap one.

Meanwhile Sergio Perez, in an epic moment of brain fade, piled into the back of Kimi Raikkonen and then ricocheted into Adrian Sutil.

The Sauber driver was out on the spot after a stellar qualifying performance, Perez coaxed his three-wheel Force India back to the pits.

After the race, he somehow managed to blame both the Sauber and Ferrari drivers.

"Adrian started to close the door and I had to try and brake later than him. By doing so I was unable to avoid contact with Kimi, which caused me to make contact with Adrian also. I just didn’t expect Kimi to be in that position."

The stewards called it reckless and handed him a seven place grid penalty for Brazil.

The Safety Car deployed and the pitlane quickly filled with drivers jettisoning the less-fancied soft tyre.

A trio of drivers were investigated for speeding behind the Safety Car - new rules brought in since Japan mean that drivers can't go as fast as they like to catch the pack, they must drive to a delta time displayed on their in-car displays.

Button and Maldonado escaped sanction, Gutierrez and late addition Vergne did not, each copping five second penalties.

On the restart, Ricciardo out-Alonsoed Alonso, grabbing fourth place with an opportunistic move that required bravey as the Spaniard tried to come back at him. Bottas fell behind Massa and there he stayed for the rest of the race.

The pause in racing was no help to Vettel, who described his pit-lane start, early stop and first stint as "a joke," the German dribbling around with the remaining Sauber and Toro Rossos.

Soon after, Magnussen grabbed Button's place on the way to an eventual eighth place.

DRS was enabled on lap seven, but Hamilton wasn't close enough to attack Rosberg. His team told him to save a bit of fuel for a later attack.

The Lotus team, as though frightened by the demise (even if only temporary) of Marussia and Caterham performed well, with both cars running in the top ten from early in the race. Maldonado's penalty didn't deter the Venezuelan, holding on to tenth to the end.

He was promoted to ninth after yet another penalty was handed out.

Grosjean attacked Vergne into turn twelve on lap eleven, the Toro Rosso elbowing him off the track but without pain or penalty for either.

Up until the first scheduled stops, Hamilton lurked around a second behind. Ricciardo and Massa pitted together on lap fifteen, with the Red Bull driver sticking to the medium and Massa switching to softs.

Rosberg pitted on lap sixteen, taking on mediums, Bottas coming in behind. As the Finn left the pits, Ricciardo shot past around the Williams' outside.

Bottas wasn't all that happy to be fourth and attacked the Red Bull, but was rebuffed, despite a 7km/h speed advantage.

Hamilton pitted on seventeen, took on tyres and a front wing tweak, resuming behind Rosberg.

The second Force India died on lap eighteen, Nico Hulkenberg stalking away from the stricken machine.

Vettel's low downforce strategy did him few favours up to this point in the race, with Alonso streaking past on lap eighteen, the German unable to offer up much resistance, two seconds lower than Ricciardo.

On lap twenty, Gutierrez lost out to both Grosjean and Vergne in one move. The Lotus driver steamed down the inside and Gutierrez virtually allowed him by before being mugged by Vergne.

Alonso continued his combative mood, attacking Button on lap twenty two. Through five corners they raced each other in a nail-biting series of moves.

Hamilton began to move closer to Rosberg, ready to pounce. On lap twenty-four, he did, grabbing the lead with the aid of DRS and a brave moment on the brakes.

Rosberg had no choice but to go slightly off-track and Hamilton drove away to his fifth victory in a row.

Rosberg later blamed a mix-up with buttons and switches for his ERS boost, but he was simply outfoxed - again - by Hamilton.

Grosjean and Vettel had an interesting battle as Vettel's tyres just went away on lap twenty-six. The Lotus driver forced his way past and as the German tried to recover, Vergne shot by as well. He promptly pitted.

Alonso hunted down Magnussen on lap twenty seven, the Ferrari firing by with superior traction and corner speed at turn one. Button soon lost his place to Grosjean.

Vettel's stop seemed to transform the car - he began an impressive fightback to tear through the field - including a late stop on lap forty-nine for more tyres - to end in seventh place.

On lap thirty-two Ricciardo pitted for the third time, moving on to more medium compound tyres to take him to the end. His early stop was a strategic masterstroke as Massa was unable to respond, losing his podium position.

Hamilton pitted on lap thirty-three, Rosberg a lap later. The Mercedes team were concerned they couldn't make it through to the end with fresh-tyred competition behind.

Maldonado was investigated yet again, this time for speeding in pit lane, the Lotus driver clearly wanted to keep his run as number one penalised driver since entering F1. He got a five second penalty.

Vettel nearly wiped himself out of the race with an optimistic move on Magnussen. The Dane cleverly stayed out of the way and drove by the Red Bull. Not far behind Grosjean and Button battled hard, the Lotus driver eventually triumphing.

Vettel continued his march forward, reaching sixth by lap forty-five and enjoying a multi-lap battle with Alonso, the Ferrari getting around the outside with a little help from ERS.

Vettel stopped for fresh rubber and if he hadn't already, really let rip - with Jenson Button leading a train of five cars, Vettel tore through to sixth as Button battled all comers and lost more than he won. Vettel made an astonishing three places in the final two laps.

Vergne managed to get another penalty by bouncing off Grosjean, which in turn put the Lotus driver on the run-off area outside of turn one. The Frenchman was bumped from ninth in a post-race investigation, handing Maldonado ninth place.

Daniel Ricciardo brought his Red Bull home third with a storming drive.

"You can overtake here, there are a lot of opportunities. I got Magnussen on lap one and then Fernando on the restart, so it wasn't too boring out there," Ricciardo said.

"Thanks to Red Bull for giving me the package to fight for the podium today and I'm really happy with third place."

Lewis Hamilton's victory still doesn't give the Briton the confidence he needs to feel he has done enough - with Interlagos ahead and double points at Abu Dhabi, one wrong move could still see Rosberg crowned champion.

Formula 1 returns in one week for the Brazilian Grand Prix.

 

Results

  1. Lewis Hamilton - Mercedes - 1h40m04.785s
  2. Nico Rosberg - Mercedes +4.314s
  3. Daniel Ricciardo - Red Bull/Renault +25.560s
  4. Felipe Massa - Williams/Mercedes +26.924s
  5. Valtteri Bottas - Williams/Mercedes +30.992s
  6. Fernando Alonso - Ferrari +1m35.231s
  7. Sebastian Vettel - Red Bull/Renault +1m35.734s
  8. Kevin Magnussen - McLaren/Mercedes +1m40.682s
  9. Pastor Maldonado - Lotus/Renault +1m47.870s
  10. Jean-Eric Vergne - Toro Rosso/Renault +1m48.863s
  11. Romain Grosjean - Lotus/Renault +1 Lap
  12. Jenson Button - McLaren/Mercedes +1 Lap
  13. Kimi Raikkonen - Ferrari +1 Lap
  14. Esteban Gutierrez - Sauber/Ferrari +1 Lap
  15. Daniil Kvyat - Toro Rosso/Renault +1 Lap

Retirements

Nico Hulkenberg - Force India/Mercedes - Power Unit
Sergio Perez - Force India/Mercedes - Collision
Adrian Sutil - Sauber/Ferrari - Collision

 
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