United States GP

Flashback – Lewis Hamilton takes the 2015 World Championship in Austin

With the rain clearing in Austin, damp conditions would prevail for the start of the 2015 United States Grand Prix. From qualifying Nico Rosberg led the field to take pole position, with Lewis Hamilton staying on the front row in second. Ferrari, having taken their engine penalty were outside the top ten, with Valtteri Bottas taking a five place drop after changing his gearbox after qualifying dropping him behind Sebastian Vettel.

The cars went to the grid on the green marked intermediate tyres, with sunshine trying to break over the circuit. Daniel Ricciardo said on the grid to Martin Brundle that they could be on slicks by the end of the race. Nico Rosberg wasn’t pleased with his car, complaining about the front tyres, with them adding pressure to the front.
All of the drivers would start on the intermediate tyre, with the cars going around on their installation lap. Hamilton said over the radio that the ‘circuit was drying up real quickly’, with dry patches all around the circuit.

The cars lined up on the grid slowly, all taking their positions on the grid. It was a good start for Hamilton, getting in front of Rosberg at the first corner. The Red Bulls were battling with each other, with Rosberg behind Perez. Vettel got up to 9th and 10th. Hamilton wasnt getting away at the front, with the Red Bull right on the back of the Mercedes. Kvyat in second challenged for the lead but didn’t get ahead, while Rosberg got back to behind Ricciardo. The second part of the lap saw Hamilton pull away though. Fernando Alonso had a puncture, with Bottas getting a front wing and soft tyres.

Felipe Nasr lost half his front wing on the back of his team mate, with a lot of debris on the track in the first corner. Carlos Sainz had a great start and got up to 10th and ahead of Jenson Button. Manor had a problem in the pitlane with Will Stevens, with the team confirming rear wing damage. Kvyat in the meantime set the fastest lap of the race. Felipe Nasr pitted for a new nose, and also the second driver on the soft tyres.

Kvyat having a great run on lap 5, with him closing in on the back of Hamilton. The gap was down to less than a second and in DRS range. Ricciardo was only just a little further back. Carlos Sainz was also on a charge with him getting on the back of Raikkonen, who was in turn overtaking Hulkenberg. The Virtual Safety Car came out on lap 6, and Valtteri Bottas pitted to return to the intermediate tyres, the soft tyres not working in the damp conditions. The Williams driver retired a lap later.

The Virtual Safety Car ended on lap 8 with the top four all bunched up with Rosberg jumping Ricciardo at the restart. Kvyat was attacked by Kvyat, with the Russian being overtaken at the end of the long back straight. He gave a good fight back though. Rosberg was fast, closing in on the back of Hamilton.

Grosjean pitted on lap 10 for the soft compound tyres, while Button complained that his tyres were going away. Kvyat was also close to Rosberg at the end of the lap, but couldn’t do anything into the first corner. Hamilton pulled away slightly on the other three, with traffic hindering their progress. Grosjean pitted at the end of the lap, and retired straight away.

After being held up by Rossi, Kvyat went down the inside of Rosberg into the final corner. He went of the circuit and came back on behind his team mate who in the process went ahead of Rosberg. Ricciardo quickly set the fastest lap of the race, with the Red Bull on the tail of the Mercedes. Raikkonen overtook Sainz with a huge battle between the two Ferrari’s and Toro Rosso’s in 6th to 9th. Ricciardo got alongside Hamilton at the exit of turn one, but couldn’t make a move stick. Raikkonen and Verstappen were also battling.

Ricciardo got ahead of Hamilton on lap 16, with him instantly pulling away. Rosberg remained in third, but he would get the DRS on the back straight. Rosberg had an attack at the end of the back straight on his team mate, but the German once again stayed behind, of the top four Hamilton struggling the most on his tyres on a drying track. Ricciardo went on to take the fastest lap of the race, the gap up to two seconds to the Mercedes.

With Raikkonen complaining about the driving of Verstappen, the Dutchman overtook Vettel his team mate and kept the place, running wide at the end of the lap and giving the place back. Raikkonen came right on the back of the Toro Rosso as well.

Jenson Button and Marcos Ericsson both pitted for slick tyres, rolling the dice. Rosberg overtook Hamilton, the Mercedes drivers going side by side with Hamilton pitting at the end of the lap. He was the first of the leaders to pit for the dry soft tyres. Carlos Sainz got crossed up into the first corner. A raft of other drivers also got the slick tyres, while Ericsson was setting faster sectors.

Ricciardo pitted a lap later, Rosberg and Kvyat also pitted. Ricciardo came out in the lead ahead of Hamilton. The Brit went wide at the first corner, and ended up fourth on the road losing out to Dany Kvyat. Jenson Button set the fastest lap of the race, after pitting a lap earlier. Kimi Raikkonen went off the circuit and hit the wall breaking the front wing, wrestling the car out of the gravel trap.

Hamilton overtook Kvyat on lap 21, while Raikkonen pitted for a new nose. Hamilton lost out to Kvyat and was knocked back down to fourth again. Behind, Vettel was closing in on the pair of them. Rosberg overtook Ricciardo, and Hamilton overtook Kvyat by the end of the same lap. Vettel was closing in on everyone and only eight seconds off the lead.

Nico Hulkenberg was also going quickly, setting the fastest lap on lap 23, closing in on Sainz. Hulkenberg overtook Sainz on lap 24, with the German pulling away very quickly although twenty seconds off the lead. Vettel overtook Kvyat. Felipe Massa retired in the Williams, with the suggesting there was a problem with the car over the radio. Rosberg set another fastest lap of the race at the front, while Hamilton was nowhere as near as fast as his team mate.

At the front he gap had increased to nine seconds on lap 26, with Rosberg pulling away from Ricciardo. Hamilton being held up being held up behind Ricciardo overtook the Australian on lap 26. Raikkonen retired on lap 26 with a brake problem in the Ferrari. Marcus Ericsson stopped on the circuit on the exit of turn 11. It brought out the safety car on lap 27.

With the safety car coming out, Alonso pitted for another set of the soft tyres in the McLaren, with Rosberg being told that he would stay out. Vettel came in for a change of tyres for Ferrari. The German took the mediums, while the Force India also stopped. Jenson Button also stopped for another set of tyres. Felipe Nasr pitted from 14th in the Sauber.

The order being Rosberg, Hamilton, Ricciardo, Kvyat, Vettel, Verstappen, Hulkenberg, Perez, Button and Sainz. Vettel, Hulkenberg, Perez and Sainz were all on the medium tyres.

The race started on lap 32, with the safety car coming in. Rosberg back the field up, going very slowly through the complex. Vettel right on the back of the Red Bull’s. Hamilton was being attacked by Ricciardo, but it was only a slight move. Verstappen was hanging on the back of Vettel, Kvyat went wide at the first corner with Vettel going ahead.

Vettel overtook Ricciardo quickly on the outlap, going down the inside at the end of the back straight, Ricciardo got back at the Ferrari. On lap 34, Vettel got back ahead of Ricciardo. Verstappen got ahead of Kvyat heading onto the back straight, with Kvyat going off the road. Verstappen behind Ricciardo with Hulkenberg on the mediums hounding the pair. Verstappen got ahead of Ricciardo, with Hulkenberg close behind the Australian a lap later.

Hamilton was gaining on Rosberg, with them still ahead of the Ferrari. Hulkenberg went down the inside of the Red Bull, but the two clashed and damaged the Force India’s front suspension. Button got ahead of Perez for 7th, with Sainz under investigation for speeding in the pitlane. With damage, Kvyat closed in on Ricciardo. The Russian went ahead of his team mate, while Sainz got a five second penalty for speeding in the pit lane.

A virtual safety car was deployed on lap 38, in order to recover the Force India. Red Bull said over the radio that they would be ‘stacking’ with Mercedes also pitting Nico Rosberg, with Hamilton staying out on the circuit. Vettel came out ahead of the Mercedes, with Rosberg coming out behind Verstappen. Kvyat came out in 10th and Riccairdo in 11th. Alonso went down the inside for 6th, with Jenson Button running in 5th.

In fourth, Rosberg quickly got ahead of Verstappen. The German was flying. McLaren were also doing well behind. Rosberg got ahead of Vettel at the end of the back straight on lap 42, with the Mercedes driver closing in quickly on his team mate who had yet to stop.

Kvyat had a large hit on the inside Armco on the inside of the corner with the car careering over the track and then bouncing across the track bringing the safety car out again.
Eight retirements so far in the race, with Lewis Hamilton pitting behind the safety car. Vettel also pitted in the Ferrari, so the gamble on the medium tyre didn’t work. Max Verstappen was elevated to third, while his team mate Sainz pitted. Jenson Button pitted as well a lap later after complaining about graining. Fernando Alonso was elevated to fifth, who was also suffering from graining.

The safety car came in the at the end of lap 46. Rosberg once again holding the pack back. Verstappen got close on the back of Hamilton, with Vettel close on the back of the Toro Rosso. Vettel overtook the Toro Rosso on the back straight. Button and Maldonado were also close together with Sainz overtaking the Lotus. Button was ahead of the pair.

Hamilton overtook Rosberg after the German lit the rear tyres up, gifting Hamilton the lead. Sainz got ahead of button and overtook Ricciardo. Jenson Button had a go, and overtook the pair of them at the end of the back straight getting up to seventh. Button overtook Alonso, getting up to sixth. Sainz was also right on the back of Alonso. Sainz made the move stick into turn 11 on his countryman Alonso. The McLaren was going backwards, so was Ricciardo who had been overtaken by Nasr. Alonso was complaining that he had no power in the McLaren. Ricciardo pitted for another set of tyres in the Red Bull at the end of the lap.

At the front, Hamilton was leading the way, with Vettel making no impression on Rosberg. That would mean Hamilton would become World Champion.

Sainz overtook Button on lap 55, with Vettel closing in slightly on lap 55. He really closed in by the end of the lap and closed to within around half a second. Vettel went a little deep into the first corner. Vettel was too far back on Rosberg, leaving Lewis Hamilton to win the US Grand Prix, and his third world championship. An amazing race from Max Verstappen in fourth from Perez in fifth. Ricciardo took the final point away from Alonso on the final lap.

About the author

Ashley Quint

Ashley founded the Purple Sector website back in 2012, later renamed to SpeedMajor which now covers both Formula 1 and Formula E. As well as writing on Formula 1, Ashley also works within the world of luxury travel and was a finalist in the Aspire Travel Trade Writer of the Year competition in 2013.

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