United States GP

Hamilton takes easy win in Austin from Rosberg and Ricciardo

The race at the front would start with an interesting story, with the Mercedes drivers starting on the soft tyres along with Max Verstappen, and Daniel Ricciardo starting on the ‘qualifying’ supersoft.

Sergio Perez, starting in 11th place was a surprise in taking the supersoft tyre, with Nasr and Ocon starting at the back on the medium tyre.

With the cars forming the grid, the lights went out with a great start from Hamilton, with Rosberg in Second. Ricciardo went down the inside of Rosberg at turn 1, with the Red Bull getting ahead of the German. Verstappen was behind Raikkonen. Perez was punted around at the back of the field by Kvyat.

There was a huge battle between Verstappen and Vettel, with Felipe Massa also getting involved. His teammate had a terrible first lap, getting a puncture in Williams. Hulkenberg and Bottas both pitted, with the Force India retiring from the race. Carlos Sainz by this point had made his way up to 9th in the Toro Rosso.

Gutierrez had made his way up to tenth, with Button in close quarters. He got up the inside again into the hairpin on lap 3, while teammate Grosjean had made his way up to 13th.

At the front and Hamilton had started to pull away from Ricciardo and Rosberg. Raikkonen was keeping to the back of the Mercedes as well, although he was on the supersoft as Ricciardo was, with Verstappen falling away on the soft. By lap 6, Verstappen had set the fastest lap of the race and closing in on the pack ahead.

Perez was making his comeback after his accident with Kvyat, retaking the place from the Russia on lap 7. Grosjean overtook his teammate a lap later, with the Frenchman on a charge overtaking four cars in as many laps. Perez was the next behind Gutierrez, in what looked like a far superior car, and it was no competition for the Haas.

Daniel Ricciardo pitted on lap 9 along with Kimi Raikkonen. They took a set of the soft tyres on the Red Bull and Ferrari, Jenson Button got ahead of Raikkonen at the pitstop. Rosberg was told to push hard by the team, with them protecting him from the cars behind.

Red Bull pitted Verstappen only a lap later from fourth on the soft tyre, very early for the Dutchman and came out ahead of Fernando Alonso in 10th. It was a lap later again for Nico Rosberg, taking the medium tyre. Lewis Hamilton was also called in, but went on for another lap. Ricciardo stayed ahead of Rosberg, but only just ahead of Raikkonen.

He pitted on lap 12, with Hamilton taking the soft tyre and stayed ahead of Ricciardo. Massa, Sainz and Alonso all pitted, releasing those who had already pitted. Verstappen was once again the fastest on the circuit, setting the fastest time on a set of the soft compound tyres. He was closing and then got ahead of Raikkonen, with the Red Bull driver closing in on the Mercedes.

Kvyat was given a ten second penalty for the collision at the start of the race with Perez, despite being initially confused with teammate Sainz.

Vettel pitted from the lead on lap 15, taking a set of the soft tyres and he actually took a set of the supersoft all that way. He came out behind his teammate, but clearly in front of Massa who was in seventh. Rosberg on the medium tyre was also starting to pick up the pace, and was the fastest car on the circuit.

Gutierrez slowed on lap 18, after going straight on at the hairpin, a suspected brake problem. Rosberg was also under pressure from Verstappen, with Ricciardo, Rosberg and Verstappen all in close formation.

Bottas pitted on lap 22, although it was a longer stop than normal for the Williams team at the bottom end of the order. Kvyat, who had yet to pit was losing out to the cars around him including Grosjean and Perez. He pitted at the end of the lap to serve his 10 second penalty and then change his tyres. Vettel was also closing in on his teammate.

Verstappen fell behind Rosberg, but the Mercedes driver still stuck to the back of the other Red Bull driver.

Raikkonen pitted on lap 25 after Vettel had closed in. It was a set of the supersoft tyres for the Finn, with it becoming a three stop strategy for the Ferrari driver and only coming out just ahead of Felipe Massa. Ricciardo pitted a lap later, releasing Rosberg. It was a set of the medium tyres for the Red Bull driver, coming out behind Vettel and ahead of Raikkonen.

Verstappen pitted on lap 27 and the team were not ready for him, a terrible stop for the Red Bull team. He said over the radio that he thought he heard that team told him to pit, although they had to scramble to get tyres on the car. He came out behind Massa and Raikkonen.

With 29 laps complete, the gap between Hamilton and Rosberg at the front was nearly ten seconds. Verstappen cleared Massa quickly to return to the top six, and time to close in on the Ferrari. Vettel was told to pit on lap 29, with Verstappen slowing with a very dodgy sounding car on the back straight Ferrari took on a set of the medium tyres.

Verstappen pulled over to the side of the road, bringing out the virtual safety car. It was good news for those who had yet to pit including Carlos Sainz, Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton. Rosberg also came in behind his teammate, with the team putting on a set of the medium tyres, which hampers his strategy of putting on the soft tyre at the end of the race.

The marshals were slow at pulling the Red Bull away, with it ending on lap 33. One of the big winners was Carlos Sainz in 6th, and ahead of Massa, but only just.

Both Hamilton and Rosberg were making their way through traffic, with Raikkonen pitting on lap 39. He took a set of the soft tyre, while his teammate was having trouble with the downforce level of his rear wing. Raikkonen stopped on the exit of the pitlane, with a wheel gun still attached to the car. Although he rolled back down to the end of the pitlane, he went on to retire the car outside the Haas pit garage.

Ferrari were instantly put under investigation for releasing the car in an unsafe condition.

The next big battle on the circuit was Sainz in fifth, and Massa in sixth, Fernando Alonso behind the pair of them in seventh. Massa locked up behind the Spaniard on lap 46, with the Williams falling into the range of Alonso.

Kvyat overtook Ericsson for 11th, which should help the nerves in the Manor garage given the attrition at the front in this race. Magnussen, quicker having stopped later was helped past by Palmer in for 13th position.

The gaps between Sainz, Massa and Alonso was ever closing. It was a bit of a shove from Alonso on lap 52 to get ahead of the Williams, getting into sixth place.

Vettel pitted on lap 54, with just two laps of the race remaining. He took a set of the supersoft tyres, with a pit stop in hand.

Magnussen, on a three stopper went off the circuit in his ambition to get ahead of Kvyat. Further forward and Sainz was under pressure from Alonso, Massa was out of that battle with a puncture and pitted. Alonso tried down the inside at the hairpin, and got around the outside into the second hairpin before going off the circuit. He stayed ahead though, dropping Sainz down to sixth.

It was Lewis Hamilton’s race though, ahead of his teammate Nico Rosberg. Daniel Ricciardo was third after losing out under the virtual safety car. Vettel set the fastest lap enroute to fourth and Fernando Alonso in fifth.

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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