USA Grand Prix analysis

Red Bulls dominance stays firmly in place after Sebastian Vettel’s eighth consecutive race win, and his twelfth of the season. Behind the race leader, it wasn’t as exciting as it was hoped, but strong performances by Romain Grosjean and Valtteri Bottas put both drivers in the spotlight.

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Red Bull:
Qualifying – VET P1 – WEB P2
Race – VET P1 – WEB P3
A front row lock-out was always going to happen, both drivers seemed very comfortable with the circuit, and if Webber had just brought together the final few corners, he would have been the leading Red Bull. Another poor start from the Australian put both Grosjean and Hamilton in front at turn one, but he didn’t give up and was close to taking P2 back from Grosjean towards the end of the race. Vettel didn’t have it easy though, Grosjean and Webber weren’t too far away from the German at the end, but nonetheless a very dominant and controlled race from Vettel – one for the history books!

Ferrari:
Qualifying – ALO P6 – MAS P15
Race – ALO P5 – MAS P12
Mixed feelings about Ferraris performance, on one hand it was a good job from Alonso, who arguably qualified and finished in the best place he could. But on the other, a very disappointing weekend for Massa, who not only didn’t make Q3 but also didn’t finish in the points. Kovalainen didn’t score either, which helps Ferrari in the constructors, but Grosjean is a big threat.

McLaren:
Qualifying – BUT P13 – PER P7
Race – BUT P10 – PER P7
Originally, Button qualified in 13th, but after overtaking a car under red flags got given a 3 place grid penalty. I was pleasantly surprised with Perez’s efforts, I thought he did a great job considering the machinery he has, and he got some good points in the race as a reward. Button also impressed me in the race, given his starting position, and a one stop strategy, it was always going to be difficult to get into the top ten, but he did, even if it was the last point.

Lotus:
Qualifying – GRO P3 – KOV P8
Race – GRO P2 – KOV P14
At the moment, Grosjean is the only driver capable of challenging at least one of the Red Bulls. He’s come into a class of his own, and could definitely be one to watch out for next year. Technical problems prevented Kovalainen from making any progress in the race, which is a shame because he looked set to score some good points prior to the front wing change.

Mercedes:
Qualifying – ROS P14 – HAM P5
Race – ROS P9 – HAM P4
I thought in general, this wasn’t an awful race for Mercedes. They’ve stopped their development and are just focusing on finishing ahead of Ferrari, which they did. Set-up and balance problems stopped Rosberg from making Q3, however he showed good pace in the race and made some good overtakes – even if they were DRS assisted. Hamilton finished in the best place he could have, the Red Bulls were just too quick and Grosjean was too far out of reach as well.

Sauber:
Qualifying – HUL P4 – GUT P10
Race – HUL P6 – GUT P13
Don’t let the stat fool you, Gutierrez did qualify in tenth, but a 10 place grid penalty for impeding Maldonado dropped him to the lower end of the grid. He recovered well however, but had too much to do to get into the points. Hulkenberg was unlucky to not get back passed Alonso, he gave it a good go but unfortunately had to settle for sixth, which in it’s own, is a good result.

Force India:
Qualifying – DIR P12 – SUT P17
Race – DIR P15 – SUT DNF
Di Resta did a good job in qualifying, unfortunately he ruined his tyres during the race and was forced into a two stop strategy with just a few laps remaining. The Sutil crash is a tricky one, I think both drivers are at fault. The track is wide, they both had room, yet they were both focused on the line that they were on. It was an accident waiting to happen, and it brought an end to Sutil’s race.

Williams:
Qualifying – MAL P18 – BOT P9
Race – MAL P17 – BOT P8
A poor race from Maldonado; the contact with Sutil damaged his race as he was forced to make a pit stop after being waved the black and orange flag. However, on the other side of the garage, Bottas did a fantastic job! Very impressed with him, and his overtake on Gutierrez through the esses was brilliant!

Toro Rosso:
Qualifying – RIC P11 – VER P16
Race – RIC P11 – VER P16
I think Ricciardo will be just fine at Red Bull, he’s shown all season that he has pace and through the Austin GP he proved he has a feisty side – he did not want Button to get tenth place! Vergne very nearly pulled off his strategy by starting on the hard tyres, however after being hit with a 20 second penalty for causing a collision with Gutierrez ended up in 16th (he was just behind his team-mate in 12th before that).

Caterham:
Qualifying – PIC P21 – VDG P19
Race – PIC P20 – VDG P19
Pic did a good job to finish ahead of Chilton despite his penalties (a gear-box penalty meant that he’d start from the back of the grid). Towards the end of the race he was given a drive through penalty for ignoring blue flags, but yet he returned to the track still in 20th and ahead of Chilton. Van der Garde has been the better Caterham driver for a while now, and was only a few seconds off Bianchi at the end.

Marussia:
Qualifying – CHI P22 – BIA P20
Race – CHI P21 – BIA P18
Chilton is keeping up his rookie record, as he’s the only one to finish 18/18 races, and if he finishes the race in Brazil, he’ll be the only rookie to finish all of the races in his first season. Bianchi has been in a class of his own in terms of back markers, and he has been crucial to Marussia holding tenth place in the constructors championship.

Driver of the day: Bottas – whose yours?

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