US GRAND PRIX 23.10.16
In brilliant sunshine, at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas; Lewis Hamilton finally broke his run of poor luck and poor starts, to take his first win since the German Grand Prix in July and his 50th Grand Prix win.
In doing so he has reduced the gap between him and his team mate to 26 points, with 75 remaining in the final 3 races. Winning is everything that Hamilton can do now – all Rosberg needs to do is come 2nd to Hamilton in the next 3 races and he will win the World Championship for the first time. What Hamilton will now be hoping for is a non-finish from his team mate and perhaps a transfer of some of the bad luck that has hounded him this season.
Austin GP Race Results 2016
1st: Lewis Hamilton
2nd: Nico Rosberg
3rd: Daniel Ricciardo
4th: Sebastian Vettel
5th: Fernando Alonso
6th: Carlos Sainz
7th: Felipe Massa
8th: Sergio Perez
9th: Jenson Button
10th: Romain Grosjean
Hamilton has a Great Start in Pole Position!
Hamilton was in pole position after an impressive start to the weekend. He maintained this intensity with a confident start to the race – something that has eluded him in more races this season than he would care to remember – and took a dominant victory; leading from the first corner and finishing 4.5 seconds ahead. But it was not without anxiety:
“That was the longest afternoon I have had, I didn’t know if the car was going to make it – that was the biggest concern I had throughout the race.”
It was Hamilton’s 4th victory in the 5 races held here. Last year the US Grand Prix saw him clinch his 3rd world championship title; this year it looks increasingly likely that it will be team mate Nico Rosberg taking the title.
Hamilton said, “All I can do is do my best” and today, much to his relief, his best was enough. He will be hoping that this victory puts an end to a difficult period – during which he lost control of this year’s world championship title. It was made sweeter by being his 50th win; only Alain Prost (with 51 wins) and Michael Schumacher (with 91! wins) have bettered Hamilton’s record.
Rosberg Still on Course to Win the Championship
Rosberg came 2nd following a battle with Daniel Ricciardo. Rosberg had also made a good start. But while he was focussing on Hamilton – Ricciardo managed to overtake him at Turn 2 on his super-soft tyres – to take 2nd place. Rosberg took back 2nd when Ricciardo pitted on Lap 25.
Ricciardo was prevented from retrieving 2nd place when the virtual safety car came out for team mate Verstappen’s gearbox failure and subsequent removal. Mercedes seized this chance to pit both cars during this period and maintain their positions. A frustrated Ricciardo was heard to swear over the radio and had to make do with 3rd.
Red Bull Pitting Error!
Verstappen had been in 4th place, but pitted in error on Lap 26 – wrongly believing that the team had called him in. A scrambled delay ensued as they tried to get ready to service the car – putting Verstappen back on the track in 6th. But 3 laps later the gear box failed and the Dutchman was out of the race.
During a bungled 3rd pit stop on Lap 39, Raikkonen left the pit on a wheel that had not been properly fastened – with the wheel gun still attached; the furious Finn was out of the race and Ferrari were fined £4,500 for an unsafe release.
They weren’t the only retirements; with Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg out early after being hit from behind by Valtteri Bottas and Haas Ferrari’s Estaban Gutierrez also failing to finish.
Ferrari’s Vettel finished in 4th following Verstappen’s departure.
Excitement Ensued Further Down the Field!
There followed an epic battle for 5th place in the closing laps between Carlos Sainz, Felipe Massa and Fernando Alonso. “Yee-hah” Alonso exclaimed over the radio when he emerged the 5th place victor. McLaren had a good day – with both drivers finishing in the top ten, as Button took 9th place.
So…winning today has given Lewis Hamilton an outside chance of retaining the world championship – but he is relying heavily on his team mate faltering:
“He’s not had any unreliability. The laws (of average) would say at some point he would….”
On to Mexico!