The qualifying grid was predictable about the pairings, but it all came down to the first turn, a super wide one at the top of a steep hill, this would be the only chance for anybody to catch pole position starter, Lewis Hamilton. Too bad for them that the young Brit was at the top of his game.
The Formula 1 United States Grand Prix track in Austin, Texas is one of the favourites amongst the drivers, for its wide layout and a seamless series of turns through the middle sector before a long 1 km straight. At the end of the start-finish straight is a steep climb into a wide but sharp left-hander, which is a unique feature amongst all the tracks this season.
At the start of the race, Rosberg tried to go on the outside of Lewis around Turn One, but gets shut out and the opening allows Ricciardo to slip through. Raikkonen too managed to slip past Verstappen past the first turn and that’s pretty much how it stayed till the first of the pit stops. Hamilton leading, Ricciardo second, Rosberg third, Raikkonen fourth, Verstappen fifth and Vettel in sixth.
Nico Hulkenberg had an unfortunately short race as a tyre contact with Valtteri Bottas on the first turn at the start broke his steering mechanism and robbed Force India of some potential constructors points. Button had the best start of all, starting 19th on the grid and moving up to 10th within the first lap.
Nico Hulkenberg had an unfortunately short race as a tyre contact with Valtteri Bottas on the first turn at the start broke his steering mechanism and robbed Force India of some potential constructors points. Button had the best start of all, starting 19th on the grid and moving up to 10th within the first few laps.
After the first set of pit stops, the only change in the top order was that Verstappen had made it past Raikkonen and was now in fourth place, pushing hard to catch up Rosberg who was on the slower tyres of the group. Lap 28 saw drama in the pit for Red Bull Racing as Max Verstappen came in without a call from the team, due to a misunderstanding on the comms. But credit to the Red Bull pit crew who still managed to change the tyres quite quickly given that it was a complete surprise to them all.
But the biggest woe for Verstappen and Red Bul came soon after when an engine failure on Lap 31 brought an end to the young driver’s 2016 US Grand Prix. The virtual safety car was brought on as Verstappen’s car was lifted away from the track, which gave Mercedes an opportunity to bring in both Hamilton and Rosberg, running first and second respectively, to put on a set of medium tyres that will last them the remainder of the race. Ricciardo however, did not get the same benefit and this would appear to be the moment that put him out of the battle for second with Rosberg.
Ferrari who had been running a relatively sober race in fifth and sixth had their own share of bad luck when Raikkonen came in for his last pit stop on lap 40. He makes the pit-stop and just as he joins the track he is ordered to stop as the mechanics say that it was an unsafe release. He rolls his car back down into the pits but can’t get all the way to the mechanics and that was a sad end to a hard fought race by the Finnish driver.
The front order seems to be set for the finish, assuming there were not to be any last minute mechanical problems or unexpected slides, with Hamilton in first, Rosberg in second, Ricciardo in third and Vettel in fourth. But the best entertainment of the race was the battle for fifth in the last ten laps or so, between Toro Rosso driver, Carlos Sainz being chased down by Felipe Massa and Fernando Alonso.
As the last laps of the US Grand Prix sped past, Carlos Sainz was driving hard to defend his opportunity of a career best finish in fifth place, but he was up against Massa and Alonso, all three putting up a great display of driving prowess with very different cars and on varying tyre life. Both Massa and Alonso are in DRS range, but on Lap 53, Carlos locks up big time and Massa tries to go around the inside, but he leaves a huge gap for Alonso to go for the tighter line. Massa doesn’t see it until the last second though and bumps his tyres with the McLaren, luckily both come out of it unscathed but Alonso has moved past Massa and sets off after Sainz.
Sainz puts up a brave fight but his tyres are just too worn out compared to Alonso’s and had to concede his position, much to Alonso’s delight as he “yee-haw”s past the finish line. Massa comes in at seventh with Perez, Button and Grosjean bringing in the last of the points positions. Grosjean would be happy to score some constructors points for the Haas Team’s first race on home soil.
The fight for the Championship stays very much alive as we head into the last three races of the season, with Rosberg having a 26 point lead over Hamilton. There is a lot to look forward to at the Mexican GP the following weekend, stay tuned for more from the Auto Loons!
Here are the final detailed results of the 2016 Formula 1 United States Grand Prix: