From the start until the end of the race, Lewis Hamilton was in charge. For 56 laps he avoided any mistake because he knew that he had to win the USA Grand Prix if he wanted to remain alive in the championship battle with Nico Rosberg.
Nico Rosberg’s only purpose was to finish in the points and as high as possible. Hence, he didn’t have to do much, only to drive safe and quick, as he usually does.
The only driver who managed to challenge Rosberg for the second position was Daniel Ricciardo. The Australian passed Nico on the second turn on the first lap of the race. Ricciardo remained second after his first pit stop, but during the second pit stop Nico took advantage of the VSC (Virtual Safety Car) and regained the second position.
Red Bull called Ricciardo into the pits for his second stop on lap 25. A few laps later Mercedes did the same for Nico, but the VSC deployed because Max Verstappen stopped his car cause of a gearbox problem. Hence, Mercedes pitted both cars and Ricciardo couldn’t do anything.
The Australian finished third, behind the two Mercedes.
A misunderstanding between Max Verstappen and Red Bull, lead to a bad pit stop on lap 26, the Dutch thought that his team called him into the pits, but Red Bull’s mechanics were not prepared for a stop. That cost time to the young driver and from the fourth position he dropped to sixth. A few laps later he retired, due to a gearbox problem.
Ferrari didn’t have the speed to follow the Red Bulls and the Mercedes. The Italians decided to go on a different strategy between their drivers. Kimi Raikkonen was fifth, behind his team-mate Vettel, when Ferrari pitted the Finn for his third and final stop. When he left the pits, his mechanic told him to stop the car, because a wheel was not attached properly, hence Raikkonen stopped at the exit of the pit lane and let his Ferrari roll back where he parked it in Ferrari’s garage.
Ferrari got a £4,500 fine for unsafe release.
McLaren had the pleasure to enjoy a double finish in the points. Jenson Button had a quiet day and finished ninth ahead of Romain Grosjean, who scored Haas’s first point in their home race. From the other hand, Fernando Alonso reminded us, how good and skilful driver he is.
During the final laps of the race, there was an epic battle for the fifth place, between Sainz, Massa and Alonso. Sainz was trying to defend his fifth position from Massa and Alonso, but his tyres were old, so it was difficult for him to remain fifth. Massa attempted to pass Carlos Sainz, but he couldn’t find the right moment to do it. Fernando Alonso was close to the two drivers and on lap 53 the Spaniard made his move at Turn 15 and passed Massa after a wheel to wheel battle.
The Brazilian got a small puncture, but he secured the seventh place. The stewards investigated the incident between the two drivers but no further action was taken.
Alonso was closing the gap to Sainz. Time was pushing, with only one and a half lap to go, Fernando had to make his move. He attempted to pass Sainz on the first corner, but Carlos closed the door. Fernando attacked for the second time, this time dived into the inside in Turn 12 and managed to take the fifth place from Toro Rosso.
The battle for the fifth place was one of the best battles this season for me. Because Alonso is pushing his McLaren to the limits and showed us that McLaren-Honda is here. They are getting better and better and next year they will be close to the top three teams.
Lewis Hamilton, after his victory in Texas, he closed the gap with Nico Rosberg to 26 points. Still, if Lewis wins the three remaining races and Nico finish second, Rosberg will become the new champion.
The Brit needed this victory for psychological reasons, it was his first win since the German Grand Prix in July.
Next stop Mexico City 28-30 Oct 2016
Circuit Length: 4.304 km
Race Length: 305.354 km
Lap record: 1:20:521 (Nico Rosberg, 2015)
Tyre Allocations: Medium (White), Soft (Yellow), Supersoft (Red)
Mexico circuit returned to the F1 calendar in 2015. Last season Nico Rosberg took the pole position and won the race, followed by Lewis Hamilton. Valtteri Bottas with his Williams finished third behind the two Mercedes.
This year the battle for the championship is not over, still, the two Mercedes drivers have to fight each other and Lewis Hamilton must finish above Rosberg at any cost. It will not be easy to achieve that. Rosberg is very concentrate and fast this year, he gets what he wants from almost every race and a disadvantage that Lewis has is that the other teams can’t challenge Mercedes.
It will be interesting to see if Lewis can win the remaining races and if Nico will lose points from Mercedes’ rivals.
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(Images Courtesy of Pirelli F1 Media)