After Jules Bianchi’s terrible accident in Suzuka, followed by a less than thrilling Russian Grand Prix and two teams unable to race in Austin, yesterday’s United States Grand Prix was just the shot in the arm that the sport of Formula 1 needed.
Despite the huge efforts going on back in Maranello and indeed at the track, there was no reason to expect the F14 T to show a sudden surge in form and on a track that favoured the most powerful cars, Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen were never going to be front runners, with the Spaniard crossing the line sixth and the Finn 13th. But both men were involved in some of the many thrilling duels that resulted in this being one of the most entertaining Grands Prix of the year. Fernando had a particularly exciting battle with another world champion, Jenson Button, the Ferrari and the McLaren men running side by side, wheel to wheel, much to the delight of the large crowd – over 107,000 fans attended yesterday alone.
At the start, Fernando moved up one place to fifth, as Ricciardo dropped five places from fifth and Kimi maintained his eighth place on the grid; an achievement in itself with both Ferrari men on the slower dirty side. Alonso even tried to pass the slow starting Williams of Bottas, but couldn’t quite make it. The Safety Car came out immediately after Perez in the Force India clipped Kimi’s back end before making heavy contact with Sutil’s Sauber. The Ferrari men were part of the large group who chose not to follow tradition; they stayed on track during the Safety Car period.
As predicted at the start of the weekend, tyres played a decisive role and fluctuating temperatures over the past few days meant that a variety of strategies were used yesterday. In fact, Fernando was the only driver to go for Soft, Medium and Soft on his two stop strategy, with most drivers running the last two stints on the Medium. Problems with tyre degradation saw Kimi have to make an extra unscheduled third stop with just 4 of the 56 laps remaining. This meant that after running seventh behind his team-mate, he dropped out out of the points positions.
The race was won by Lewis Hamilton in the Mercedes, who beat his pole-starting team-mate Nico Rosberg into second place. The Silver cars were unstoppable and Hamilton’s win means he has won more GPs than any other English driver and he is now joint fifth with Fernando Alonso in the all-time winners list on 32 victories. With two races remaining, mathematically a Mercedes driver has won the Drivers’ title, it only remains to see which one. Joining them on the podium was Daniel Ricciardo for Red Bull, who used a clever strategy to get the better of the Williams duo of Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas.
With yesterday’s race over, we now tackle the usual back-to-back race, packing up and setting off for Sao Paulo, Brazil, where the action resumes on Friday for the penultimate round of the season. Apart from providing two more opportunities to score as many Constructors’ points as possible, for Scuderia Ferrari it also means two more opportunities to test and learn for 2015.
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