Tuesday 20 February 2018 / 04:44 PM


The Formula 1 season moved to the Americas on Sunday with Round 17 of the Championship taking place in the USA. Lewis Hamilton went into the race with a 59-point lead and a chance to wrap the series up in Austin.

A greasy track welcomed the drivers for the first practice session of the weekend, with several drivers battling for control after stepping on the power early, especially while the car was on the kerbs or the painted areas around the track. Toro Rosso test driver Sean Gelael and Force India’s Sergio Perez both spun their cars in what was otherwise an uneventful session. Lewis Hamilton posted the quickest time, with Sebastian Vettel and Valtteri Bottas close behind. Next came Max Verstappen and the McLaren of Stoffel Vandoorne.

The second session saw the track completely dried and in tip-top condition. This, however, wasn’t enough to prevent Vettel from losing control of his irksome Ferrari as it slid off the track before limping into the pits. He emerged late in the session to post a very quick time, indicating that his car was running very well.

Hamilton again headed the field, this time with Verstappen on his tail. Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen both saw their Haas cars spin as well as they continued to struggle through the changing conditions. After the session, Vettel’s Ferrari was stripped down and given a new chassis, while Verstappen’s power unit was given some changes which will see him take a grid penalty for the race. Nico Hulkenberg’s Renault and Toro Rosso’s Kiwi debutant Brendon Hartley will also take penalties for similar changes.

Lewis Hamilton again topped the times in FP3 from Vettel, Bottas and Kimi Raikkonen while Verstappen and Felipe Massa were both within a second of Hamilton’s best time for the session. Grosjean again spun his car while returning Toro Rosso driver Daniil Kvyat posted the slowest time

Unsurprisingly, Hamilton proved untouchable in yet another session, the ever important Qualifying. He pipped Vettel for pole position, while Bottas and Daniel Ricciardo ran third and fourth. Raikkonen and a disappointed Verstappen were the next two cars that managed to get within a second of Hamilton. Verstappen later spoke, saying it was one of his worst qualifying sessions. Lance Stroll suffered an engine issue during the first Qualifying session, denying him a chance to advance to Q2. Poor team communication by Williams and Force India, saw Stroll and Perez respectively receive three grid place penalties for impeding other drivers.

The race began with very little incident. Vettel got the jump on Hamilton and had the inside line into turn 1 which saw him take the lead, while Ricciardo and Bottas fought for third place, with the Silver Arrow eventually prevailing.

Ricciardo staged two more attacks on Bottas for third before making his first pit stop of the day, attempting to undercut the three cars ahead of him. He came out and set the fastest lap of the race at that stage but on the following lap, he lost all power as his engine failed and he retired from the race.

It wasn’t all bad for Red Bull, though, as their other driver, Max Verstappen, despite starting in 16th on the grid, had quickly made his way into the top 10 and was soon in the top 6. Raikkonen got his Ferrari into second place while Vettel had fallen to third after his stop. Ferrari had their two cars switch position so as to keep Vettel in the Championship.

With Verstappen storming home on fresher and faster tyres, while both Ferrari’s had slowed noticeably, the young Red Bull driver pounced on the last lap, taking a bold and gutsy dive down the inside of Raikkonen to snatch third place.

His joy was short-lived when the stewards penalised him five seconds for exceeding the track limits to take advantage, which saw him hand back the podium finish to Raikkonen.

Hamilton went on to win yet another US Grand Prix and extend his Championship lead to 66 points with just three races to go. His win also handed the Constructors title to Mercedes.

Final Standings (Top 10)
1 – Hamilton (Mercedes)
2 – Vettel (Ferrari)
3 – Raikkonen (Ferrari)
4 – Verstappen (Red Bull)
5 – Bottas (Mercedes)
6 – Ocon (Force India)
7 – Sainz (Renault)
8 – Perez (Force India)
9 – Massa (Williams)
10 – Kvyat (Toro Rosso)

Drivers Championship (Top 10)
1 – Hamilton – 331
2 – Vettel – 265
3 – Bottas – 244
4 – Ricciardo – 192
5 – Raikkonen – 163
6 – Verstappen – 123
7 – Perez – 86
8 – Ocon – 73
9 – Sainz – 54
10 – Massa – 38

Constructors Championship
1 – Mercedes – 575 – Champions
2 – Ferrari – 428
3 – Red Bull – 315
4 – Force India – 159
5 – Williams – 68
6 – Toro Rosso – 53
7 – Renault – 48
8 – Haas – 43
9 – McLaren – 23
10 – Sauber – 5

[YouTube – FORMULA 1]

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About the author

Andrew Ferguson

A rugby league historian and stats buff – most notably as the brains behind the phenomenal Rugby League Project resource – Melbourne-based Andrew has written extensively for Rugby League Review and the Men of League magazine, and is a valued addition to CBS’s rugby league stable.

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