USGP

United States GP power rankings

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In a season that’s had it’s fair share of exciting racing, many thought the United States Grand Prix would be a yawn-inducing dead-rubber. In truth, it was anything but, with mixed tyre strategies and a mixed grid, helped along by a couple of SCs, the race was yet another highlight in Formula 1’s modern era.

Here’s who climbed the ladders and slid down the snakes:

Moving on up

Max Verstappen made the predictable charge to the front after mechanical issues pre-race, but going wheel to wheel with Hamilton was Max at his aggressive best, and confirmed he has nothing to lose and is racing for himself for the rest of the season.

Kimi Raikkonen took, what must have been, a thoroughly unexpected win. When most thought he was on the “wrong” tyres to start the race, his incredible run up the inside of turn 1 to get ahead of Hamilton proved otherwise. Although small, his slight hint toward the pitlane during the VSC indicated that he was at the height of his powers, and where he’d normally put up a fight before capitulating, he held on the win by the scruff of the neck. Bravo, Kimi.

Nico Hulkenberg led the charge in “Group B” and with Sainz helped cement Renault in 4th place in the constructors’ championship. Another solid performance from the German, who is turning his season around and building moment before going head to head with his new teammate next season.

Backsliding

Romain Grosjean left it too late to avoid trouble with Charles Leclerc, and his indiscretion brings himself to within two super licence points of being benched for a race. If he is banned, it’ll be the first time a driver was sidelined since the points system was introduced, ironically after Grosjean himself had to sit out a race following a number of reckless opening lap incidents.

Renault’s power units again let down Daniel Ricciardo, who was surely on track for a podium if not the race win. Sure, Red Bull might be running the higher performing/less reliable engine spec (Renault, for instance, aren’t suffering these issues), but his failures are breaking viewer’s hearts and helps justify his decision to race elsewhere next season.

Haas’s fuel management woes capped off a dreadful race for the US-owned team. Although Esteban Ocon was disqualified for a fuel flow issue on the opening lap, Magnussen’s excessive fuel usage (105.1kgs of the allowed 105kgs) was utterly manageable, avoidable and straight up humiliating in front of their home fans.

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United States GP: Winners and Losers

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Winners

  • Max Verstappen, penalty aside, coming back from P16 to P3 (yeah, yeah, I know, I know) is remarkable and shows his composure and control beyond just wild, something-from-nothing overtakes. It's races like these that prove he's all growns up (if only his dad would demonstrate his maturity). 
  • Brendon Hartley did New Zealand proud on debut. Don't listen to Ted Kravitz; the race wasn't on during the middle of the night, nor was anyone on their way to work (Monday was a public holiday in NZ). He might look like a cross between Grosjean and Ocon, but it seems like the kid can drive and despite leaving the Red Bull nest a little while ago but the connections remain tight. It could be Gasly, Hartley and perhaps even Sebastian Buemi rotating through Toro Rosso for the rest of the season and it'll be fascinating to see how they all go!
  • Carlos Sainz is a regular to the winners list, but man he shone like a diamond in a completely new car, in a new team and with the pressure of having his teammate drop out of the running. Best of all he proved to Renault that they'd made exactly the right decision, and if you still aren't convinced... do you think old mate Jolyon could have achieved P7?

Losers

  • Sergio Perez was at it again, despite Force India making it clear that there had better be a damned good reason to ask them to let him overtake Ocon. It's almost to the point that the team needs to tell him "unless you are ahead of him after the first lap, it ain't happening". It's a shame because he's better than that, and is a close second behind Grosjean for most vocal whinger.
  • Valtteri Bottas isn't pulling his weight at the moment, and although Mercedes have clinched the constructors' championship, it only underlines the fact that he once again failed to deliver. If Ricciardo had stayed in the race, Bottas would have finished behind both Ferraris, both Red Bulls, and a country mile behind his teammate. He'll have to do better in 2018. 
  • The stewards let themselves down once again, and instead of talking about a thrilling finish to the race we're explaining to uninformed co-workers and acquaintances on social media how the rules work. Whatever you think about the decision, certainly the complaint that there's no consistency holds up. There's just no reason whatsoever to tell the "best drivers in the world" that it's ok to leave the track during practice and even qualifying, only to throw the book at them during the race. 

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Hamilton wins straight-up bonkers Austin GP, claims the drivers' championship

If there was a race this year that was worthy of deciding the drivers' championship it was Austin. As so often happens we had a familiar podium (HAM, ROS and VET) but the on-track action was anything but predictable.

It caps of a fantastic year for Hamilton, and considering that he won the championship in 2008 in the final corners, and last year during the final race, I look forward to seeing him win next year by the mid-season break.

But does the victory place Hamilton among the all-time greats? There's no need to think, because here's a graphic that tells the story.

The victory in Austin looked unlikely as Safety Cars brought numerous tyre strategies into play. After taking an early lead with an aggressive move that pushed Rosberg off the track, Hamilton shuffled through positions 1 - 4 when a cautionary pitstop for Vettel and a mistake from Rosberg handed Hamilton the win and thus enough points to clinch the title.

And what did Rosberg think of Hamilton's aggressive tactics? He made his feelings known, both during the post-race press conferences and the cool-down area.

It won't bother Hamilton one little bit, and being in Partyville USA I'm sure he'll hit the clubs and get his three-time-world-champion on. The only thing that could have capped off the race would have been for Alexander Rossi to pop in to the top 10 for a point, but the mid-field was surprisingly racey.