Grand Prix of America – Race


Before Qualifying, I said it looked likely that HAM will tie up the Drivers’ Championship this weekend… but then he qualified P5 and BOT (the only person between HAM and his 6th title) is on pole; I still think he’ll do it but it’s just a bit harder than I expected.

Grid: BOT, VET, VER, LEC, HAM, ALB, SAI, NOR, RIC, GAS, HUL, MAG, KVY, STR, GRO, GIO, RAI, RUS, KUB, PER*
*PER will start the race from the pit lane due to his FP2 weighbridge penalty

Dr. Helmut Marko said they’ve spotted a crack in the underside of VER’s rear wing, so they’re changing it before the formation lap so they’ve only got a few minutes
Oh dear, the anthem could take ages at this rate
VER confirms it was a cracked end plate
Christian Horner corrects VER – it was the main plate, but it’s changed and approved by FIA

Air temperature 21°C; track 30°C; zero chance of rain; humidity 24%
The crowds clear and the cars fire up
BOT leads everyone (except PER) away on the formation lap
PER waits at the pit exit
Top 10: LEC, VET, HAM, VER, BOT will start the race on medium tyres; ALB, NOR, SAI, RIC, GAS will start on softs

Long wait for the lights
01/56: Contact between ALB and SAI
HAM past LEC to steal P4
HAM now past VET
LEC has passed VET
VET locks up and NOR takes P5

02: BOT, VER, HAM, LEC, NOR, VET, RIC
RIC inside VET into Turn 1, takes P6
Radio from VET, “I must have damage; I don’t know where from; it’s understeering like crazy”
ALB pits
Race control: Incident involving ALB and SAI noted

03: HAM fastest lap 1:41.043
DRS enabled
A few running wide in Turn 9, kicking up the dust
Race control: Incident involving ALB and SAI under investigation

04: BOT f/lap 1:40.986
Race control: Incident involving ALB and SAI – no further action
ALB f/lap 1:40.155

05/56: BOT, VER, HAM, LEC, NOR, RIC, VET, GAS, SAI, MAG, RAI, HUL, KVY, GRO, GIO, STR, PER, KUB, RUS,ALB
VET locks up into Turn 1

06: Radio for NOR, “Pace is really good”
Just noticed that RAI went from P17 on the grid to P11 at the end of lap 1
Radio for LEC, “Going to plan B” – are they going to 2-stop?

08: ALB has passed KUB and is closing on RUS
VET slowing – looks like a rear suspension failure
Oh yeah – replay of VET running wide in Turn 9 shows the car pitch violently as he hits the rumble strips

09: Yellow flags in sector 2 as the marshals remove VET’s Ferrari

10/56: BOT, VER, HAM, LEC, RIC, NOR, GAS, SAI, RAI, HUL

11: Radio from VER wanting to know when HAM is close enough to get DRS
PER has made his way up to P16
GIO locks up and PER steals P15

12: HAM now under 1sec behind VER and will be able to use DRS
Radio for LEC warning him to avoid apex of Turn 8 because of VET’s damage

14: VER pits from P2; mediums replaced by hard tyres; rejoins P4
That’s an early stop, even if he’s 2-stopping

15/56: BOT pits from P1; hard tyres; rejoins P3
Radio for VER, “OK, just be sensible” 🙂

16: BOT around the outside of LEC to take P2
VER catches LEC too, and takes P3

17: Radio for HAM, “We believe the other cars are on a 2-stop so we’ll just stick to our plan”

18: BOT f/lap 1:38.943
HAM has a 10sec lead over BOT, who in turn is 4sec ahead of VER
GIO pits; long stop

19: BOT is closing at about 1sec/lap, but Bono believes BOT and VER will need to stop again
Radio for ALB, “We do see some damage to the car”

20/56: HAM, BOT, VER, LEC, RIC, NOR, GAS, SAI, RAI, HUL, KVY, PER, ALB, MAG, GRO, STR, RUS, GIO, KUB; retirements: VET
NOR and GAS pit

21: RAI inside GRO for P13
LEC pits; slow rear-left change; hard tyres go on; rejoins P5

22: RIC pits from P4; rejoins P7
BOT has closed up to 2.5sec behind HAM

23: LEC inside HUL for P5 – HUL has yet to pit
Radio for HAM, “Box, box”

24: Mercedes mechanics are in the pits but neither stop
Radio for BOT, “OK, you can attack him now”
BOT takes P1 from HAM

25/56: HAM pits from P2; hards go on; rejoins P3
RIC takes P5 from teammate HUL
PER pits

26: BOT, VER, HAM, LEC, RIC, NOR, HUL, SAI, GAS, RAI
ALB passes RAI for P10
Radio for HAM, “Going to the end”; gives the gap to VER but if VER and BOT pit, HAM will be P1 again

27: HAM f/lap 1:38.446
SAI takes P7 from HUL
Radio from HAM asking for a target time

28: HUL slithering around on old hard tyres; GAS and ALB pass him
HUL finally pits – he’s the last to stop; mediums go on; rejoins P15

29: Radio for HAM, “these lap times will put you in contention for the win; we just need to have tyres at the end of the race”

30/56: BOT, VER, HAM, LEC, RIC, NOR, SAI, ALB, GAS, SAI
Radio for BOT telling him he’s pulling away from VER
Radio from VER, “Left front doesn’t want to turn in anymore” – VER’s front left endplate is cracked

32: ALB inside SAI for P7

33: Radio from VER complaining about the wind in a couple of turns
KUB pits; he’s pushed into the Williams garage

34: Poor lap for BOT as he laps some of the midfielders
LEC runs wide in Turn 19 but not far enough to trigger the track limits detector

35/56: VER pits from P2; new mediums go on; rejoins P3 with a comfortable lead over LEC
ALB inside NOR to steal P6

36: BOT, HAM, VER, LEC, RIC, ALB, NOR, SAI, GAS, RAI, PER, KVY, HUL, MAG, GIO, STR, GRO, RUS; retirements: KUB, VET
BOT pits from P1; mediums go on; rejoins P2
Radio from HAM, “It’s going to be a hard one, Bono”

37: HAM has 9sec lead over BOT; VER ~5sec behind BOT
Of course, HAM only needs to finish 8th or better to win the Drivers’ Championship, but he wants to win the race too

38: ALB closing on RIC
BOT f/lap 1:36.957
ALB dives inside RIC for P5

39: HAM’s lead down to 5sec
VER is also eating into the gap to HAM

40/56: HAM, BOT, VER, LEC, ALB, RIC, NOR, SAI, GAS, RAI
KVY locks up; HUL takes P12

41: KVY and HUL both pit
Radio from HAM “I don’t know how much longer these tyres are going to last”
ALB pits from P5, his 3rd stop; soft tyres go on; rejoins P10

42: Radio from HAM asking if anyone has made the tyres last this long; told they’re considering going to softs

43: LEC pits from P4; softs; rejoins still P4
NOR pits too; slow change of the front-right; rejoins P10

44: HUL attacks RAI; RAI defends pretty strongly but clean; HUL finally gets ahead to take P11
Radio from RAI complaining HUL had all four wheels off track, but that was because RAI gave him no space

45/56: LEC f/lap 1:36.169
Radio for HUL, “Need to let Kimi pass”
RAI reclaims P11

46: HAM still putting in decent lap times despite his concerns about the tyres
ALB inside SAI to take P6

47 = 10 laps left: HAM just over 2sec ahead of BOT
Will HAM risk fighting BOT for the win and potentially delay the Championship? (I think so)

48: BOT under 2sec behind now
HUL has re-taken P11 from RAI
Radio for BOT, “Gap 2seconds”; “OK, no more talking now”

49: ALB makes an easy move on RIC for P5
HAM is closing on RUS to lap the Williams

50/56: HAM, BOT, VER, LEC, ALB, RIC, SAI, GAS, NOR, PER
VER is catching BOT
NOR takes P8 from GAS

51: RUS moves aside and lets HAM and BOT lap him
BOT hovering around 1sec behind HAM
Radio for VER “You’ve got them in your sights now”
BOT attacks around the outside but HAM gives him no room

52: HAM and BOT lap GAS
VER is just 4.8sec behind HAM
BOT has DRS again
BOT takes P1, kicking up some dust as he passes HAM

53: BOT pulling away
VER 3.5sec behind HAM
NOR takes P7 from teammate SAI
PER inside GAS for P9

54: BOT, HAM, VER, LEC, ALB, RIC, NOR, SAI, PER, GAS
Radio for HAM “Gap to VER is 2.9”; “Leave me to it”
Radio from VER asking for full power; told he has it

55/56: VER just over 1sec behind HAM
MAG is in the gravel at Turn 12; yellow flags
Replay looks like a brake failure
GAS pits, retires

56 = final lap: HAM locks up into Turn 1 as he laps SAI

BOT takes the chequered flag
HAM hangs on to P2
VER just a car length or two behind HAM

“Get in there, Lewis! What a drive! Champion of the world!” says Bono
“Still we rise guys!”, “I can’t believe it!”

Incident involving PER and KVY under investigation for a collision on the last lap

Provisional result: BOT, HAM, VER, LEC, ALB, RIC, NOR, SAI, HUL, KVY*; PER*, RAI, STR, GIO, GRO, GAS, RUS, MAG
DNF: KUB, VET
Fastest lap: LEC 1:36.169

Interviews:
BOT “It’s a nice win, feels good. It was the only thing I could focus on this week, obviously it wasn’t enough and Lewis has the title… Big congrats to him. He deserves it, he had a strong season.”
HAM “Overwhelming. It was such a tough race today, Valtteri did a fantastic job. I didn’t think the one stop was going to be possible.” “My Dad told me when I was six or seven years old never to give up, it’s the family motto. I don’t know about Championships, but as an athlete I feel fresh as can be right now. I’m ready for the next race, we’ll keep pushing.”
VER “They were a little bit faster today. It was a good race, it was fun. We had good pace today. The yellow flag on the back straight – otherwise I think we could have been second today.”

KVY has been given a 5-sec penalty for causing the collision with PER on lap 56, so he drops to P12
Revised result: BOT, HAM, VER, LEC, ALB, RIC, NOR, SAI, HUL, PER

Nice to see VET congratulate HAM in the cooldown room
Wow, despite the podiums clearly showing who is P1 some local politician tries to hand the winner’s trophy to HAM, who makes sure to look too busy to take it