United States Grand Prix – Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton has won the US Grand Prix ahead of teammate Nico Rosberg. Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel took P3, just not quite enough to keep the championship battle alive until the next round.In an almost identical situation to the Japanese Grand Prix start, Lewis Hamilton made a slightly better start than Nico Rosberg and elbowed his teammate out of the way at Turn 1. Wrong-footed, Rosberg fell to P5 behind the Red Bulls and Sergio Perez but quickly dispatched the Mexican to run P4. Daniil Kvyat, jumping to P2, applied pressure to Hamilton. Surprisingly, Hamilton could not pull away in the early laps.
A Turn 1 collision involving Fernando Alonso & Felipe Massa caused debris on track, while more was laid down when the two Saubers collided at the same corner a lap later. Having picked up some damage , Valtteri Bottas pitted and put on slick tyres, a move echoed by Felipe Nasr. However, neither had any pace and pitted again for intermediates. The Virtual Safety Car was deployed at the end of Lap 4 to allow marshals the chance to clean up the debris.
The instant the VSC period ended, Nico Rosberg pounced on Daniel Ricciardo to move up to P3 and then despatched Daniil Kvyat down the back straight. Closing quickly on Lewis Hamilton, the order was Hamilton, Rosberg, Kvyat & Ricciardo with 2.3 seconds separating P1 from P4 on Lap 12.
Daniil Kvyat tried to dive past Rosberg on Lap 13, but ran wide leaving the final corner. This allowed Daniel Ricciardo to sneak past Kvyat and attack Rosberg. The German locked up into Turn 1, and this allowed Ricciardo into P2. Catching Hamilton, Ricciardo appeared the quicker man but was stymied by a lack of straight line speed. Then, a slight error from Hamilton allowed the Australian to dive past to take the lead. Hamilton appeared to be struggling, as Rosberg immediately attacked and managed to dive past the championship leader.
The time to stop for slick tyres came then, with Hamilton choosing to come in first. The two Red Bulls and Rosberg followed suit and the order afterwards was Ricciardo, Rosberg, Kvyat, Hamilton. An error from Ricciardo allowed Rosberg to get close to the lead again, and Rosberg overtook Ricciardo down the back straight to reclaim the lead. Kvyat and Hamilton duelled for P3, and Hamilton took the position on Lap 22. Amazingly, Sebastian Vettel had managed to catch back up to start duelling with Daniil Kvyat for P4 as the Ferrari enjoyed the slick tyres. He quickly flashed past the Russian to climb to P4 as Rosberg cruised away at the front to open up a four second lead.
Hamilton had caught Ricciardo by Lap 26 and passed the Red Bull easily down the back straight using DRS. The same lap saw Kimi Raikkonen retire. The Finn had gone off and hit the wall a few laps prior and the damage was too great to continue. Marcus Ericsson also retired the same lap. Stopping his Sauber on track, Race Control deemed the car in a dangerous position and deployed the safety car. Ferrari opted to stop Vettel under the Safety Car while, interestingly, Merc chose not to stop either of their drivers. Red Bull also kept their two drivers out. Vettel emerged in P5 behind the two Mercs & Red Bulls armed with a fresh set of Medium compound tyres, while the four in front of him needed to stop again. However, there was no requirement to use both compounds of Pirellis due to the wet tyre start, meaning that the top four could use Soft tyres again when they stopped, should they choose.
The Safety Car withdrew on Lap 32, and Vettel immediately passes Daniil Kvyat to take P4. By the end of the lap, he took P3 from Ricciardo but a small error allowed the Australian back through. Vettel made the move stick the following lap to take P3 and concentrate on the gap to the Mercedes drivers ahead. Behind, Kvyat lost out to Max Verstappen and then to Nico Hulkenberg moments later. Verstappen then passed Ricciardo to move to P4, but Nico Hulkenberg collided with Ricciardo attempting the same move. The Force India was out on the stop. Ricciardo radioed in to say his car was damaged, but he’d attempt to continue.
The Virtual Safety Car was deployed due to the incident, with debris lying on the track. Nico Rosberg pitted for fresh tyres under the VSC, while Red Bull stacked their two drivers to make tyre changes. Lewis Hamilton stayed out and the VSC ended on Lap 40. As a result, Hamilton kept the lead but had to try to complete the race on the same set of tyres. He was just five seconds ahead of Vettel, running on relatively fresh Medium tyres. Vettel came under pressure from the fast-charging Nico Rosberg and was passed on Lap 42 by the German. Daniil Kvyat crashed heavily moments later when he lost the rear of his Red Bull at the penultimate corner. Safety car again, and Mercedes pitted Lewis Hamilton from the lead. Ferrari gave up on their Medium tyre gamble with Vettel and pitted him again for a fresh set of Softs. With ten laps remaining, the order was Rosberg, Hamilton, Verstappen, Vettel, Button, Alonso, Perez, Ricciardo, Maldonado, Sainz, Rossi, Nasr. Button pitted under the Safety Car and emerged in P8. Astonishingly, Alexander Rossi was P11 for Manor after so many retirements.
Crucially, Rosberg made an error trying to sprint away from Hamilton. Losing the rear of his car on acceleration, his car snaked off the track and allowed Lewis Hamilton through into the lead. This handed championship impetus to Hamilton, as Vettel remained in P3. Behind them, Verstappen remained in P4 ahead of Sergio Perez in P5. Jenson Button managed to overtake Daniel Ricciardo & Carlos Sainz to get behind Alonso and overtook his teammate as the Spaniard struggled with a lack of power. Alonso fell out of the points on the final lap.
The race ended with Hamilton claiming the win and the title, a visibly unhappy Rosberg held onto P2 while Vettel took a commendable P3 for Ferrari. Max Verstappen took P4 for Toro Rosso, Sergio Perez P5, Carlos Sainz P6, Jenson Button P7, Pastor Maldonado P8, Felipe Nasr P9 & Daniel Ricciardo P10. Manor’s Alexander Rossi took P12 for Manor as the last classified finisher.