[dropcap]I[/dropcap]n Formula One, the very first person you have to beat is your team-mate. So who did just that in Texas? Let’s go through the teams and hand out the TMB points!
1 point is awarded to the driver who sets the faster lap.
3 points are awarded to the driver who performs best in qualifying.
5 points are awarded to the driver who performs best on raceday.
Split points for both drivers, in the interests of keeping the points table looking representative at the end of the season.
After coming into Formula 1 with such a bang back in 2009, it’s sad to see Kamui Kobayashi’s F1 career come to such an underwhelming end. The Japanese driver has had the upper hand for most of the season, and while he looks as though he’s gone for next season, Ericsson looks to have moved a little further up the grid by booking his place at Sauber for next year. While Ericsson looked a lot better over the last 2-3 races, he has been dominated by Kamui. Unfortunately for Kobayashi, matching Perez meant he was out of a sport, and dominating Ericsson….means the same.
Adam Cooper has reported that Kamui wouldn’t even have had the pleasure of competing in the final three rounds of 2014 had Caterham somehow attended the races, with Rubens Barrichello supposedly in line for a shock comeback after sorting sponsorship out to race. Whether you view Rubens as a driver who still had it when he was ousted or as a has-been who can’t let go…that’s a personal opinion, but a vanity exercise would have done little for Caterham’s long-term prospects.
Supposing that Caterham somehow manage to get themselves sorted out for next season, will any serious modern F1 fan really want a team running cameo appearances from ex-drivers, or nobodies who stump up the cash? (This isn’t a dig at Lotterer by the way). All while the likes of Jolyon Palmer, Sainz Junior, Felipe Nasr* & Esteban Ocon struggle to get their feet under the table at any team possible.
I’d like to hear your opinions in the comments below. Do you want to see Caterham race in 2015 in the same circumstances as they were in this season?
Fastest lap: Split points (9.5 – 6.5 to Marcus Ericsson)
Qualifying: Split points (34.5-13.5 to Kamui Kobayashi)
Race: Split points (57.5-22.5 to Kamui Kobayashi)
- Caterham: 98.5 – 45.5 to Kamui Kobayashi (Total After Round 17)
- Caterham: 8-1 to Andre Lotterer (Total After Spa-Round 12)
- Total for Caterham: 106.5 – 45.5 to Kobayashi/Lotterer
*Nasr has since signed with Sauber. – Editor
It is still possible to run talent in a back marker car, as proven by Marussia. Chilton has been overshadowed by Bianchi to the same extent as Ericsson/Kobayashi at Caterham, but has proven to be a safer pair of hands compared to Ericsson with very little cost in terms of repairs. Unfortunately, this still wasn’t enough of a saving to keep the team from entering administration, but there does appear to be light at the end of the tunnel for Banbury.
The team’s 2015 entry has been submitted as a Manor Grand Prix entry, and with plenty of whispering that the team are in the late .Sp5rl!47rs of negotiations with buyers, and just two races from consolidating 9th place in the Championship securing all the bells and whistles that entails, there is a lot more positivity surrounding this team’s future than perhaps Caterham can yet enjoy.
Unfortunately, it has to be assumed that Bianchi will not be in a Manor car next season due to the current severity of his injuries, which means Chilton will probably be kept on for some continuity at a team that crave stability after a very turbulent end to this season. Who will partner him? Most probably Alexander Rossi, but perhaps an unlikely lifeline could be thrown Kamui Kobayashi’s way, provided the Japanese driver hasn’t been left with too sour a taste in his mouth after such a terrible season.
As a real pie-in-the-sky thought, Robert Kubica has been sounding off recently about getting the surgery done that would possibly enable an F1 return. Kubica was on Ferrari’s radar prior to his career-shaking accident, and with Marussia being a sounding board for Ferrari, stranger things have happened.
Split points, same as Caterham.
Fastest lap: Split points (9.5 – 7.5 to Max Chilton) (after Round 17)
Qualifying: Split points (39 – 12 to Jules Bianchi) (after Round 17)
Race: Split points (65 – 20 to Jules Bianchi) (after Round 17)
Marussia: 111.5 – 41.5 to Jules Bianchi (Total After Round 17)
Not for the first time this season, there was very little to split the two Williams drivers all weekend. Losing out on FP1, Bottas quickly recovered the lost track time to out qualify Massa on Saturday, but also not for the first time, a bad start hampered Valtteri’s race. The Finn suffered clutch slip at the start, somewhat similarly to Monza, but this time only lost out to Felipe on the run to Turn 1.
After that, Bottas was hunted down by a recovering Daniel Ricciardo over the opening laps, before the Australian jumped ahead through the pitstops. While Felipe Massa & Daniel both stopped on Lap 14, Bottas was too close behind Massa to also stop on Lap 14, and the extra lap gave Ricciardo the undercut. Bottas, with the Williams massively fast straight line speed coupled with DRS, gave his best to pass Ricciardo straight away, but the Red Bull eased away and up behind Felipe Massa before the second stops. Massa’s in-lap, pitstop and out-lap were all marginally slower than the Red Bull, but that margin was enough to get Daniel Ricciardo in front, and there he stayed.
While strategy was the weak point yet again for Williams, there was a lot to smile about. At the halfway point of the race, Massa was just 7 seconds behind leader Hamilton, and Mercedes deemed the Williams drivers enough of a threat to bring their second stops forward in order to cover the stops of Massa, Bottas & Ricciardo.
A victory this year will be fortuitous, but there is hope for next year, provided all is fair in the supply agreement between Mercedes & Williams. Will it be Massa or Bottas who takes that elusive win?
Fastest Lap: Valtteri Bottas (9-8 to Valtteri Bottas) (after Round 17)
Qualifying: Valtteri Bottas (36-15 to Valtteri Bottas) (after Round 17)
Race: Felipe Massa (65-20 to Valtteri Bottas) (after Round 17)
Williams: 100-43 to Valtteri Bottas (Total After Round 17)
Both Toro Rosso men were compromised over the United States GP weekend, Daniil even before the qualifying session began. He required another fresh engine change, which meant he picked up a ten place grid penalty. Only able to drop four positions after qualifying 14th, he will thus be penalised yet again in Brazil. Despite starting behind Jean-Eric as a result of this, Daniil gets the qualifying points as he was 0.3 seconds faster in Q1.
The pair were relatively evenly matched throughout the race on Sunday. Jean-Eric jumped up to 12th place, but picked up a 5 second time penalty for driving too fast during the safety car period. The Toro Rossos opted not to pit during this phase and were lying in 9th and 11th place when racing resumed. Instead, Jean-Eric pitted on Lap 15 and emerged towards the back in 15th. He pitted again on Lap 29 after working back up to 8th place, and was one of the pack on the hunt at the end of the race.
Indeed, he was one of the stars of the end of the race, dispatching Jenson Button in a great move that emulated what Sergio Perez had tried on Sutil on Lap 1, but without the crashing part. This came after a slightly less poised pass on Romain Grosjean, with Vergne choosing to out brake Grosjean going up the hill into the apex. As Vergne made the apex of the corner under control, and Romain had clearly seen Jean-Eric steaming up the inside as evidenced by his later braking up to the back of the McLaren in front, the extra five second penalty applied to Vergne was very harsh. If the same manoeuvre had been carried out by established frontrunners, it’s unlikely the same penalty would have been applied.
Kvyat was very close behind Vergne with 8 laps to go, but picked up a little bit of damage to his left front tyre in his efforts to pass Kimi Raikkonen, something he succeeded in doing when he wrong-footed the Finn on Lap 49. The damage meant an extra stop, and coupled with a battery store issue that prevented him from running at full power, he was unable to finish in the points.
Vergne’s five second penalty negated the effects of the penalty that Pastor Maldonado had also picked up to apply to his final race time, so he took a solitary point for 10th place. I debated split points, but Vergne just nips the race points thanks to his ballsy overtaking.
Fastest Lap: Daniil Kvyat (9-8 to Jean-Eric Vergne) (after Round 17)
Qualifying: Daniil Kvyat (30-21 to Daniil Kyvat) (after Round 17)
Race: Jean-Eric Vergne (45-40 to Daniil Kyvat) (after Round 17)
Toro Rosso: 83-70 to Daniil Kyvat (Total After Round 17)
Sauber pre-qualifying: ‘Protest! Boycott! We’re going to skip the race!’
Sauber post-qualifying: ‘Nah, we weren’t talking about skipping the race! What boycott? Nonsense, let’s race!’
As this article isn’t about the behind the scenes politickings of the sport, I won’t dwell on any of the supposed rumours and boycott threats from the likes of Lotus, Sauber & Force India, but I did get a chuckle out of the image of a team collectively up in arms hushing and shushing each other as they realised they had their highest qualifying position of the season.
Adrian’s terrific qualifying in Austin has come too little, too late to save his own Sauber career. With Marcus Ericsson signed, there are several drivers knocking on the door for the second seat, all of whom have decent backing. Esteban Gutierrez brings Telmex, Giedo Van Der Garde has clothing brand McGregor while Sergey Sirotkin also has his wealthy Russian sponsors.
Sutil has not been sufficiently impressive alongside Gutierrez to warrant being kept on for next season, and after so many seasons in the sport, and with 126 appearances without a podium finish…surely it’s time for the sport to look to new and shining lights, particularly when an experienced World Champion such as Jenson Button is struggling to keep his foot in the door.*
Despite being a negative nancy about Sutil’s overall prospects, he produced a great performance in Austin. There wasn’t much to write home about on Friday, but FP3 saw Adrian outpace the likes of Kimi Raikkonen, both McLaren drivers and the improved Lotus cars. He then followed that up with a genuinely fast qualifying session to take 9th on the grid.
Gutierrez was unable to follow suit and remained at the back throughout the same sessions.
Adrian held onto 9th spot at the start and was directly behind Kimi Raikkonen when he got taken out by Sergio Perez, and his despondency was very apparent as he trudged away to take shelter behind the barriers. A rare high was over in little over a minute of action on Sunday.
Esteban did absolutely nothing of note on Sunday, with poor race pace throughout after swapping to the medium tyre at the end of Lap 1. He ran mediums through two phases to get to Lap 40, then swapped to softs to the end. He finished second last, ahead of Kvyat’s damaged Toro Rosso. Despite Adrian only managing three quarters of a lap, he was far more likely to finish ahead of Gutierrez than vice versa, so I’ve opted for split points for the race.
Fastest Lap: Esteban Gutierrez (10-7 to Esteban Gutierrez) (after Round 17)
Qualifying: Adrian Sutil (30-21 to Adrian Sutil) (after Round 17)
Race: Spit points (47.5 – 37.5 to Adrian Sutil) (after Round 17)
Sauber: 84.5 – 68.5 to Adrian Sutil (Total After Round 17)
*Again, Felipe Nasr has since signed with Sauber, leaving Adrian out cold. – Editor.
A moment of madness from Sergio Perez has almost certainly handed 5th place in the Constructor’s Championship to McLaren. Diving up the inside of Adrian Sutil looked like a good move until Sergio gently rammed the back of Kimi Raikkonen’s Ferrari, with the Mexican driver saying ‘he wasn’t expecting Kimi to be there’. An odd thing to say considering Raikkonen was ahead of him, moving at normal speed, and on the apex of the corner…exactly where you would expect a racing driver to be.
Sergio then turned right into Adrian Sutil, spinning the Sauber, before hitting him again in a straight line, knocking debris onto the racing line and straight into the path of team-mate Nico Hulkenberg. The debris caused damage to Nico’s car and tyres, and he was forced to pit on Lap 1, putting him down into 16th after climbing up to 9th. There was still a possibility of points at that .Sp5rl!47r, as Hulkenberg was still ahead of Vettel after this, and was matching the pace of eventual points scorers Magnussen & Vettel. That all came to an end on Lap 17 when the Force India ground to a halt with an apparent engine failure.
Adding to the pain of Sergio’s error will be the seven place grid penalty for Interlagos, as well as his two penalty points, but with Interlagos usually throwing up unusual weather conditions and racing circumstances, there are worse circuits to be hit with such a penalty.
Both Force India drivers looked capable of scoring points on Sunday. Hulkenberg had been comfortably the quicker man through the practice sessions, and was quicker in Q1 as well, but lost out in the crucial Q2 session to Perez by just 0.040 seconds. His excuse was that a tear off visor wrapped itself around a front tyre going through Turn 12, causing an obvious lack of grip.
Points go to Hulkenberg.
Fastest Lap: Nico Hulkenberg (11-6 to Nico Hulkenberg) (after Round 17)
Qualifying: Sergio Perez (35-18 to Nico Hulkenberg) (after Round 17)
Race: Nico Hulkenberg (50-35 to Nico Hulkenberg) (after Round 17)
Force India: 94-59 to Nico Hulkenberg (Total After Round 17)
Jenson Button’s career with McLaren may be drawing to a close, and his snarky radio messages certainly hinted that all isn’t particularly rosy behind the scenes at Woking. Disappointing really, as the Magnussen/Button partnership seems to be maturing quite nicely with an amicably friendly rivalry developing between the pair. Although it’s more than likely unintentional, Jenson’s hard fought battles in the closing laps may have resulted in nought for himself, but did end up rewarding Kevin Magnussen.
Both McLarens suffered higher than expected tyre wear during the race, with Jenson complaining of an odd anomaly which saw the surface of the tyre overheat, but the inner composition of the tyre cool. This resulted in little grip, and lots of slipping and sliding. Jenson’s woes began before qualifying as he required a gearbox change. He out qualified Kevin by just 0.050 seconds with McLaren locking out the 4th row, but Jenson would start from 12th, Kevin elevated to 7th.
Kevin got past Daniel Ricciardo on Lap 1 thanks to Daniel’s bad start, but McLaren chose to pit both their drivers under the safety car to swap to the medium tyre. Both would run this compound through the race, making one further stop for fresh rubber. As they both pitted early, they ran line astern after the safety car and this was the case throughout much of the race, Kevin ahead of Jenson. Button engaged in a nice little duel with Fernando Alonso, but with the Ferrari on fresher rubber, was powerless to stop the inevitable pass. Alonso quickly caught and passed Magnussen, who made a perfunctory gesture at holding off Fernando into Turn 1, but ultimately decided against wasting time and tyres defending hard.
This caution served Kevin well in the second half of the race, as Jenson’s willingness to engage in battle meant he struggled with his tyres towards the end of the race, while Kevin had the slight luxury of being further up the road. With Jenson holding off the likes of Vergne, Grosjean, Maldonado & Vettel, Magnussen was able to come home ahead of all of them apart from Vettel. Amazingly, McLaren scored points, despite both drivers fastest race laps being amongst the bottom four.
While there are arguments for both drivers in this race, I have given the race points to Kevin Magnussen, due to managing his tyres slightly better, something that was singled out afterwards by Eric Boullier as a contributing factor for his points finish. However, I think the partnership of Button/Magnussen should be kept on, and while K-Mag has shown immense talent, promise and poise for a young rookie, Jenson still usually has the measure of him on race day. As I wrote earlier this week, fix the car and ensure the McLaren-Honda is a competitive package before headhunting a different driver to your current World Champion driver.
Fastest Lap: Jenson Button (9-8 to Kevin Magnussen) (after Round 17)
Qualifying: Jenson Button (30-21 to Kevin Magnussen) (after Round 17)
Race: Kevin Magnussen (60-25 to Jenson Button) (after Round 17)
McLaren: 92-61 to Jenson Button (Total After Round 17)
After their worst weekend of the year in Sochi, Lotus followed it with one of their best. The E22 didn’t look awful, they legitimately competed with Toro Rosso & McLaren, beat Kimi Raikkonen’s Ferrari fair and square, and Pastor Maldonado scored a point, all while not crashing.
It even could have been more. After a terrible qualifying for Romain Grosjean, which saw him as the slowest man, Grosjean worked his way up into 9th place in the closing .Sp5rl!47rs, with Pastor close behind in 11th. Maldonado had picked up a five second penalty earlier in the race for speeding under safety car conditions, and this had shuffled him behind Romain Grosjean through the first pitstops. He picked up another penalty for speeding in the pit lane during his second stop, another five second penalty to be added on to his race time.
With Romain caught behind the ailing Jenson Button in the closing laps, getting past could have meant an 8th place finish for Romain. His chance came on Lap 50, when Jenson ran wide at the tightening left hander that saw lots of action throughout the race. Romain got alongside the McLaren, but wasn’t able to make the pass stick. Three corners later, Grosjean was dive-bombed by Vergne, and despite only mild contact between the two French drivers, the damage to the Lotus was severe enough to prevent Romain from finishing the race with his previous pace. He fell out of the points after running wide on several occasions, with rear floor damage affecting the handling of his car.
While obviously annoyed, Romain didn’t seem too angry with Jean-Eric for the overtake attempt, suggesting that Grosjean knew the manoeuvre was only marginally on the naughty side of things.
Pastor took over as lead Lotus after the incident, and passed Jenson Button before pursuing Vergne. He passed the French driver on the final lap, and with both drivers having a five second penalty applied to their race times, Maldonado held onto his eventual 9th place.
Fastest Lap: Pastor Maldonado (9-8 to Pastor Maldonado) (after Round 17)
Qualifying: Pastor Maldonado (39-12 to Romain Grosjean) (after Round 17)
Race: Pastor Maldonado (50-35 to Romain Grosjean) (after Round 17)
Lotus: 97-56 to Romain Grosjean (Total After Round 17)
Raikkonen’s issues with the F14 T were really highlighted during this weekend. Roughly on pace with Fernando through Friday and Saturday, it all fell apart on Sunday. While Fernando diced with Jenson Button, Daniel Ricciardo & Sebastian Vettel throughout his race, Kimi Raikkonen started reasonably but went backwards throughout his race.
Both drivers made reasonable getaways from 6th and 8th, with Fernando getting past the tardy Ricciardo at the start before falling back behind once Daniel got up to speed. Fernando engaged in some great dicing throughout the race, most notably with Jenson Button. This was a particularly enjoyable battle, considering the behind the scenes duelling both men seem to be engaged in for that McLaren seat, and both men made mistakes in their desperation to get in front. Eventually, Fernando won out, passing the McLaren driver on Lap 24, the same lap as the lead change up front.
It was going the other way for Raikkonen. Ending up directly behind Fernando after the opening 14 laps, it was all looking relatively reasonable, until the Finn started inexplicably going backwards throughout the race. Regardless of who the Finn ended up behind…Vergne, Maldonado or even Sebastian Vettel during his troubled phase, he was able to chase but unable to pass, something that has become all too familiar this season. An extra stop towards the end of the race after being passed effortlessly by Daniil Kvyat left him out of the points.
While the damage from the Perez touch may have made a slight difference to the Ferrari’s handling, Pat Fry said afterwards that ‘nothing was showing on the telemetry’…a damning fact. The fact that this is so at odds with 2012 & 2013 vintage Raikkonen who could seemingly overtake at will in his Lotus, as well as his inability to keep his tyres in good condition, something he excelled at over the last two seasons, lend credence to Kimi’s claims that he just can’t handle the F14T’s handling discrepancies.
While Raikkonen seemed able to match Fernando’s race pace at different points of the race, his consistency was appalling. Throughout the mid section of the race, he was usually 1 second a lap slower, but on some laps towards race end on fresher tyres, Raikkonen was a massive 3-4 seconds slower than Alonso. His fastest lap, set on soft tyres, was 1.4 seconds slower than Alonso’s, set on the same compound.
It is sad to see the Finn so utterly lost. He seems aware of what the problem is in terms of handling, but with no idea of how to fix it. With Alonso out of the picture for 2015, and a James Allison penned car under him once again, things must improve in 2015 or his career will come to an abrupt and inglorious end.
Fastest Lap: Fernando Alonso (12-5 to Fernando Alonso) (after Round 17)
Qualifying: Fernando Alonso (45-6 to Fernando Alonso) (after Round 17)
Race: Fernando Alonso (72.5 – 12.5 to Fernando Alonso) (after Round 17)
Ferrari: 120.5 – 23.5 to Fernando Alonso (Total After Round 15)
Another race that Nico Rosberg managed to squander after doing all the hard work. Hamilton was the faster man through the practice sessions, including the FP3 session where Nico struggled with some brake disc glazing, but lost out in qualifying after Nico responded to the challenge that lay in front of him.
Throughout the first phase of the race, it looked as though Nico might just do what he has failed to do all season…pull away and win the race. Opening up a 3+ second lead by the first stops after a consistently good first stint meant a comfortable pitstop that saw Nico emerge from the pit lane comfortably out of DRS range. But a barrage of fast laps from Lewis with no response from Nico showed that he was in trouble.
Nico told Autosport after the race that he had made an error with his ERS that prevent him from defending his position more strongly, which is very unusual considering he’s been driving this car competitively for 8 months now. He said that ‘using the button would have been immediate power, but with a switch there is a delay’…surely something he noticed over one of the prior 16 Grand Prix weekends.
Lewis, yet again, pulled it out of the bag. His pass on Rosberg lacked the finesse of what we have come to expect from the likes of Alonso & Ricciardo, but while clunky, it was nonetheless effective and has sealed the championship for himself. The second half of the race felt as though Lewis was just keeping Nico in check and out of DRS range, somewhat easily. In any other racing season, Lewis would need just one point to win the championship. Instead, he can still conceivably lose it even with another victory in Brazil. Any result other than a Hamilton championship would be a travesty, and Nico’s credibility as a champion is now non existent.
Fastest Lap: Lewis Hamilton (10-7 to Lewis Hamilton) (after Round 17)
Qualifying: Nico Rosberg (27-24 to Nico Rosberg) (after Round 17)
Race: Lewis Hamilton (57.5 – 27.5 to Lewis Hamilton) (after Round 17)
Mercedes: 91.5 – 61.5 to Lewis Hamilton (Total After Round 17)
Sebastian Vettel continued to complain about a ‘nervous’ Red Bull throughout the United States Grand Prix, but despite this, produced a cracking drive that shows there is nothing wrong with his race craft when he feels comfortable. Despite a relatively poor pace over the first half of the race, Seb’s best position was realistically 6th spot, a place he missed out on by just 0.5 seconds at the flag.
Also a cracking drive for Daniel Ricciardo, who did his living best to do a Mark Webber impersonation at the start. He quickly made up for it though, out braking Raikkonen around the outside into Turn 1.
Daniel appears to have taken all the positive aspects of Mark Webber’s racing character and combined them with the positive aspects of Fernando Alonso’s. A combination of speed, determination and relentlessness, coupled with a side of deftness at overtaking meant that Ricciardo took a third place that by rights should have gone to a Williams driver.
Vettel’s weekend was compromised by his engine change and pit lane start, but Red Bull’s usual strategic nous got him up the field….eventually. Stopping twice under the the opening lap safety car to change compounds and run the mediums throughout the race got Vettel as high as 6th in the closing .Sp5rl!47rs, but just like future team-mate Raikkonen, ran out of tyres towards the end defending against the freshly shod Fernando Alonso. He pitted on Lap 47 for soft tyres, and blasted his way back up from 14th to 7th, the position he had targeted pre-race. Another lap might have even meant a 6th place as Fernando Alonso struggled with his tyres at the very end, but he managed to scrabble across the line ahead of the Red Bull.
Vettel’s race was dictated by poor pace on heavy tanks over the first half of the race. Watching onboard showed the reigning Champion struggling massively with understeer and poor grip, and he looked generally ill at ease, something that’s not a familiar sight. Vettel’s struggles are not as bad as future team-mate Raikkonen’s, but both drivers are running out of time to find out what it is exactly about the new regulations that are preventing them from performing at their best, with just two months to go until the 2015 Winter tests begin.
Fastest Lap: Sebastian Vettel (9-8 to Daniel Ricciardo) (after Round 17)
Qualifying: Daniel Ricciardo (30-21 to Daniel Ricciardo) (after Round 17)
Race: Daniel Ricciardo (70-15 to Daniel Ricciardo) (after Round 17)
Red Bull: 101-44 to Daniel Ricciardo (Total After Round 16)
- Team-Mate Battles – United States GP
- Team-Mate Battles – Russian GP
- Team-Mate Battles – Japanese GP
- Team-Mate Battles – Singapore GP
- Team-Mate Battles – Italian GP
- Team-Mate Battles – Belgian GP
- Team-Mate Battles – German GP
- Team-Mate Battles – British GP
- Team-Mate Battles – Austrian GP
- Team-Mate Battles – Canadian GP
- Team-Mate Battles – Monaco GP
- Team-Mate Battles – Spanish GP
- Team-Mate Battles – Chinese GP
- Team-Mate Battles – Bahrain GP
- Team-Mate Battles – Malaysian GP
- Team-Mate Battles – Australian GP