#F1 Race Review: Vettel Makes It 8 In A Row On Sunday – United States Grand Prix

Brought to you by TheJudge13 contributor James Parker
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Sebastian Vettel claimed his 8th straight victory in the 2013 Formula 1 season at the Circuit Of The Americas in typical dominant fashion, looking unchallenged all day from the point he emerged in the lead after turn 1. A magnificent Romain Grosjean made it to 2nd place to claim his 4th podium in 5 races, resisting a strong challenge from the 2nd Red Bull of Mark Webber late on to stop a Red Bull Racing 1-2.

The Race

Off the start, both Vettel and Webber in P1 and 2 made solid getaways, however Grosjean directly behind looked very strong. With Webber squeezed by his team-mate going into the apex of turn 1, both Grosjean and Hamilton behind jumped the Australian to go 2nd and 3rd behind the ominous Vettel.

Elsewhere, Hulkenberg was forced to drop down to 5th place due to following Webber’s tight line into turn 1 and Perez managed to jump Alonso into 6th place down the hill into turn 2.

There was to be some drama on lap 1, as the Force India of Adrian Sutil was seen flying across the racetrack down the long back straight and into the wall triggering the safety car, with the German out of the race. From replays it had looked like contact with the Sauber of Esteban Guttierez caused the incident, with the Sauber man also coming into the pits with a puncture and going straight on to the harder compound tyres.

After a short 3 lap safety car period the race was restarted on lap 5, with Vettel making a good jump on Grosjean and Hamilton behind – claiming a 1 second lead by the time the cars had hit turn 1. This grew to 1.9 seconds after the first racing lap after the safety car, and from there the signs were clear this was to be Vettels race to lose.

Hamilton during the early stages of the race was losing time to Grosjean, and Webber behind was looking determined to make up for yet another bad start – closing in on the Mercedes to within DRS range.

By lap 9, Bottas was proving his qualifying result of 9th was no fluke, and was settling down to a strong race in 8th place. His team-mate however was not fairing as well. Pastor Maldonado was shown the black and orange flag by marshals due to dangerous front wing damage, meaning the Venezuelan had to pit.

Up front, Webber’s increased pressure on 3rd place man Hamilton was starting to show and the Mercedes man was looking increasingly frustrated behind the wheel. By lap 13, the tyres were starting to go with Hamilton losing 9 tenths of a second in the middle sector alone. The Aussie got a great run off the long back straight utilising DRS and went the complete long way around Hamilton into the tight hairpin – almost catching him by surprise, but he was up to 3rd.

By lap 18, Vettel was simply cruising up front, enjoying a lead of over 7 seconds to Grosjean behind. This triggered the inevitable radio message by Rocky to slow down during this stint on the medium tyres and focus on distance rather than raw speed to protect the tyres – after the German set consecutive fastest laps.

This was greeted by a typical Vettel response of yet another fastest lap, and therefore his advantage was now over 8 seconds at the head of the field.

The Lotus of Heikki Kovalainen was the first man to pit on lap 18 and therefore trigger the 1 stop strategy phase, going onto the harder compound tyre for his only scheduled stop of the afternoon. It was not until lap 23 that the front runners decided to start coming in though, with 6th place man Perez pitting for the harder compound tyres after holding off the charge of Fernando Alonso behind.

Lap 26 and it was Hamilton this time who decided to make his way down the pitlane for the harder compound tyres, pitting from a highly lonely 4th place. He was joined soon after Alonso, who emerged from the pits in front of 6th place man Perez to jump him during the 1st pit stop phase – the Mexican ruing his luck of getting held up by the long running Jean Eric Vergne on the harder compound tyres.

The top 3 pitted over the next 3 laps, with Grosjean the last man to do so on lap 30 – showing Lotus’s ability to nurture the tyres over an initial stint. All drivers maintained their position in the top 3, however the highlight was a 2.3 second stop by Mark Webber which matched Red Bull’s best pitstop of the season earlier on in Malaysia.

By lap 29, the Sauber of Guttierez who had pitted at the very start of the Grand Prix due to contact was starting to lose pace. Both 7th place Alonso and 8th place Perez put strong moves on the Mexican over the course of the next two laps to consolidate their positions they enjoyed before the first pitstop phase had begun.

Up front the race for the final podium positions was getting very tasty indeed. Webber was showing some great pace in clean air on the hard tyres, and on lap 39 took over half a second out of Grosjean alone. This brought him close to DRS range and it was starting to look ominous another Red Bull 1-2 was on the cards.

The 2 men who could not make a 1 stop strategy work were both Guttierez and Massa. Whilst Guttierez could not be really faulted having made his stop at the end of lap 1, things were not looking good for Massa too outside the top 10, as Ferrari put him on the medium compound tyres to try and make inroads of those ahead of him.

As the race entered it’s closing stages, the race within the top 6 was really hotting up. By Lap 44, Alonso was starting to up the pace quite dramatically in 6th place, closing in on Hulk at a large rate of knots. By Lap 45 the deed was done into turn 1 with the help of DRS, the Spaniard undercutting the Sauber man on the apex and getting better traction off the corner.

The race was easily under the control of Vettel, however the team still felt in necessary to come over the radio and tell the German to manage the harder compound tyres over the course of the 29 lap stint. Vettel responded that he was aware of the situation and dropped his pace slowly as we entered the final 10 laps with a comfortable cushion behind.

It was in the final 10 laps that Webber was once again showing a resurgence in pace in the hope of nabbing 2nd place off Grosjean. However by lap 54 and some experimenting with KERS usage, he declared over the radio his rear tyres had gone and therefore had to settle for 3rd place.

Behind, Hamilton was comfortable in 4th, but the Hulk in 6th was getting incredibly large in Alonso’s mirrors – the Ferrari looking like it had ran out of tyres. A last gasp lunge into turn 1 on the final lap by Hulk was slightly misjudged, letting Alonso back through on the undercut at the apex and therefore he had to follow the Spaniard over the line for 5th and 6th.

But the day was Vettels with yet another victory, his 12th this season, in what has been a completely dominant year. 13 victories in a season, and 9 straight victories could be two records that are achieved by Vettel in Brazil – it would take a very brave man to bet against it.

But for me, the driver of the day had to be Valterri Bottas, who dragged his Williams into a fantastic 8th place – the Finn showing mesmerising pace all weekend with the non coanda exhausted FW35. Well done to him and Williams who tripled their total points for the season in the race alone.

Race Results

Pos. No. Driver Constructor Laps Time/Retired Grid Points
1 1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 56 1:39.17.168 1 25
2 8  Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 56 +6.2 3 18
3 2  Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 56 +8.3 2 15
4 10  Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 56 +27.3 5 12
5 3  Fernando Alonso Ferrari 56 +29.5 6 10
6 11  Nico Hülkenberg Sauber-Ferrari 56 +30.4 4 8
7 6  Sergio Pérez McLaren-Mercedes 56 +46.6 7 6
8 17  Valtteri Bottas Williams-Renault 56 +54.5 9 4
9 9  Nico Rosberg Mercedes 56 +59.1 12 2
10 5  Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 56 +77.2 15 1
11 19  Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso-Ferrari 56 +81.0 10
12 18  Jean-Éric Vergne Toro Rosso-Ferrari 56 +84.5 14
13 4  Felipe Massa Ferrari 56 +86.9 13
14 12  Esteban Gutiérrez Sauber-Ferrari 56 +91.7 20
15 7  Heikki Kovalainen Lotus-Renault 56 +95.0 8
16 14  Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 56 +96.8 11
17 16  Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault| 55 + 1 Lap 17
18 22  Jules Bianchi Marussia-Cosworth 55 + 1 Lap 19
19 21  Giedo van der Garde Caterham-Renault 55 + 1 Lap 18
20 20  Charles Pic Caterham-Renault 55 + 1 Lap 22
21 23  Max Chilton Marussia-Cosworth 54 + 2 Laps 21

Retirements

Adrian Sutil – Force India Mercedes – Lap 1

Drivers World Championship
2013 Drivers' Championship post-USA

Constructor World Championship

2013 Constructors' Championship post-USA

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10 responses to “#F1 Race Review: Vettel Makes It 8 In A Row On Sunday – United States Grand Prix

  1. Quite a bland race. channel was changed at sports bar I was in to nfl during safety car. Had to go back to my apt down the block to watch the rest. Seeing it around others that have never seen F1 was a revelation on how off the mark FOM is with how to make an impression and gain audience in here in America. People here don’t know what the hell KPH means. Matchett is irritating with his incessant nerd tech talk he tries to fit in every moment possible. They just don’t get the difference between putting on a show and just talking non-stop. Tough love and constructive criticism from me.

    • First time I’ve watched the NBC coverage – normally in Canada we get the BBC feed from 5 minutes before the race.

      I’ve got to say that, in my opinion, the NBC crew are God Awful!! Don’t seem to know what they’re talking about, they miss all the key upcoming passes/where people slot back in after stops etc.

      If this is what our American friends have to listen to, I’m surprised there are ANY fans there at all.

      I did like having a full hour of build-up though…

  2. Don’t worry guys. There was not much to make of this Grand Prix, it had the whole “nothing” …. sad. Let’s hope for some rain in Brazil …. phew

    • It wasn’t the most exciting race in the world, but Bottas monstering Gutierrez through the Esses – that alone was worth watching it. There were also some good side-by-side battles and RoGro’s drive was sublime, so I wouldn’t call it “nothing” just because the winner is wrong.

      Oh, and about rain in Brazil. You do remember that Vettel won his first race in the rain? In a Toro Rosso? So don’t count on that stopping him. On the contrary, in slippery conditions the enormous downforce of the Red Bull could cause an even bigger gap. 😉

      • As usual, with respect, I think you miss the point… 😉
        It was a ‘nothing race’ because there was so little actual ‘racing’. As far as I’m concerned it had nothing whatsoever to do with who won – he didn’t have to actually ‘race’ for it…
        He’s the fastest, and deserves his success – no problem – but it was a ‘nothing race’…
        So Bottas and Grosjean also did well… Certainly, and all credit to both, but neither of them were involved in much actual ‘racing’… Driving ‘Fast’ is not ‘Racing’…
        It has nothing to do with your usual presumption that ‘The winner was wrong’… It is totally the problem that there was little or no actual ‘Racing’…!
        So often a driver comes up behind another, is unable to get past, follows for a couple of laps, sticks his nose out once or twice with little chance of passing, and drops back to preserve tyres… Is this enough for you…?
        Or a driver manages to bring all his ‘aids’ together and go whizzing past, and disappears into the distance… Where is the ‘racing’…?
        For me ‘Racing’ occurs when two or more drivers circulate together for several laps, passing and re-passing on every lap, even two or three times on each lap… If this doesn’t happen then it’s ‘a nothing race’…

        “Bottas monstering Gutierrez through the Esses – that alone was worth watching it”…
        I have to say I wish I was so easily satisfied. You’re a very lucky man… 🙂

        Oh yes… I think the above desire for rain in Brasil was to put the cat among the pigeons, for all the drivers, not just to scupper your ‘Boy’… 😉
        Don’t keep taking these comments personally… Even this comment of mine is not a personal attack on you – just a sign of jealousy because I am obviously so hard to please… 😉

        • “For me ‘Racing’ occurs when two or more drivers circulate together for several laps, passing and re-passing on every lap, even two or three times on each lap… If this doesn’t happen then it’s ‘a nothing race’…”

          If that’s your expectation, you must have been quite dissatisfied for – I don’t know – the last 30 years or so? As I said it wasn’t a race like Barcelona ’96 or Donnington ’93 that we’ll remember for ages, but in comparison to the tedium of the late 90s or the early 00s, it was still rather eventful. The scrap between Alonso and Hulk, Webber trying to chase RoGro down, Bottas vs Gutierrez. There were so good battles in this.

          • As I said… ‘I think you miss the point…’ 😉
            ——–
            “As I said it wasn’t a race like Barcelona ’96 or Donnington ’93 that we’ll remember for ages”
            I don’t think you said this… 😉

      • Yes, that was a good, exciting race for the reasons you both have mentioned… Vettel did a graceful job, faster than all, Webber was very fast and showed his strengths and weaknesses, Grosjean just fluid and faster again (Boullier must be pleased to see Romain’s progress), Hamilton was able to work his car again, Alonso was amazing again, Hulkenberg stepping up from the midfield again…

        Excellent dogfights through out the field, some excellent team performances… An excellent show!

        It’s worth reviewing and comparing the performances of Bottas versus his team-mate during this past year. I’m happy for Valtteri and Williams. Wonderful to see the team turn back upward from the administrations of Toto Wolff. It’s nice to see Pat Symonds help them turn the corner.

  3. Following up here with coverage in USA – No mention of the race at all on Monday morning nationally syndicated sports news.

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