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GP Week : Issue 195
While sebastian Vettel started the united states Grand Prix in his usual fashion, holding onto the lead off the line and opening up a lead over the course of the first lap, contact between Adrian sutil and esteban Gutierrez led to retirement for the Force India driver and an early safety Car. Despite Bernd Maylander’s arrival on the track, Vettel crossed the line to begin the second lap with 1.6s in hand. When racing resumed on lap 5, Vettel had a 0.9s lead over Romain Grosjean, who – with Lewis Hamilton – had made short work of passing Mark Webber in the run up to Turn One at the race start. One lap later, and it was up to 1.9s, setting the stage for a record-breaking eighth consecutive victory in a single season from the Red Bull racer. It may not have been a lights-to- flag win for the German, who briefly lost track position to Grosjean before the Frenchman’s stop, but at no stage of the race was there any doubt about the identity of the man who would be gracing the top step of the Austin podium. Behind Vettel, there were few changes to the order aside from typical shuffling around the first round of stops. Pirelli’s decision to bring the hard and medium compounds to the Circuit of the Americas provided fans with a taste of 2014 racing as it might be if the tyre supplier delivers on their promise – threat? – to deliver tyres designed to endure, bringing about a return to the deathly dull one-stop races that were a feature of the Bridgestone era. With the medium compound easily lasting 27 laps for most of the grid, one-stop strategies were the name of the game for the bulk of the pack, with Paul di Resta, Heikki Kovalainen, Felipe Massa, and Esteban Gutierrez the only exceptions. It was the wrong strategy call to make, with the quartet all finishing far from the points despite not encountering any problems during their individual stops. Behind Vettel there were some moments of drama in the chasing pack, but tussles for position in groups fighting for 10th, 11th, and 12th place are not the stuff classic grands prix are made of. Nico Hulkenberg was one of the men responsible for some of the more interesting moments of the afternoon, fighting hard with Sergio Perez in the opening phase of the race before Fernando Alonso joined in on the fun, fighting to secure as many points as possible to help Ferrari in what is looking like a battle already won against Lotus in the constructors’ championship. Hulkenberg won the battle for fifth place in the first phase of the race, and when the German driver emerged from the pits on primes on lap 28, he returned to the track back in fifth, shuffled there by the stops around him. Alonso had pitted one lap earlier, returning to the track in seventh, and the Ferrari driver proceeded to spend the next 18 laps chasing down the Sauber before eventually making it past on lap 45. Having made it past Hamilton for third on lap 13, Webber then spent the rest of the afternoon giving chase to Grosjean. The gap between the two men waxed and waned over the course of the US grand prix, with Webber setting a series of purple laps to reduce the Frenchman’s lead, but at no point was the Australian in with a realistic chance of making it past the Lotus. Instead, Webber concentrated on getting his car to the chequered flag, Hamilton a distant memory 20 seconds behind him on track. * After the race, Jean-Eric Vergne was issued with a time penalty for colliding with Esteban Gutierrez on the last lap, dropping the Toro Rosso racer from P12 to P16. 28 GPWEEK.com // 28 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: F1 >>> UNITED STATES