F1 for all its complexity sometimes makes perfect, and predictable, sense. Lewis Hamilton adores his annual American stop-off, even more than the rest of us do. In a country that he spends a lot of time and gets plenty of support he positively beams, lapping everything up left, right and centre. And coincidentally or not it’s mirrored by his United States Grand Prix results.
Perhaps it was just as well as in reality he needed something back on his title foe and Mercedes team mate Nico Rosberg this time to have a realistic chance of keeping his flickering championship hopes aflame.
Hamilton hammers them
Sure enough he had the edge just about all of this weekend, usually of a couple of tenths or more per lap better than Nico; the rest as usual even further away. He won pole by just over that margin. And for once he surmounted his habitual stumbling block of the race start – getting by his own estimation his best launch of the year to lead. From then there was next-to-no doubt over who the victor would be (although he added some intrigue later by talking Nigel Mansell-style about being down on power and having reliability worries). Appropriately given the State we were in, the sport’s star as far as a lot of its audience was concerned was all on his lonesome.
Sure enough he won out, which bringing us back to where we came in got him his fourth win from five in Austin. Adding to the holistic feel, it also marked his nice round half century of F1 wins.
The only false note for Lewis was that Nico did his bit too. He bagged second, which if replicated in the remaining rounds will mean he takes the title. Such things are easier said than done in F1 – and especially this season wherein for all of Merc’s dominance this was only the team’s fifth one-two finish from 18 rounds (even more astonishingly they’ve only had a one-two at the end of lap 1 twice).
Rosberg rides his luck
Nico to some extent rode his luck. Adding to Lewis’s happiness off the line Nico in fact lost a place to Daniel Ricciardo, who was fast-starting on softer tyres and looked comfortable staying in that place too. But he was scuppered by a later Virtual Safety Car appearance, ironically brought about by his Red Bull team’s rather ham-fisted parking up of the other RB12 of Max Verstappen, when he developed technical problems.
The resultant Virtual Safety Car in effect gained Rosberg – who unlike Ricciardo hadn’t yet made his final stop – around 10 seconds by pitting under it, and with it the second place. Nico might have got ahead anyway, and certainly would have been quick in the final stint. But also he would likely have had to pass the Australian on track, which is another thing easier said than done. It ripped away excitement from a race that could have done with some. Ricciardo, like a lot of the rest of us, was spitting feathers.
Thus the title fight was another thing to return to where we came in at the outset. Lewis did what he had to do, but so did his team mate. And something’s got to give. For one, inevitably, it will not be enough.
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