Lewis Hamilton took another step towards claiming his fourth world drivers championship by winning the US Grand Prix at the Circuit Of The Americas. Sebastian Vettel delayed the inevitable by finishing in second place, thanks to team mate Kimi Raikkonen moving aside for the German in the closing laps.
Despite Hamilton coming within a handful of points of claiming the 2017 drivers title, the big story of the race is Max Verstappen’s 5 second penalty which demoted him to fourth place, the Dutchman was booted out of the top 3 cool down room prior to the podium ceremony with Kimi Raikkonen taking his place.
But more on that later, the start of the race gave us some hope that we might have a race on our hands as Vettel got the better start leading Hamilton into turn 1, despite Hamilton’s best efforts to squeeze the German in the run towards turn 1. But, that hope was snuffed out on lap 6 going into turn 12, Hamilton easily sliding down the inside of Vettel’s Ferrari and that was the end of that as Hamilton pulled away.
Red Bull’s Verstappen was carving his way through the field after serving his grid penalties, up into the points after just three laps and after the first round of pit stops on lap 26, found himself in fifth place after leading the race for a few laps prior to being passed by Hamilton, which triggered the Dutchman’s stop.
Hamilton’s Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas started third, was running in second, but ultimately fell backwards to fifth place by the chequered flag being overtaken by Vettel, Raikkonen and Verstappen. As Verstappen made his attempted pass, Bottas went off the track, not for the first time, keeping his foot in to maintain his position, but Verstappen cut back inside to make the pass through turns 13 and 14.
Big props to Carlos Sainz Jnr for his performance, in what, for him is a brand new Renault car and team. Seventh place, splitting the Force India’s has to be considered a win for Renault and Sainz Jnr. Sadly, for Renault, Nico Hulkenberg could not match the newbies sucess, retiring his car on lap 5, but I am looking forward to the battles between Sainz Jnr and Hulkenberg for the remainder of 2017 and 2018.
Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo who started in fourth place, out qualifying teammate Verstappen, despite the Dutchman having an upgraded Renault power unit installed in the back of his car, retired from the race on lap 14 with an engine failure. McLaren’s Fernando Alonso was left to rue the unreliable Honda power unit behind him as it let him down once again while running in a solid points paying position.
The top 10 was rounded out by the usual suspects, Force India’s Esteban Ocon, Sergio Perez, Williams’ Felipe Massa and, somewhat of a surprise, claiming a solitary point is Toro Rosso’s Danill Kyvat.
Going back to the controversy of Verstappen’s demotion from the podium, seconds before going to the podium. I believe we all agree that Verstappen cut the corner, the video evidence does not lie, however, personally, I am pissed off with the inconsistency of the application of the rule. Drivers have been cutting corners all weekend, and although no pass was made, there is a time advantage, no matter how small.
Valtteri Bottas, not once, but twice defended a position by going off track at turn 12, six or seven feet off track in fact, maintaining his speed on the tarmac run off and re-entering the track ahead of the attacking driver. First time was on lap 2 defending against Daniel Ricciardo and again on lap 53 in his attempt to hold off Verstappen, but the Dutchmen was wise to it and cut back inside to complete the overtake.
How can Bottas be allowed to keep that position without penalty, particularly against Ricciardo on lap 2, when he exceeded the track limits and gained an advantage? Of course, in the past, Bottas would have been on the grass or in the gravel, which was a penalty within itself, but sadly those days are long gone, now nearly every track has large tarmac run off areas that can be used to gain an advantage lap after lap.
As a sport, F1 needs to have equal application of the rules or abandon the rule completely. The whole penalty system needs an overhaul, the engine penalty system has robbed us time and time again of a great race because one or more of the top drivers have started from the back due to grid penalties because of engine and/or gearbox replacements. Stop the stupid penalties and let the drivers race.
United States Grand Prix 2017 Results
|1. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) 1:33:50.991
2. Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) +10.143s
3. Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari) +15.779s
4. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) +16.768s
5. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) +34.967s
|6. Esteban Ocon (Force India) +90.980s
7. Carlos Sainz (Renault) +92.944s
8. Sergio Perez (Force India) +1 LAP
9. Felipe Massa (Williams) +1 LAP
10. Daniil Kvyat (Toro Rosso) +1 LAP