US GP: Hamilton dominates but pitstops take all the glory

The Circuit of the Americas witnessed a procession spiced up by strange tyre strategies and movements in the pits

Lewis Hamilton can win all four remaining races of the 2016 season, but will still lose the Championship if teammate Nico Rosberg comes home in second.

A strong getaway from pole position saw Hamilton comfortably maintain the lead, while Rosberg took a more conservative approach to the corner that allowed him to be jumped by Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo.

Nico Hulkenberg was best of the rest in 7th on the grid, but in the run to turn one he was boxed in with nowhere to go and failed to make it to lap two.

Jenson Button had a woeful qualifying and started in P19, but by the end of lap two had joined teammate Fernando Alonso to run in the points.

Lap nine saw the beginning of some strange and unexpected tyre strategies. Those on the supersoft tyre pitted for fresh boots, only for some on the soft compound to pit a lap later rather than go deeper into the race.

Mercedes chose to split their strategy and gave Rosberg the hardest compound of tyre for his middle stint, while Hamilton was given the softs. Ricciardo was still a Red Bull in a Mercedes sandwich, with the Silver Arrows having to play the long game to jump the Australian.

Max Verstappen, who announced he wasn’t in the race to finish fourth while hunting Rosberg down for third, misunderstood an instruction from the team and dove into the pits. The box was a mess of tyre blankets and guns, and the Dutchman lost seven seconds for his mistake.

It wasn’t an issue for much longer, as a gearbox failure saw him retire from the race a few moments later. The Virtual Saftey Car was deployed an ultimately destroyed his teammate’s race, as Mercedes pitted both drivers and allowed Rosberg to jump back into second place.

Ferrari weren’t enjoying their day in Texas as Sebastian Vettel struggled with rear wing issues and Kimi Raikkonen was released in an unsafe condition, and had to roll back down the steep hill into the pitlane to retire the car.

Spain’s Carlos Sainz and Fernando Alonso  gave the race some last-gasp action as the two compadres battled for fifth place. Sainz was on track for his best ever finish in F1 but was struggling with his tyres. Some tense dices ensued, but ultimately a lock-up cost him his place and he finished in sixth.

It was by no means a classic race, despite a few attempts at on-track dicing. Rosberg never really looked the hunter, or Hamilton hunted, but ultimately Rosberg did exactly what he needed to do to maintain his Championship lead.

2016 US GP results

  1. Lewis Hamilton MERCEDES
  2. Nico Rosberg MERCEDES
  3. Daniel Ricciardo RED BULL
  4. Sebastian Vettel FERRARI
  5. Carlos Sainz Jr TORO ROSSO
  6. Fernando Alonso MCLAREN
  7. Felipe Massa WILLIAMS
  8. Sergio Perez FORCE INDIA
  9. Jenson Button MCLAREN
  10. Romain Grosjean HAAS
  11. Kevin Magnussen RENAULT
  12. Danill Kvyat TORO ROSSO
  13. Jolyon Palmer RENAULT
  14. Marcus Ericsson SAUBER
  15. Felipe Nasr SAUBER
  16. Valtteri Bottas WILLIAMS
  17. Pascal Wehrlein MANOR
  18. Esteban Ocon MANOR

DNF: Max Verstappen RED BULL; Kimi Raikkonen FERRARI; Esteban Gutierrez HAAS; Nico Hulkenberg FORCE INDIA

The Mexican GP takes place on 30th October 2016

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