Hamilton wins, championship still alive

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F1 Grand Prix, GP United States, Circuit of The Americasus

Lewis Hamilton has won the inaugural United States GP at Austin after passing Sebastian Vettel at two thirds of the race distance. The German finished second while Fernando Alonso is third at more than 40 seconds of the leading duo, keeping his championship hopes alive.

The weather for this race at Austin is sunny and 24°C. The track is 31°C and should help the tyre warmup a little bit compared to Friday and Saturday. Vettel is on pole, while his only title competitor is Fernando Alonso, down in 7th but also on the clean side of the track.

The start is clean ahead of turn one, with Vettel keeping the lead and Webber taking second. Hamilton struggled to get off the line on the dirty side of the track and got into third. Alonso though made a great start and approached turn 1 on the very outside of the turn, diving into the apex in fourth position.

The top 4 positions remain settled in the next few laps, with Alonso clearly struggling to keep up with the front, but building a gap on the intense fight behind. There, the Lotus cars are fighting to get past Michael Schumacher. Felipe Massa is just behind them and waiting for an opportunity. Both Force Indias are in the mix there as well, with Hulkenberg eventually the first to escape from the Schumacher pack.

In lap 3 Hamilton attempts to regain his lost position to Webber, but he ends up wide on the exit. The next lap, Hamilton tries again in turn 12 and this time makes his move stick. Vettel meanwhile has pulled a gap of 2.5 seconds.

By lap 5, Schumacher dropped back to behind Di Resta, with Massa the next one trying to get past the Mercedes. Schumacher is still struggling to get his tyres up to temperature.

On lap 7, Grosjean goes wide in turn 19 and rejoins the track in the mix between Massa and Schumacher. The Brazilian just passed Schumacher. The next few laps are a continued disaster for Grosjean who seems to have lost tyre temperature. He soon gets passed by the next 6 drivers on track.

On lap 11 Button gets past Schumacher, but the latter gives the McLaren driver an extremely tight squeeuze in the entry of turn 1. Schumacher chose to go left, but Button went further left to get the inside of the turn. Schumacher though, when starting to brake, went further to the left, surprising the McLaren driver, but not enough to yield. Button therefore takes 11th.

Meanwhile at the front, Hamilton has reduced the gap to Vettel to 1.2 seconds, but both are continuously posting fastest sector times.

On lap 13 Kimi Raikkonen manages to get past Hulkenberg to take P5. The Finn took the undercut into turn one and held on to the outside in turn 2, side by side with the Force India driver to eventually take the advantage in the left hand turn 3.

By lap 15, Hamilton can use DRS and gets ever closer to the leading Red Bull. Making a pass however is likely to be difficult, as the turns following turn 12 make it difficult to follow a car closely.

Alonso meanwhile is closing rapidly on Webber with the latter again suffering a problem with KERS. Half a lap later Webber is out of the race as he parks his car alongside the track.

Meanwhile, Jean-Eric Vergne has also abandoned the race after the steering broke on his Toro Rosso.

By lap 20, Vettel is again 3 seconds ahead of Hamilton. The fastest laps are now coming from Raikkonen, Massa and Grosjean.

At the end of lap 20, Hamilton pits, along with Alonso. The Spaniard's stop however takes more than 6 seconds as the right rear wheel did not come off immediately. One lap later Vettel pits with Red Bull releasing him again after an impeccable change of tyres.

Two laps later Alonso is passed by Button as he continues to struggle with the tyres that are not yet up to temperature.

On lap 25, Raikkonen stops to take on the hard tyres, also in a less than optimal stop. He rejoins the track just behind Alonso and is passed by Ricciardo half a lap later. The latter is still running on the medium tyres while Raikkonen is of course still struggling with cold tyres.

2 laps later Massa pits from third and rejoins the track behind Alonso in 5th. Massa on his behalf is passed by Ricciardo as well and soon find Kimi Raikkonen right behind him.

Hamilton meanwhile is banging in a few fastest laps to get back to Vettel. He lost a bit of time behind Raikkonen in lap 24 when the latter was about to pit and Hamilton already did. A sluggish lap 29 for Hamilton however loses him a full second again, the gap is back up to 2.4 seconds.

In lap 31, Ricciardo pits from 5th. After passing Raikkonen and Massa while they were still warming up their tyres, he was becoming an obstacle for them once their hard tyres were into the right operating window.

On lap 34 Hamilton is back in the DRS zone and finds himself just a few meters behind the leader in turn 12.

In lap 36 Button makes his stop, switching from the hard tyres he started on to the softer options. Button rejoins the track just behind Raikkonen and ahead of Grosjean, only to be passed by the Frenchman on the exit of turn 1. Two laps later Button returns on Grosjean in turn 15.

2 laps later, Massa passes Raikkonen in the accelleration out of turn 1. He takes 4th, 11 seconds behind Alonso.

On lap 42 Hamilton finally is close enough to attempt a pass and immediately makes it a good one. Vettel took a defensive line and then suddenly decided to switch a little to the right, requiring Hamilton to get off the throttle for an instant before completely passing the Red Bull. Vettel immediately went complaining on his teamradio that he thought it was a somewhat unfair pass, blaming Karthikeyan for Hamilton getting so close to him.

On lap 46 Alonso pulls of a fastest lap, from nowhere. It seems he has finally found the right way to handle the hard tyres around this track.

By lap 53, Vettel has still not let go and is at less than 2 seconds of Hamilton. In fact on lap 54 the German posts the fastest lap of the race.

In the middle of the field, Maldonado passes his teammate for 9th after a hot moment on the exit of turn 1. That was as close as it can get without touching.

On the final lap, Vettel managed to secure the definite fastest lap of the race, although he has to allow Hamilton winning this race. Alonso's third place means the gap in the championship increased to 13 points. The Spaniard is facing a difficult task next week in Brazil.

Results

Pos.NoDriverTeamLapsTimeGridPts
14Lewis HamiltonMcLaren-Mercedes56Winner225
21Sebastian VettelRed Bull Racing-Renault56+0.6 secs118
35Fernando AlonsoFerrari56+39.2 secs715
46Felipe MassaFerrari56+46.0 secs1112
53Jenson ButtonMcLaren-Mercedes56+56.4 secs1210
69Kimi RäikkönenLotus-Renault56+64.4 secs48
710Romain GrosjeanLotus-Renault56+70.3 secs86
812Nico HulkenbergForce India-Mercedes56+73.7 secs64
918Pastor MaldonadoWilliams-Renault56+74.5 secs92
1019Bruno SennaWilliams-Renault56+75.1 secs101
1115Sergio PerezSauber-Ferrari56+84.3 secs15
1216Daniel RicciardoSTR-Ferrari56+84.8 secs18
138Nico RosbergMercedes AMG56+85.5 secs17
1414Kamui KobayashiSauber-Ferrari55+1 Lap16
1511Paul di RestaForce India-Mercedes55+1 Lap13
167Michael SchumacherMercedes AMG55+1 Lap5
1721Vitaly PetrovCaterham-Renault55+1 Lap21
1820Heikki KovalainenCaterham-Renault55+1 Lap22
1924Timo GlockMarussia-Cosworth55+1 Lap19
2025Charles PicMarussia-Cosworth54+2 Laps20
2122Pedro de la RosaHRT-Cosworth54+2 Laps23
2223Narain KarthikeyanHRT-Cosworth54+2 Laps24
Ret2Mark WebberRed Bull Racing-Renault16+40 Laps3
Ret17Jean-Eric VergneSTR-Ferrari14+42 Laps14