Lotus' Romain Grosjean produced a superbly controlled drive to take second place in the United States Grand Prix from third on the grid, whilst a difficult afternoon for Heikki Kovalainen saw the Finn drop to fifteenth from his eighth place grid slot.
A strong start from Romain saw the Frenchman leapfrog Mark Webber for second place at the first corner, with Heikki dropping to twelfth as the safety car emerged for an incident involving Adrian Sutil. Both drivers maintained position at the restart; remaining as such until the first round of pit stops.
Managing his pace and tyre degradation, Romain held off a strong charge from Mark Webber immediately following a single pit stop each, and again in the latter stages of the race. Heikki rose as high as tenth after the opening batch of stops, only to suffer a loss of front downforce which forced the Finn to pit for a new nose having dropped two positions in quick succession.
Romain crossed the line to clinch a fourth podium finish from the last five races – his sixth overall in 2013 – to see the Frenchman ranked the second highest points scorer since the Singapore Grand Prix behind World Champion Sebastian Vettel. Heikki came home fifteenth at the flag.
Kimi Räikkönen’s absence from the race sees him fall to fourth place in the Drivers’ Championship on an unchanged 183 points; four behind Lewis Hamilton in third. Romain remains in seventh position with 132 points; trailing Nico Rosberg by 29. The team remains fourth in the Constructors’ Championship on 315 points from Ferrari’s 333, with third spot remaining a firm target heading into the final round in Brazil.
Heikki started from eighth on the grid with a scrubbed set of medium tyres; pitting for new hards on lap 17 and fresh mediums on lap 31. The Finn’s second stop included a nose change after the Finn reported a loss of front downforce. Romain started from third on a scrubbed set of medium tyres; making a single stop for a new set of hards on lap 29.
Heikki Kovalainen, P15, E21-05: “My start wasn’t great but then it was going okay until the first pit stop as I was racing with the pack with the car feeling quite good. After the pit stop I started to have a few problems, but it was difficult to know exactly what was going on. We had issues with downforce so we changed the front wing and after that it was much better, although still not as good as it’s felt previously this weekend. There was a KERS issue too, though not enough to account for my lack of race pace. We’ll have a good look at the data and hopefully be on top of things far better for the race in Brazil.”
Romain Grosjean, P2, E21-04: “That was a really tough race. I had to have probably one of my best ever drives to keep Mark [Webber] behind and it’s a great feeling to have tamed at least one of the Bulls in Texas as they clearly had the fastest package today. We knew a good start would be the key, so making up one place in the first corner was really important and the car was just fantastic from there onwards. The whole team here and back at Enstone are doing an amazing job. Every day I see them working hard together to keep us at the front and when you look at the gap to the next nearest challenger, it’s clear that we’re the second best team after Red Bull right now. I think this place must bring me luck; this time last year I found out my wife was pregnant and now I’ve equalled my best finish in Formula 1, so I can’t wait to come back again and see what happens next year!”
Eric Boullier, Team Principal: “It’s been another positive weekend for the team. We scored more points than our championship rivals through a perfect drive from Romain. It really was his best Grand Prix ever and another excellent performance to add to his recent run of great form. The only way we could fight the Red Bulls was if Romain made a great start and that’s exactly what he delivered. It’s disappointing that Heikki couldn’t convert his eighth place on the grid to a points finish, but we had issues with his front wing and KERS which we will investigate before Brazil.”
Alan Permane, Trackside Operations Director: “We congratulate Romain on an absolutely faultless race of 100% perfection lap after lap. He was under enormous pressure from Mark Webber in what was clearly a faster car and he did exactly what was asked of him at every turn of the race. It was a shame for Heikki as he didn’t have a great start, then he had an issue with front wing and then KERS. On the plus side, he ran to the end of the race so has gained valuable experience in the E21 ahead of Brazil.”
Ricardo Penteado, Renault Sport F1 Team Support Leader: “A great result for Romain and awesome to see our package beating one of the Red Bulls on sheer pace. At this stage in the season – and in the fight for the Constructors’ Championship – these points will be very important. Heikki did a good job all weekend but unfortunately could not challenge for the points after a change for a new front wing and then a KERS issue when he rejoined. It seems to be a mechanical issue and we’ll check after tonight to see how to prevent a reoccurrence in Brazil.”