Sebastian Vettel avenged his defeat of 2012 to win the United States Grand Prix in commanding style.
In doing so, he clinched his eighth successive victory of this year to set a new record for consecutive wins.
Romain Grosjean denied Red Bull a one-two finish and equalled his best result in F1 to date with second place. The Frenchman made a fantastic start, passing Vettel’s team mate Mark Webber, and briefly attempting an around-the-outside move on Sebastian for the lead.
Lewis Hamilton also made a good start and moved up a position, demoting Webber to fourth.
The race was quickly neutralised however when Pastor Maldonado and Adrian Sutil collided on the back straight. The two drivers were eliminated in Q1 yesterday, and came to blows in the opening moments of the race when Sutil appeared to move over on the Williams driver. Sutil’s Force India was spun and he hit the barrier, sustaining terminal damage to the car. He would be the only retirement of the race.
The safety car therefore appeared at the end of lap one, with the race restarting on lap five.
At the front, Vettel immediately began to stretch away from the Lotus of Grosjean. The German’s advantage was an impressive 1.9 seconds at the end of the first complete racing lap. Behind, Hamilton began to drop back from the lead two, and on lap thirteen Webber repassed the Mercedes driver for third.
Vettel was the first of the leading trio to make a pit stop, promoting Grosjean to the lead. But he’d re-take the position and stretch his advantage again once Grosjean made his one and only stop. While Vettel was in a commanding position at the front, the battle for second place was less certain.
Mark Webber would set several fastest laps and appeared to be much faster than Grosjean, but would strategically drop back to get some clean air. He would commence a late attack and get within DRS range, but with his tyres fading in the last few laps failed to make a move.
Lewis Hamilton clung onto fourth place despite coming under pressure from Fernando Alonso towards the end of the race. The Spaniard was delayed behind the Sauber of Nico Hulkenberg and McLaren of Sergio Perez in the opening stint, but would claim both positions by the end of the race. He undercut Perez in the pit stop sequence, before passing Hulkenberg into turn one later on.
Hulkenberg would come back at Alonso and attempted a turn one pass of his own on the last lap. However, Alonso was just able to hang on to fifth despite the Sauber driver’s best efforts.
Behind was Perez, who despite losing a place to Alonso, completed a strong run to sixth place. Also in the points for the first time in his short career was Valtteri Bottas. The Finn starred in qualifying yesterday, and was in the thick of the action today, a highlight of which was a brave overtake on Esteban Gutierrez in the esses section of the track. He claimed two points with an eight place finish.
Nico Rosberg recovered from a dismal qualifying session yesterday to finish in the points in ninth. He had failed to progress to Q3 for the first time since the German Grand Prix, but moved up the field from his twelfth place starting position. He pulled of several key overtakes throughout the duration of the race on Daniel Ricciardo, Heikki Kovalainen and Paul di Resta respectively.
Jenson Button put a poor run of form behind him to finish in the points, despite once again damaging his front wing on the first lap. In the fraught action on the opening lap, he collected the back of Nico Rosberg, but the team elected not to fit a replacement wing. A last lap pass on Toro Rosso’s Ricciardo elevated him to tenth, and a points scoring position.
Ricciardo’s team mate, Jean-Eric Vergne, made contact with Gutierrez on the last lap but was still able to finish ahead of Felipe Massa. The Brazilian failed to make any progress on his starting position and was one of very few drivers to make a second pit stop
It was also a difficult day for Kimi Raikkonen’s stand in, Heikki Kovalainen. The Finn made a poor start, and was one of the earliest drivers to make a pit stop. However, he struggled for pace and would make a second stop for a new front wing. He was therefore classified behind Gutierrez in fifteenth.
Further behind, Marussia’s Jules Bianchi claimed the “new team” honours, despite qualifying behind Caterham’s Giedo van der Garde. He finished ahead of the Dutchman and Charles Pic who served a drive through penalty for ignoring blue flags. Max Chilton’s race was compromised thanks to having to serve a drive through penalty in the early stages of the Grand Prix.
The nineteenth and final race of the 2013 Formula One season takes place next weekend in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Sebastian Vettel will be hoping to extend his winning streak to nine consecutive races.