Formula 1

Five Star Hamilton Beats Rosberg In Austin

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Lewis Hamilton took another step towards a second world championship with victory at the Circuit of the Americas, his fifth Grand Prix win in a row. The Briton chased down Nico Rosberg before overtaking midway through the second stint, a manoeuvre which has seen him extend his championship lead to 24 points.

All looked to be going so smoothly for Rosberg in the early stages having converted pole position into a first lap lead. Hamilton slotted into second but Valtteri Bottas had failed to maintain third from the clean side of the grid, falling behind his teammate Felipe Massa. Adrian Sutil had been one of the stars of qualifying but any hope he had of registering Sauber’s first points was dashed on lap one when an ambitious move from Sergio Perez at turn sixteen wiped out the German.

Perez was also eliminated with a broken right-front suspension and the resulting debris brought the safety car out. After three laps under yellow, Rosberg resumed his early dominance with Daniel Ricciardo catching Fernando Alonso napping to regain the fifth place he had lost off the start line. The Red Bull was proving much more competitive in race trim than it had during qualifying and Ricciardo was emerging as a serious threat to the Williams duo.

At the front, Rosberg’s comfort zone was starting to disappear with the German reporting that his front-left tyre was “finished” on lap thirteen and sure enough, Nico pitted for his first scheduled stop on lap fifteen, followed a lap later by his teammate. The big change came behind the Silver Arrows with Ricciardo pitting a lap before Bottas and utilising the undercut to snatch fourth.

With Hamilton much happier on the medium compound tyres, Rosberg’s lead began to shrink in the second stint with Lewis closing to within DRS range on lap 22. Two laps later, Lewis was locked into the slipstream of his teammate and with a desperately late move on the brakes, Hamilton caught Rosberg out and snatched the lead at turn twelve. Despite Rosberg’s improved performance in the final stint, Hamilton kept him at arms’ length to claim a tenth win of 2014. Although he now leads Rosberg by 24 points, the cloud of double points continues to hang over the title fight, ensuring the championship will be decided in Abu Dhabi.

After jumping Valtteri Bottas in the first round of pit-stops, Daniel Ricciardo repeated the trick second time around to take third from Felipe Massa with the Australian holding off the two Williams to the finish.

Mayhem ensued behind with Fernando Alonso running sixth ahead of the McLarens of Kevin Magnussen and Jenson Button who were trying to make a two-stop strategy work after pitting behind the safety car. Button in particular was forced into some desperate defence but the 2009 champion was finally eased aside by Jean-Eric Vergne in the closing laps with both Lotus drivers following through.

Having made a late pit stop for soft tyres, Sebastian Vettel had eight laps in which to transform 14th into a points finish and after a stunning succession of laps, including the fastest of the entire race, Vettel stormed through to seventh, just behind Alonso, with Magnussen relegated to eighth. Pastor Maldonado took the chequered flag in ninth, only to be demoted a place after incurring a five-second penalty for speeding in the pitlane, but an identical penalty for Jean-Eric Vergne reversed the positions, Vergne punished for colliding with Romain Grosjean. Grosjean eventually came home eleventh with Jenson Button punted back to twelfth.

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