Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Circuit of the Americas, 2014

Hamilton hopes brake problem won’t recur in race

2014 United States Grand Prix pre-race analysis

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Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Circuit of the Americas, 2014Not for the first time this year, Lewis Hamilton looked like he was going to run the table after practice but it didn’t work out that way in qualifying.

He was clearly vexed by the problem with his brakes which caused him to lock his tyres in Q1 and Q2, leading to a terse exchanger with his team on the radio. This is not to take credit away from Nico Rosberg, who rose to the occasion magnificently and would have been tough to beat even if everything had gone Hamilton’s way.

“The problem was with the left front brake which was down on temperature and kept locking,” Hamilton explained. “Once you lose that confidence and rhythm under braking, it’s very difficult.”

“It is a potential issue for the race but I’ll talk to our guys now and we can have a good look at it. Hopefully we can try and sand down the disc a little and then tomorrow should be better.”

Hamilton was less concerned about the damage inflicted on his tyres during Q2, which are the set he will use at the start of Sunday’s race. But he has another potential disadvantage to beware of.

The start

Start, Circuit of the Americas, 2013Starting off the racing line has been a major disadvantage for drivers in the previous two races at the Circuit of the Americas. At the first race here in 2012 Ferrari infamously sacrificed Felipe Massa’s qualifying position by needlessly changing his gearbox which moved his team mate’s car forward one place and, crucially, onto the clean side of the track.

Last year from second place on the grid Mark Webber was unable to prevent Romain Grosjean passing him from third and Hamilton doing the same from fifth. This time Hamilton will be watching out for the likes of Valtteri Bottas and Daniel Ricciardo.

Drivers have commented that the track is offering more grip in its third year of use, but they remain concerned about the difference between the two sides of the grid. Jenson Button is one driver who stands to lose out. “It’s frustrating to have qualified on the clean side of the grid but be forced onto the dirty side by a penalty,” he said. “That makes things trickier.”

Ricciardo, meanwhile, is optimistic that being able to start from the clean side of the grid will help him attack Massa at the start. “I’d say we’re better on tyres than the Williams,” he said, “but their straight-line speed makes that advantage disappear.”

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Strategy

Valtteri Bottas, Williams, Circuit of the Americas, 2014The improved grip levels at COTA and Pirelli’s decision to bring a softer mix of tyre compounds is expected to make what was previously a one-stop race for most drivers into a two-stopper.

“Thermal degradation is going to be one of the key factors here,” said Pirelli motorsport director Paul Hembery, “which opens up a few different opportunities in terms of strategy”.

“We think that most teams will opt for two stops, although a ‘sprint strategy’ would favour a three-stopper,” he added. Button also raised the possibility of some drivers pitting three times, though past performance suggests he’s more likely to favour fewer stops.

Fernando Alonso, meanwhile, believes two-stop strategies are “inevitable” because “the track surface is much better than in past years, with a lot more grip, but at the same time there’s more tyre degradation.”

Surprisingly, Alonso also admitted Ferrari had considered doing the same as Red Bull and Sebastian Vettel: namely switching him to a soxith complete power unit and starting from the pit lane.

“Before coming here we had thought about changing the power unit,” he said, “but then we opted for one we had already used so as not to start from the pit lane.”

In Abu Dhabi two years ago Vettel finished on the podium after starting in the pits but he doubts he’ll be able to repeat that on Sunday. “Seventh would be a good result,” he said.

Qualifying times in full

DriverCarQ1

Q2 (vs Q1)

Q3 (vs Q2)
1Nico RosbergMercedes1’38.3031’36.290 (-2.013)1’36.067 (-0.223)
2Lewis HamiltonMercedes1’37.1961’37.287 (+0.091)1’36.443 (-0.844)
3Valtteri BottasWilliams1’38.2491’37.499 (-0.750)1’36.906 (-0.593)
4Felipe MassaWilliams1’37.8771’37.347 (-0.530)1’37.205 (-0.142)
5Daniel RicciardoRed Bull1’38.8141’37.873 (-0.941)1’37.244 (-0.629)
6Fernando AlonsoFerrari1’38.3491’38.010 (-0.339)1’37.610 (-0.400)
7Jenson ButtonMcLaren1’38.5741’38.024 (-0.550)1’37.655 (-0.369)
8Kevin MagnussenMcLaren1’38.5571’38.047 (-0.510)1’37.706 (-0.341)
9Kimi RaikkonenFerrari1’38.6691’38.263 (-0.406)1’37.804 (-0.459)
10Adrian SutilSauber1’38.8551’38.378 (-0.477)1’38.810 (+0.432)
11Pastor MaldonadoLotus1’38.6081’38.467 (-0.141)
12Sergio PerezForce India1’39.2001’38.554 (-0.646)
13Nico HulkenbergForce India1’38.9311’38.598 (-0.333)
14Daniil KvyatToro Rosso1’38.9361’38.699 (-0.237)
15Jean-Eric VergneToro Rosso1’39.250
16Esteban GutierrezSauber1’39.555
17Sebastian VettelRed Bull1’39.621
18Romain GrosjeanLotus1’39.679

Sector times

DriverSector 1Sector 2Sector 3
Nico Rosberg25.662 (1)38.252 (1)32.153 (2)
Lewis Hamilton25.847 (2)38.291 (2)32.138 (1)
Valtteri Bottas25.851 (3)38.508 (4)32.420 (3)
Felipe Massa26.040 (5)38.459 (3)32.594 (5)
Daniel Ricciardo26.024 (4)38.723 (6)32.497 (4)
Fernando Alonso26.156 (9)38.722 (5)32.684 (8)
Jenson Button26.118 (7)38.932 (10)32.605 (6)
Kevin Magnussen26.082 (6)38.845 (7)32.660 (7)
Kimi Raikkonen26.147 (8)38.918 (8)32.739 (9)
Adrian Sutil26.482 (15)38.924 (9)32.972 (12)
Pastor Maldonado26.199 (10)39.098 (11)33.007 (13)
Sergio Perez26.291 (12)39.127 (12)33.128 (14)
Nico Hulkenberg26.247 (11)39.224 (14)32.938 (10)
Daniil Kvyat26.405 (14)39.237 (15)32.950 (11)
Jean-Eric Vergne26.733 (16)39.214 (13)33.226 (15)
Esteban Gutierrez26.785 (17)39.300 (16)33.364 (17)
Sebastian Vettel26.985 (18)39.377 (17)33.259 (16)
Romain Grosjean26.400 (13)39.543 (18)33.449 (18)

Speed trap

PosDriverCarEngineSpeed (kph/mph)Gap
1Felipe MassaWilliamsMercedes336.9 (209.3)
2Valtteri BottasWilliamsMercedes335.6 (208.5)-1.3
3Nico RosbergMercedesMercedes334.9 (208.1)-2.0
4Sergio PerezForce IndiaMercedes334.2 (207.7)-2.7
5Lewis HamiltonMercedesMercedes333.4 (207.2)-3.5
6Nico HulkenbergForce IndiaMercedes333.0 (206.9)-3.9
7Kevin MagnussenMcLarenMercedes332.5 (206.6)-4.4
8Jenson ButtonMcLarenMercedes332.0 (206.3)-4.9
9Kimi RaikkonenFerrariFerrari328.8 (204.3)-8.1
10Esteban GutierrezSauberFerrari328.8 (204.3)-8.1
11Fernando AlonsoFerrariFerrari328.8 (204.3)-8.1
12Daniil KvyatToro RossoRenault328.2 (203.9)-8.7
13Pastor MaldonadoLotusRenault328.0 (203.8)-8.9
14Adrian SutilSauberFerrari327.8 (203.7)-9.1
15Sebastian VettelRed BullRenault327.5 (203.5)-9.4
16Romain GrosjeanLotusRenault326.5 (202.9)-10.4
17Jean-Eric VergneToro RossoRenault326.3 (202.8)-10.6
18Daniel RicciardoRed BullRenault325.5 (202.3)-11.4

Over to you

Will Rosberg’s pole position allow him to halt Hamilton’s run of four consecutive wins? And where will Vettel finish after starting from the pits.

Share your views on the United States Grand Prix in the comments.

2014 United States Grand Prix

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Image © Daimler/Hoch Zwei, Williams/LAT, Red Bull/Getty

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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18 comments on “Hamilton hopes brake problem won’t recur in race”

  1. In answer to the question “will Rosberg……? I suspect that unless that brake or other technical problems affect Lewis it will not take him long to despatch Rosberg who is a superbly technical driver able to get the best out of the car for a lap but is not as gifted as Hamilton when it comes to racing car on car.

    1. “Rosberg who is a superbly technical driver able to get the best out of the car for a lap”

      Lol.

  2. Have to say, and forgive me if I’m wrong, but in 2012 I don’t think Ferrari even changed Massa’s gearbox, they just broke the seal.

    Anyway, let’s not forget that there is still a slim chance of 3 teams boycotting the race, in which case we would end up with 11 cars on the grid plus 1 in the pit lane. Where have we seen that before…?

    1. I think that you’re right about the gearbox seal. I remember at the time hoping that the stewards would investigate and then relieve Massa of his penalty on the basis that the seal being broken was simply an error and that the penalty was not required. Had it been done to give an advantage to a driver other than Alonso I’m sure it might have been considered.

  3. Even as a Hamilton fan, I have to admire Rosberg’s stunning qualifying laps today. Kicked Hamilton’s butt fare and square, and if he can manage a win tomorrow, good for him! I’m just keeping my fingers crossed that neither Mercedes breaks down (or gets caught up in an accident) over these last few races, and a WDC decided by double points won’t be the subject of endless future debate.

    1. Yup, I’m the same as you. Huge Hamilton fan buts hats off to Rosberg; his laps were spectacular in Q2 and Q3.

    2. @schooner
      I’m a Rosberg fan, and I wonder what would have happened had Lewis not had that brake problem.

  4. I don’t get why changing a whole PU means starting from the pitlante. It’s totally ridiculous. Why not penalizing more places? or maybe 15 grid places, taking 10 the first race and 5 the next one?

    Drivers have to be able to qualify and qualify reasonably well

  5. Is 2nd on the grid is disadvantaged similar to past 2 years

  6. Some further information on how big a disadvantage it was start start off-line last year:

    Every driver who started on the clean side at least maintained their position. Everyone in the top six clean grid positions gained at least one position (except the pole sitter, obviously).

    The only drivers who started on the dirty side of the grid and gained places were the two drivers furthest back, who partly gained from the collision between Adrian Sutil and Pastor Maldonado on the first lap.

    Perhaps the track has improved enough since last year that it’s no longer a problem, but it could be very significant, particularly for the championship contest.

    1. @keithcollantine (except the pole sitter, obviously). AHA! Advantage is nonsense!

  7. Not a fan of either Rosberg or Hamilton but really crossing my fingers for Rosberg this weekend. The season is over in 3 weeks already, hopefully it will be undecided till the very last lap.

    Then again, I have a feeling that the man with the beard will be on top of the podium tonight.

  8. This was what I thought aswell after Q. Did Rosberg his side of the garage learnt how difficult it actually is for Hamilton to overtake him and of course the other way around. Did they sacrifice a little wing to gain that extra speed for Q and on the straight compared to Hamilton. He’s ahead and maybe tonight Hamilton loses one or two spots to the Williams. Getting by will take longer than expected… Maybe Rosberg is long gone by then.

  9. Could go either way I reckon. Rosberg is quick, whatever else I may think of him. Lewis will quite likely be behind Bottas after T1, and I remember Austria…

  10. The speed trap table is almost perfectly sorted by engines…

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