Start, Circuit of the Americas, 2018

Rate the race: 2018 United States Grand Prix

2018 United States Grand Prix

Posted on

| Written by

What did you think of today’s race? Share your verdict on the United States Grand Prix.

RaceFans has held polls on every F1 race since 2008 to find out which fans thought of each round of the season.

Join in the latest poll and give your verdict on the race: 10 being the highest and 1 the lowest. Please vote based on how entertaining and exciting you thought the race was, not on how your preferred driver or team performed.

What were the best and worst moments of the race? What was the main thing you’ll remember about it? Rate the race out of ten and leave a comment below:

Rate the 2018 United States Grand Prix out of ten

  • 10 (31%)
  • 9 (35%)
  • 8 (22%)
  • 7 (8%)
  • 6 (3%)
  • 5 (1%)
  • 4 (0%)
  • 3 (0%)
  • 2 (1%)
  • 1 (0%)

Total Voters: 347

Loading ... Loading ...

1 = ‘Terrible’, 10 = ‘Perfect’

A RaceFans account is required to vote. You can register an account here or read more about registering here. When this poll is closed the result will be displayed instead of the voting form.

View more Rate the Race results:

See the results for past seasons here:

Author information

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...

Got a potential story, tip or enquiry? Find out more about RaceFans and contact us here.

84 comments on “Rate the race: 2018 United States Grand Prix”

  1. Pedro Andrade
    21st October 2018, 20:50

    Does Liberty want to know what drives people away from F1? I have no way of seeing the races unless I pay a hefty yearly subscription for a sports channel for 20 events. Today, as usual, I connected to a random lousy internet stream (in Portugal F1 is off the public channel since 2006), and at first things were going well, but the connection started to go wrong during the most important phases of the race (will Lewis pit or not, the Lewis-Max battle, Kimi crossing the line). I don’t mind putting up with ads on free TV as my pay for seeing the sport, but seeing this sport on shady internet feeds is getting annoying.

    1. Pedro Andrade
      21st October 2018, 20:52

      But hey, from what I could see I give it an 8

    2. Victor (@victorandrei1999)
      21st October 2018, 21:26

      There are 21 events! :) I can understand you…..

      1. Victor (@victorandrei1999)
        21st October 2018, 21:29

        For me it is also the same, but after a race like this I have almost forgotten about the price.

    3. Anthony Blears
      21st October 2018, 22:14

      Just wait a few hours and download a 1080p/50fps Sky rip then.

    4. If you cannot afford 50 pounds a month for a sport you like plus others you should re assess your life or invest in education for a better job. Not Libertys fault you cannot afford a small fee.

      1. John Toad (@)
        21st October 2018, 22:46

        Must be nice to live in a world where £50 a month on a luxury item is a small fee.

        1. lol, my thoughts exactly.

      2. petebaldwin (@)
        21st October 2018, 23:01

        Markp – let me congratulate you on writing the dumbest post of the year. Well done, you’ve beaten off some good competition.

        I’m all about 2nd chances though so ignoring the spelling errors, you’ve managed to construct two sentences and you’ve remembered to use a full stop at the end of them (you can always learn about commas and apostrophes later) so I refuse to believe you’re as dumb as your comment made you seem.

        Let’s just call it a bad day. Have a sleep and give it another go tomorrow….

        1. @petebaldwin – In contrast, I thoroughly enjoyed your post. (not sarcasm)

      3. Pedro Andrade
        22nd October 2018, 0:13

        Never said it was Liberty’s fault. But it is something they have to take into consideration – even people like me, a fan since the late 1990’s, are not ready to pay a large, steady, monthly sum to watch F1. Why should I pay for a sports channel when I don’t watch any other sport? Much better to spend my money on hobbies that give me a healthier lifestyle than just spending it for two hours every other weekend on the couch, and spend money on my family.

        If this is too much of a commitment for long term fans, what about for people who don’t care about the sport? Is it any wonder viewing figures are steadily declining?

        Anyway, didn’t mean to hijack the topic – hooray for Kimi! Great race!

        1. @pedro andrade – I don’t think you hijacked it at all. Your point needs to be made repeatedly. No one should need to pay 600 (pounds, dollars, euro, etc) to watch F1. My guess is that if F1 made a high quality stream available for 10 (pick your currency) per race, they’d get a ton of viewers. In any case, what they are doing now is shooting themselves in the foot.

      4. Stupid troll comment.

  2. A rather exciting race. One of the best of the season although it still doesn’t quite beat the 2015 race, but not too far behind.

  3. It’s a 10/10. An utter 10. What a race. What excitement. What tension. And a Hamilton/Verstappen fight, what we are all waiting for. The best two drivers locking horns. Brilliant.

    1. although verstappen arguably drove the best race of all drivers today, raikonen deservedly won it and i think we are all happy for him.

      great race to watch.

    2. János (@meandthewanderlust)
      21st October 2018, 21:35

      It reminded me so much of Hungary 2014 when Alonso lost it in the last few laps, but not today!
      Gave it a 10 as well, as it had everything, close racing, overtakes, degrading tires, close pitstop calls, and you could not tell who was going to win until the last two laps or so… AND: Kimi is such a legend, I was hoping to see him up there once more but I was starting to lose hope to be honest. What a comeback!

    3. Gave it 9/10, to leave my perfect score for a race where all laps are like the last 10 today.

      How good to see that 3 teams are fighting for the win with strategy calls making it more exciting rather than less.

      1. @coldfly – 9 here also. I rarely rate above a 7, it has to be truly exceptional. Not sure if a 10 is possible…

        Great race nearly all the way through.

    4. I must say that I agree with you there @hahostolze. We got a really tight qualifying yesterday and even a bit of good strategical thinking from Ferrari (to give Kimi the chance to outrun Lewis with his softer tyres today).
      And then we got Kimi to deliver. And Ferrari to (finally) have their mindset right in race strategy. And Kimi beautifully delivering with first keeping Hamilton behind, with the nice moment where strategy for Hamilton was decided.
      And then with Kimi going well enough to keep Hamilton pushing to pass him, in hindsight that fight to get back on Kimi’s tail, and Kimi beautifully defending long enough before his own stop, did enough to Hamilton’s tyres to make sure he had to 2 stop.

      The only thing I wonder is whether Kimi could have driven a tad slower in the latest phase to try and give Verstappen DRS to help Max keep Lewis behind (:-) not sure that would have worked though). Kimi winning was a really great feeling. And I actually tought Kimi was very talkative with Brundle. The Ferrari guys singing their lungs out on the Italian anthem also added a lot to that podium for me, as was the wink from Arrivabene to Kimi – it really made me feel he meant it when he said he is close to Kimi as a person.

      We also got some superb racing from Max to first catch up, then good strategy to take him ahead of Bottas and the lovely defensive driving to keep Lewis behind. Maybe it was a shame we did not get to see enough of the battle from Vettel to get Bottas at that same time, and had there been no action in the top 5 we would have had a really good fight in the positions 6-10 to look at too.
      Another thing is, we again saw why Vettel is not going to win this. Apart from the fact that Ferrari seems to have made a wrong turn with their updates at a critical time – one they seem to have now corrected – he keeps making those mistakes when he feels the pressure is on to get ahead. A bit more patience, a tad more smoothness might have helped him stay in the battle.
      But in the end, the result gives us that slight hope that things might still be turned around, especially now that we seem to have a super fast Ferrari again.

      All in all, this race really gave us what I wished for and things I didn’t even think I was missing.

      1. @bascb – Was thinking the same about the 6-10 action. Usually we get a good look at that because of a lack of action at the front. Not so today!

        Did enjoy how the different strategies played out where drivers still got to race each other really hard at crucial times, regardless of their strategy.

        I predicted a while back Kimi would win one or two races this season based on Ferrari’s strengths and Vettel’s rather frequent mistakes. So, maybe one more.

        1. Wouldn’t it be great to see him win Abu Dhabi (at least something to look forward to there then) to bow out at the Scuderia in style @bullmello :-)

    5. I agree, the last part with Verstappen and Hamilton was 10/10 but the race as a whole is 8/10. Great to see Kimi finally doing a decent drive and taking it to the end although Verstappen probably did Bottas job and saved him. Vettel and Ferrari has thrown away the championship but they can still provide some interesting racing.

    6. Yep 10/10

  4. 10. The perfect race – quality drives and unpredictability from start to finish.

  5. Grande. Grande.

    1. Agree on “10” … in recent years, anyway. Max n Lewis wheel to wheel and clean … expected them to wad it up. Kimi-O-rama!

  6. Wow – Kimi’s victory here is perfect consolation to me for Vettel (inevitably) losing the WDC. Go Kimi!!

  7. 10/10. An absolute cracker! It was actually worth getting up at 5 a.m for this race. Verstappen was sublime. To finish within 1.5s of the winner despite starting 18th in the 3rd best car, and with no help through a safety-car, was brilliant. Congratulations to Raikkonen as well! But Vettel, another mistake again. I used to enjoy recovery drives from him, but now I’m rather bored of seeing Vettel repeatedly having to come back. This is his 4th this season already, and 6th since the start of 2017.

    1. Yes, I totally agree verstappen was great and probably the driver of the day, but I think people don’t give red bull enough credit for the car they have: its race pace is not bad at all, you could see he could keep up with raikkonen and he managed to defend himself from hamilton, red bull seems like a competitive car by all means, don’t be deceived by the lack of qualifying pace.

      1. @esploratore He could keep up with Raikkonen only because he was on the super-softs as opposed to the softs that they were on. There is no chance that the Red Bull should finish within 1.5s of the winner, even if it starts at the front.

      2. Lets not forget how many PUs RED Bull have got through this year. They are currently racing with a PU with massively less miles on it than either the Ferrari or Merc. They also have no reason to try and make said PUs last the rest of the year while Merc and ferrari very much do. Same thing happened at the end of last season when Merc and Ferrari were getting their PUs over the line, RB became very competitive. The renault is a dodgy engine but it will do a job against the ferraris and Mercs who have only used 3 all season.

  8. Claire Gorman
    21st October 2018, 21:03

    Kimi Kimi!! Brilliant. So tense last 10 laps. Great race. 10/10.

  9. Very entertaining.

  10. 10.

    Probably the first time I’ve rated a race out of 10. This race was probably the most tensest I’ve been in a while, (maybe since Bahrain or Italy this year). Kimi deserved this win so much, after everything he’s been through.


  11. Pretty good, best of the year so far. 8

  12. Great race, really impossible to tell what the top positions would be until near the end. Brilliant that Raikkonen got the win. Though that should have been a Ferrari 1-2 with Vettel in 1st and Hamilton in 4th. Superb stuff from Verstappen too.

    1. Considering how many mistakes vettel has made this year and how long overdue a win for raikkonen was, I’m happy about vettel’s mistake, I mean, I’m not a ferrari fan, but even a 1-2 wouldn’t save the title, better letting raikkonen get a last win and then try again next year, perhaps not making a mistake every 2 races!

  13. 9. Tension until the end but these cars just can’t overtake unless there is over a 2 second gap. I’m waiting desperately for next years cars to see if we’ll have such battles more often.

    1. Not sure that is true. Kimi was on the better tyres to Verstappen (and in a better car). Hamilton got close enough to Verstappen to overtake without a 2 second gap, but at COTA the corners are just so beautifully aligned that a defending driver has the ability to get back. There was definite scope to overtake.

      1. Well, Hamilton had probably taken the best out of his tyres just catching up. And Verstappen also got DRS from Kimi at one or two crucial points to help him stay ahead, and still it was super close and could well have gone to Lewis in that fight @nmsi, @hahostolze. Also, as Horner mentioned RB actually think that had Max not had Lewis latched onto his rear wing by then, he might have had a chance at a pass himself to go for the win.

        Also, Vettel clearly did manage to pass Bottas, even though it took him several attempts at a pass before he got it done, so it was not impossible at all, just hard, and we had a tight group in the midfield as well battling it out with several passes along the way. But since it was so tight at the lead of the race we never were shown much of that battle.

      2. Yup, if it wasn’t for the engine, RIC would have won this one.

        1. Huhhh?? Yeh sure, keep dreaming.
          Max was about 1.5 sec faster per lap at the moment Daniel stopped. He would have passed Daniel within the next 5 laps.

          1. Yeah because of the engine problem.

          2. @dutch-1

            Max was on new softs. Daniel was on used Supers. If my observation is right, the RB does well on the softs. After the pitstop, it would have perhaps evened out OR Daniel would have gone past Max. Very tough to extrapolate my friend.
            An excellent drive by Max nonetheless.

          3. @dutch-1
            1) Like the two previous comments of @johnrkh and @webtel pointed out, there are reasons why RIC could have won the race, yeah, whether you like it or not
            2) As usual, you orange lot are lying. Show me one lap in which VER was 1.5s faster than RIC. The biggest difference in lap time, in VERs favour, was 0.6s, so in that tempo, VER would have caught RIC at around lap 20, which is right at the time they did their stops. So VER would have never gotten past RIC, even not taking into account the dirty air VER would have gotten into.
            3) This all is pretty senseless, bc you can’t compare performance with a faulty engine with a healthy one
            4) The reason why VER could even think of getting second is RIC. Without RIC, VET would be still in front of VER and out of reach, there wouldn’t have been a VSC in which he gained 3-4seconds on BOT, he wouldn’t have been able to undercut BOT bc of that and bc of the fact that RIC would have been given priority in strategy. RB made up another 4s relative to BOT, which was the reason why came out in front of BOT
            4) RIC defeated VER in quali, which was the reason why VER was that much behind RIC. Now could you give me one, just one example in the past (almost) three seasons, under comparable circumstances (so no SCs, no changing weather, freak incidents, just pure race pace), in which VER overcame such a deficit to RIC? No, you couldn’t, bc there have been zero, zilch, nada of those.
            5) I don’t need dreams to rationalize that RIC would have been in front of VER last race had it not been for his misfortune. You keep on spreading lies and watching that personal broadcasting network of Max. Now the question is: Can you say ziggooooooooooooooooooo?? Hahahahhahahhahahah

          4. Ehh.. the second ‘4)’ should read as ‘5)’, and the ‘5)’ should read as ‘6)’.. Ziggoooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

  14. Claire Gorman
    21st October 2018, 21:12

    Kimi!! Proves the doubters wrong. Form is temporary but class is permanent. On the right day, he knows how to win. And always has. Nice little swansong there. And a happy feel good vibe when he crossed the line.

    1. János (@meandthewanderlust)
      21st October 2018, 21:37

      +1, you’re so right!

    2. Meh… even a broke clock tells the right time once a day.
      Take nothing away from Kimi. He is what he is but that is not and never has been a top tier driver. As you say yourself “on the right day..” the stars need to align for him to win. That will be very unpopular but there it is. I like Kimi by the way…he’s just not that good. Just my opinion of course.

  15. Best race of this season. By far!

  16. John Toad (@)
    21st October 2018, 21:13

    Mercedes made a total pigs ear out of Hamilton’s strategy.
    Almost leads one to believe they’re trying to stretch the championship out a bit.
    Vettel’s not playing ball though is he, second big mistake of the weekend from him.

    1. Vettel’s been snatching defeat from the jaws of victory far too often this season :-( @ceevee

  17. What a race! Verstappen is just WDC material and Kimi a legend

  18. More unbelievable than China, Azerbaijan and Austria.

  19. 9. Probably the best race of the season, thus far. Glad to see Kimi win one final one before he goes off to languish in the midfield at Sauber.

  20. After the opening phase it seemed like another dull race: Verstappen had managed to pass the Formula 1 B cars, and Ferrari threw away the win with stupid strategy by not pitting under VSC with Hamilton sailing to win the race and the championship. But it’s so great to be wrong.

    Exciting race, especially the tense last laps.

  21. Enjoyed it better than any of Vettel’s wins this season. Kimi had to fight for it.
    1. getting Hamilton on the first corner without crashing (Vettel take note).
    2. Keeping Hamilton behind and ruining his tires a little while extending his own stint; importantly did it without crashing (again Vettel take note)
    3. Keeping his cool at the end to fend off Max.

    Really happy for the Iceman. He deserved a win for some time now and he is going out with a bang. Sauber will do well to get a car to his liking. He will be massive in the midfield next season.

    Only worry is the news that Ferrari had to remove a few upgrades and that made the car faster/back to its original pace.

    Roll on Mexico and its first corner.

    1. Rated it a 9. Awesome, awesome race. Worth staying till late past midnight.

  22. 9.5
    First time an F1 race was as exiting as a MotoGP race!
    Fantastic Finn who wins and a Verstappen/Hamilton battle to jump out of your seat for!
    Half a point deduction for the annoying camera work though. Who cares about celebs on site when there is such a race going on?

    1. Spot on! The tv covering is so awful. When the tension is at his maximum, we get to see some unimportant “celebrity”. Who cares ! And the way they show the info on screen is still unbelievable messy. Every 10 seconds they change the info while there is only one thing we all want to see: the gap times between the cars. But the race was a full 9 for me. You have to keep some margin for the best race ever (hope to live that long).

      1. Thomas Bennett (@felipemassadobrasil)
        22nd October 2018, 7:59

        While, there was a lot going on at the front I would have liked to have seen the Perez Ocon Magnussen bit apart from the commentators banging on about them being lapped and how it could affect the leaders.

      2. Next to the annoying celebrities nobody cares about, i’d like to add showing replays while there’s on track action, for example Verstappen overtaking Perez and Ocon.

  23. 8/10
    3 drivers from 3 different teams battling & some good strategy variation spiced the race.
    Good to see Kimi winning after 2013, especially after his Ferrari exit! His 2018 campaign has been strong, so kudos to him!
    I am slightly “afraid” that the rankings of the race won’t be fully objective, due to Kimi’s win & his popularity.

  24. Really good. 8/10.

  25. Better than the last few races for sure. Really pleased to see Raikkonen grab a race win, very deserved and his defence against both Verstappen & Hamilton was brilliant. The duelling between Verstappen & Hamilton too was excellent – if Verstappen gets a car capable of winning the title I wouldn’t bet against him. Felt bad for Ricciardo, and personally I thought Vettel was just unlucky to spin… again. How many ladders has he walked under lately? Bottas didn’t turn up either.

    Kinda thought the title would be wrapped up and it’d be a procession but it was remarkably fun and pretty tense throughout, so I’d say it was a fun race. Only tragic part was the gap between F1-A and F1-B which was ridiculous.

  26. Definitely a 9. This race had everything, best race in a long time! But a 10 is for the perfect thriller, and in my 23 years of watching every race, Brasil 2008 is the ultimate 10 without a doubt, and I’m not even a Hamilton fan.

  27. georgeboole (@)
    21st October 2018, 21:58

    Gave it a perfect 10 just because Kimi made racefans crash. I could not view a single page for the first 10-15 minutes after the end of the race.
    Epic gp, thrilled Kimi won after all this time, loved every single battle on and off track. Oh, and thanks Vettel for spinning around every time you touch wheels.
    Its the first time i was shouting of joy when the race ended.
    Kimi with sunglasses on the podium will be my avatar from now on

  28. It was a very good race, but I couldn’t help but think of how good it would have been if the cars could race closer to each other. Really hoping that the regulation changes over the next few years work because there could have been a great three way battle for the lead in the last few laps if it wasn’t for the invisible buffer that seems to occur when they’re following closely. Having said that there was still some cracking racing and tactical intrigue.

  29. Great race! 8/10 for me. I started watching F1 when Kimmi was a rookie and he was my favorite, I really have mixed feelings today as I have probably seen his last ever F1 win. However (and this is coming from a hardcore Ferrari fan), I must say what a driver Max Verstappen is, he really gives something else to the sport, good times are coming for this future champ.

  30. I gave it an 8 surprised that Gasly did not win with that superb Honda motor…

  31. I think I would normally rate this race 8, it had a rare battle for the lead for over 10 laps if I recall, and that’s only the ending, there was also a defense from raikkonen to hamilton earlier on the race with very old tyres, was honestly expecting hamilton to get past before raikkonen pitted.

    There were ofc vettel and verstappen recovering, so that’s quite a lot of overtakes from those 2, there was some strategic aspect between raikkonen and hamilton and also between verstappen and bottas, there wasn’t much action further back for most of the race though, at least that I saw.

    I decided to give it a +1 because raikkonen finally won after 113 races, was long overdue, saw there were a lot of 10s too, if I were a fan like I was with schumacher I’d have gone for that perhaps, but with raikkonen 9 is good enough, I also gave 9 to austria, due to the huge unpredictability of the race.

    These are the current scores btw:

    1 (0%)
    2 (1%)
    3 (0%)
    4 (0%)
    5 (1%)
    6 (3%)
    7 (7%)
    8 (22%)
    9 (31%)
    10 (34%)

    with 239 voters.

  32. Best part was Hamilton and Verstappen tangle towards the end with both using common sense unlike the brainfarts we have seen from Sebastian earlier in the race and throughout the season.

  33. I rated 10 – loved the whole race! Favorite moment has to be Hamilton’s attempt on Verstappen in the last few laps. Close second was Raikonnen’s little juke move trying to get Hamilton to stay out on his pit stop – great seeing the mind games in action.

  34. 10 out of 10. The embodiment of what the perfect F1 race should be as far as I’m concerned

  35. Thomas Bennett (@felipemassadobrasil)
    22nd October 2018, 7:56

    8, just a few things letting it down. Mostly a lot of amateurish driving(Stroll, Grosjean, Vettel, Bottas) and I do think the dirty air problem contributed to the anticlimactic ending. But great job by Kimi, he had to win a race in his second spell at Ferrari. Oh, and Verstappen was OK too, I suppose.

  36. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
    22nd October 2018, 13:10

    The race aired at 7:30pm on the East Coast in the US. Apparently, it started at 1:10pm in Austin which is 2:10pm in the US. This being the only US GP, I can’t believe that it was delayed by 5 hours.

    I also missed qualifying since they show it on the news channel of ESPN which isn’t included in my TV package unless I get the Extreme package from Verizon which includes every channel.

    As for the race itself, 3 cars were stuck behind each other for 10 laps and only Lewis could attempt an overtake which of course proved unsuccessful. Actually the only overtake came from Sebastian on Bottas but that was not unexpected given the Mercedes’ racing woes.

    The race raised a lot of question marks for me when it comes to Mercedes and other teams.

    Has the Mercedes really been that great of a car all this season? Is Bottas really underperforming? He seemed so consistent at Williams that I’m beginning to think that Bottas might not be underperforming as much as Lewis is pulling a “Nadal on clay”. For all we know, Bottas is playing like Djokovic and Federer at their best but they are no match for Lewis.

    Is Red Bull really that bad as the points show or is it a combination of reliability and driver weakness? The car is good enough to win from P18 at Austin and pretty much unpassable by the Mercedes. Shouldn’t it be in WCC contention?

    Vettel doesn’t seem like himself – he came back after another twist but he seems a bit off sorts.

    1. It was on ABC live at 2:10 pm EDT.

  37. That was a good race. It has been a while since we had that.
    My only thought was, what caused this. Was it just luck that we got a great race or was it the lack of Dry running on Friday and the increase in tire pressures before the race? I mean we had that before and it resulted in snooze fests.
    I like unpredictability. I wonder what Daniel would have been able to accomplish if he hadn’t been bitten again with this reliability issue.

  38. I rated it a 7.75, it was a good race and while it briefly promised a grandstand finish with Hamilton closing on Verstappen who was closing on Raikkonen it didn’t quite deliver.

    You could tell that Raikkonen would be a very popular winner and so it proved, he seems to top polls of favourite driver in F1, it has been a long time since his last win and with him moving to Sauber he realistically won’t be challenging for wins after this season.

    With all the focus the Channel 4 coverage was giving in the build up to the race over the weekend to Hamilton about to become a five time World Champion I had a feeling that it would not happen this weekend, but it is still surely more a case of when not if it happens.

    For a period during the summer Ferrari definitely seemed to have the quickest car and it was only a series of mistakes by Vettel and the team along with some top performances from Hamilton which stopped Vettel having the championship lead, then in recent races Mercedes seemed to come back and have the quickest car which then put Hamilton on the brink of the title, although it also seemed like Ferrari had lost some pace.

    Friday practice in the wet didn’t really tell us anything but when the dry running started on Saturday it appeared that Ferrari were back and once again the quickest which would present them with a great opportunity to stop Hamilton sealing the title this weekend.

    They did manage to keep the championship alive for another race but it was down to Raikkonen, who will be leaving Ferrari at the end of the season rather than Ferrari’s lead driver and championship contender Vettel.

    Yet again mistakes by Vettel cost him, and in this case what could have been a likely win, firstly in Friday practice not slowing down enough for the red flags which earned him a three place grid penalty, without this he would have started on the front row of the grid in second instead of Raikkonen and he could have been the one to attack Hamilton at the start and take the lead.

    The already announced grid penalty probably meant there was not too much attention on Vettel’s performance in qualifying but if Vettel had put in an error free lap on his final run in Q3 he would have been quickest as the margin to Hamilton’s pole lap was not that much.

    Then in the race itself there was another mistake from Vettel when he tried to overtake Ricciardo on the opening lap, Ricciardo left him plenty of space but Vettel still managed to bang wheels and spin round which dropped him well down the field, , without that he probably still would have been in a position later in the race to challenge for the win either completely on his own merit or with the aid of Raikkonen.

    The only dry running the teams had was on Saturday when it was still overcast and cold, the conditions on Sunday were significantly different with sun, blue sky and higher temperatures and then on top of that Pirelli ordered the teams to increase rear tyre pressures.

    Add all that together and that meant the teams did not have as much of idea as usual as to how the different tyres would perform or how long they would last in the race. With teams not knowing the optimal car setups or race strategies it increased the chance that some drivers and teams would not get things right and that is what happened with Hamilton and Mercedes.

    I think that if it had been a normal weekend leading up to the race, with consistent conditions, a full regular program in practice and no late mandated change to tyre pressures then Mercedes would have had a full understanding of how the tyres were behaving and would have optimised the car setup so come the race they would have known what they could deliver on the different tyres and would not have made a mistake with Hamilton’s strategy, it may not have been enough to beat Raikkonen for the win but they would not have lost second to Verstappen and Bottas would probably not have lost fourth to Vettel late on so results would have gone the way Hamilton needed to clinch the title.

    Raikkonen was the only one of the leading drivers to use the ultra soft tyres to set his time in Q2, with the others using the super softs, this would give him an advantage off the start but then you would expect that he would have to stop earlier in the race, the first part was true but Raikkonen managed to make his tyres last long enough in the race to make his strategy work.

    The pre-race analysis of previous year’s starts showed that with second on the grid being on the inside that it is not that bad a place to start at the Circuit of the Americas compared to some other tracks, combine this with Raikkonen’s tyre advantage and the fact that Ferrari normally make better starts and it was not a surprise that Raikkonen led Hamilton after the first corner.

    There has been criticism for the strategy Mercedes put Hamilton on, while I think they made a mistake, stopping early under the Virtual Safety Car was not the problem the fact they delayed his second stop was.

    Hamilton could not get past Raikkonen in the first stint so they had to try something different, telling him to do the opposite to Raikkonen under the VSC was the right call, you lose less time during a pit stop under a VSC of course, the fact that Hamilton closed up to Raikkonen so quickly after his stop effectively meant he had a free change of tyres as he was back in the position he was before the VSC.

    However Hamilton could still not get past Raikkonen on track and in closing up in the first place and trying to get past he took too much life out of his tyres.

    After the other leading drivers stopped it seemed that Mercedes did not know what to do with Hamilton, keep the lead and track position and try to make the tyres last with a one stop or go onto a two stop which would mean sacrificing track position and dropping back to second behind Raikkonen but then he should definitely be able to make it to the end.

    Mercedes were not proactive in changing to a two stop instead they were forced into it by waiting until it was obvious Hamilton’s tyres were too badly blistered and would not last until the end when already the gap to the cars following had started to close dramatically. This meant that when he re-joined the track after his stop he was not only behind Raikkonen but also Verstappen and Bottas and not right behind them but that there was a significant gap for him to make up.

    Bottas obviously moved aside for Hamilton with no problems but by the time he had caught up to Verstappen the freshness of his tyres had gone, add in the fact that the main weakness of the Mercedes is that it seems to lose more performance following another car than its rivals and it didn’t look like Hamilton would be able to improve on third.

    The final few laps were a bit tense when the top three were so close but I didn’t really believe that there would be any change in position, Raikkonen and Hamilton had shown earlier in the race that the performance gap between the leading teams wasn’t enough to make overtaking each other easy and none of them would give up their place without a fight.

    A small mistake from Verstappen late on presented Hamilton with a chance to try and get past but although he almost made it Verstappen did not back down and Hamilton knew the risk was not worth it with taking into account the bigger picture of the world championship.

    So the top three positions stayed the same and Raikkonen took a deserved and popular victory.

    However there was a late change further down with Vettel overtaking Bottas for fourth this meant that even if Hamilton had finished second it would not have been enough to wrap up the title.

    As has been demonstrated plenty of times this season, if a driver from one of the top three teams has to make a recovery driver for whatever reason, as long as the circuit is relatively overtaking friendly, then the performance gap between the top three and the other teams means that it should be straight forward enough for that driver to still finish in the top six, the US GP delivered another two examples of this with Verstappen starting down the grid in 18th after his problems in qualifying and with Vettel spinning on the opening lap.

    As much as F1 needs a genuine season long title fight between multiple drivers and teams it also needs for there not to be such a gap between the top teams and the rest.

Comments are closed.