Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, Circuit of the Americas, 2018

2018 United States Grand Prix Star Performers

2018 United States Grand Prix

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Kimi Raikkonen, Max Verstappen and Brendon Hartley were RaceFans’ Star Performers of the United States Grand Prix. Here’s why.


Kimi Raikkonen

Raikkonen set his fastest Q2 time on ultra-softs which meant he was the only driver out of the front-runners to start the race on the softest tyre compound. Hamilton and Vettel out-qualified him but thanks to Vettel’s penalty the Finn started on the front row. The ultra-softs helped him pass Hamilton into the first corner and stayed out when the VSC was deployed to make a one-stop strategy work.

Still on his old ultra-softs, Raikkonen resisted a fresh-tyred Hamilton until he pitted on lap 21. In the closing stages of the race Raikkonen kept Verstappen at bay and out of DRS range to take a long overdue first win since his return to Ferrari.

Max Verstappen

Although he was to blame for the mistake in Q1 which broke his suspension and left him 18th on the grid, Verstappen more than made up for it in the race. By the end of the first lap he was ninth, avoiding all three first lap collisions. He started on the softs so he could have a longer first stint, but pitted early to undercut Bottas by one lap which worked.

Once it was clear Hamilton would have to stop again Verstappen began his to close the gap to Raikkonen but never was close enough to try a move. With two laps to go he went wheel to wheel until Hamilton, keeping the Mercedes driver at arm’s length and putting a lock an excellent second place, thanks also to his long stint on the super-softs.

Brendon Hartley

Hartley was out-qualified by his team mate, but their engine penalties made that irrelevant. He started last and was 12th after the first lap, getting by his team mate and Vandoorne with a double overtake on the back straight, while avoiding all the other carnage. Hartley was able to make the faster two stop strategy work, starting on the super-softs and switching to the softs on lap 27. He finished 11th, but after Ocon and Magnussen were disqualified he was promoted to ninth.

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Lance Stroll

Lance Stroll, Williams, Circuit of the Americas, 2018
Stroll clobbered Alonso
Stroll was knocked out of Q1 again, and failed to out-qualify his team mate by a tenth. He started 15th thanks to penalties for drivers ahead, but his race quickly got worse. As he was coming back on the track he collided with Alonso in turn four. As a result, he received a drive through penalty and two points on his license. He spent the rest of the race in last of the running cars.

Sebastian Vettel

On a weekend where Ferrari were competitive again, two mistakes by Vettel allowed Hamilton to increase his championship lead. First came a three-place grid penalty for failing to slow sufficiently under red flag conditions. Qualifying went better, though he was infuriated to fall 0.061s short of Hamilton, and the penalty left him fifth.

Mistake number two came within seconds of the start: He passed Ricciardo on the back straight but ran wide at turn 12, allowing Ricciardo a look-in. The two banged wheels and Vettel came off worse, spinning down to 15th by the end of the first lap. He made his way back through the field quick enough to overtake Bottas during the final laps of the race, but missed out on a very good chance at the win.

Valtteri Bottas

Bottas failed to out-qualify Hamilton again and was four tenths off of his pole time. In his first stint he was unable to keep up with Raikkonen and Hamilton and fell victim to Verstappen’s undercut as he charged from the back. He spent the rest of the race by himself, only letting his team mate through on a different strategy. In the final laps Vettel caught back up and got by with a lunge down the inside into turn 11.

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And the rest

Nico Hulkenberg, Renault, Circuit of the Americas, 2018
Hulkenberg was ‘best of the rest’
Hamilton seemed to be in control as usual after grabbing pole in qualifying, but quickly lost his advantage into turn one. He gambled on the early stop under VSC but suffered severe rear tyre blisters and had to pit again. He came out behind Bottas, who quickly let him through (for the second time) and chased down Verstappen and Raikkonen. But a late attempt to pass the Red Bull left him third, and put his championship celebrations on hold.

Hulkenberg finished best of the rest with his team mate, Sainz right behind. Despite starting on different tyres they ran a similar one stop strategy, both switching to the softs for the second stint.

Ocon and Magnussen finished behind them, but were disqualified following the race. This promoted Ericsson to tenth and Perez to eighth. The Sauber and Force India drivers both took advantage of the, faster, one stop strategy on their way to the points.

Vandoorne was out-qualified by Alonso for the 22nd race in a row, but managed to finish the race ahead of him thanks to the Spaniard’s retirement after being punted off the track at turn four.

Gasly struggled after starting from the back and choosing to stop under the VSC which ended up being slower.

Grosjean and Leclerc tangled into turn 11 on lap one and both suffered damage that would eventually force them to retire. Grosjean was deemed responsible for the collision and was handed a three-place grid penalty this weekend and one point on his license.

Ricciardo retired on lap eight when his power unit failed abruptly, which forced the deployment of the VSC.

Over to you

Vote for the driver who impressed you most last weekend and find out whether other RaceFans share your view here:

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    Josh Holland
    USA-based Josh joined the RaceFans team in 2018. Josh helps produce our Formula 1 race weekend coverage, assists with our social media activities and...

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    38 comments on “2018 United States Grand Prix Star Performers”

    1. No driverratings this time?

      1. @jamesbond No, there indeed was one as per usual.

    2. Hulkenberg had a better weekend than any of the “stars”, there would be no “but”, “blame” or “if” in the text if he was considered a star this weekend

      1. Yup. Flawless performance whenever it counted, and a tremendously important result for the team.
        After all, Renault officials have announced that this will be a decisive season for the project: If the team proves it can secure fourth with the current budget, Renault will consider entering the spending game to try and become one of the ‘big’ teams. They’re now 22 points clear of Haas, not to mention the other contenders (The team formerly known Force India would now stand at 106 points, just like Renault, if all their results still counted, but that’s a different story), so the best may yet be to come …

        On the other hand, I feel Hartley’s inclusion in the “Star” section is a tad generous … I mean, if your expectations for him are really low, then I can see how that performance might seem special. But with all due respect: That was nothing special. He beat Gasly on a day where his team mate got himself stuck behind everyone else and had to resort to a two-stopper that clearly didn’t work (of the 5 cars that tried this strategy, 4 finished at the very end of the field, and the fifth, Hamilton, finished 3rd despite starting from pole – even Verstappen, who had started 15th, beat him).
        Therefore, Hartley’s performance was about as average as it gets.

        1. Renault officials have announced that this will be a decisive season for the project: If the team proves it can secure fourth with the current budget, Renault will consider entering the spending game to try and become one of the ‘big’ teams.

          Have they? That’s really good – it would improve the competitive variety at the front from 6 to 8 cars (especially with Renault’s driver pairing).

          1. @phylyp
            I’ll go dig for a source. I can’t remember in what publication or language I read that, but it was sometime around winter testing.

            1. If you can’t find it quickly, that’s alright. I now wonder if that has played any role in Ricciardo signing up (maybe they gave him an indication of those intentions).

        2. If the team proves it can secure fourth with the current budget

          well only because FI was stripped of its points. Renault proved nothing this year.. they had little or no progress in the chassis and the engine is the laughing stock of the field.

          Let’s hope the revived new engine (again) will work. If not two teams will struggle at the back next year with some very talented drivers and probably a lot of boiling frustration.

          1. @ erikje

            well only because FI was stripped of its points.

            See above:

            The team formerly known Force India would now stand at 106 points, just like Renault, if all their results still counted

            In other words: No.
            Renault have managed to score exactly the same amount of points as all entries with a predominantly pink colour scheme combined. They could end up outscoring the Silverstone team regardless, so it’s definitely not a case of ‘only because FI was stripped of its points’ at the moment.

            Renault proved nothing this year.. […] and the engine is the laughing stock of the field.

            I know exactly one source for that opinion, and that’s Red Bull. Coincidentally, that’s the team that currently has a keen interest in talking Renault down (as well as talking Honda up, which sometimes amount to the same thing). As food for thought, Renault were the team with the 4th largest year-on-year lap time improvement in Monza, only beaten by the three Ferrari-powered teams …

          2. the engine is the laughing stock of the field.

            That’s McLaren dragging them down, making them look worse than they are

            And with that I will see myself out

    3. Hartley? Really? I mean sure he did alright but a “star?” He only scored points because people ahead of him were disqualified, was ahead of his team-mate due to damage, and without the engine penalty would have been behind him anyway… I mean if this is what he needs to do to be a “star” then Vandoorne’s been quietly having stellar weekends.

    4. I don’t see how is it that Hartley is a star performer and yet Hulkenberg who had had a perfect weekend is not

    5. Stars: Raikkonen, Verstappen, and Hulkenberg.
      Strugglers: Hamilton or rather Mercedes-strategists, Vettel, Bottas, Stroll, and Grosjean.

      1. that seems a fair assessment of the race (not so much quali).

      2. Fudge Kobayashi (@)
        24th October 2018, 11:22

        A podium despite an awful strategy is not a struggler imo.

        1. starting from pole with the fastest car and ending on third is not very good.

          1. Not the fastest car this weekend. If it was, Bottas performance was very poor indeed.

    6. Can’t see why Hulkenberg wasn’t included as a Star. He did nothing wrong all weekend and was comfortably best of the rest. He outqualified his team mate, and all the rest of the Formula 1B bar Ocon, and stayed ahead of everyone during the race… AND he’s now leader in the Formula 1B drivers championship.

      1. He outqualified his team mate

        That seems to be his mistake, @fer-no65.
        None of the Star Performers outqualified their respective teammates ;)

    7. “Although he was to blame for the mistake in Q1 which broke his suspension and left him 18th on the grid, “

      What a strange remark. Saw multiple drivers drive over more than one of these whatever they’re called

      1. whatever they’re called

        ‘sleeping policeman’

      2. @mayrton Still it was driver inflicted. I feel the word ‘mistake’ has a double meaning here. Since the suspension broke due to an action of the driver, it’s fair to call it a mistake. But it wasn’t really a mistake in the sense that he accidentally ran over the kerb. It was a deliberate action, he just didn’t expect the suspension to fail. So yes it was a clear cut mistake, but he ‘didn’t make’ a mistake. Do I make any sense? :)

        1. @matthijs – agreed :-). Maybe ‘driver error’ or ‘error’ is a better fit.

          1. ‘driver induced car failure’
            @phylyp, @matthijs

            1. “Induced” 👍. Are you in the medical line, @coldfly ? :-)

        2. Agreed

      3. The whole top 4 took the complete row of kerbs in Q3 in order the get the best possible time on the clock’s…
        One can hardly blame a driver for doing the same every other driver do… Verstappen could have avoided the kerbs ofcourse, but then he lost all reasons to try and get a good time in quali.

      4. What a strange remark? Yeah, I know that in that strange orange lala-land it’s deemed heresy, but in any other place it was classified as a driver error or mistake.
        And you can call it a mistake, a mistake doesn’t have to be made accidentally like matthijs says (though I do follow his reasoning); VERs mistake lied in him thinking he could get go over those kerbs that aggressively, with that much torque, without worrying about any consequences.
        Good race though.

        1. Do not let reality kick in ;)

          The Red Bull driver limped back to the pits, after the incident in Q1, but as the damage was so significant, he was unable to take any further part in the session and ended up 15th overall.

          “I touched the outside kerb (at Turn 15) and it failed the suspension and took the driveshaft out which is a bit weird because before we were always taking that kerb because it opens the corner a little bit more to make it faster,” he said.

          “Everything was well within the limits of everything, so there was nothing crazy. As you can see, everyone else was doing it as well. So, that is why we are a little bit amazed how it happened.

          “Those kerbs have been there for like two years now so it is a bit weird. Also everybody else in qualifying took those orange kerbs and on our car it failed. We’ll have a look into it.”

          1. Actually…. watch Hamiltons pole run again, that one was 100% fully over the kerbs …

            In order to get the best possible lap a driver needs to be on those limits, but hey, just another chance to have a dig at Vertappen for the ones who actually don’t care much about racing.

            look for yourself, around 1,30

            1. Hi erikje, how’re you doing?

              First I’d like to tell you I’m glad to see you’re backing up your comments, which were purely FBoy-driven towards Max up until now, with data or a link. I see you took my example. You’re not quite there yet, but you’re trying and I appreciate that. You’re certainly a couple of levels above other oranges who’re being loudmouths, extremely aggressive and totally in denial of reality, dwelling on some other motorsport-sites.

              So you’ve got data. Now you have to know who the source is. Is it credible etc? Your second comment is just a quote of you right, so we’ll skip that one. In your first comment you quote Max himself. There are at least two problems with that:
              – You can’t expect a fair assessment of their own performance from drivers/professionals
              – Max has in fact, shown on numerous occasions not being able to take any blame in any of his accidents/incidents. The only time I can recall he took responsibility, was last year in Hungary, when he took out RIC.
              Also, Max doesn’t provide any specific examples which we could verify. I’ve watched qualifying and I haven’t seen anything of what he describes. So I will have to dismiss his explanation.

              Now I’ll have a go at that what came from you, namely the link of HAMs pole-lap. See, that’s something I can work with. No (attempt to) lie(s) like you and others have done so in the past by giving made up statistics or misleading ones (without providing context).
              You tell me to have a look around 1:30, but that’s turn 19, not turn 15. That’s like comparing apples with.. oranges. At turn 19 you don’t even have those sausages, so yeah, not surprising HAM took that one the way he did. Max broke his suspension at turn 15, and at around 1:17 you can see HAM barely made contact with those sausages with the right side of his right tyre(s). VER on the other hand can be seen at around 0:14 in this video to be riding those sausages with half of his car above them.
              To add to that, you can hear Max in that same video grunt twice on the radio when he reports his problem to the team. He does this in such a manner when a driver knows he made a mistake. Then you see him barging his way through the pit garage with everybody avoiding him. (mostly) Whenever a driver gets sidelined by some technical issue, out of his control, he shrugs his shoulders. But drivers who know they messed up, are full of emotion for quite a while after. He was angry with himself. That was another indication VER made a personal error.

              So all in all, good to see you have made progress in commenting; now you should take the next steps: Assess sources, make sure that any drawn comparison makes sense and interpret the data in a correct manner.

              And don’t think that just bc people point out a driver error of your hero, they’re having a dig at him.

    8. It’s hard to be a Grosjean fan. Brilliant quali (and wins intra team battle for the year) and then the dumbest shunt…

      1. @tango – As a Vettel fan, I can say this: on a good day, Grosjean exhibits the pace and skills of a top driver like Vettel. On a bad day, Grosjean drives like… Vettel.

        I agree – if he can cut down the silly errors, he has the innate speed to be a good driver. Maybe not in a top team (at least not as a #1), but definitely one of the top teams in F1(B). Between both drivers and the team, Haas have probably thrown away the most points.

    9. Stroll: “Dumbest shunt? Hold my Molson……”

      1. Was Stroll really coming back on track when he collided with Alonso? Or was he just doing an over-optimistic pass down the inside when Alonso, unaware that he was there, closed the door and damaged both cars?

    10. So Hartley, starting 20th, was up to 12th after lap one while Verstappen, starting 18th and in a much better car, was up to 9th at the same point – gaining just one more place.

      Very enlightening.

    11. Good to see raikkonen’s come back to winning after years was enough to be considered a star on this site, I agree with both him and verstappen more or less equally deserved.

      Don’t agree with hartley as a star, but it’s been mentioned already, I’d have put someone like hulkenberg, who basically did his job, although showed nothing special, but when you are best of the rest and have the best of the rest car it’s not like you can catch bottas.

      Agree with all strugglers, I’d have put vettel, stroll and grosjean, however bottas makes sense for the too quiet weekend he managed to have with a very strong car.

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