Mid-lot Melee – US Grand Prix 2014

USAThis year’s US Grand Prix was a little on the dull side. However, excellent showdowns between Alonso, Button and Vettel as well as some aggressive driving from the middle lot drivers towards the end of the race, salvaged the event somewhat.

Broadcast direction rank: OkayThe race director could have had a shot at a Good-rating, but for the first time in a long while we had a missed yellow flag during the race. Other than that, more than half the pit-stops were caught on camera (not much a challenge due to the early Safety Car) and, thanks to the aggressive driving by several drivers, the action in the middle-lot was also covered admirably.

The Top-10

  1. Lewis Hamilton started the race under a slight fear over breaking problems, but towards the latter half, managed to overtake his team-mate to take the victory and increase his championship lead. Hamilton’s goal is no more and no less than to increase his lead further in Brazil to avoid any potential embarrasment in the season finale (the double-points race).
  2. Nico Rosberg seemed to be in for an easy victory but couldn’t catch his team-mate after he passed Nico. Nico is the only one left who can challenge Hamilton for the championship.
  3. Daniel Ricciardo is seriously proving himself to be the top-dog at Red Bull for next season. Starting from behind the Williams cars, Danny drove tenaciously to yet another podium finish.

The Williams cars had a mixed day. True enough, they claimed the two positions in the top-5, but with Valtteri Bottas dropping down two positions and Massa one, it wasn’t exactly the maximum result they would have wanted. Massa’s 4th place, ahead of his team-mate, was deserved after Bottas flubbed his start.

A very mixed day for Ferrari. Alonso at least salvaged some glory by aggressively challenging both Jenson Button and Sebastian Vettel. Alonso was 6th.

Sebastian Vettel had everything going against him. Having to use his sixth engine this season, Vettel was forced to start from the pit-lane and for the longest time, didn’t seem to be able to make headway. Towards the race’s end though, he weaved his way between the mid-lot cars and landed a respectable 7th.

Kevin Magnussen failed to defend his position but stayed in the Top-10 for much of the race and eventually landed 8th. A mixed day for McLaren.

The two biggest surprises today came from Pastor Maldonado and Jean-Eric Vergne. After Maldonado managed to start from the Top-10 (due to Button’s penalty) his excellent race-pace seemed to be ruined by two Stop-N-Go penalties (one for speeding behind the safety car and one for speeding on the pit-lane). Maldonado, however, was unwilling to let go of his point-scoring finish and started an aggressive assault towards the race’s end. Toro Rosso’s Jean-Eric Vergne had similar ambitions and overtook his contryman, Romain Grosjean, in a very risky looking fashion towards the races end. Maldonado and Vergne finished 9th and 10th respectively, but due to Maldonado not coming to the pits for his final Stop-N-Go, he was dropped one position behind Vergne.

Golden Pineapple Award: Romain GrosjeanGrosjean already has it hard enough. He’s started to let his frustration with the team show in the past few races and now, when the team actually had a chance at getting both cars on points, he fell to the aggressive driving of Vergne. I wish Grosjean better luck for the next race as well as better luck in future driver position hunting since Lotus has not confirmed a continuation to the Frenchman’s contract.

Drop-out count: 3

In the very first lap of the race, Sergio Perez nicked the back of Kimi Räikkönen’s car. The Mexican’s attempts at correcting his course unfortunately led to a crash with Adrian Sutil. Sutil’s car was totalled as was Perez’s who was, none the less, able to drive it back to the pits. An extremely disappointing accident considering that Sutil started from the Top-10 for the first time this season and because Perez was also off to a strong start. The crash left enough debris on track to cause the safety car to come on.

Nico The Hülk called it quits during the first half of the race due to electrical trouble in his car. In other words, a terrible day for Force India.

Back of the Lot News

Kimi Räikkönen didn’t seem to be initially slowed down by Perez nicking his rear-tyre but, as the race wore on, Kimi dropped further and further down the field indicating that he must have had some car trouble. Kimi seemed to be able to salvage some points by the finale, but having to come in for a fourth pit-stop at the end of the race completely ruined his chances.

Jenson Button also had an uncharacteristically weak race weekend.

Esteban Gutierrez did little to salvage Sauber’s sorry condition in the constructor’s championship.

Dead last: Daniil KvyatKvyat makes the dead last stat for the first time this season, albeit in a race missing two teams. Although Kvyat had to start from the back due to a penalty, I’m quite surprised that the Russian driver couldn’t make up ground during the entire race. If he didn’t already have a contract for Red Bull next season, I would be worried.