“Epic drive mate, epic drive”Â said Lewis’ race engineer over the radio. The epic drive was faultless and fearless. It didn’t seem to bother him that he was starting from the dirty side of the track in P2 nor that he would be trailing his team mate for the first half of the race. He knew he was going to be lethal on prime tyres in the second stint.
Pulling off aÂ commanding winÂ from P2 on the grid,Â Lewis Hamilton seemed at ease inÂ Austin, Texas â€“ home of the USA Grand Prix. Losing pole to Nico Rosberg earlier on Saturday in Qualifying he worked his race craft to attack an unsuspecting team mate on Lap 24 at T12. Rosberg was caught napping. He was rudely woken up outside the racing line over the kerbs.
Nico later confessed he hit the wrong buttonÂ whilst looking in his mirrors. Somehow these confessions in recent timesÂ don’t help in portrayingÂ him as a strong title contender. If he is taking the consistency route hoping for another technical failure on hisÂ rival’s car he might just end up being crowned world champion. But surely not a very popular one.
For Formula 1â„¢ it would be destructive PR. To have a champion crowned because of a questionable double-points system introduced by the commercial rights holder to spice up the show will only add to the negative headlines the sport has attracted of late.
Behind the all-conquering Mercedes duo, a race was on.
Firstly between the Williamses of Valterri Bottas and Felipe Massa. Bottas lost out to Massa at the start. Massa should have gone on to take the final podium spot with Mercedes power. But yet again a slow-thinking Williams pit wall had him lose out to a fast-thinking Red Bull teamÂ that has the most sensationalÂ driver of the season strapped in. Daniel Ricciardo drove the wheels of his underpowered Renault RB10 to come home a fighting P3. He had an exciting dice with Ferrari’s Alonso en routeÂ and nearly clipped Bottas in a late braking manoeuvre at T1.
Sergio Perez though, was unsuccessful in a similar dive into aÂ hairpin in an attempt to overtake Kimi Raikkonen who ultimately endured a lack lustre afternoon. Nudging the Ferrari from its original line the Force India careened into Adrian Sutil’s Sauber. The clash took out both cars from the USA Grand Prix on Lap 1! And brought out the Safety Car.
Behind the Safety Car at the restart Rosberg simply disappeared leaving Hamilton almost 2s behind. At this point, it seemed the German-polesitter had the race in his bag, in total control. But Hamilton’s smooth and confident passÂ showed that he had Austin covered in his game plan.
Sebastian Vettel, the only other driver to have won the USA Grand Prix in Texas, was having a horrid time initially with an erratic RB10, but after his fourth pitstop on Lap 49 he made up six places in sixÂ laps on fresh tyres to come home in P7 very nearly beating Alonso to P6. His was an aggressive strategy that the Williams team should study closely.
Lewis Hamilton isÂ now the most successful British driver of all time. He has 32 wins. The same as Fernando Alonso. In equal machinery in 2007 he amassed theÂ same number of points as him. And he is most likely to win the title again this year. Which will draw him level there too with the Spaniard. Fernando as we know is consideredÂ the hottest property in the F1â„¢ market.
So that makes Lewis’ achievements till dateÂ even more special then.
Hamilton â€“ Â Mercedes AMG Petronas 1hr 40m 04.785s
Rosberg â€“ Mercedes AMG Petronas
RicciardoÂ â€“ Â Red Bull Racing