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Race: Vettel Clinches Record-Breaking No8

Sunday 17th November 2013

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Race: Vettel Clinches Record-Breaking No8

Race: Vettel Clinches Record-Breaking No8

Sebastian Vettel went unchallenged in the United States GP as he raced to his record-breaking eighth successive win.

Starting from pole position, the Red Bull driver pulled ahead of Romain Grosjean into the first corner on the opening lap and it was already game over.

Behind him Grosjean hung on to a nailbiting second place after Mark Webber tried every which way to get past the Frenchman and failed. Lewis Hamilton was pushed hard for fourth place, eventually finishing ahead of Ferrari's Fernando Alonso and Sauber driver Nico Hulkenberg who duelled all the way to the line.

Race Report
The sun was in the Texas sky and the ambient temperature up at 29C with the track at 35C as the cars set off on the parade lap. Only Jean Eric Vergne in the Toro Rosso had opted for hard tyres. Following penalties for Button, Gutierrez and Pic the re-arranged grid was...

Revised Grid: 1. Sebastian Vettel, 2. Mark Webber , 3. Romain Grosjean 4. Nico Hulkenberg, 5. Lewis 6. Fernando Alonso , 7. Sergio Perez , 8. Heikki Kovalainen , 9. Valtteri Bottas 10. Daniel Ricciardo, 11. Paul di Resta, 12. Nico Rosberg, 13. Felipe Massa, 14. Jean-Eric Vergne, 15. Jenson Button , 16. Adrian Sutil, 17. Pastor Maldonado, 18. Giedo van der Garde, 19. Jules Bianchi, 20. Esteban Gutierrez, 21. Max Chilton 22. Charles Pic

Last year Ferrari had broken a gearbox seal on Felipe Massa's engine to move him five places back and promoting Alonso onto the clean side of the Austin grid. This year Fernando had no such option starting from P6. As the red lights went out, both Red Bulls got a good getaway but it was Vettel who held the outside line into Turn 1 and as Webber tucked in behind , Grosjean drove outside of Vettel's line and slipped through into P2.

As Webber looked for a way back he found himself hustled out of P3 by Lewis Hamilton. Further down the grid it was a clean getaway for most of the field. Jenson Button managed to sustain more front wing damage on his car for the second race running, although not serious enough to warrant a change.

Running side by side on the long back straight Adrian Sutil made contact with Pastor Maldonado and the Force India slewed into the barriers for a substantial impact. This immediately brought out the Safety Car to recover the car and locked the positions two-thirds of the way round the opening lap.

Positions after Lap 11.Vettel, 2.Grosjean, 3.Hamilton, 4.Webber, 5.Hulkenberg, 6.Perez, 7.Alonso, 8.Bottas, 9.DiResta, 10.Ricciardo, 11.Rosberg, 12.Kovalainen, 13.Massa

Webber, Hulkenberg and Alonso starting from the even numbers and hence the dirty side of the grid, had all lost positions, while Heikki Kovalainen showed his race rustiness by slipping from P8 to P12.

Esteban Gutierrez, pitted behind the Safety Car for hard tyres and we were racing again from Lap 5. By the end of Lap 6 Vettel had already opened up a 2.4 second gap.

Maldonado's brush with Adrian Sutil hadn't come without cost and on Lap 8 he was shown the black and orange flag requiring him to come in immediately and change a front wing that was trailing on the tarmac.

There was very little overtaking in the opening phase of the race and it was Paul DiResta in P9 who after a strong start had developed his own train of Ricciardo, Rosberg, Kovalainen, Massa and Button. Even by Lap 11 there had been no passes under DRS, although Mark Webber was closing up rapidly on a surly Lewis Hamilton who was snapping at his engineers all race, either telling them off for giving him too much information or telling them off for not giving him enough.

Webber made an easy DRS pass on Hamilton Lap 13 by which time Vettel was 4.7 seconds in front of Grosjean and Grosjean was a further 5.2 in front of Webber.

Vettel set a series of three fastest laps on Laps 15, 16 and 17 to take his lead out to 7.4 seconds and we got the familiar reaction from his engineer, Rocky, who told him, "going as far as we can is more important than going as fast as we can." As if to put in a cheeky little comeback Vettel minded his manners on Lap 18 and then put in another fastest lap, a 1:43.252 on Lap 19. Poop poop.

Webber had made the first pass and Nico Rosberg showed that if a little rubber was added to the racing line then more overtaking moves could be made, passing Daniel Ricciardo on Lap 19 to take P10.

Heikki Kovalainen came in on Lap 18 to start the major round of pitstops, followed by Jenson Button on Lap 20 (of 56) in a bid to get past Felipe Massa who had been holding him up. Massa came in a lap later and was able to keep the position in front of the McLaren.

On Lap 22 Perez, DiResta, Rosberg and Ricciardo all pitted together. Perez had been struggling to keep Alonso behind him at the end of the opening stint. Bottas, showing good pace in the Williams, pitted on Lap 23, Hamilton on Lap 25 and Alonso on Lap 26. Despite Perez getting stuck behind the Gutierrez versus Vergne battle after he rejoined, Alonso was only just in front of the McLaren driver as he came back onto the circuit, the Mexican closing right up behind the Ferrari driver into Turn 1 but finding no way past. Not surprisingly.

For the first time Grosjean was significantly faster than Vettel on Lap 26 and Rocky's wise words that the tyres could fall away rapidly proved to be correct. Vettel had to come in at the end of Lap 27 - along with Nico Hulkenberg - a rare situation, Webber having run longer in the first stint. Mark pitted the following lap and then Grosjean on Lap 29.

As the cars had made the medium tyre last till almost half distance there was little question that the front runners were all going to be one-stopping.

Positions on Lap 30: 1.Vettel, 2.Grosjean 3.Webber, 4.Hamilton, 5.Hulkenberg, 6.Alonso, 7.Gutierrez, 8.Perez, 9.Bottas, 10.DiResta, 11.Kovalainen, 12.Rosberg, 13.Ricciardo, 14.Massa, 15.Button

Everyone had stopped once, but Gutierrez had stopped after only one lap and so was about to cascade down the order. Alonso had passed him on Lap 29 and on Lap 31 we had some intra-Mexican rivalry as Perez made it through to P7. Bottas would be up next.Cars were beginning to make more and more overtakes. Rosberg was past Kovalainen on Lap 31 and DiResta on Lap 33. Valtteri Bottas made a very brave overtaking move on Gutierrez on Lap 35 running side by side through the Silverstone sweeps after Turn 1 to take the place off the Sauber driver who pitted a lap later. This put Bottas into P8 and Rosberg into P9.

Felipe Massa made an unexpected pit-stop at the end of Lap 38 which released the pent up Jenson Button, who set his sights on closing the gap to Daniel Ricciardo who was now P11.

At the front, Romain Grosjean's hold on P2 had looked very tenuous after the pit-stops with Webber just 1.0 behind the Frenchman on Lap 34, but despite putting in a fastest lap on Lap 37 he wasn't able to find a way past the Lotus. Vettel had a ten-second gap at the front. This wasn't going to be an Abu Dhabi-like advantage.

There was an interesting battle developing behind the front three with Nico Hulkenberg closing the gap to Hamilton, but with Alonso closing on Hulkenberg. On Lap 40, Lewis had 1.8 seconds over Nico and he had 1.8 on Fernando Alonso. By Lap 43 that was just 0.6 to the Ferrari and on Lap 45 Alonso made the pass into Turn 1 to the great delight of the huge crowd on the hill. Next up would be Hamilton. Similar treatment?

The battles in the closing stages looked to be Webber versus Grosjean for P2, Alonso versus Hamilton for P4, Rosberg versus Bottas for P8 (though Nico had a 3.7 gap to close on Lap 47) and Button versus DiResta for P11.

Alonso got the gap to Hamilton down to 1.1 seconds on Lap 47, but then Lewis turned a corner and on Lap 48 his Sector 1 time was a 27.2 compared to Alonso's 27.6. He moved the gap out to 2.0 seconds and by Lap 50 it was 2.6 seconds.

Mark Webber was still pursuing Grosjean at less than a second back, but the Button vs DiResta battle didn't materialise after DiResta pitted for a second time on Lap 49. This meant that Jenson now had P11 and could pursue Ricciardo in P10 who had elbowed his way past DiResta with the latest of late-braking moves into Turn 1.

Grosjean set the fastest lap of the race on Lap 52, a 1:40.445 to keep Webber at bay, while it was the Sauber of Nico Hulkenberg who was suddenly gaining on Alonso again.

With his usual abandon Vettel reclaimed the fastest lap of the race on Lap 54, a 1:39.856 at which stage Button was just 0.8 behind Ricciardo (Button himself was being pursued by Vergne and Gutierrez, who was sprinting on medium tyres), and Hulkenberg was 0.8 behind Alonso.

Button made a surprise pass on Ricciardo coming out of Turn 1 on the penultimate lap, but while Hulkenberg managed to get past Alonso momentarily on the final lap taking a shallow line through Turn 1, Alonso cut back inside him after the turn and reclaimed the place. It was all action for the big crowd there.

Cameras switched back just in time to see Vettel make history and win eight races in a row in a single season, followed home by a jubilant Romain Grosjean and Mark Webber who had tried KERS at every point in the circuit to find a way past and come up short every time. Lewis Hamilton was able to finish ahead of his grid position for once in P4 and Alonso hung on to the end in P5 with Hulkenberg P6 and Perez a long way back in P7.

Valtteri Bottas hadn't been reeled in by Nico Rosberg and had actually moved away from him in the closing laps to get his first ever F1 points, with Rosberg in P9 and a Jenson Button missing a bargeboard in P10. Vergne and Gutierrez collided on the last lap with JEV looking like the guilty party.

It had been a slow-starting USGP that ended in drama behind a familiar winner and a race worthy of the large race day crowd and a superbly organised event.

FH

Result
01 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1:39.17.148
02 Romain Grosjean Lotus +6.2
03 Mark Webber Red Bull +8.3
04 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes +27.3
05 Fernando Alonso Ferrari +29.5
06 Nico Hulkenberg Sauber +30.4
07 Sergio Perez McLaren +46.6
08 Valtteri Bottas Williams +54.5
09 Nico Rosberg Mercedes +59.1
10 Jenson Button McLaren +77.2
11 Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso +81.0
12 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso +84.5
13 Felipe Massa Ferrari +86.9
14 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber +91.7
15 Heikki Kovalainen Lotus +95.0
16 Paul di Resta Force India +96.8
17 Pastor Maldonado Williams +1 lap
18 Jules Bianchi Marussia +1 lap
19 Giedo van der Garde Caterham +1 lap
20 Charles Pic Caterham +1 lap
21 Max Chilton Marussia +2 laps
R Adrian Sutil Force India RETIRED

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