US GP: Hamilton wins from Vettel and Alonso, title battle goes to wire

Lewis Hamilton beat Sebastian Vettel to victory in an absorbing United States Grand Prix, as Fernando Alonso's third place kept the Formula 1 championship battle alive

US GP: Hamilton wins from Vettel and Alonso, title battle goes to wire

Despite his defeat at Austin, Vettel remains title favourite, as he takes a 13-point lead over Alonso into next weekend's finale at Interlagos. The constructors' championship is settled though, with Red Bull beating it beyond its rivals' reach.

Hamilton's relentless pursuit of Vettel kept tension building throughout the race. The McLaren lost second to Vettel's Red Bull team-mate Mark Webber at the start, but soon re-passed the Australian. Webber retired with alternator failure soon afterwards, no doubt prompting nerves in the Red Bull garage.

Vettel's car was still running smoothly, but it did not have the pace to escape from Hamilton.

The champion pulled out a little breathing space just before the first pitstops, only for Hamilton to come back with a vengeance once they were both on fresh hard tyres.

Hamilton spent most of the middle of the race tantalisingly close to Vettel, but was frustrated time and time again by the Red Bull's superior traction. The McLaren would close in through the fast first sector, then struggle to get near enough on the DRS zone straight.

Finally on lap 42 out of 57 Hamilton managed to pull the move off after Vettel lost time in traffic before the DRS area. Vettel moved to the inside, but the McLaren's straightline pace advantage was so great that McLaren was comfortably ahead before the next corner - prompting angry radio messages from Vettel about backmarker Narain Karthikeyan's HRT.

The race was far from over, as Hamilton never quite escaped from Vettel. The Red Bull did not manage to get within striking range and Hamilton was able to win in America for the second time in his career, crossing the line a mere six tenths ahead of Vettel, who at least wrapped up another teams' title for his employer.

Alonso's progress to third was mostly achieved via a superb start from his controversial grid slot. He then swept around the outside at the first corner to secure fourth, which became third after Webber's exit.

His Ferrari team-mate Felipe Massa recovered from his generously-accepted 11th place on the grid to fourth, showing great race pace throughout.

Massa came under slight threat from Jenson Button late on. The McLaren had fallen right back to 16th on lap one, before flying through the field as its tyres came to life. Button ran to lap 35 before pitting, and then battled past the two Lotuses to secure fifth.

Kimi Raikkonen looked like he might challenge Alonso at one stage. Both lost a few seconds at their pitstops, with Raikkonen falling back into traffic and then being overtaken by Massa and Button in the second stint.

Raikkonen finished just ahead of team-mate Romain Grosjean, who recovered well from spinning on lap five then requiring a lap-nine pitstop. He fell right back to 22nd, but flew thereafter.

Nico Hulkenberg claimed eighth for Force India by fending off battling Williams duo Pastor Maldonado and Bruno Senna. The pair banged wheels at Turn 1 in the closing laps as Maldonado passed his team-mate.

Daniel Ricciardo starred in the first stint, rising from 18th on the grid to fifth by staying out until lap 30. But that tactic did not pay off for Toro Rosso as Ricciardo was only 12th in the end.

Mercedes had a terrible race. Michael Schumacher was overtaken by rival after rival in the opening stint, falling from fifth on the grid to 14th before his first pitstop. He would require more tyres later on too, leaving him 16th, three places behind team-mate Nico Rosberg.

PROVISIONAL RACE RESULTS The USA Grand Prix Circuit of the Americas, USA; 56 laps; 308.896km; Weather: Sunny. Classified: Pos Driver Team Time 1. Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1h35:55.269
2. Vettel Red Bull-Renault + 0.675
3. Alonso Ferrari + 39.229
4. Massa Ferrari + 46.013
5. Button McLaren-Mercedes + 56.432
6. Raikkonen Lotus-Renault + 1:04.425
7. Grosjean Lotus-Renault + 1:10.313
8. Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes + 1:13.792
9. Maldonado Williams-Renault + 1:14.525
10. Senna Williams-Renault + 1:15.133
11. Perez Sauber-Ferrari + 1:24.341
12. Ricciardo Toro Rosso-Ferrari + 1:24.871
13. Rosberg Mercedes + 1:25.510
14. Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari + 1 lap 15. Di Resta Force India-Mercedes + 1 lap 16. Schumacher Mercedes + 1 lap 17. Petrov Caterham-Renault + 1 lap 18. Kovalainen Caterham-Renault + 1 lap 19. Glock Marussia-Cosworth + 1 lap 20. Pic Marussia-Cosworth + 2 laps 21. De la Rosa HRT-Cosworth + 2 laps 22. Karthikeyan HRT-Cosworth + 2 laps Fastest lap: Vettel, 1:39.347 Not classified/retirements: Driver Team On lap Webber Red Bull-Renault 17 Vergne Toro Rosso-Ferrari 15 World Championship standings, round 19: Drivers: Constructors: 1. Vettel 273 1. Red Bull-Renault 440 2. Alonso 260 2. Ferrari 367 3. Raikkonen 206 3. McLaren-Mercedes 353 4. Hamilton 190 4. Lotus-Renault 302 5. Webber 167 5. Mercedes 136 6. Button 163 6. Sauber-Ferrari 124 7. Massa 107 7. Force India-Mercedes 99 8. Grosjean 96 8. Williams-Renault 76 9. Rosberg 93 9. Toro Rosso-Ferrari 22 10. Perez 66 11. Kobayashi 58 12. Hulkenberg 53 13. Di Resta 46 14. Maldonado 45 15. Schumacher 43 16. Senna 31 17. Vergne 12 18. Ricciardo 10 All timing unofficial
United States GP: Ferrari says Massa supports penalty decision

Previous article

United States GP: Ferrari says Massa supports penalty decision

Next article

US GP: Vettel says Karthikeyan delay may have cost him victory

US GP: Vettel says Karthikeyan delay may have cost him victory
Load comments
Why polarising Mosley’s legacy amounts to far more than tabloid rumour Plus

Why polarising Mosley’s legacy amounts to far more than tabloid rumour

The newspapers, naturally, lingered over Max Mosley’s tainted family history and niche sexual practices. But this is to trivialise the legacy of a big beast of motor racing politics. STUART CODLING weighs the life of a man whose work for safety on both road and track has saved hundreds of thousands of lives, but whose penchant for cruelty remains problematic and polarising

Why pragmatic Perez isn't fazed by no-nonsense Red Bull F1 culture Plus

Why pragmatic Perez isn't fazed by no-nonsense Red Bull F1 culture

Sergio Perez has spent most of his career labouring in Formula 1’s midfield, wondering whether he’d ever get another shot at the big time. Red Bull has handed him that chance and, although life at the top is tough, the Baku winner is doing all the right things to get on terms with Max Verstappen, says BEN ANDERSON

Formula 1
Jun 11, 2021
What the data tells us about the F1 2021 title fight Plus

What the data tells us about the F1 2021 title fight

Formula 1 has been tracking car performance using timing loops mounted every 200m around each circuit – to the extent that it was able to anticipate Ferrari’s 'surprise’ pole in Monaco. PAT SYMONDS explains what this means for this season and beyond

Formula 1
Jun 10, 2021
The weighty issue F1 needs to find a balance with Plus

The weighty issue F1 needs to find a balance with

OPINION: After consecutive street races with contrasting highlights, one theme stood out which has become a prevalent issue with modern Formula 1 cars. But is there a way to solve it or, at least, reach a happy middle ground to help all parties?

Formula 1
Jun 10, 2021
The changes behind a ‘feel-good’ F1 result in Baku Plus

The changes behind a ‘feel-good’ F1 result in Baku

OPINION: The Azerbaijan Grand Prix had elements that make Formula 1 really exciting – unpredictability and shock results. This resulted in heartbreak for several of the championship’s regular contenders and joy for others who rarely reach the ultimate limelight. And one of those on the Baku podium is riding a wave of form he’s keen to continue

Formula 1
Jun 9, 2021
The human cost to replacing Formula 1's cancelled rounds Plus

The human cost to replacing Formula 1's cancelled rounds

OPINION: With the global pandemic still lingering, Singapore's grand prix has been cancelled for 2021, with more looking likely to follow. Although Formula 1 has TV deals and profits to chase, retaining a 23-race calendar could be most harmful to those who sacrifice the most for the championship

Formula 1
Jun 8, 2021
Azerbaijan Grand Prix Driver Ratings Plus

Azerbaijan Grand Prix Driver Ratings

An eventful weekend in Baku full of incident and drama lent the race result an unusual feel, as three drivers scored their first podiums of the year. But it wasn't the eventual race winner who scored top marks in our driver ratings

Formula 1
Jun 7, 2021
How three drivers 'won' the Azerbaijan GP Plus

How three drivers 'won' the Azerbaijan GP

Formula 1's return to Baku after a year away had thrown up an eventful qualifying marred by four red flags, but the race appeared to be running to a familiar Red Bull vs Mercedes template entering the closing stages. That is, until a dramatic conclusion where victory was snatched away from two drivers, before landing in the lap of Sergio Perez

Formula 1
Jun 7, 2021