Lewis Hamilton is within touching distance of a fourth World Championship as his sensational post summer break form continued with a win in the 2017 US Grand Prix in Austin.
The Briton took pole, and took a reasonably easy race win after showing his class all weekend and secured a fifth win in six races after the beak.
It didn’t all go his way after his main rival Sebastian Vettel got the better start and led the early laps. But come the 6th lap Hamilton got past the German and he had to do it once more after the first pitstops, showing a real desire to possibly wrap up the title in the country he loves so much.
The 2017 US Grand Prix had plenty of on track action, with the rare moment of a passing move for the lead amongst some great battles throughout the field and race duration. Proves building proper circuits beats a quick and nasty street circuit if you want some quality racing.
But it wasn’t all about Lewis Hamilton, and the Good, Bad and Ugly of some of the participants is discussed below.
In a class above, and on the soil of the country he wants to love him the most.
Took pole, and did the job as ever in the race. Despite falling behind off the start, he only needed 6 laps to get in front and after the pitstops did exactly the same to Vettel. From there he wasn’t really troubled.
The two moves shows how much of a racer he is at heart, with a Championship so close he could be forgiven to take it easier and claim second place. But ever the showman, he didn’t settle for second and won the race in style.
The difference in class between himself and the rest of the Formula 1 field has been marked since the Summer break, and one thing that stands out is the lack of errors. Compare his second half of the season to his nearest rival in 2017, who has caused a first lap pile up in Singapore and ran into Hamilton’s car on prupose in Azerbaijan.
It was his fifth win in six races at the Circuit of the Americas.
Re-signed with Red Bull which was announced over the US Grand Prix weekend, his current employers trying to fend off interest in the young Dutchman.
And why wouldn’t they with another tremendous drive from towards the back of the field, thanks to yet another mechanical penalty. He started 16th and was 10th by Lap 3, and come the 10th was already in the top 6.
From there he harassed the Ferraris and Mercedes, and his charge ended in 3rd position across the line, although that was soon stripped from him by the stewards who added 5 second to his finishing time for his overtake of Kimi Raikkonen in that late charge. Pretty harsh on Verstappen who deserved to taste champagne. It was an interesting to say the least view to see the awkwardness in the post race meeting room when Kimi Raikkonen was brought in at Max’s expense.
Probably the drive of the day, and Red Bull have locked in the potential of plenty more for the future.
Best of the rest for the third time in 2017, and sits just behind Force India team mate Sergio Perez with 4 Best of the Rest tags for the season.
He has handled the step up to Force India in style in 2017, and has finished every race he has started, and missed out on the points just once in Monaco. With Perez just 13 points in front in the Drivers Championship, it could be a good side interest given the lack of a title battle.
In perspective though, his Force India was a full 90 seconds behind race winner Lewis Hamilton. He was however the second last driver on the same lap.
Solid Renault debut for the Spaniard. Made Q3 and ended up qualifying in 8th, and improved that by one place in the race.
Some good racing with the Force Indias throughout, and he was just 2 seconds behind Ocon.
Made his F1 debut with Toro Rosso and could have been forgiven for thinking that it may never have happened after years in other formula, but he took advantage of new boy Pierre Gasly’s trip back to Japan to wrap up a Super Formula title.
The New Zealander qualified 18th and finished 13th, and was never too far away pace-wise from team mate Dani Kyvat, and stayed out of trouble.
It wasn’t a bad dress rehearsal to drive a Toro Rosso-Honda in 2018, given there’s at least one seat available for next season.
There was some sensational racing throughout the US Grand Prix, starting off with Daniel Ricciardo and Valtteri Bottas’ early battle, followed by a genuine pass for the lead. A rare event in modern day Formula 1.
The on track action continued right until the end with Max Verstappen, Sebastian Vettel, Kimi Raikkonen and Valtteri Bottas.
None of it ended in broken cars showing a level of professionalism, and entertainment.
It’s not a bad idea to build a new track by taking some of the best bits of the great tracks around the world. Even if the racing is not good, not the case in this year’s edition, it is still a great circuit to watch Formula 1 cars go around.
With the Calendar most likely expanding to 25 races in the near future, let’s hope there is still room for decent permanent tracks in F1 in amongst the plethora of street tracks that will no doubt be popping up in the near future.
At least he outqualified Max Verstappen by a couple of tenths of a second in qualifying, but the end result doesn’t make up for a DNF.
His Red Bull broke down on Lap 16 after running strongly, and given the tightness of the runners behind Hamilton, another podium was a real possibility.
The weekend started off with his team mate being re-signed with the Red Bull team, many hinting at a pro-Verstappen future, but there is still a future for Ricciardo at Red Bull, if he wants it. With rumours of Mercedes interest from 2019
The German welcomed new team mate, the highly respected Carlos Sainz to Renault for the first time and saw his team mate finish 7th and show some promising signs in his first race for Renault.
Nico Hulkenberg by contrast was the first retirement of the Grand Prix, after starting from 18th after car problems in qualifying which saw him sit out Q2 without setting a time.
Despite all the promise and occasional great results, he still doesn’t have a podium in over a hundred starts, and seems destined for the midfield forever. A shame, as has plenty of talent..
Another promising weekend ruined by a retirement, and no doubt is awaiting a Honda Free 2018.
FIA ON MAX VERSTAPPEN
Given how lenient the stewards have been with Max Verstappen in the past, the decision to add five seconds to his time for cutting a corner seems a little inconsistent. It certainly displeased the Verstappens and his team Red Bull.
It made for awkward viewing when the poor FIA representative had to pull the Dutchman out of the pre-podium room.
MARTINI-CHAVES MEDAL FOR GURGLER BEST/WORST OF THE YEAR
Here is where we tally up all the good, bad and ugly for the season.
- 1 Point for Good
- 1 Point for Bad
-0.5 for Ugly
There are bonus points as below. Drivers/Teams listed below have received a good and/or bad-ugly. Those with an overall score of 0 have had good and bad. Those not listed have been mediocre and been neither good or bad all season.
ULTIMATE WINNERS AND LOSERS
Here’s where an extra bonus point is added and subtracted for the very best and very worst.
WINNER – Max Verstappen/Lewis Hamilton
LOSER – Daniel Ricciardo/Nico Hulkenberg
2017 MARTINI-CHAVES MEDAL FOR GURGLER BEST/WORST OF THE YEAR
MARTINI MEDAL FOR BEST
CHAVES MEDAL FOR WORST
13.5 Points – Lewis Hamilton
7.5 Points – Valtteri Bottas
5 Points – Dan Ricciardo
4 Points – Sergio Perez
3 Points – Max Verstappen
3 Points – Esteban Ocon
3 Points – Felipe Massa
3 Points – Carlos Sainz
2.5 Points – Fernando Alonso
2.5 Point – Lance Stroll
1.5 Points – Nico Hulkenberg
1 Point – Sebastian Vettel
1 Points – Kevin Magnusson
1 Point – Pascal Wehrlein
1 Point – Jenson Button
1 Point – Stoffel Vandoorne
1 Point Brendan Hartley
1 Point – Pierre Gasly
0 Points Romain Grosjean
-1 Point – Antonio Giovanazzi
-2.5 Points – Marcus Ericsson
-4 Points – Dani Kvyat
-4 Points – Kimi Raikkonen
-6.5 Points – Jolyon Palmer
4 Points – Mercedes
2 Points – Force India
0 Points – Haas
-1 Point – Red Bull
-1 Point – Ferrari
-1 Point – Toro Rosso
-1.5 Points – FIA
-2 Points – Renault
-3.5 Points – Sauber
-5 Points – Williams
-6 Points – McLaren