On Saturday, Lewis Hamilton ceded the pole position to his teammate and arch-rival Nico Rosberg but in Sunday’s main event, the British driver put his heart into the race and recorded his fifth consecutive F1 victory and 10th of the 2014 season. To Nico Rosberg’s credit, he has also had a great season and he is still in the race for the title of the 2014 world champion. Hamilton’s victory at the US Grand Prix at Austin has given him a 24-point lead but with two races in the season still remaining, anything can happen. The two drivers have been equally matched this season, which has so far been full of thrills despite the teammates not reconciled to appreciating each other’s fantastic achievements. But the season has not been kindly to the great Sebastian Vettel, who won the world championship title last year and three times earlier as well. Hamilton has shown enormous consistency since the Italian GP and he has progressed from there from point to point. The two top contenders will now require keeping their heads above their shoulders if any of them wants to take the 2014 world championship title.
On Saturday, Nico Rosberg turned the tables on his rival Hamilton by clinching the pole after trailing in previous practice sessions. He lost in Q1 and also in Q2 but when it mattered most, he emerged winner in Q3 with a lap timing of 1:36.067. Hamilton finished second 0.376 seconds behind. Before the race on Sunday, Rosberg was still trailing by 17 points and although it was a thin margin, Rosberg could not have left anything to a chance occurrence. It is another matter that the race has already ended and Hamilton’s lead has gone up by another 7 points. But talking about grid placements in the Q3, Valtteri Bottas was third quickest for Williams with Felipe Massa ensuring the second row on the grid. Daniel Ricciardo was fifth ahead of Fernando Alonso, Jenson Button and Kevin Magnussen. The top ten were brought up by Kimi Raikkonen and Adrian Sutil. It became clear on Saturday that Sunday’s race would have only 18 cars with 4 dropping out in Q1 and another 4 in Q2.
The main race on Sunday began with a great start from Rosberg and Hamilton. Rosberg broke away from his top spot that he gained on Saturday and Hamilton dropped back but a mishap took place in the first lap itself. Perez and Sutil collided and the safety car came out. The replay showed that it was Perez’s fault but the race was ruined for both of them. Raikonnen also suffered the damage but he moved on. Until lap 5, Rosberg led the field with Hamilton on his trail but 0.73 second behind. Now only 16 cars remained on the track and Sebastian Vettel was 15th. Meanwhile, coming into the 7th, Hamilton posted the fastest lap and his margin reduced to 0.5 seconds behind Rosberg. Going into lap 8, the sequence was Rosberg, Hamilton, Massa, Bottas, Ricciardo, Alonso and Raikkonen. Already it had turned out to be literally a wheel-to-wheel battle between the two top contenders. By lap 14, both Rosberg and Hamilton had tyre problems and as the Briton went to the pits in lap 17, he fell back 2.5 seconds behind after coming out with good tyres. By the 22nd lap, Hamilton’s tyres began working for him as he cut down the lead to 0.54 seconds. Hamilton tried to overtake Rosberg in lap 23 but couldn’t succeed but in the 24th, he went ahead as Rosberg couldn’t stop him at the bend. By lap 30, Hamilton had established a 2 second lead over Rosberg. At lap 33, Hamilton visited the pits once again and yielded the first position to Rosberg but in the next lap he passed his arch-rival yet again. In the 40th lap, Hamilton still led with Rosberg close on his trail. The next few laps saw the two Mercedes drivers in a cat-and-mouse game but Hamilton didn’t yield the lead though the gap kept either increasing or reducing in fractional seconds. With not much time remaining for the final 56th lap Hamilton held for dear life and finished the race ahead of Rosberg by just under 5 seconds. Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo was third and recorded his eighth podium finish in the 2014 season. The fourth to tenth places were taken respectively by Felipe Massa, Valtteri Bottas, Fernando Alonso, Sebastian Vettel, Kevin Magnussen, Pastor Maldonado and Jean-Eric Vergne.
It was Hamilton’s second win in Texas in three years and with Rosberg finishing second Mercedes had another 1-2 podium finish. With the next race in Brazil and the last at Abu Dhabi, Rosberg can still finish first and win the world championship. But Hamilton will not be an easy meat as he has shown in the last five races. The two Mercedes drivers have waged a bitter battle all through the season with their personal relationship sacrificed for superiority on the track. Sunday’s race at Austin was no different.