Vettel makes history as Grosjean denies Red Bull a one-two in Texas

2013 United States Grand Prix review

The United States Grand Prix played out as many expected it to, as another consummate display of superiority by Red Bull and Sebastian Vettel.

This was his twelfth victory of the year but the real significance lay in the fact this was the eighth consecutive round of the world championship he’d won – a feat which has never been achieved before, breaking a record which has stood for 60 years.

That Red Bull’s success was not quite complete was largely down to the efforts of one man. Romain Grosjean separated them at the start and was the only thing keeping them from another one-two when the chequered flag fell 56 laps later.

Grosjean and Hamilton splits the Red Bulls

Start, Circuit of the Americas, 2013This year as last, the outside line was the place to be on the run to the first corner. Grosjean passed Mark Webber as they arrived at turn one and Lewis Hamilton followed him through as well.

Fernando Alonso had been unable to get across from his starting position on the dirty side of the track onto the racing line, and had to cede a position to Sergio Perez. Valtteri Bottas and Paul di Resta appeared behind him – two more drivers who’d profited from starting on the clean side.

In his first race for Lotus Heikki Kovalainen took it easy at the start and his rivals exploited that caution. From eighth on the grid he fell four places and from then on rarely looked like a points contender.

As lap one drew to a close the Safety Car appeared on the track. Pastor Maldonado and Adrian Sutil had managed to tangle with each other on the longest straight on the track, firing the Force India into the barrier and nearly taking Esteban Gutierrez with him as he went. Sutil was unhurt, and afterwards the two equally careless drivers blamed each other.

Bottas in the mix

The Safety Car interruption deprived Vettel of his usual early lead but he soon restored it once the race got going again. Grosjean pulled away from Hamilton at a similar rate while Webber began to explore his options behind the Mercedes.

He got by on lap 13 as Hamilton, to his obvious dissatisfaction, was increasingly preoccupied with making sure his tyres lasted long enough that a single pit stop would be sufficient for him to reach the end of the race.

This was the goal for most of the drivers on a day when track temperatures were hotter than they’d been all weekend. Heading to the grid Hamilton pointed out to his team it was likely they’d end up converting to a two-stop strategy – an eventuality which ruined Mercedes’ race at this track 12 months earlier.

Hamilton’s tyre-saving paid off, as by the time he came in on lap 25 most of the drivers behind him had already been in. Alonso was in the next time by, having reeled off four quick laps to jump in front of Perez.

Bottas pitted the lap after Perez and his engineer urged him to pull out a few quick laps to jump Alonso. It never really looked likely, but what a rarity for 2013 for a Williams driver to be racing on equal terms with a McLaren and a Ferrari.

Alonso scraps with Hulkenberg

Fernando Alonso, Ferrari, Circuit of the Americas, 2013The stunning performance of the Red Bull RB9 extracts a high price from its tyres. Vettel’s were thoroughly depleted when he came in on lap 28, exactly halfway through the race, and as usual race engineer Guillaume Rocquelin repeatedly reminded him on the radio to exercise self-discipline.

Freed of Hamilton, Webber was now able to close on Grosjean but as usual was held back by the RB9′s only real weakness. It is not the most effective tool for overtaking, particularly later in the race when the fuel load has reduced. “The DRS in the end was a little bit short on the ratios,” he said afterwards, “but in the end that?s how you get the ratios for the whole race”.

Alonso had no such problems as far as Hulkenberg was concerned, passing the Sauber driver for fifth on lap 45. But as he tried to close on Hamilton he found the Mercedes driver had an answer for everything he threw at him.

As the race reached its final laps Alonso found himself being caught by Hulkenberg again. As the last lap began Hulkenberg’s Sauber darted down the inside of the Ferrari at turn one. “I passed him, but then I just missed the apex and he was able to get me back at the exit,” rued Hulkenberg afterwards.

Button pinches a point

Perez and Bottas were next, the Williams driver claiming his first F1 points in fine style with eighth place. Rosberg picked off Di Resta for an eventual ninth place, but disappointingly over half a minute behind his team mate.

Jenson Button moved forwards from a lowly grid position of 15th to claim the final point by passing Daniel Ricciardo. The Toro Rosso driver came under attack from his team mate on the final lap, but Jean-Eric Vergne managed to tangle with Gutierrez and was later penalised.

A poor race for Felipe Massa saw him make a second pit stop after his tyres went off. He was classified 12th after a weekend in which he never mastered the Ferrari the way his team mate did.

A tough return to F1 for Kovalainen saw him classified 14th after pitting for a new front wing and struggling with a KERS glitch. He was unable to contribute to Lotus’s faltering pursuit of Ferrari in the constructors’ championship.

Grosjean shines, Vettel stars

Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, Circuit of the Americas, 2013His team mate did, however – a fine second for Grosjean equalled his best career result and extended his string of top-four finishes to five in a row.

But Vettel’s unique achievement of winning eight races in a row was the greater story. While it’s certainly disappointing that the second half of this season hasn’t been as competitive as the first, Vettel’s impeccable performances show true class.

For the third time he signed off with a few doughnuts, some recompense to the crowd for the shortage of action they’d seen in a grand prix which fell well short of the standard established by last year’s corker of a race.

“People tend to forget how much work there is behind all these this and how special it is,” said Vettel afterwards, trying to put his latest record-smashing feat into some perspective. “I remembered back in 2008 how happy I just was to, once in my life, to be on pole.”

“I think you should never lose the passion and the joy,” he added, “and always remember the days when you were just dreaming of these things to happen”. In Austin his rivals could only dream of beating him.

2013 United States Grand Prix

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Images ?? Red Bull/Getty, Ferraro/Ercole Colombo,

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43 comments on Vettel makes history as Grosjean denies Red Bull a one-two in Texas

  1. Good race for Vettel. Bad race for the Scuderia and obviously the fans!

    • Albo Retto said on 18th November 2013, 11:47

      Would love to know what is going on behind the scenes maranello way. Are they taking it well? usually when ferrari are in a pickle like this they turn on each other. I Hope the phoenix manages to escape the fire.

  2. Atticus (@atticus-2) said on 18th November 2013, 1:55

    You work some extremely late hours, @keithcollantine. Thanks for the review. Elaborate, as always.

  3. Fer no.65 (@fer-no65) said on 18th November 2013, 1:55

    He got by on lap 13 as Hamilton, to his obvious dissatisfaction, was increasingly preoccupied with making sure his tyres lasted long enough that a single pit stop would be sufficient for him to reach the end of the race.

    It’s very weird for me to hear Hamilton shouting so much in the team radio, and being annoyed by what the team tells him. At this point of the year you’d have thought that 1) not being able to push as much as he likes is how the game works these days, sadly or not, 2) he’d have talked to his team about how, and when, he wants information coming at him.

    He had a lot of conversations like these over the past few races… “do you want me to push or not”? “are they gaining on me? / pace is fine / that’s not what I asked”… stuff like that.

    I don’t particularly like how he rants to his team… I can understand the frustration, but Vettel (obviously in a better position), after every call to take care of the tyres, he says “yeeees, I’m aware, I’m aware…”.

    Just an biased? observation from my part anyway…

    • Jeanrien (@jeanrien) said on 18th November 2013, 13:46

      @fer-no65 I think Hamilton has always been chatty during GP and likes to have lots of information. Maybe he is just annoyed Merc doesn’t give me as much as he wants … That’s the only thing I can think of. He seemed quite please with his car and his race afterwards.

      • Fer no.65 (@fer-no65) said on 18th November 2013, 14:10

        @jeanrien but somehow it doesn’t seem to be working the way he wants it. And that baffles me, there’s always awkward conversations between him and the pitwall. I’d have thought that sort of thing is one of the first things they talk about when they change teams… but he did it at McLaren aswell !

  4. Hairs (@hairs) said on 18th November 2013, 1:56

    There’s an awful lot of important, detailed, and thoughtful work in data analysis too, but that doesn’t make spreadsheets exciting.

  5. Fer no.65 (@fer-no65) said on 18th November 2013, 2:07

    Proper honesty from Vettel. His words today show how much he’s enjoying himself and how aware he is that it might not happen forever, but he and his team have to keep pushing for it to happen more often ! Love it !

    • Atticus (@atticus-2) said on 18th November 2013, 9:55

      He can afford to be honest and more revealing now. Before the championship was decided – around Spa, Monza, Singapore – he also dominated, but was much more reserved and, in general, a PR dream; giving the same template replies time and again.

    • To be honest his speeches are (in lack of a better word) a bit too handkerchiefy for me. I can´t pinpoint what it is that puts me off exactly, but it´s hard to take such big words from him serious.
      Maybe it’s because he chooses to say it over the radio, his young age, his accent (always reminds me of a german comedy accent, like in allo allo), or a lack of charisma coming through, or simply that he tries too hard? I don’t know.
      That being said, everything is better than the deja vu “Wooooohoooo YES! YES boys”, and the chuckles reply from Horner “well done Sebastian, well done”.
      I welcome his donuts though, and the things he does to spice things up!
      Even Vettel fans now find it a bit boring that he is so dominant, but at least I believe his hunger for it is 100% genuine.

      • HotRodMex (@hotrodmex) said on 19th November 2013, 0:49

        Speaking in a second language, no matter how fluent you get, can lead you to specific standby statements. You don’t grow up with the emotional attachment to your vocabulary that allows a native speaker to speak with a better vocal variety.

        This Vettel fan doesn’t find the races boring, because there is a whole field of cars that are still competing. I’m a fan of the sport, not just of one driver.

  6. Aditya F. Yahya (@adityafakhri) said on 18th November 2013, 2:48

    Vettel has won in every circuit in current calendar throughout his career, hasn’t it? the domination is just wow.

  7. wsrgo (@wsrgo) said on 18th November 2013, 3:28

    Perez and Bottas were next, followed by Bottas

    Didn’t know Bottas had a twin brother :D

  8. Sumedh said on 18th November 2013, 6:23

    I just read the comments on rate the race.

    To all who keep complaining about tyres not allowing drivers to push, well, look what we got in Texas? All drivers with the ability to push all the time. This happened in India last two years too.

    Tyres which allow drivers to push are good only for the drivers. Not for the spectators. If we want exciting races, we need these rapidly degrading Pirellis.

    • Mads (@mads) said on 18th November 2013, 6:27

      We actually had quite a lot of tyre saving for a 1 stop race. With less tyre deg, webber would have pushed grosjean for much longer for instance. And hamilton had to give up on fighting webber, because him tyres fell off.

      • Sumedh said on 18th November 2013, 6:51

        The few times Webber pushed Grosjean, he was unable to make a move even with DRS and KERS. If Webber had more durable tyres, we would have just seen the same happen 15 times instead of 5 times.

        Although, I wonder if the track layout is to blame. The long Ess-es spread out the car making the DRS on the back straight a little useless. I guess, we never saw this problem last year because the track surface was quite oily (being new) which resulted in more driver mistakes and hence more overtaking. If my theory is true, expect future COTA races to become even more boring.

        • Atticus (@atticus-2) said on 18th November 2013, 12:12

          I disagree.

          In fact the kink in Sakhir before T4, the kink in Silverstone before the Wellington Straight, the Eau Rouge in Spa before the Kemmel Straight all underlines that it is a flat-out kink what is needed for a driver to rapidly close in on someone, facilitating a pass on the next straight – which does not even have to be particularly long as the first two examples shows.

          The original COTA layout had a likely flat-out T10, before Tilke ‘improved’ the final design (this track was originally designed by Tavo Hellmund). Note the differences between this and the final layout.

          Also, the track surface is only going to worn as time passes by, which will likely create more grip, thus more mechanical downforce, resulting in cars having an easier time following each other closer.

  9. iAltair (@ialtair) said on 18th November 2013, 7:08

    There is one quote which I have to agree with Vettel: “I will quit F1 if I lost the hunger to win.”

  10. electrolite (@electrolite) said on 18th November 2013, 10:18

    I don’t think I’m picking at straws here when I say this McLaren race report absolutely lauds Button for finishing 10th whilst Perez’s 7th is brushed over. I doubt Jenson would have managed much more had the starting positions swapped this is coming from a fan of his). A little obvious how Whitmarsh is choosing to handle things after all the ‘wrong choice’ comments…

    “That being the case, Checo drove a solid and controlled race to come home seventh, which was in fact the position from which he’d started the race, further underlining how difficult it was to overtake here today.

    “Jenson started from P15, owing to a troubled qualifying yesterday, but thereafter drove an excellent race, skillfully nursing a car whose left-hand front-wing endplate had been significantly damaged in a lap-one contact with another car. Despite the understeer handicap that that damage had caused, however, Jenson was able to record some impressive lap-times – and, driving with measured aggression all the while, climbed the leader-board to 10th place at the finish, expertly controlling his tyre wear, and taking a very hard-earned world championship point by pulling off a slick yet spectacular passing manoeuvre on Daniel [Ricciardo] on the race’s penultimate lap.

    “That move marked a fitting end to a frustrating weekend for Jenson, but I hope he’ll take some comfort from the knowledge that today he equalled our old friend David’s [Coulthard] all-time record of 246 grand prix starts by a British driver. He’ll establish a new benchmark of 247 grand prix starts by a British driver next weekend in Brazil.

  11. BasCB (@bascb) said on 18th November 2013, 10:53

    Interesting to read really. One has to wonder how being a year out of racing has hurt Heikki’s race skills. And I guess he did prove that Kimi is better than him in racing. Makes you think what Valsecchi could have achieved in the car, might have been worth a try

    • MazdaChris (@mazdachris) said on 18th November 2013, 12:34

      It’s a tough call though isn’t it. Car damaged early on, hobbled by a KERS failure, realistically it was always going to be a struggle in those circumstances. Not that I think it was ever in any doubt that Kovalainen was never going to be able to match Raikkonen’s performances. If he wants this to lead onto anything bigger than another year at Caterham however, he’ll need to do something fairly special in Brazil.

      • BasCB (@bascb) said on 18th November 2013, 13:45

        Ah, I hadn’t even registered the KERS failure @mazdachris, but yeah, its not the inspiring drive that reinvigorates his hopes of getting back in a front running team one might have hoped for after a very solid qualifying.

        I do think part of it is the race-skills that have suffered a bit from a year on the sidelines too, but really hard to judge whether he did so much better than a rookie would have managed.

  12. MazdaChris (@mazdachris) said on 18th November 2013, 12:28

    What a great race this was for Grosjean. Really vindicates all the faith Lotus have shown in him over the past couple of years when things have looked pretty bleak for him. I’m happy, long been a fan of his through feeder series, so it’s great to see him now delivering on the promise he’s always shown. Put this boy in a race winning car and you’ve got a world champion right there.

    • Shimks (@shimks) said on 18th November 2013, 12:54

      I’m also very pleased to see the boy come good. It’s very exciting. He should get his first win next year, if Lotus aren’t in heaps of financial trouble.

      • MazdaChris (@mazdachris) said on 18th November 2013, 13:04

        Well, if the reports are to be believe then they’re going to be selling themselves to Maldonado for his millions so that he can smash their cars to bits in the midfield, which should also keep them afloat for another year. It’s hard to predict how the order will be shaken up with the new engine regs though.

        It’s just a very worrying situation for F1 when a well established front running team with great technical resources is struggling this badly financially. It’s one thing to see the like of Marussia struggling,but you would expect at this level for success to be self-perpetuating. If having the second fastest car, and mounting the biggest credible challenge to the champions through half of the year doesn’t attract winnings and sponsorship enough to at least maintain that position, then the money model for F1 is very broken indeed.

  13. All the things wrong with Formula 1 these days (Request for artificial overtaking, Lack of Sponsorship) can be traced to F1′s wanting to move to Pay Channel. Earlier people were atleast acceptable to watching a few boring races per season if it was free. Now when fans have to cough up money, TV and F1 folks are demanding that we get hollywood style entertainment with passes occuring every corner to keep people interested. Comparing the liveries from 2009 the number of sponsors even for the top teams seem to be going down and down.

  14. The best & incredible race in a History of Vettel. I t must have been such a nice adventure for them. But I have never seen before this kind of issues because the track surface was no in a comfort as it was quite oily.
    Moreover I wish that they must go on.

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