Hamilton Wins Big in Texas
Prior to the start of this year's USA GP at the Circuit Americas, Austin, the F1 community was fraught with controversy. There were whisperings of a boycott from the Lotus, Sauber and Force India teams, as they feel they do not receive a large enough percentage of the sport's income, which would have been disastrous for the sport which is already struggling to crack the American market.
The team were citing a 'financial crisis' in F1 as their reason for considering walking out, and with two teams in administration and three more on the verge of refusing to race, this is something the FIA will have to take seriously.
However, all three teams decided to race in the US which was a major relief for the FIA in terms of the sport's publicity in America.
Smaller Grid But The F1 Rolls On
Caterham and Marussia, though, were both forced to withdraw from the race leaving only 18 cars on the grid – due to money issues, both teams have now gone into administration.
This is a major blow for the sport which had only 9 teams racing in Texas, the lowest number in quite a few years, and penalties to both insolvent teams were considered for breach of contract, which specifies they must participate in every event on the calendar, in light of the financial situation the FIA have decided not to penalise them.
In a typically contrite fashion F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone cited poor team financial management and as the cause of the collapse of Marussia and Caterham dismissing calls for fundamental change to the funding and distribution of wealth within F1.
It was a stark and sombre grid, though, which lined up in Texas. Predictably, the front runners were the two Mercedes cars – Rosberg just ahead of Hamilton after the Brit had had some technical issues with his brakes in qualifying – followed by Bottas, Massa and Ricciardo.
Reigning world champion Sebastian Vettel forced into an unscheduled engine change had to start from the pit lane at the back of the field; and Jensen Button started in 12th after being given a 5-place grid penalty for changing his gearbox.
Rosberg kept first place for a while ahead of his teammate up to the first of two tyre stops, but about mid-way through the race under constant pressure from a determined Hamilton couldn't hold on any longer and was forced to yield.
Hamilton had pitted first and dialled in more front wing, this with new tyres gave him the edge over Rosberg who despite matching laptimes with the leader never managed to seriously trouble the impeccable Hamilton.
With supreme confidence Hamilton controlled the race to score his fifth consecutive GP win. Rosberg followed him across the line shortly after and Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo came in third.
Force India had a bad race, though, following the threat of the boycott, with two non-finishers; Sergio Perez caused a reckless crash on the first lap, taking Sauber's Adrian Sutil out of the race and giving himself a 7-place grid penalty in Brazil, and Hulkenberg's car stopped with a power failure midway through, forcing him to retire.
Hamilton Breaks Mansell’s Record
On a happier note, with this win, Hamilton surpassed Nigel Mansell's record and became the most successful British driver of all time with 35 wins – 10 of them this season.
He said he owed a lot to the Mercedes team and the spectacular car that he has been driving, and that he hoped there would be more success in the future. He has also pulled further ahead of his rival in the Championship race; however, with two events still to go and double points in Abu Dhabi, it is still all to play for between the two Mercedes drivers.
Incidentally, the 1-2 finish by Mercedes has also eliminated Ricciardo from the race for the title; mathematically, only Rosberg or Hamilton can win the Championship now which must go down to the final race.
While this is a blow for the Red Bull driver, he has had a spectacular season so far in a sub-par car, and next year we will hopefully see a lot more of what the young Australian has to offer.
Stay tuned for the penultimate race in Brazil.