United States Grand Prix: Vettel speechless as he makes it eight in a row
18 November, 2013
“I am speechless, we have to remember these days. There’s no guarantee they will last. I love this team. Incredible, I love you guys,” were Sebastian Vettel’s words to his Red Bull team shortly after he crossed the finish line to win the United States Grand Prix and become the first driver in the history of Formula 1 to win eight successive races in a row.
It was another commanding performance where he and his team never put a foot wrong, from the moment the red lights went out, until the chequered flag waved in front of a huge and enthusiastic crowd at Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas.
For Red Bull it was a huge milestone in a massive market for their energy drink – it was their first grand prix win on United States soil.
It was a true World Champion’s performance from Vettel, who again celebrated with donuts, much to the delight of the crowd, probably the highlight of their day, as they would have been forgiven a yawn or two after what was not the most exciting of races witnessed this season.
Vettel summed up his history making afternoon, ”I don’t know how I do it if I’m honest. It’s impossible to know what to say. I want to say thanks to the crowd. It’s unbelievable to have more than 100,000 here on Sunday in only our second year. The city is going crazy.”
“The car was fantastic. It was a bit tight at the start, Romain had a good start and I didn’t know if it would be enough. We had good pace though and could control the gaps for eight wins in a row. My debut was in 2007 in Indianapolis so to come back last year, podium and win today, it’s fantastic,” added Vettel, who has now scored 38 victories at the pinnacle of the sport.
There was drama early on when Adrian Sutil’s Force India and Pastor Maldonado’s Williams came together on the straight. the Force India veered viciously across the track and slammed the barriers, where it came to a stop. Sutil climbed out unscathed. It was a big impact which destroyed the front end of the VJM06.
This brought about the Safety Car for four laps as marshals cleared the wrecked car and debris from the track. Vettel controlled the restart, then pulled a gap of around six seconds to a dozen seconds during the course of the race, with what appeared to be plenty to spare – guaranteed.
Romain Grosjean’s ascendancy in stature continued as the Lotus driver delivered another superb performance to take second place. He did all the hard work between the start and the exit of Turn 1.
The Frenchman reflected afterwards, ”It was a good race, a good start and I got past Mark and almost caught Seb. The car worked well today, I’m very proud to represent Lotus. Everyone did a 100% job and I’m glad to be on the podium here in the United States – I like this country and I always look forward to this beautiful track. Maybe next year I will go one better.”
Vettel made a bullet start, as did Mark Webber for a change, but the Australian opted to go tight on the inside and thus lost momentum while Grosjean took the outside line, carrying more speed on the exit – second place was in the bag.
Although Webber had a sniff every now and then, it was clear that Grosjean could react to any threat and in the end the older man finished third, following the Lotus home.
Webber said, ”I think pole was very important yesterday and it probably cost me a better result today. I should have qualified better and it was difficult to be in a good position on Turn One from there. We all wanted to be on the outside.”
“It was not easy to pass Romain who was very clean but a good job for the whole team and I’m happy to finish on the podium on what will be my last F1 race here in America. But see you next year with Porsche,” added the Australian.
Lewis Hamilton also got the better of Webber at the start, but the Mercedes did not have the race pace to sustain the charge which seemed to frustrate the 2007 World Champion who took it out on his engineer. First he admonished the man for not letting him focus, then later slammed him for providing too little information
Hamilton crossed the line in fourth, albeit nearly half a minute down on the race winner and with Nico Rosberg coming home ninth, the Silver Arrows again outscored Ferrari to strengthen their chances of finishing second in the Constructors’ Championship.
Hamilton commented, ”The car was night and day different compared to where it was in Abu Dhabi, so I’m sure the new tub helped. To finally have a half decent Qualifying [session], move forward, utilise the tyres and have life left in them, makes me really, really happy.”
From day one in Texas it was clear that Ferrari did not have a competitive car for the race, nevertheless Fernando Alonso delivered another gutsy display – still hurting from the Abu Dhabi impact which injured his back – to take fifth place. Felipe Massa was incognito most of the day on his way to 13th place.
Alonso’s duel on the final lap with Nico Hulkenberg will go down as one of the highlights of the race – the Sauber driver again did his shares no harm with a steady showing all weekend which was rewarded with sixth place in the race.
It has been a strange week for Sergio Perez – first he was sacked by McLaren then he was told that they are doing all they can to secure him a drive next year in another team.
Credit to the Mexican for putting that out of his mind on the day and producing a strong performance to claim seventh place, in the process trouncing his more experienced teammate Jenson Button who finished tenth.
Button was remarkably honest to admit afterwards, ”I’ve got to sort myself out. This weekend I didn’t pull it all together.”
It was a big day for rookie Valtteri Bottas who scored his first ever grand prix points at a circuit he had never driven on until FP1 on Friday. The young Williams driver never put a foot wrong all weekend, and eighth place was his reward.
The race ended as it started – with an incident – when the Sauber of Esteban Gutierrez and Toro Rosso’s Jean-Eric Vergne made contact on the final lap, the pair dueling for 12th. Gutierrez spun off into the gravel but recovered to the track to finish 14th. Vergne was 12th. (GP247)
Subbed by AJN.
United States Grand Prix, Race Result – Sunday, 18 November 2013
|1||1||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull Racing-Renault||56||Winner||1||25|
|2||8||Romain Grosjean||Lotus-Renault||56||+6.2 secs||3||18|
|3||2||Mark Webber||Red Bull Racing-Renault||56||+8.3 secs||2||15|
|4||10||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes||56||+27.3 secs||5||12|
|5||3||Fernando Alonso||Ferrari||56||+29.5 secs||6||10|
|6||11||Nico Hulkenberg||Sauber-Ferrari||56||+30.4 secs||4||8|
|7||6||Sergio Perez||McLaren-Mercedes||56||+46.6 secs||7||6|
|8||17||Valtteri Bottas||Williams-Renault||56||+54.5 secs||9||4|
|9||9||Nico Rosberg||Mercedes||56||+59.1 secs||12||2|
|10||5||Jenson Button||McLaren-Mercedes||56||+77.2 secs||15||1|
|11||19||Daniel Ricciardo||STR-Ferrari||56||+81.0 secs||10|
|12||18||Jean-Eric Vergne||STR-Ferrari||56||+84.5 secs||14|
|13||4||Felipe Massa||Ferrari||56||+86.9 secs||13|
|14||12||Esteban Gutierrez||Sauber-Ferrari||56||+91.7 secs||20|
|15||7||Heikki Kovalainen||Lotus-Renault||56||+95.0 secs||8|
|16||14||Paul di Resta||Force India-Mercedes||56||+96.8 secs||11|
|17||16||Pastor Maldonado||Williams-Renault||55||+1 Lap||17|
|18||22||Jules Bianchi||Marussia-Cosworth||55||+1 Lap||19|
|19||21||Giedo van der Garde||Caterham-Renault||55||+1 Lap||18|
|20||20||Charles Pic||Caterham-Renault||+1 Lap||22|
|21||23||Max Chilton||Marussia-Cosworth||+2 Lap||21|
|Ret||15||Adrian Sutil||Force India-Mercedes||+ secs||16|
Note – Button qualified 13th but penalised 3 grid places for passing under red flags in FP1. Pic qualified 21st but penalised 5 places for unscheduled gearbox change. Gutierrez qualified 10th but penalised 10 places for impeding Maldonado during Q1.