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Class of the Field
Adam Barton

A Formula One fan since he was six, back while Häkkinen and Schumacher were having many an epic battle, Adam has seen a great deal. From German domination (twice), to British determination (once) and a Spanish invasion. A near compulsive fan who one day hopes to write about the sport for a living, outside of F1 Adam also authors his own blog One Guy's Opinion.

Young guns show their worth // Vettel wins again but others put themselves in the shop window for 2014

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It wasn’t a classic, and there isn’t exactly a championship riding on it, but Texas proved the perfect environment for some of the drivers who are still fighting for their F1 lives to thrive. There were some great moves and great driving throughout the field as many drivers took a few more risks now that the championship is sealed for Sebastian Vettel. And while he was showing his ominous speed once again for a record eighth win in a row, he was by no means the star of the show.

Bottas on fine form

Valtteri Bottas scores his first F1 points
Credit: Andrew Ferraro/Williams F1

It gave him a great platform to secure his best result of the season

Finally the Flying Finn is off the mark with his first championship points as he showed the paddock what he is all about: speed. I heard David Croft speak on Friday about how Valtteri Bottas risked becoming the first Williams driver ever to not score a point over a season, and how it was a detriment to him, but he proved the doubters wrong with a great weekend, putting his outgoing, senior teammate well and truly in the shade. Bottas beat Pastor Maldonado’s Q1 time by one and a half seconds on his way to his second top ten start in his rookie year. While his ninth on the grid wasn’t quite as spectacular as his third on the grid in Canada, it gave him a great platform to secure his best result of the season.

Bottas spent much of the race running at his own pace, knowing that his Williams didn’t have the pace to compete with the Red Bulls, Lotus, Mercedes, Sauber and Ferrari ahead. In reality, this could have been a benefit for Bottas, allowing him to control his pace, rather than running at a faster pace to try and gain an extra place and ruining his tyres as a result.

Having lost some time in the pitstop (something Williams has had to deal with since Maldonado’s wheel coming off in Japan), Bottas was all on his own. After showing his overtaking skills with an excellent brave overtake around the outside of Esteban Gutiérrez in turn two, he simply managed the cars and the tyres to the flag to secure his first top ten finish in F1, bringing four valuable points home for Williams.

Pérez proves McLaren wrong

He may be without a drive for 2014 but ‘Checo’ Pérez secured his third points finish in a row, finishing seventh and thoroughly outperforming teammate Jenson Button throughout the weekend. Admittedly Button wasn’t helped by a three place grid penalty for overtaking under the red flag on Friday (which was a very immature mistake for a man of Button’s experience to make) but Pérez was streets ahead of Button all weekend anyway.

Sergio made it through to Q3 with a great lap while Button was left languishing in Q2, and went on to secure seventh on the grid. He managed to get past Fernando Alonso on the first lap and held the Spaniard behind him until his pitstop, when Alonso ran longer and used the clean air to jump the McLaren. Pérez was unable to keep up with the Ferrari in his second stint but he did finish seventh for six points for McLaren.

Pérez faces an uncertain F1 future
Credit: Vodafone McLaren Mercedes

While I applaud McLaren for giving Kevin Magnussen, a talented but inexperienced driver, a chance in F1, I am not sure that they gave Sergio Pérez a fair crack of the whip. This was a guy who was the hottest commodity this time last year and now he’s out on the street looking for a drive at the last minute. I would have expected McLaren to have given him at least a season to bed in before making an ultimate judgement on the Mexican.

I am even more concerned that they changed their mind after Pérez’s so-so performance in Abu Dhabi, rather than judging his body of work over the course of the season. While Pérez has scored 20 points less than Button over the season, there have been times when Pérez has been fast but didn’t get the points that his pace deserved, such as in Monaco. While I am glad youth is getting a chance, I’m disappointed how Sergio Pérez's McLaren career has come to an end.

Grosjean punches above his weight

Once again, only one man could touch the Red Bulls, and that man was Romain Grosjean. I don’t know anyone, barring Sebastian Vettel, who has been more impressive in the second half of the year than the redeemed Frenchman.

I don’t think he made an error or even chased a shadow in his defence of the Aussie

Grosjean gave the Red Bulls a bit of a scare, finishing just six seconds behind Vettel, who was clearly being monitored for much of the race. Grosjean was another man who set up a good race with a quality performance in qualifying, finishing best of the rest in third, even if he was eight tenths off the Red Bull pole pace. It gave Grosjean the opportunity to mix it with the Red Bulls on the outside of turn one, having taken advantage of Webber’s usual slow start. The end result was Romain slotting in between the two marquee cars, a position he held until the end of the race, not letting Webber’s persistent pressure get to him. In fact, I don’t think he made an error or even chased a shadow in his defence of the Aussie.

I’ll be hoping Romain Grosjean and Lotus can build on this form in 2014.

Grosjean has his hat on
Credit: Andrew Ferraro/Lotus F1

Hülkenberg does it again

I really hope that Nico Hülkenberg is Grosjean’s partner in crime at Lotus next year, though Lotus’ financial security is once again in doubt. Hülkenberg showed his great pace by dragging his Sauber where it doesn’t belong, qualifying a stunning fourth on the grid. His Sauber’s flaws were more evident in the race however, and having lost out to Lewis Hamilton at the start, the German caused a bit of a queue behind him.

Hülkenberg showed his great pace by dragging his Sauber where it doesn’t belong

Hülkenberg held Pérez and his nemesis Alonso behind him in the first stint. Hülkenberg came out after his stop in fifth ahead of Alonso; I swear that the Spaniard could do an accurate sketch of the back of the Sauber having spent much of the last few races behind Hülkenberg. In the end though, Alonso had his revenge, overtaking the German on lap 44, but Hülkenberg had already shown his talent on his way to sixth place.