Pirelli have brought the hard and medium compounds to Austin. Initially, they were hoping to encourage two stop strategies this year, compared to the one-stops of 2012.
However, after qualifying, they revised their opinion, and said the ideal strategy would be a one-stop, unless the drivers are confident they've got a super-quick car.
Tweet from @virtualstatman: The 2012 US Grand Prix saw the fewest pitstops of the whole season (25), and I expect the same again today
Let us not forget that Kimi Räikkönen has made a swift exit from the Lotus team, and is currently recovering from a successful back surgery. In his place, Heikki Kovalainen has made the switch from Caterham for the final two rounds of the year.
The Finn did a very good job in qualifying, getting up into the top ten, and still being hungry for more.
|1||S Vettel||Red Bull|
|2||M Webber||Red Bull|
|10||D Ricciardo||Toro Rosso|
Interview with Sergio Pérez: "Turn one is a bit dirty, it will be interesting to see, in the out-laps it's very difficult to feel the grip as you're coming out of the pit lane. The rest of the circuit looks fine, I expect to have a good race. I think we have a good plan for these kind of temperatures, I really hope it can work better for us than others."
Interview with Heikki Kovalainen: "I'm not nervous, I've been relaxed all weekend. When you don't know what to expect, it's difficult to set specific targets for yourself. The car felt good on the lap to the grid, it's been feeling good all weekend. Hopefully we'll have a good weekend.
"I believe I can handle [the start] but in a couple of hours time, when I talk to you again, we'll know more. I've been satisfied so far... the car's been well balanced straight away. On Friday, we were able to work on the set up rather than getting familiar with it too much. This hotter weather hopefully works better for us. Today could potentially be a good day."
Tweet from @pirellisport: 20 minutes to go to the #USGP. Grand stands are full, there is a great atmosphere, there is Matt Le Blanc... All set to go.
There are lots of fun things to watch out for this race - starting with the midfield runners doing well in the top ten. Bottas in the Williams and both Sauber drivers had pace - but of course, Esteban's penalty has knocked him to the rear of the field.
Nico Rosberg and Felipe Massa struggled on Saturday, and they start 12th and 13th respectively.
Although we know the championship is all sewn up and sorted, it'll be fascinating to see if Hamilton can overcome Räikkönen's third place - the Finn not being able to defend himself any more.
The National Anthem has been sung by a very brave lady at the top of that big tower next to the track. Very well done by her, and now for a fly past.
Interview with Paul di Resta: "The weather's quite different, the sun's come out. Hotter conditions suit us. We've put ourselves in the position if we get a good start, we'll be straight in the points. Maintaining that will be difficult."
Jackie Stewart on Heikki's comeback so far: "I take my cowboy hat off to him."
Pastor Maldonado starts 18th on the grid, after a difficult qualifying. The Venezuelan was impeded by several other cars, and also blamed his team for sabotaging his own machinery. He later said it was heat of the moment talk, but I'd expect the beneficial strategy to go to Bottas this weekend!
All the drivers, barring Vergne, have opted to (or have to) start on the medium tyres. Vergne is down in 14th and has the harder compounds on the car.
The formation lap begins, with Vettel leading the way up the steep hill towards turn one.
Some packed grandstands litter the track, excitement and anticipation amongst the crowds, and some lovely weather for a spot of F1.
Vettel pulls to a halt at the front of the grid, and the pack file in behind him. Those heat hazes are visible down the home straight.
Grosjean storms up alongside Webber to the first corner, and the Red Bull gets squeezed down to fourth, with Lewis Hamilton making the pass as well. Vettel skips off into the lead, as per usual.
Adrian Sutil has crashed into the barriers, out of the race.
Safety car deployed. It sits waiting at the top of the hill, for Vettel to start the second lap.
Sutil climbs out of the car, as we see replays of some kind of contact knocking him into the barriers and out of the race.
Esteban Gutiérrez has pitted, with damage to the back of the car and for a change of tyres. It was the Sauber that made contact with Sutil's Force India.
Kovalainen has dropped down to twelfth, a bad start for the Lotus driver relatively speaking, but not bad considering he must be a bit rusty on race starts.
It's actually nice to have the safety car this early, so that we don't miss anything with those endless reviews of the start.
It should be pointed out that Webber didn't have a poor start, as we might have expected, he was clinging to the back of Vettel. Unfortunately for him, the Lotus and Mercedes got the edge into the first corner.
Tweet from @InsideFerrari: As last year, starting from the right side, the cleaner, was a big advantage. Unfortunately, this year ALO was on the left one.
The Safety Car is coming in this lap, and Vettel backs the pack up significantly around the final two corners. He's almost stopped on track.
Grosjean had nowhere to go but alongside him there, and as Vettel weaved about, it was close! But they get away cleanly again.
Max Chilton comes in to the pit lane to serve his drive through penalty. He had to take it in the first five laps, but couldn't do it under the safety car, so this is the next best opportunity.
Vettel has the gap up to over two seconds, so DRS won't affect him. Webber though, has an eye on Hamilton, just half a second ahead of him.
Replays show Esteban Gutiérrez sweeping past Jules Bianchi for 17th place, he'll be making his way through the field.
Team radio from Maldonado: "There's some vibration in the car." And the front wing is completely hanging off.
Black and orange flag has been shown for Maldonado, I don't have one of those to display. It's a request for the Williams driver to come into the pits NOW and fix the car. Maldonado does so.
A new front wing goes on the Williams, and Maldonado is off and back out running again - dead last now.
Sergio Pérez has been told to give it everything (and more) to get past Hülkenberg. The Sauber driver is in fifth, with Pérez sixth.
|9||2||P di Resta|
Nico Rosberg sits in 11th place, just behind Ricciardo. He's keeping Kovalainen behind him at the moment, which will help with the championship battle - assuming those two get into the points.
Mark Webber flies past Lewis Hamilton, under braking at the hairpin rounding the end of the back straight. Third place for the Red Bull driver.
Tweet from @Marussia_F1Team: Jules has stepped up the pace to start pulling away from the Caterhams
Hamilton gets a conciliatory radio message from his engineer, explaining that Red Bull is fast, but they are faster than the driver's behind. "Consolidate this pace," he says. Hamilton snaps: "I'm trying to!"
Tweet from @clubforce: Paul playing the long game, biding his time in P9. Laptimes constantly improving for him!
A bit of a slow point in the race, this one. The safety car will have extended the life of the tyres and pushed back the first (perhaps only) pit stop window.
Talking of which, Heikki Kovalainen comes in for the first scheduled pit stop of the day.
Team radio to Vettel: "Go for the distance, not speed."
Kovalainen rejoined the action in 16th, behind Gutiérrez who has also stopped once. Heikki should be able to get past at some point, with fresher tyres on his car.
Valtteri Bottas is up to eighth now, and he sets the fastest first sector of the race so far. Meanwhile, Vettel sets the fastest lap, totally ignoring his engineer, Rocky.
Nico Rosberg passes Daniel Ricciardo, but the Toro Rosso doesn't want to concede the position and is all over the back of the Mercedes for a corner or two. He has to give it up, and Rosberg takes 10th place, moving into the points. Great driving from the pair of them.
Jenson Button gets the call to come into the pit lane, and he does so, rejoining in 16th. As he exits the pit lane, Charles Pic comes in for Caterham.
Team radio to Massa: "Button is in, Button is in, so push now."
Ted News: Button is missing a whole endplate on the front wing.
Massa only does one more circuit and then the Ferrari mechanics scramble for the Brazilian's first stop of the afternoon.
Bianchi and van der Garde also come in for their pit stops.
Massa exits ahead of Button, but the McLaren driver is clinging to his rear wing at the moment.
The other Ferrari of Fernando Alonso is chasing Sergio Pérez for position, but the Mexican gets the call to "box this lap." Checo heads into the pit lane and Alonso doesn't follow him in.
Di Resta, Rosberg and Ricciardo all pit at the same time, from 11th, 12th and 13th place.
A quick pit stop for Button, but he loses the position to Massa, anyway. Via @McLarenF1.
Valtteri Bottas comes in to the pit lanes, and he drops back out in tenth place.
Mark Webber sets the fastest lap of the race so far, he's got five seconds to make up on Grosjean to regain his second place.
Tweet from @sarahholtf1: I find the voice of Hamilton's team radio very reassuring. If I was ever in an emergency that's the voice I'd like to tell me to evacuate.
Esteban Gutiérrez makes a pass on Jean-Éric Vergne, going a little deep into the corner and letting Vergne have a look back, but the Sauber retains the position.
Lewis Hamilton comes in for his first stop of the day, rejoining in sixth place, just behind Alonso but ahead of the Gutiérrez/Vergne battle.
Sergio Pérez has closed up to the Toro Rosso of Vergne, hoping to imitate Gutiérrez's move and hop up to 8th.
With the help of DRS, Pérez moves to the inside and just like Esteban, locks up but still manages to stay ahead of Vergne.
Vergne's lost two places in two laps but hasn't pitted yet, whereas those two have.
Fernando Alonso pits and comes back out centimetres ahead of Sergio Pérez. That was close, but Alonso remains ahead.
Sebastian Vettel pits from the lead of the race, in and out before you can blink, as Nico Hülkenberg follows in behind.
Vettel rejoined in third, the best of those who have pitted. Grosjean leads Webber, the two of them the only drivers not to have pitted.
Webber gets the call to pit, leaving Grosjean as the only driver not to have stopped yet.
That's a ridiculously fast stop for Red Bull. Ted Kravitz says the pit record is 2.32 so it depends on the second decimal place whether that was a record or not.
Alonso has dispatched Gutiérrez, moving up to sixth place and with Hülkenberg ahead of him.
Grosjean comes in from the lead, handing it back to Vettel. He rejoins in second.
Team radio from Hamilton: "You need to give me some feedback, man. The tyre temperatures, do I need to push?"
Two Mexican drivers on the same piece of track together, and Pérez dived one way and then the other to make the pass on Gutiérrez for 7th place.
Nico Rosberg passes Heikki Kovalainen, just as the Lotus driver comes in to the pits.
Martin Brundle: "You seem to be getting conflicting information from Lewis Hamilton on the radio, he wants information, he doesn't want information?"
Ross Brawn: "Yep, that's Lewis."
Kovalainen's pit stop was a little extended, the Lotus mechanics scrambling to change the front wing as quickly as possible.
Team radio to Sergio Pérez: "Tyres are fine, let's try and maintain the gap to Alonso so we can attack him at the end on better tyres."
Kovalainen has dropped down to 17th now, pretty disappointing, and he's stuck behind Maldonado.
Bottas is still clinging on to the top ten, he's ninth at the moment, and hunting for his first points in Formula One.
Rosberg makes another storming overtake, passing Paul di Resta this time to drop the Force India out of the top ten.
Di Resta doesn't give up, but Nico ups the pace and disappears into the distance.
Bottas looked like he was attempting to line up a pass on Gutiérrez in the DRS zone but ran out of road. He's staying close and looking for another place to pass.
Gutiérrez is struggling on his tyres, having stopped once but early in the race, so his tyres will be giving up very soon.
Bottas soared round the outside and kept his foot in to muscle his way past Gutiérrez - a great move from the Finn and he moves up to eighth.
|R Grosjean||vs.||M Webber|
|Sector 1||M Webber||216kph|
|Sector 2||S Vettel||183kph|
|Sector 3||S Pérez||204kph|
|Speed trap||J Button||314kph|
Webber looks like he's dropped back from the Lotus of Grosjean now actually.
Esteban Gutiérrez comes in for his second stop, medium tyres go on the Sauber, and he heads back out on track in 15th place.
After dropping back from harassing Grosjean, Webber puts in a fastest lap. Odd.
Hamilton's current position of fourth would move him ahead of Kimi Räïkkönen in the driver standings, if the race finishes like this.
Felipe Massa has come in for his second stop of the day, something of a surprise, although higher temperatures might see more drivers attempting a two-stop here.
Kovalainen has had a brief off-track excursion at turn 19, but continues unharmed.
Ricciardo tries to take the inside line on Di Resta into that first corner, but he backs out of a dangerous position. They're scrapping for the final points position.
Ricciardo tries again at the same place on track, but still can't make the move. Di Resta has one eye firmly glued on his rear view mirrors.
Di Resta was about to come under threat from the Toro Rosso again but managed to nab some DRS off a backmarker he happened to chance upon.
Four drivers have been lapped so far, the four backmarkers. Bianchi leads the charge, with van der Garde ahead of his teammate, and Chilton bringing up the rear.
Ricciardo makes a false move down into the first corner to finally get the move on Di Resta. The Force India tries to take it back but runs wide off track and has to concede.
Alonso overtakes Nico Hülkenberg for fifth place, and he's got Hamilton next in line.
Team radio to Kovalainen: "Heikki, we think we've lost KERS, try pressing the okay button twice."
Tweet from @EliGP: Red Bull's biggest challenge this season has been trying to stop Vettel from setting the fastest lap at the end of races.
Vettel got that warning that he needs to look after his tyres, but super-slo-mo shows the rears looking practically brand new.
Webber sets the fastest lap of the race, and he is within one second of Romain Grosjean right now, second place in his sights.
Felipe Massa passes Pastor Maldonado for 15th place. The other Williams of Bottas is still running well in eighth place.
Webber closed and closed down the long back straight, and made a brief dive to the left but pulled back. It's only a matter of time for Grosjean now though.
Incident involving Charles Pic and Lewis Hamilton under investigation - ignoring blue flags. Drive through penalty for Pic.
We just saw a close up of a jiggling leg on the pit wall, and for once, it's not Christian Horner's! This time, Eric Boullier has the nerves on.
Paul di Resta comes in for a late second stop, he drops down the order and slots back out in 17th place.
|16th||P di Resta||2|
Heikki Kovalainen has managed to overtake, squeezing past the Williams of Pastor Maldonado for 15th place.
Just five laps to go.
Charles Pic has taken his drive through penalty, and still come back out in front of Max Chilton.
Vettel crosses the line to start the fourth to last lap, and the gap to Grosjean is six seconds, with Webber still hustling the Lotus for second place.
Webber's radio is instructing him how to overtake, different combinations of KERS and DRS for each lap. It's all for nothing as Webber gets it wrong in the corner before the DRS zone and loses sight of the Lotus.
Vettel sets the fastest lap of the race so far, a 1:39.856.
Button and Ricciardo got seriously close as the Toro Rosso defends his final points position.
Button engages the DRS and takes the outside line of Ricciardo around the first corner to move up into tenth place.
Nico Hülkenberg is on the rear wing of Fernando Alonso, and the Ferrari tyres are looking really scrappy.
There's heaps of room as Hülkenberg gets ahead into the first corner, but Alonso gets the move right back with a dab of KERS at the top of the hill. Fifth place, they're fighting for.
Sebastian Vettel wins the United States Grand Prix!
Grosjean takes second, with Webber sweeping across the line for third place.
The battle continues, as Hülkenberg can't quite make the difference to Ferrari. The Sauber driver still pumps his fist, happy with sixth.
Valtteri Bottas has crossed the line eighth - his first points in Formula One, and crucially, more than Maldonado!
Replays show Gutiérrez tried to make a move on Vergne on that last lap. The two tangled and Gutiérrez's left rear mounted the front of the Toro Rosso and sent him off track. The move didn't work out but it wasn't for a points position.
Incident involving Esteban Gutiérrez and Jean-Éric Vergne under investigation - causing a collision.
More donuts from Vettel, as he spins his celebration before heading to the pit lane. Grosjean hops from the car and there are big hugs waiting for him in the crowd.
Tweet from @clubforce: Paul crosses the line in P16, a hard race for him with plenty of battling and a show of all his character.
The three drivers take a moment in the green room - water, towels and a quick chat, before they head to the podium.
That's Vettel's eighth consecutive victory and his twelfth of the season. Domination almost complete.
The national anthems play out, with the now traditional German/Austrian combination.
The three podium drivers look pretty hot, but still energetic after what was a long afternoon of racing.
Vettel raises the trophy above his head, and then gives it a big ol' kiss. The Red Bull constructor representative is Head of IT. That's like sending Mr C up to get the trophy. They've clearly run out of people, they've had so many wins.
Webber dashed after the cheerleaders with his champagne but they made a very swift exit from the podium. Head of IT has also been soaked.
Podium quotes - Sebastian Vettel: "It's impossible to know what to say. First of all, thanks to the crowd. It's only our second race here and we've got more than 100,000 people coming on Sunday. I think this is one of the best races we have all season.
"The car was fantastic, it was a bit tight on the start, Romain had a good start. It's tough judgement up the hill. Then I just tried to focus on myself."
Podium quotes - Romain Grosjean: "Good race, good start, I could pass Mark and almost got Seb. I think the car was working very well today, very proud to represent Lotus and the guys working in Enstone, it's a fantastic team. Glad to do a podium here in the US, I like this country, it's always good to come here. Looking forward to come back on that beautiful track, hopefully next year get one step ahead."
Podium quotes - Mark Webber: "Pole position was important yesterday... it probably cost me a lot better result today. We knew it wasn't going to be the easiest into turn one, had a good launch but we all wanted to be on the outside, got a bit boxed in... It was not easy to pass Romain... good job for the whole team, I'm happy to finish on the podium in front of the American fans for the last time in an F1 car. I'll see you next year in a Porsche."
So, that's that. The race wasn't as good as last year's and not really the classic we were hoping for. There's one post-race investigation to be mindful of but it shouldn't affect the points or anything.
Grosjean did another good job to get up on the podium for the sixth time, whilst Bottas held strong for his first points in F1, and massively improving Williams' score.
It was a tough day for Kovalainen, particularly after such a good qualifying. Hopefully he can do better next week in Brazil.
Talking of which, there are just seven days until the season finale at Interlagos, I will be back to cover the last race of 2013, so I hope you'll join me then!
All content in the series USA 2013
Filed under Lap by lap coverage
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