Grosjean passes four cars in seven laps
After being eliminated in the first part of qualifying for just the second time this season (and first time since the season-opener in Australia) on Saturday, Romain Grosjean opted for an aggressive strategy on Sunday, with Haas sticking the Frenchman on supersofts for his opening stint. What followed was a dynamite opening salvo, during which Grosjean made full use of the red-marked rubber to vault past several soft-tyre runners and set the platform for another top ten finish. Jolyon Palmer’s Renault was the first to be dispatched with a superb around-the-outside pass at Turn 1, with Marcus Ericsson’s Sauber, Daniil Kvyat’s Toro Rosso and team mate Esteban Gutierrez all falling in quick succession shortly afterwards. No wonder team principal Guenther Steiner was moved to say after the race “Romain couldn’t have raced any better with the car we had”.
Perez gets his own back on Kvyat
Force India suffered a nightmare opening lap in Austin as first Nico Hulkenberg sustained race-ending damage in a first corner collision with Valtteri Bottas and then (as the video above shows) Sergio Perez was punted into a spin at Turn 11 by Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat - a gesture which earned the Russian a 10-second penalty as well as front wing damage. However, it wouldn’t be long before the Mexican would extract some kind of revenge - after an incredibly quick recovery Perez got back into the action and within 5 laps was onto Kvyat’s tail, completing an easy pass into Turn 12. He’d go on to finish P8 - three places higher than the Russian.
Button passes Gutierrez twice in one lap
We’ve already brought you the driver’s eye view of Jenson Button’s scintillating opening lap in Austin - well here’s what happened next. Having risen to 11th, Button wasted no time putting a move on Esteban Gutierrez’s soft-tyre-shod Haas at Turn 1 for P10 at the beginning of the third lap. But if the McLaren driver thought that was the end of the battle he was mistaken, for the Mexican immediately fought back and repassed into the esses and it wasn’t until the back straight - with the help of DRS - that Button was able to get back in front for good.
Perez enjoys grandstand view of Renault battle
Having recovered from his first-lap spin, Sergio Perez found himself right behind an entertaining but extremely hard-fought tussle between the Renaults of Jolyon Palmer and Kevin Magnussen, who would end up squabbling for most of the race. Of course, there was much more to this battle than mere position: with one seat at Renault left to be filled for 2017, this was as much about staking a claim, and in this exchange - and in the final race positions - it was Magnussen who came off best. Having filled his team mate’s mirrors closely up to Turn 12 and then bobbed and weaved behind him through Turns 13 and 14, the Dane committed to an extremely brave lunge up the inside through Turn 15. Palmer fought back through the next right-handers, but the position was lost - and after a wide moment at Turn 19 Perez slipped past the Briton too.
Raikkonen shows off his reversing skills
Ferrari put Kimi Raikkonen on an extremely aggressive three-stop strategy in Austin - but sadly we never got to see where it would take him after a blunder at his final pit stop. As you can see from the video above, the Finn was given the green light to leave, but sadly before his right-rear tyre hadn’t been properly secured. Asked to stop in the pit lane exit, Raikkonen was then told to back his SF16-H into the pit lane, which he did with aplomb after manually putting his car into neutral via the button on top of the car. A pretty impressive manoeuvre all told - especially with such small wing mirrors!
Red Bull receive a surprise visitor
Raikkonen’s wasn’t the only pit stop mishap in the USA - Max Verstappen also had one of his own, although unlike the Finn, having arrived at his box prematurely, he couldn’t lay the blame at his team’s door. “The lap before I pitted I heard the words 'push hard', and that’s what I did, said the teenager. “But then I thought that they might have said: 'pit now'. Obviously it was a misunderstanding and very obviously my mistake!” As you can see from the video, whilst his mechanics were quick to get out of the garage to receive Verstappen, some 15 seconds passed before a set of tyres were hurriedly rushed out and the Dutchman was sent on his way again. For a team more accustomed to 2s pit stops, it must have felt like a lifetime.