If you looked at the final standings of the 2015 United States Formula 1 Grand Prix at Circuit of the Americas, you’d assume the race played out much like every other Formula 1 race held so far in 2015 – with the two Mercedes drivers easily leading the majority of the event. However you’d be wrong in saying that, as COTA played host to what was easily the most exciting and turbulent race so far in 2015.
The US GP got off to a rocky start when a torrential downpour descended upon COTA for qualifying Saturday. Mercedes-AMG Petronas driver Nico Rosberg took pole while teammate Lewis Hamilton joined him on the front row in second. The two Red Bulls of Daniil Kyvat and Daniel Ricciardo were third and fourth-respectively, with the two Ferraris of Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel starting at the back of the grid after taking 10-place engine penalties.
The excitement started as soon as the lights went out. As Rosberg and Hamilton approached the first corner, Hamilton left Rosberg no room and forced him off the track. This bumped the German down the running order and left Hamilton to fight for first with Red Bull’s Kyvat and Ricciardo. Rosberg re-took the lead following pit stops on Lap 19 and held the position until the late stages of the race.
Rosberg, under pressure from Hamilton, ran wide in Turn 12 and let his teammate easily slip past. This gave Hamilton the lead and eventually the win – allowing him to lock down his third Formula 1 World Championship since entering the sport in 2007.
More drama was playing out behind the two Mercedes as they fought for the lead. Ferrari’s Vettel was on a massive drive, dicing his way through the field to climb from 13th to third. He eventually caught the back of Rosberg and made attempts to pass the German, which would have meant Hamilton’s WDC hopes would to wait at least another week, however he was unable to catch the Mercedes in time and came up third.
In fourth was 18-year old Dutchman Max Verstappen, who was well ahead of fifth-place’s Sergio Perez. McLaren’s Jenson Button was sixth, a place he earned after finding himself locked in a fierce battle with Perez, Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz and McLaren teammate Fernando Alonso.
Red Bull, who at the beginning of the race looked poised to win or at least take a podium, fell off towards the end. Ricciardo wasn’t as competitive once the track dried and eventually lost position to Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg. The German later made contact with Ricciardo’s Red Bull and put himself out of the race while Ricciardo was forced to pit before finishing 10th. His teammate later Kyvat clipped the grass and crashed into the inside wall at COTA, forcing him to retire.
The 2015 Formula 1 season may have already been decided, but the racing will continue next week as the series heads to Mexico next month for the Mexican Grand Prix in Mexico City.
Click here for full results from the US GP.
Creative Commons photos via Curt Smith on Flickr!