Hamilton extends title lead with US GP win

Briton now 24 points clear of Mercedes team-mate Rosberg with three races to go. Ricciardo third in Austin.

Lewis Hamilton extended his title lead over team-mate Nico Rosberg to 24 points, as he took a comfortable third career US Grand Prix win after passing the German for the lead as the race approached its midpoint. Daniel Ricciardo finished third for Red Bull Racing.

Having claimed his ninth pole position of the season on Saturday, Rosberg led the race through the opening stint, but when the Mercedes duo made their first visit to the pit lane for medium tyres, Hamilton found more pace than his team-mate on the prime rubber and on lap 24 completed a bold move on the German into Turn 12 to steal the lead. Rosberg fought back but Hamilton always had a reserve of pace in hand to eventually take a comfortable 10th win of the season.

At the race start, behind the Mercedes pair, Felipe Massa passed team-mate Valtteri Bottas to claim third position. the Finn was then forced to defend hard as Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso attempted to pass but managed to kept hold of fourth.

Ricciardo, meanwhile, had made a poor getaway. He dropped to seventh behind McLaren’s Kevin Magnussen but soon claimed a place back, easing past Magnussen as the Dane was too cautious into Turn 12.

Behind them, Sergio Perez overcooked his entry into the corner and hit Kimi Raikkonen’s Ferrari. He then cannoned into the Sauber of Adrian Sutil, ending the German’s race. It was bitterly disappointing for Sauber, who had yesterday seen Sutil claim their first top 10 qualifying position of the season and put the team in a good position to claim its first points of the year.

The safety car came out and many cars pitted to change tyres. Sebastian Vettel was one of those, pitting twice and eventually emerging on medium tyres.

When the safety car peeled off track at the end of lap four, Rosberg kept his lead ahead of Hamilton and the Williams duo of Massa and Bottas. Ricciardo, meanwhile, muscled his way past Alonso on the outside of Turn Two to steal back fifth place. Behind Alonso, team-mate Raikkonen was seventh ahead of Lotus’ Pastor Maldonado, Toro Rosso’s Jean-Eric Vergne and Romain Grosjean in the second Lotus in 10th place.

Maldonado, though, was in trouble. Placed under investigation by the stewards for speeding under the safety car – along with a clutch of other drivers – the Venezuelan was handed a five-second stop and go penalty, as were Vergne and Gutierrez.

The first round of planned pit stops began on lap 15 as Massa and Ricciardo dived toward the pit lane. Massa took on more softs, while Ricciardo opted for mediums. Rosberg made his stop on the next lap, taking on medium tyres. He was followed by Valtteri Bottas.

The single lap extra that Bottas had to put in over Ricciardo cost him, however, as the Red Bull driver used the undercut to sneak ahead as Bottas rejoined. Hamilton, meanwhile, pitted on lap 16 and like his team-mate took on medium tyres. Elsewhere, Maldonado and Vergne took their penalties during their pit stops and that allowed Grosjean to move ahead of the pair.

At the front, on lap 21, Rosberg was just 1.4 seconds ahead of Hamilton and by the time the pair crossed the line at the end of the tour, the championship leader had narrowed the gap to one second and was inside DRS range. Seven seconds further back, Massa continued in third, two seconds ahead of Ricciardo who had now built a three-second lead over Bottas.

Magnussen was now fifth for McLaren, ahead of team-mate Button who was being heavily pressured by a hard-charging Alonso. The Spaniard probed and pressed and eventually found a way through at Turn One on lap 24 to steal eighth.

A bigger change of position was taking place at further up the track, however. As Rosberg and Hamilton headed for Turn 12, the Briton spotted a gap and dived down the inside. He made the move stick and took the race lead.

At the edge of the top 10 Vettel was struggling badly. The champion, who was running considerably slower than his team-mate, had already complained about the mysteriously poor pace of his car and now was suffering with bad understeer. On lap 25 he was brushed aside through Turn One by Grosjean and then, almost immediately by Vergne, who was now 10th.

As the front-runners’ second stops began, Ricciardo, in fourth, visited the pits for more medium tyres on lap 32. Massa, in third, came in a lap later but a slow halt as his team fitted medium tyres allowed the Red Bull driver to steal third as Massa exited the pits and the pair ran up to Turn One.

Hamilton and Rosberg, meanwhile, made their final stops, with both taking on medium tyres. Rosberg had been told to push hard while Hamilton pitted ahead of him, but he could find no gain and a slightly slower stop than Hamilton’s left him in second place, 3.6s down on his team-mate.

Rosberg wasn’t defeated, however. On lap 36 he put in a race fastest lap, a 1:42.381 to run almost a second quicker than his title rival and the gap dropped to 2.7s. Hamilton was immediately informed of the fact by his race engineer and upped his pace, setting a personal best for the race of 1:42.618. Rosberg was pushing too, however, and maintained his assault by logging a 1:42.718. The duo continued to trade fastest laps, but with Hamilton seemingly able to respond at will the gap eventually began to stabilise at 2.5s.

Alonso, in sixth, was the last man to make a scheduled stop, on lap 44 but when he emerged he was beaten into Turn One by Vettel. The German, on older medium tyres, couldn’t hold out for long against the soft tyre-shot Ferrari driver and Alonso soon stole back the position on lap 46.

With 10 laps left Hamilton led Rosberg by 2.4s, with Ricciardo third. Massa was now fourth in front of team-mate Bottas, with Alonso sixth ahead of Vettel. Then came the McLarens of Magnussen and Button, while the final points position was occupied by Grosjean, who had Vergne in close attendance.

That order wouldn’t hold, however. Vettel briefly dropped out of the top 10 on lap 49 to make a fourth pit stop, during which he took on soft tyres. He was soon scything through the pack as further ahead Vergne also attempted to climb the order.

The Frenchman put a late, strong-arm move on Grosjean to claim ninth, which drew the attention of the stewards for investigation after the race, and then overtook Button for eighth.

Vettel though was marching on and soon brushed passed Grosjean, Maldonado, Vergne, and Magnussen to rise back to seventh place. Maldonado passed Vergne for in the final corners but the Venezuelan had to take a five-second penalty for speeding in the pit lane during an earlier stop.

The flurry of action meant that Hamilton won, 4.3s ahead of Rosberg, with Ricciardo taking his eighth podium finish of the season.

Massa finished fourth ahead of team-mate Bottas, while Alonso was sixth, just half a second ahead of Vettel who spent the final lap desperately trying to pass the Ferrari. Magnussen was eighth with Vergne ninth when Maldonado’s penalty was applied as he crossed the line. The Lotus man still held on to a point, however.

2014 United States Grand Prix – Race

1 44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 56 Winner 2 252 6 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 56 +4.3 secs 1 183 3 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull Racing 56 +25.5 secs 5 154 19 Felipe Massa Williams 56 +26.9 secs 4 125 77 Valtteri Bottas Williams 56 +30.9 secs 3 106 14 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 56 +95.2 secs 6 87 1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull Racing 56 +95.7 secs 18 68 20 Kevin Magnussen McLaren 56 + secs 7 49 25 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 56 + secs 14 210 13 Pastor Maldonado Lotus 56 + secs 10 111 8 Romain Grosjean Lotus +1 Lap 1612 22 Jenson Button McLaren +1 Lap 1213 7 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari +1 Lap 814 21 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber +1 Lap 1515 26 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso +1 Lap 17Ret 27 Nico Hulkenberg Force India +40 Laps 13Ret 11 Sergio Perez Force India +55 Laps 11Ret 99 Adrian Sutil Sauber + secs 9

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