United States GP: Driver Ratings

By on Monday, November 3, 2014

We rate the drivers for their performance in the 2014 edition of the United States Grand Prix

Mercedes AMG Petronas

Mercedes AMG Petronas

1 | Sebastian Vettel | Red Bull-Renault | G: Pit lane | R: 7th | 6/10

Inevitably, Vettel took his sixth Power Unit of the campaign and that came with a pit lane. He participated in qualifying just to set a lap, a task which he admitted was ‘pointless’. Pace in the first stint was awful and Red Bull’s strategy didn’t pay off, meaning he had to make a late stop for Options. Nonetheless, it worked, and he surged from 14th to seventh.

3 | Daniel Ricciardo | Red Bull-Renault | G: 5th | R: 3rd | 9/10

Ricciardo turned up in Austin sporting a garish beard and in qualifying he put in an optimal performance to finish in fifth, about par for the Red Bull. In the race he was outstanding, although he made life harder after a poor start. Pass on Fernando Alonso was simply sublime, while getting ahead of both Williams through the pits allowed him to claim third.

44 | Lewis Hamilton | Mercedes | G: 2nd | R: 1st | 9/10

Hamilton appeared effortless throughout practice but in qualifying he complained about the brakes on his car and couldn’t match Rosberg. He maintained second at the start but faded across the opening stint and dropped a few seconds. He re-focused and made an incisive move on Rosberg to take a lead he would not relinquish. With 10 wins from 17, it’s hard to argue against him as the best pilot of the year.

6 | Nico Rosberg | Mercedes | G: 1st | R: 2nd | 7/10

Rosberg had been sub-par all weekend but in qualifying he starred as he romped to pole position with a stunning lap time. He led away from the start but in the second stint he was reeled in by Hamilton and offered a lame defence. It was a massive missed opportunity for the German to prove his title credentials.

14 | Fernando Alonso | Ferrari | G: 6th | R: 6th | 8/10

Scuderia Ferrari

Scuderia Ferrari

Alonso again teased the media over his plans for 2015 but whatever they may be, he still pulverised the Ferrari to within an inch of its life across practice and qualifying. He did likewise in the race, although he had to play second fiddle to Ricciardo despite an opportunistic start. Sixth was as good as it was going to get.

7 | Kimi Räikkönen | Ferrari | G: 8th | R: 13th | 2/10

Räikkönen responded to Massa’s comments that Alonso got in his head by saying maybe he should check himself into one of Finland’s leading mental institutions. The front end may be dodgy, but his sense of humour remains. Race, though, was utterly appalling, even by 2014’s low standards as he was plagued by understeer.

8 | Romain Grosjean | Lotus-Renault | G: 16th| R: 11th | 7/10

Grosjean brought some humour to the usually dull press conference on Thursday after confirming he was to become a father for the second time (“at least that worked!”) Error in qualifying was costly. Battled valiantly in the race but assertive move from Jean-Éric Vergne damaged his car and left him more off-track than on-it.

13 | Pastor Maldonado | Lotus-Renault | Q: 10th | R: 10th | 7/10

12 months ago Maldonado fell out of Q1, accused Williams of sabotage and completely embarrassed himself. This year, driving a worse car, he almost made it to Q3. Such is the enigma of Maldonado. In the race he was slapped with two penalties, but he scored not just one point, but two! His long wait – his last point was Hungary 2013 – is over.

22 | Jenson Button | McLaren-Mercedes | Q: 12th | R: 12th | 6/10

McLaren Mercedes

McLaren Mercedes

Button’s weekend was always compromised from the moment when news broke that he’d face a five place grid drop for a gearbox change. McLaren stopped Button on the opening lap, effectively switching to a one stop strategy. Unfortunately he suffered from excessive rear degradation and tumbled down the order.

20 | Kevin Magnussen | McLaren-Mercedes | Q: 7th | R: 8th | 8/10

Magnussen was fractions behind Button in qualifying but started ahead – and on the clean side – as a result of the Brit’s penalty. Magnussen adopted a similar strategy but was able to make his tyres work better and collected four points for eighth – a result he felt was the maximum possible.

27 | Nico Hülkenberg | Force India-Mercedes | Q: 13th | R: Ret | 6/10

Hülkenberg won the award for one of the most unusual excuses after qualifying as a tear-off visor wrapped itself around his front tyre and cost him time. Race pace was pretty lacklustre until the car cried its last fairly early on. A weekend to forget.

11 | Sergio Pérez | Force India-Mercedes | Q: 11th | R: Ret | 1/10

Force India’s car was particularly affected by the windy conditions and, combined with using an extra set of Option tyres in Q1, meant Q2 elimination was inevitable. His start was decent, although his move was a flashback to a Pérez of previous years, rather than the driver which has improved this year.

99 | Adrian Sutil | Sauber-Ferrari | Q: 9th | R: Ret | 8/10

Sauber F1 Team

Sauber F1 Team

The ever-savvy Peter Sauber probably saw an opportunity to save money on number 9 stickers by signing Marcus Ericsson for 2015 but on Saturday it was the 99 who starred. The C33 has been hopeless for much of the year but Sutil dragged it to within an inch of its life. And then a Mexican appeared…

21 | Esteban Gutiérrez | Sauber-Ferrari | Q: 15th | R: 14th | 4/10

Slower than a slow thing, unfortunate. With Marussia and Caterham exiting stage left it was left to Sauber to pick up the baton of Formula 1’s slowest team. Sutil made a fight of it but Gutiérrez was off the pace in qualifying and pretty meek in the race as well.

25 | Jean-Éric Vergne | Toro Rosso-Renault | Q: 14th | R: 10th | 8/10

Vergne had an engine issue in the final session so missed running and had to take an old specification unit. The result was obviously not positive. Combative approach earned him plaudits in the race, though stewards felt his move on Grosjean was a step too far and docked him five seconds.

26 | Daniil Kvyat | Toro Rosso-Renault | Q: 17th | R: 15th | 7/10

Kvyat admitted that STR had ‘no pace’ in qualifying and his 14th place meant he could only serve three positions of his 10 place penalty for a seventh ICE of the year – so he’ll take the other seven in Brazil. He was part of the battle for points until he damaged his tyre while fighting Räikkönen and the subsequent vibrations became too severe.

19 | Felipe Massa | Williams-Mercedes | Q: 4th | R: 4th | 8/10

Williams Martini Racing

Williams Martini Racing

Massa profited from a poor start by team-mate Valtteri Bottas to move into third place and for much of the race he remained a threat to Mercedes – so much so that the squad reacted to the Brazilian’s second stop. Unfortunately, it was a slow one and Red Bull gave Ricciardo the undercut to claim third and demote Massa.

77 | Valtteri Bottas | Williams-Mercedes | Q: 3rd | R: 5th | 7/10

Amazing to think, really, that Bottas arrived in America 12 months ago without a championship point to his name. Across practice and qualifying he was on form but a poor start, despite theoretically superior traction, meant he slipped behind Massa, with strategy dropping him behind Ricciardo too.

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