United States Grand Prix: Driver Ratings

By on Monday, November 18, 2013

Rating the 22 drivers for their performance during penultimate race of 2013, the United States Grand Prix, which was won by reigning world champion Sebastian Vettel, ahead of Romain Grosjean and Mark Webber.

Sebastian Vettel | Infiniti Red Bull Racing | 1st | 10/10

Red Bull/Getty Images

Red Bull/Getty Images

Vettel was comfortably quickest in second and third practice but qualifying was a different proposition as he faced a serious threat from team-mate Mark Webber. Vettel pulled a lap out of the hat to claim his 44th career pole and his second in a row in Austin. He didn’t make the best of starts but apart from Guillaume Rocquelin’s usual precaution, there was very little to worry about as he maintained a comfortable buffer over Romain Grosjean. The great eight; phenomenal.

Mark Webber | Infiniti Red Bull Racing | 3rd | 8/10

Webber may well be bowing out of the sport next Sunday but his effort during qualifying was sensational as only a couple of minor mistakes in the final sector prevented him from taking pole. His start was comparatively good but he was boxed in by Vettel and lost out to Romain Grosjean and Lewis Hamilton. He battled back past Hamilton but was ultimately unable to get past the Lotus and had to settle for third place. Nonetheless, his move on Hamilton was mega.

Fernando Alonso | Scuderia Ferrari | 5th | 9/10

Alonso admitted that he had suffered severe headaches and difficult nights following his back pain at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix and was still in discomfort between sessions. Once the adrenalin got flowing, the Spaniard didn’t notice the pain and he did a superb job to qualify on the third row of the grid. He dropped a position at the start but swiftly dispatched with Sergio Pérez during the pit stop phase and subsequently passed Nico Hülkenberg. He tried to close down on Hamilton but eventually settled for fifth, narrowly ahead of the rejuvenated Sauber.

Felipe Massa | Scuderia Ferrari | 12th | 4/10

Massa announced earlier in the week that he would be joining Williams next season and the Brazilian occupied his future team’s usual 2013 grid slot by setting only the 15th fastest time in qualifying. The race was little better as he was mired in the midfield battle and had to stop twice, eventually finishing the race way out of the points.

Jenson Button | Vodafone McLaren Mercedes | 10th | 6/10

Vodafone McLaren Mercedes

Vodafone McLaren Mercedes

His weekend was compromised with a sloppy error in practice when he overtook Daniil Kvyat under red flags, dropping him down three places on the grid. Matters were exacerbated during qualifying as he failed to progress through Q2. Button sustained front wing damage at the start of the race but battled back and put a robust move on Daniel Ricciardo to claim the final point.

Sergio Perez | Vodafone McLaren Mercedes | 7th | 8/10

Pérez revealed that news of his release from McLaren after the season finishes came as a surprise but he retained dignity amid the ignominy of the situation and was thankful for being given the opportunity. He did a good job in qualifying to line up seventh, comfortably faster than Button (who stays for 2014). He made a clean start and had a quiet race to secure seventh place; it wasn’t spectacular, but it was solid. A good acquisition for any rival team.

Heikki Kovalainen | Lotus | 14th | 6/10

Following practice and qualifying, you wouldn’t have noticed if Kovalainen had donned his countryman’s helmet and spoken monosyllabically, such was his comfortable transition into the Lotus. In the end, his race was less successful as he was forced to make a second stop for a front wing change and a KERS problem compounded his woes. The highlight was a good move on Pastor Maldonado late in the race.

Romain Grosjean | Lotus | 2nd | 10/10

Grosjean, rocking a Steve McQueen tribute helmet, struggled a little in practice but improved the balance of the Lotus E21 to line up as ‘best of the rest’ in qualifying, albeit some 0.8s behind pole man Vettel. At the start, he rocketed up to second place and astonishingly he managed to fend off the faster car in the form of Webber. Lotus kept faith with Grosjean while he struggled and they’re now being duly rewarded.

Nico Rosberg | Mercedes AMG Petronas | 9th | 6/10

Mercedes AMG Petronas

Mercedes AMG Petronas

Rosberg struggled in qualifying due to the Mercedes’s use of the tyres and found himself eliminated in Q2, meaning that he lined up in twelfth place, his lowest grid slot of the season. That ultimately compromised his race as it left him stuck in the midfield, although he raced well to collect a couple of points courtesy of ninth place.

Lewis Hamilton | Mercedes AMG Petronas | 4th| 8/10

Hamilton rocked up in Austin with a helmet dedicated to the late Michael Jackson and was given a new chassis by Mercedes after the team found a crack in his old one. The hardness of the tyres meant that Hamilton didn’t need to drive like a smooth criminal (sorry) in qualifying as he set the fifth quickest time. He took advantage of Webber at the start but was helpless to defend, but nonetheless did a very good job to take home fourth. In Räikkönen’s absence, he moves up to third in the championship.

Nico Hulkenberg | Sauber | 6th | 8/10

Hülkenberg admitted he had been in discussions with Lotus regarding the seat vacated by Kimi Räikkönen both for the remainder of the year and 2014. A lack of assurances over next season contributed to Hülkenberg’s decision to remain with Sauber for the rest of 2013 and he duly lined up alongside the other Lotus on the grid. His race was competent, if not spectacular, but sixth place was another bagful of points for the team and yet another justification as to why he should be in a top seat in 2014.

Esteban Gutierrez | Sauber | 13th | 5/10

Gutiérrez demonstrated strong pace throughout the weekend and progressed through to Q3 for only the third time in his career. Sadly he dropped from 10th to 20th as a result of almost wiping out Pastor Maldonado in Q1 when he weaved at the final corner. He opted to try an alternative strategy and was therefore out of kilter with the rest of the runners as he enjoyed some laps in the top 10. He tried to fight back and had a last lap off when battling with Vergne. The Frenchman was deemed to be the guilty party in the collision.

Paul di Resta | Sahara Force India | 15th | 6/10

Sahara Force India

Sahara Force India

Di Resta claimed that the circuit is not conducive to his driving style and was therefore reasonably content with qualifying in 11th place on the grid. He made a solid start but it was soon clear that the car was not responding well with the tyres, forcing him towards a two stop strategy. He had to dive into the pits with nine laps remaining, thus ending his chance of points.

Adrian Sutil | Sahara Force India | Ret | 4/10

Sutil endured a miserable Saturday as he struggled to make the cut for Q2 courtesy of traffic, with the German hitting out at rivals who were dithering during the final sector. His brake disc shattered during the closing moments and so did his hopes of a decent grid slot. His race was little better as he collided with Maldonado on the opening lap and was pitched into the barriers. A thoroughly horrible weekend.

Pastor Maldonado | Williams | 16th | 1/10

Some driver-team relationships end on a high note, while others sour to an acrimonious state. The three year partnership between Maldonado and Williams is certainly in the latter as a furious Maldonado hit out at his team after exiting qualifying early. It’s justifiable to be frustrated with a team, but to criticise in the manner that Maldonado did is inexcusable and lacking in dignity. These things are best done in private, rather than in public. To make it worse, he was schooled by Bottas all weekend. Star Spangled Spanner.

Valtteri Bottas | Williams | 8th | 10/10

Bottas demonstrated strong pace throughout the weekend and topped Q1 and made it through to Q3 for the first time since Canada. However, a small error in the final shootout meant he lined up ninth; such was his pace that it was a minor disappointment. In the race, he made up a position at the start and the highlight was a fantastic move around the outside of Gutiérrez at the second corner. For those who have paid attention, the promise has been there. In Austin, he proved his worth as a future star and not just a capitalised hashtag.

Jean-Eric Vergne | Scuderia Toro Rosso | 16th | 6/10

Williams F1 Team

Williams F1 Team

Vergne handed over the keys to his car to new boy Kvyat in FP1 and the Russian acquitted himself well in a disrupted session as fog and difficulties with the medical helicopter halved the running time. Vergne returned for the remainder of the weekend but was another driver to struggle with the warm-up of the tyres in qualifying. Vergne had a good race as he switched from a two to a one stop strategy but ultimately it was his lowly grid slot that cost him a shot at points. A 20 second penalty for colliding with Gutiérrez dropped him to 16th.

Daniel Ricciardo | Scuderia Toro Rosso | 11th | 7/10

The STR8 was firmly in ‘unnoticeable’ territory throughout practice but Ricciardo again excelled in qualifying as he came narrowly close to making Q3, being elevated to the top 10 when Gutiérrez was demoted. He struggled to pass rivals during the opening stages but ran out of grip late on. He tried to hold on to the final point – including some brilliantly robust defending against Button – but tenth slipped through his clutches during the dying stages as Button eventually got through.

Charles Pic | Caterham | 20th | 5/10

Pic’s penalty-ridden second half of the season continued as he dropped to the back of the grid after Caterham had to change his gearbox. Just for good measure, he picked up another penalty for not adhering to blue flags when Hamilton caught up to him, ending hopes of winning the battle at the back.

Giedo van der Garde | Caterham | 19th | 6/10

Van der Garde eclipsed team-mate Pic in qualifying by a tenth of a second on his first visit to the circuit. He lost out to Bianchi at the start but was unable to pass his rival due to the superior straight line speed of the Marussia. An understeering Caterham simply exacerbated his troubles.

Jules Bianchi | Marussia | 18th | 7/10

Marussia F1 Team

Marussia F1 Team

Bianchi missed the first practice session in order for Rodolfo Gonzalez to have a go in the car but the Frenchman was still able to outqualify team-mate Max Chilton by almost nine tenths of a second. He made a good start to usurp Van der Garde and defended his position for the remainder of the race in what he claimed was his toughest event of the season.

Max Chilton | Marussia | 21st | 5/10

Chilton’s meandering during qualifying resulted in the Brit becoming the second recipient (after Pic in Japan) of receiving a pre-race drive through penalty. Chilton duly served his penalty once the safety car came in after Sutil’s shunt, dropping him way behind his rivals.

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