Haven\'t gotten a stitch of sleep to watch the proceedings in Texas? Join the club. We\'re desperate to hit the sack, so let\'s go straight to the results of our predictions.
1. Sebastian Vettel will take an eighth consecutive win. And he did, by a relatively small margin of roughly 6sec, to set a new record for the longest string of victories in a single season. You must be of the opinion that either he\'s making the sport boring, or it\'s a privilege to watch him make history. In any case, he\'s a smart lad to acknowledge to his team on his post-race radio message that \"we have to enjoy these days--there is no guarantee they will last.\" Or maybe he was trying to justify the four donuts he again burned on one of Austin\'s run-off areas.
2. Mixed bag for the Mexicans: points for Sergio Perez, none for Esteban Gutierrez. After a solid Saturday performance in which he clinched P10, Gutierrez had to drop 10 places for impeding Pastor Maldonado in qualifying. It was always going to be difficult to come back from there. He was already way out of the points before Jean-Eric Vergne tagged and tipped him into the gravel on the final lap. Though both cars finished the race, the Frenchman got a 20-second time penalty for his behavior.
For his part, Perez crossed the line seventh, giving us two for two so far. He had his fair share of clean, precise wheel-to-wheel battles, of which there were quite a number in this race even if they weren\'t for the top position. Between his measured driving and his money, he is better-placed than most to find a new team and survive in F1 for another year.
3. Heikki Kovalainen will contribute to Lotus\'s weekend tally. This is where we trip up. Kovalainen had fallen outside the top 10 by the second lap, and a front-wing issue--likely caused by debris and not actual physical damage--cost him more time until Lotus pitted him for a new nose. The wing change was unlikely to help him carve through the field at that point; it was more a strategic decision in case the safety car made a second reappearance (Adrian Sutil\'s crash had triggered the first one at the end of Lap 1) and close up the gaps.
Still, a Finn made it to the top 10 via Valtteri Bottas, who opened his F1 career points account with a fine drive to P8. And he didn\'t get into the points as a result of other drivers retiring in front of him--he actually improved upon his starting position of P9 on a day when the only retiree (Sutil) had started way behind.
4. Lewis Hamilton will take third in the drivers\' standings, while Mercedes will hang on to second in the constructors\' table. Seems like Mercedes found that crack on Lewis\'s chassis just in time; this was his best finish since the Belgian GP, and it ever so slightly increases his team\'s lead over Ferrari in the team battles. For a while, it looked like Fernando Alonso could take P4 away from Lewis in the last leg of the race, but after begrudgingly nursing his tires, the Brit was able to react to the Spaniard\'s improved pace.
That means he is now indeed third in the drivers\' standings ahead of the absent Kimi Raikkonen, who will likely be relegated to fifth at the season ender in Brazil. That said, it\'s not over yet for Lewis and his team in their respective championships; their leads over the chasing contenders are flimsy, and Brazil tends to deliver last-gasp reversals.
5. Marussia will remain 10th in the team battles ahead of Caterham. Unfortunately for Caterham, this was one of our few predictions that actually turned out prophetic. Just a quick reminder as to why 10th in the constructors\' championship is important: Only the top 10 out of 11 teams get a share of the prize money in the F1 pot. It goes without saying that every last euro counts if you want to do well in this sport. Caterham now has one last chance to haul itself from dead last on the grid. Let\'s see if they pull it off it at the Brazilian GP on Sunday.
Total score: 4 out of 5
Photos from Infiniti Red Bull Racing
|USA||Starting grid||Race results|
|Pos||Driver (Team)||Quali (Start tire)||Driver (Team)||Time/Gap|
|1||S. Vettel (Red Bull)||1:36.338 (M)||S. Vettel (Red Bull)||1hr 39:17.148|
|2||M. Webber (Red Bull)||1:36.441, +0.103 (M)||R. Grosjean (Lotus)||+6.284|
|3||R. Grosjean (Lotus)||1:37.155, +0.817 (M)||M. Webber (Red Bull)||+8.396|
|4||N. Hulkenberg (Sauber)||1:37.296, +0.958 (M)||L. Hamilton (Mercedes)||+27.358|
|5||L. Hamilton (Mercedes)||1:37.345, +1.007 (M)||F. Alonso (Ferrari)||+29.592|
|6||F. Alonso (Ferrari)||1:37.376, +1.038 (M)||N. Hulkenberg (Sauber)||+30.400|
|7||S. Perez (McLaren)||1:37.452, +1.114 (M)||S. Perez (McLaren)||+46.692|
|8||H. Kovalainen (Lotus)||1:37.715, +1.377 (M)||V. Bottas (Williams)||+54.509|
|9||V. Bottas (Williams)||1:37.836, +1.498 (M)||N. Rosberg (Mercedes)||+59.141|
|10||D. Ricciardo (Toro Rosso)||1:38.131, +1.793 (M)||J. Button (McLaren)||+1:17.278|
|11||P. di Resta (Force India)||1:38.139, +1.801 (M)||D. Ricciardo (Toro Rosso)||+1:21.004|
|12||N. Rosberg (Mercedes)||1:38.364, +2.026 (M)||F. Massa (Ferrari)||+1:26.914|
|13||F. Massa (Ferrari)||1:38.592, +2.254 (M)||E. Gutierrez (Sauber)||+1:31.707|
|14||J. Vergne (Toro Rosso)||1:38.696, +2.358 (H)||H. Kovalainen (Lotus)||+1:35.063|
|15||J. Button (McLaren)||1:38.217, +1.879 (M)||P. di Resta (Force India)||+1:36.853|
|16||A. Sutil (Force India)||1:39.250, +2.912 (M)||J. Vergne (Toro Rosso)||+1:44.574|
|17||P. Maldonado (Williams)||1:39.351, +3.013 (M)||P. Maldonado (Williams)||+1 lap|
|18||G. van der Garde (Caterham)||1:40.491, +4.153 (M)||J. Bianchi (Marussia)||+1 lap|
|19||J. Bianchi (Marussia)||1:40.528, +4.190 (M)||G. van der Garde (Caterham)||+1 lap|
|20||E. Gutierrez (Sauber)||1:38.034, +1.696 (M)||C. Pic (Caterham)||+1 lap|
|21||M. Chilton (Marussia)||1:41.401, +5.063 (M)||M. Chilton (Marussia)||+2 laps|
|22||C. Pic (Caterham)||1:40.596, +4.258 (M)||A. Sutil (Force India)||retired|
Notes: H—hard compound; M—medium compound. Listed qualifying laps 16-19 and 21-22 set in Q1; 10-15 in Q2; and 1-9 and 20 in Q3. J. Button (McLaren) originally qualified P13, but was given a three-place grid penalty for overtaking under red flags in first free practice. C. Pic (Caterham) originally qualified P21, but was given a five-place grid penalty for a gearbox change. E. Gutierrez (Sauber) originally qualified P10, but was given a 10-place grid penalty for impeding another driver in qualifying
|1||S. Vettel||372||Red Bull||553|
|6||N. Rosberg||161||Force India||77|
|8||F. Massa||106||Toro Rosso||32|
|10||P. di Resta||48||Marussia||0|
|21||G. van der Garde||0|