AUSTIN – In just three years, the United States Grand Prix has already firmly established itself as one of the most popular and exciting races on the Formula 1 calendar, and this year’s race in Austin is set to be no exception.
After trailing teammate and championship rival Lewis Hamilton in all three practice sessions at the Circuit of The Americas, Nico Rosberg pulled the goods out of the bag when they mattered to beat his adversary to pole position on Saturday afternoon.
Rosberg produced a stunning final lap in the last stage of Q3 to edge out Hamilton by three-tenths of a second as the Briton struggled with a brake problem. Nevertheless, he is gunning for his fifth straight victory in Austin this weekend, and will still be a forced to be reckoned with from second place on the grid.
Yet again, Williams put in an impressive display to lock out the second row of the grid, with Valtteri Bottas enjoying his sixth top-three qualifying result in the last eight races. Daniel Ricciardo and Fernando Alonso did all that they could to qualify fifth and sixth respectively, whilst both Adrian Sutil and Pastor Maldonado enjoyed their best Saturdays of the 2014 season to secure a top-10 start.
However, there are a few grid penalties to be applied, shaking up the grid slightly.
FROM THE STEWARDS’ OFFICE
- Jenson Button drops five places on the grid after changing his gearbox for this weekend’s race in Austin. He falls from P7 to P12.
- Daniil Kvyat has been hit with a 10-place penalty after using his seventh internal combustion engine of the season. However, as he can only serve three places in Austin, he will drop a further seven next weekend in Brazil.
- Sebastian Vettel will start the race from the pit lane after Red Bull completely overhauled the engine on his RB10 car. He did however reach the required 107% time in Q1 to ensure that he can start the race.
STARTING GRID FOR THE 2014 UNITED STATES GRAND PRIX
1. Nico Rosberg Mercedes
2. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes
3. Valtteri Bottas Williams
4. Felipe Massa Williams
5. Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull
6. Fernando Alonso Ferrari
7. Kevin Magnussen McLaren
8. Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari
9. Adrian Sutil Sauber
10. Pastor Maldonado Lotus
11. Sergio Perez Force India
12. Jenson Button McLaren
13. Nico Hulkenberg Force India
14. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso
15. Esteban Gutierrez Sauber
16. Romain Grosjean Lotus
17. Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso
PL. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull
NBC/NBCSN SCHEDULE FROM UNITED STATES GRAND PRIX
There have been five different winners in the last five weeks of the NTT IndyCar season and driver that kicked off that streak in Elkhart Lake is in desperate need of a victory to help close the points gap to the leader. After being involved in the Lap 1 accident at Pocono Raceway last week, Alexander Rossi sits 35 points behind Josef Newgarden. Rossi’s two victories this season have come on road courses.
This week’s Bommarito Auto Group 500 the World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway is the third race on this track since IndyCar first revisited it in 2017. Newgarden took the checkers in 2017; Will Power grabbed the glory last year. Gateway also hosted races from 2001-2003.
Here are some of the storylines to watch this Sunday:
- For most of the drivers in the field, this will mark only their third time to race at Gateway, but two drivers were around in 2003 when IndyCar visited this track previously. Scott Dixon finished 15th in that race. He found the handle when Indy returned in 2017 to finish second and then third last year. Tony Kanaan was second in 2003; unfortunately he went the other direction and has not scored a top-10 at Gateway since.
- If one is looking for perfection on this track type, Simon Pagenaud is the only driver to sweep the top 10 on ovals in the past two years. In his last 10 starts on them, he has garnered an average finish of 5.2; his last five attempts have been sixth or better including a win in this year’s Indy 500. Pagenaud finished third at Gateway in 2017 and was fourth last year.
- The top two drivers in the points standings should also challenge for a top-five this week. Rossi was perfect alongside Pagenaud on ovals until his accident last week at Pocono with a sweep of the top 10 and seven top-fives in his last nine races. Newgarden also has nine top-10s and a worst of 13th on ovals in the past two years.
- Don’t count Dixon out of the points battle yet. While he currently sits 52 points out of first, Dixon is the hottest driver on the circuit with a current streak of five top-fives to his credit including his victory at Mid-Ohio two weeks ago. His oval record is a little spottier with two runner-up finishes and two 17th-place finishes in the last four races.
- Last week’s first-lap carnage ended Rossi’s top-10 streak at seven, but one other driver was able to sneak through and extend his. Graham Rahal will vie for his ninth consecutive top-10 this week, but that success is questionable in light of his Gateway record. Rahal finished 12th in 2017 and was barely able to crack the top 10 in 10th last year.
See More: IndyCar championship contenders seeing fortunes rise and drop
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