By Alex Griffin
Written in association with Missed Apex Podcast. Listen in the player below the article.
Hamilton’s half century
The legends of the Wild West are etched into the history of the heartland as a result of their reckless, crazy, wild and, let’s face it, brave behaviour. Some of their modern-day counterparts, charged with wrestling their own marvellous beasts around the desert of Austin, Texas, were left frustrated at their lack of opportunity to duel it out in a classic F1 case of so near, but yet so far.
The word “legend” is perhaps banded around carelessly at times in the world of Formula 1. The constant gunfire exchange-like discussions between fans about what constitutes a legend in the sport is unrelenting. Some say our modern-day heroes don’t compare to those of yesteryear because of the “ease” of driving contemporary F1 cars. Others come back with arguments of the physique and physical stamina required to tame such complex aerodynamic machines.
From whatever side of the fence you come from, I’m sure any fellow F1 lover can appreciate the sheer magnitude of obtaining fifty shiny first-placed trophies and tyre manufacturer caps (or Stetsons, in some cases). Even if your team dominates the sport for the duration of a formula until it’s altered, you still have to beat the guy next to you in the same machinery. I am very proud to admit that I am a huge Lewis Hamilton supporter, so yes, I may be slightly biased, but even the level of respect Lewis commands from others in the sport speaks volumes for his talent. Whether you love him or loathe him, it’s very difficult to find a fellow driver that can beat him when the gloves are off in a fair fight.
Duel-free at the front but wheel-to-wheel a little further back
The tone of Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo seemed to evoke what many fans were feeling when he realised that the Mercedes of Nico Rosberg had gained a “free” pit stop under the Virtual Safety Car.
Until this point, it looked like we were in for a final stint showdown where Rosberg would have to use the softer tyres in order to hunt down the Aussie in the remaining laps in order to secure second place. Let’s face it, the Mercedes, with the faster boots strapped on, would have had a very good chance of stripping Ricciardo of second place. Ricciardo, however, would have loved to have the opportunity to defend his track position and we would have too.
The second half of the race did provide us with some tasty on-track action as Fernando Alonso dragged the McLaren to a very respectable fifth place with passes on former team-mate Felipe Massa and compatriot Carlos Sainz with some great driving. Some may say he had his elbows out a little too much in the move on Massa, but it can be the difference not only between points earned but on occasion, championships too. Look back not only through recent seasons but through the entire of Formula 1 and those heroes that are etched into the memories of fans all over the world have one thing in common: ruthlessness.
I’d love to know what you think about wheel-to-wheel racing in Formula 1 and what you think constitutes a fair battle.
Pit lane faux pas for Verstappen and Raikkonen
Max Verstappen has been a breath of fresh air since his arrival in the sport. His somewhat raw driving style has certainly provided entertainment for the fans and no doubt got a few of you off your seats throughout this season, whether you like it or not.
As well as ruffling the feathers of his fellow drivers this season, and as a consequence having a rule named after him, Max decided to provide us with a comedy moment on Sunday when he made his way into an unmanned Red Bull pit box because he thought the team had told him to box.The subsequent delay hurt his race at the time, and he may have even been slightly relieved when he had to retire from the race due to gremlins in his gearbox that were clearly audible from onboard footage of his prolonged parking of the Red Bull. It was a bizarre afternoon for the Dutch teenager, however he still managed to pick up driver of the day from the official F1 fan vote.
Finally we come to Ferrari. Not only are they going from one bad strategy decision another, but they also appear to trip over themselves at any given opportunity too. It was bone dry in Austin on Sunday, but when it rained it certainly poured for the ice-cold cowboy in the prancing horse.
The issue of the unsafe release has been one that has had tongues wagging for a while now. The reason for this is that drivers are usually doubly punished for something that was not in their control. In Kimi Raikkonen’s case in Austin, his pit crew had not attached one of his wheels correctly and he then had to reverse from the pit lane exit to a lonely spot next to the pit building in another bizarre pit lane incident.
This incident begs the question: what should the punishment be for unsafe releases? I decided to ask David Croft whether teams should have constructors championships points stripped in order to iron out these infrequent yet unwelcome scenarios.
We mustn’t forget that even though Motorsport is dangerous, steps always have to be taken to minimise the risk of human injury or even worse. I’d love to know what you think as in the hours that followed the race, it was great to see fans providing their opinions on this issue.
The sun sets and the dust settles in Austin
As Lewis Hamilton crossed the finish line at the Circuit of the Americas, he helped preserve the hope of his army of fans that he can overturn his teammate’s points advantage in the final races.
There were obviously countless more stories from the 2016 US Grand Prix and I would love nothing more than to pick them apart one by one, but if there is anything missing you’d like me to discuss, please let me know. This is my second post after all!
As Formula 1 heads South to Mexico City, I’ll be counting down to Friday Practice . I’ll leave you with a picture of Daniel Ricciardo and the podium interviewer/film star Gerard Butler. Enjoy the autograph on Daniel’s race boot…