The official 2015 ASN Driver Rankings have been updated to reflect the 2015 USA Grand Prix – which we are calling the ‘Murica Grand Prix [for obvious reasons]. The ‘Murica Grand Prix is held at Austin on the modestly-named Circuit of the Americas track – just in case anybody might have forgotten where they were and mistook Texas for Italy or Spain or something.
Weather conditions were messin’ with Texas during the qualifying sessions for the ‘Murica Grand Prix and this helped to create an oddly configured grid after both Mercedes sat in the first row with Nico Rosberg as the pole-sitter and defending champion Lewis Hamilton alongside him. The second row was occupied by both Red Bull cars of Daniel Ricciardo and Daniil Kvyat while the Ferrari of season third-place points-holder, Sebastian Vettel was mired back in the seventh row in 13th position.
The race began with Hamilton immediately executing a questionable maneuver on the opening corner, intentionally taking his teammate Rosberg way out wide – hitting him in the process – and allowing both Red Bulls to pass him. Amazingly – and somewhat confoundingly – Hamilton did not incur any sort of penalty for the blatant maneuver. Nevertheless, Vettel used the entire first lap to move up six spots to seventh and then gradually worked his way up the standings from there during the entire race. The dodgy weather and track conditions created numerous racing incidents along the way, but most did not affect the three main drivers – Hamilton, Rosberg and Vettel – who only had to properly manage tire selections and timing to ensure their ultimate podium spots. In the end, a late race safety car appearance essentially saved Hamilton and Rosberg from having to work their way through the field for the last seven laps while also forcing Vettel to pit for a last tire change. The pit stop for all three cemented the eventual familiar Mercedes 1-2 finish with Vettel in his customary third position.
As for the driver standings, the top points have to go to Vettel for moving up a whopping 10 spots to claim his podium position with Hamilton getting second and third going to American Alexander Rossi in the massively overwhelmed Manor/Marussia car – for merely surviving to claim 12th position – his best finish of the year so far. Vettel maintains a five-point advantage over Hamilton and can clinch the ASN season title this weekend at the 2015 Mexican Grand Prix.
For the other awards, the Pastor Maldonado Driving School Award was a tightly contested affair at the 2015 ‘Murica Grand Prix with at least six drivers contending for making the poorest judgment/maneuver in the race. Contenders included Williams’ Felipe Massa for bashing into McLaren’s Fernando Alonso on Lap One, Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen for driving himself into a wall on Lap 20, Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg for crashing into Ricciardo on Lap 36, Kvyat for crashing himself out of the race on Lap 43 and Rosberg for spinning himself out of a potential victory on Lap 49. While all those contenders are legitimate, it really comes down to a three-man contest between Kvyat, Raikkonen and Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson, who ran over the front wing of teammate Felipe Nasr on Lap Two. While Kvyat and Raikkonen’s crashes were more spectacular, they only, ultimately, did damage to themselves while Ericsson did them one better and eventually took out both himself and his teammate in a move genuinely reminiscent of what Maldonado or Grosjean might do to each other. Therefore, ASN awards the point to Ericsson for being truest to the spirit of the award. Grosjean remains tied with Maldonado for the lead in Maldonado’s signature award category.
Although the result was the same as it has been at least five other times this year – a Mercedes 1-2 finish with Vettel in third – the race’s weather conditions created slightly more interesting radio chatter for the 2015 ‘Murica Grand Prix and the winner of the Kimi Raikkonen “Leave Me Alone, I Know What I’m Doing!” Award for the 2015 ‘Murica Grand Prix was its namesake, with Raikkonen finally getting on the board uttering these words after a fracas with Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz, Jr. – “[Sainz, Jr.] is trying to push me off the track. If this is legal, I will do the same”. Hamilton still holds the season lead in this category.
Finally, the Lewis Hamilton Doofus Moment Award for the 2015 ‘Murica Grand Prix has to, once again, go to its namesake – with the petulant Hamilton tossing a hat onto the lap of teammate Rosberg in the post-race podium preparations. How to win gracefully is a foreign concept to Hamilton. Needless to say, Hamilton has clinched the season in his signature award category. Congratulations are in order.
The 2015 Formula One season continues with the Mexican Grand Prix at Mexico City at 11 a.m. [PDT] on NBC on November 1, 2015.
The 2015 ASN Formula One Driver Standings [after the ‘Murica Grand Prix]
1] Sebastian Vettel – 30 points
2] Lewis Hamilton – 25 points
3] Nico Rosberg – eight points
4] Valtteri Bottas – five points
5] Kimi Raikkonen/Daniel Ricciardo – four points
7] Romain Grosjean/Felipe Massa – three points
9] Fernando Alonso/Jenson Button/Nico Hulkenberg/Daniil Kvyat/Sergio Perez/Alexander Rossi/Max Verstappen – two points
14] Pastor Maldonado – one point
The 2015 Pastor Maldonado Driving School Award Standings [after the ‘Murica Grand Prix]
1] Grosjean/Maldonado – 3.5 points
2] Marcus Ericsson – two points
3] Bottas pit/Ericsson pit/Hamilton/Hamilton pit/Raikkonen/Raikkonen pit/Ricciardo/Sainz, Jr. – one point
The 2015 Kimi Raikkonen Leave Me Alone I Know What I’m Doing Award Standings [after the ‘Murica Grand Prix]
1] Hamilton – 4.5 points
2] Rosberg – 2.5 points
3] Button – 2 points
4] Alonso/Bottas/Hamilton pit/Raikkonen/Ricciardo pit/Will Stevens/Vettel – one point
The 2015 Lewis Hamilton Doofus Moment Award [after the ‘Murica Grand Prix]
1] Hamilton – seven points
2] Bernie Ecclestone/Vettel – two points
3] Alonso/Team Ferrari/Christian Horner/Team McLaren/Team Mercedes – one point