US Grand Prix: race lead doesn’t last long for Perth’s Daniel Ricciardo

Ricciardo in action in Austin.
Ricciardo in action in Austin.

SEVERE wet weather that threatened to cancel the US Grand Prix almost gave Perth’s Daniel Ricciardo his best result of the F1 season but it was not to be.

The Duncraig driver qualified third and squeezed past the dominant Mercedes’ of Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg to lead the unpredictable race for a while, but the weather improved, the twisty 5.5km circuit at Austin, Texas, dried, and the more powerful cars got past his Red Bull Renault.

In one of the most action-packed races of the year, Lewis Hamilton ended up winning – and taking the FI crown for a third time. Second was teammate Nico Rosberg, with Ferrari’s Sebastien Vettel third.

The race was a see-saw affair with the weather wreaking havoc from start to finish.

Amid various crashes, spins and safety car periods, Ricciardo nosed his Red Bull past Rosberg on lap 12, then passed Hamilton three laps later to take the lead, set the fastest lap and increased his lead to 10 seconds.

It looked like a great day for the comparatively underpowered Red Bulls, but the track dried and the Mercedes duo swept by.

Worse was to come: A safety car period let Vettel’s Ferrari catch up to the Red Bulls and on lap 34 Nico Hulkenberg’s Force India ran into Ricciardo, forcing another safety car period, scuppering the Perth driver’s hopes and relegating him to the tail end of the field.

At the finish Hamilton and Rosberg won from Vettel, with Dutch driver Max Verstappen fourth in a Toro Rosso, Mexican Sergio Perez fifth for Force India and Jenson Button for McLaren-Honda in sixth.

Ricciardo got the better of Fernando Alonso on the final lap to claim 10th and the final championship point.