CHOOSING FIVE FROM 56
Amid heavy squalls that caused the
weekend to be rescheduled drastically
(qualifying was on race morning and
lasted two instead of three segments) and a
flurry of safety cars, virtual and real, Lewis
Hamilton, on the verge of a third world title,
and squabbling Mercedes-Benz teammate
Nico Rosberg had eyes only for each other
– even though both Red Bulls, Sebastian
Vettel’s Ferrari and the Toro Rosso of the
precocious Max Verstappen at times held
a speed advantage over them during a
race that began wet and gradually dried.
Their team had secured the F1
constructors’ title at the previous round
and so the gloves were off when Hamilton
shoveled Rosberg wide at the first turn.
The latter dropped to fifth, but was able
to respond, on the track and in the pits,
to be leading with eight laps to go.
Whereupon he ran off the road – caught
out, he insisted, by a strong gust. Though
publically peeved by his internecine rival’s
“very aggressive” opening lap, Rosberg’s
private inner storm was what caused him
petulantly to toss a cap at Hamilton in the
post-race green (with envy?) room.
Unfortunately for Nico, the cap fit...
Three of F1’s toughest and smartest
operators had feuded throughout
practice. And war broke out when Jody
Scheckter’s Wolf, third on the grid, led
into the first turn, while Mario Andretti’s
Lotus and Niki Lauda’s Ferrari – his start
from pole compromised by an awkward
siting of the lights – narrowly escaped
being wiped out by the latter’s overly
ambitious teammate, Carlos Reutemann.
That’s how it remained for 76 of 80 laps:
leader Scheckter incisive amid backmarkers;
and Lauda hounding Andretti to the point
of flat-spotting his front tires before
mid-distance. But this stalemate had a twist
when the leader’s right-front Goodyear
began deflating 15 laps from the end.
Andretti didn’t know it, so superbly was
Scheckter compensating, and instead it
was oil mist from the Wolf’s catch-tank
that spurred his making the pass that the
crowd – and Lotus boss Colin Chapman –
so craved. Chapman threw his trademark
cap high in familiar salute, forcing the
unfortunate Scheckter, who’d slipped to
third, to swerve – in order to run over it...
32015 CIRCUIT OF THE AMERICAS
his 2015 USGP win –
the third of four, and
counting, at COTA.
forces Nico Rosberg
wide at the first turn,
taking the race lead.
Lap 1, Turn 1 chaos as James Hunt goes
flying. Mario Andretti (No. 5) avoided the
mess, hunted down Jody Scheckter’s Wolf,
and went on to win Long Beach’s first F1 GP.
41977 LONG BEACH