Power Ranking the Formula 1 Teams After 2015 United States Grand Prix
Lewis Hamilton led home a Mercedes one-two as the team chalked up their 13th win of the year at the 2015 Formula One United States Grand Prix.
After locking out the front row in the shortened Sunday morning qualifying session, the two Silver Arrows led all but a handful of the racing laps later in the day. But had the track not dried out, the result could have been very different.
Red Bull proved their chassis is a match for anyone in the wet. Daniel Ricciardo and Daniil Kvyat both had the pace to challenge Hamilton and team-mate Nico Rosberg in the early stages, but their race fell apart after everyone switched to slicks.
Ferrari were also quick, but 10-place grid penalties left both of their drivers playing catch-up.
Force India, Toro Rosso and McLaren also showed good pace, while Manor equalled their best finish of the season. But Williams failed to score any points at all and Lotus might have hoped for more than Pastor Maldonado's eighth-place finish.
The teams might fancy a little break after such a dramatic and action-packed race, but they head straight over the border to prepare for the Mexican Grand Prix on November 1.
Until then, here's how they rank.
Note on Team Power Rankings
F1 team power rankings ignore the points table and instead present a snapshot of where each team stands in relation to their competitors based on the three key factors of reliability, single-lap and long-run pace.
The rankings are based on how they would perform if racing on an "average circuit" that places equal emphasis on each area of the car.
All position changes are relative to those in the previous set of rankings, published after the Russian Grand Prix. You can find them here.
Manor got a car to the end on the leader's lap but had to rely on the safety car to do it.
Alexander Rossi was quickest of the team's two drivers in qualifying, but that only made him the second-slowest of the cars that set a competitive lap. Will Stevens was a few tenths slower. They started 17th (Rossi) and 19th (Stevens).
At the start of the race, the two Manors collided at the first corner as the field bunched up. Rossi dropped to the rear of field, ahead of only Felipe Nasr's strategy-afflicted Sauber, and he spent most of the race in a duel of sorts with the slow C34.
The safety cars helped him to stay in touch with the rest of the field. After the third Mercedes returned to the pits for the last time, Rossi was on the leader's lap and, though unable to keep up with the rest of the field, retirements for others had seen him rise to 12th.
Unfortunately for him and for neutrals, there were no further retirements, and that's where he finished.
Stevens had a less enjoyable afternoon. The collision with Rossi damaged his rear wing, and he was forced to retire after just one lap.
Rossi equalled Manor's best result of the year, but they were still way off the pace.
Manor stay 10th.
Sauber celebrated their 400th grand prix meeting but had little to cheer about at the end.
The C34 just couldn't compete in the wet qualifying session. Marcus Ericsson qualified 16th, more than a second down on a time he'd have needed to get through to Q2. Felipe Nasr fared even worse—he was 17th-fastest, just one second clear of the quickest Manor.
Nasr didn't have a bad start but he picked up some front-wing damage colliding with Ericsson at the start of the second lap. The team decided to call him in for a ridiculously early switch to slick tyres on Lap 2, but he was back in just one tour later to go back to intermediates.
After six laps he was more than two minutes down on the race leader, but a couple of safety cars allowed him to catch up to the rear of the field. Multiple retirements for cars ahead had seen him climb to 11th, and he took advantage of the problems encountered by Fernando Alonso and Daniel Ricciardo to make his way up to an unlikely ninth at the chequered flag.
Ericsson rose to 12th by the end of the first lap and had reasonable pace—for a Sauber—on the intermediate tyres.
His switch to slicks was made at around the optimum time, and he set a couple of fastest sector times, but soon after, he was forced out due to an electrical issue.
Sauber drop one place to ninth after a very tough weekend.
McLaren showed surprisingly strong pace but again suffered reliability troubles.
Fernando Alonso set the 11th-fastest time in the rain-shortened qualifying session but gained two places due to other drivers taking grid penalties and started ninth. Jenson Button, who set the 14th-fastest time, started 11th.
Button made a good start and took advantage of the first-corner melee to move himself up to ninth by the end of the opening lap. He lost places to a couple of slightly quicker cars early on, but made them back up largely thanks to a typically well-timed switch to slicks.
He was ninth at the halfway stage and, against all expectations, found he was able to actually race the cars around him. Opting for a third stop behind the last safety car turned out to be a very wise move, and Button crossed the line in seventh.
This became sixth—his best result of the year—after Carlos Sainz Jr took a five-second penalty.
Alonso had more than enough pace to join him in the points, but luck was not on the Spaniard's side. He made a fine start and was seventh going into Turn 1, but Felipe Massa spun and collected his former team-mate.
The less-than-impressed Alonso limped back to the pits for repairs and was last at the end of the first lap.
He got back into contention following the first safety car and showed promising speed, joining Button in having a proper race with the midfield cars around him. He opted to stay out when the second safety car emerged, rising to fifth, but as soon as it returned to the pits, he began to experience a loss of power.
Alonso was quickly passed by all the cars around him, falling to 10th—and a recovering Daniel Ricciardo mugged him for the last point on the final lap.
McLaren rise to eighth after their most competitive outing for some time.
Lotus salvaged a couple of points from a weekend that seemed to promise none.
Romain Grosjean qualified 13th, missing out on a spot in Q3—or rather, what would have been a spot in Q3 had the session run—for the first time in seven races. Pastor Maldonado set the 15th-fastest time.
However, Grosjean started 10th and Maldonado 12th due to others taking grid penalties.
Maldonado had a poor opening lap and found himself down in 16th. His pace on the intermediates wasn't especially impressive, and he was dropped by the main pack, only catching up when the safety car emerged on Lap 27.
The Lotus was a slightly better car on the dry track, and Maldonado was able to stay close to the likes of Carlos Sainz Jr and Sergio Perez as they battled for the lower points positions. He picked up one place when Daniil Kvyat crashed and another as Fernando Alonso hit trouble.
Maldonado crossed the line in eighth to achieve a personal milestone. It was the first time in his F1 career that he'd managed three points finishes in a row.
Grosjean had an OK getaway but got caught up in the Turn 1 drama as Massa spun ahead of him. A collision with Valtteri Bottas damaged his floor and brake ducts, forcing him to pay a visit to the pits. But the damage could not be fixed, and he had to retire soon after.
Lotus remain seventh.
6. Toro Rosso
Toro Rosso enjoyed one of their best-ever races after a Sunday morning scare.
Carlos Sainz Jr crashed out of qualifying without setting a competitive lap. He was classified 20th and last, and the team had to battle against the clock to repair his car ready for the race. Max Verstappen was left to carry the team standard and did a reasonable job, setting the 10th-fastest time.
The Dutchman rose to eighth on the grid as the two Ferraris took penalties. He didn't get off the line especially well but ended the opening lap in the same position he started in. His early laps were spent running in a gaggle of cars including the two Ferraris, Sergio Perez and Sainz.
Verstappen switched to slicks at the right time and moved up to sixth after Kimi Raikkonen retired. As most of his rivals pitted for fresh slicks behind the second safety car, Verstappen stayed out on the set he'd fitted on Lap 28.
He found himself in fourth and did a fine job with his tyre management to hold off the cars behind all the way to the chequered flag.
Sainz had a magnificent first few laps, rising to 10th early on. Though he spent most of the race close to his team-mate, their paths diverged when he made a third stop behind the second safety car.
But he made up for the lost track position in the run to the flag, rising four spots in the final 10 laps to claim sixth; this became seventh after a penalty for speeding in the pit lane.
Toro Rosso are now within striking distance of ailing Lotus in the constructors' championship. They remain sixth.
5. Force India
Force India lost one car to a collision but the other picked up some good points.
Both Force Indias impressed in the shortened qualifying session, Sergio Perez leading the way with the sixth-fastest time in Q2—1:59.210. Nico Hulkenberg was a couple of tenths down in seventh, but both gained a spot on the grid after Sebastian Vettel's penalty.
Perez had a good getaway and was up to fourth after a couple of corners, but Nico Rosberg pushed him back down to fifth. That's where he remained for the opening stint, holding off a string of potentially quicker cars.
His switch to slicks saw him fall down to ninth, but trouble for some of the cars ahead resulted in Perez rising to sixth behind the second safety car. As soon as it came in, the Mexican steamed past Fernando Alonso, and he held fifth all the way to the line.
Hulkenberg had an OK start but was shuffled back to 10th in the early stages of the race. He made his way back up to seventh at the first round of stops and had strong pace on the slick tyres.
His Mercedes engine gave him a run at the Red Bull of Daniel Ricciardo on Lap 36, but as he was braking down the inside of his rival, his VJM08 suffered a front-wing failure. Robbed of crucial downforce, Hulkenberg slid into Ricciardo and suffered terminal damage.
Force India are incredibly just 48 points behind Red Bull with three races to go; they hold station in fifth.
Williams suffered a worrying pair of failures and recorded their first double-DNF since the 2012 Brazilian Grand Prix.
Felipe Massa won the battle of the FW37s, but in wet conditions, he could only manage ninth. Valtteri Bottas struggled when it mattered and suffered a late suspension failure; he qualified 12th.
Massa moved up two places as other drivers took grid penalties, but Bottas dropped four after a gearbox change before the race.
An average start saw Massa enter Turn 1 under attack from Fernando Alonso; perhaps surprised to see the McLaren on the outside, Massa spun mid-corner. His front-right wheel made contact with Alonso's left-rear and both ended up facing the wrong way.
The Brazilian's car withstood the impact with only minor damage, and he continued, fighting his way back through the field to run as high as 10th after switching to slicks. But a rear-suspension issue forced him out at the end of Lap 24.
Bottas had a decent getaway off the line and attacked down the inside into the first corner, but he sustained front-wing damage when he ran into the back of a Lotus. Forced to pit for repairs, he made a somewhat optimistic decision to try slicks.
It was far, far too early, and he fell away from the rest of the field like a stone before retiring at the end of Lap 5 with exactly the same problem as Massa. F1 technical expert Craig Scarborough tweeted that the failures were caused by the large bumps on the straights.
Williams fall a spot to fourth after an utterly horrible weekend.
3. Red Bull
Red Bull ended up with almost nothing after promising so much early on.
Daniel Ricciardo qualified third on the grid, his best time of 1:57.969 in Q2 just over a second shy of pole. Daniil Kvyat always looked a few tenths slower than his team-mate but still did enough to qualify fourth.
When the lights went out, Ricciardo got a decent start and gained a place as Nico Rosberg was pushed wide, but he was passed by Kvyat on the run out of Turn 2. Rosberg caught the Australian napping after the virtual safety car to relegate Ricciardo to fourth.
But soon after, Kvyat made an error trying to pass Rosberg at the final corner—Ricciardo took advantage to overtake both. Two laps later, he took the lead after passing Hamilton, but when everyone switched to slicks, he was quickly repassed by the two W06s.
Sebastian Vettel and Max Verstappen relegated Ricciardo to sixth, then his race descended into chaos. A collision with Nico Hulkenberg damaged his RB11 and cost him two more places, and he picked up further damage due to contact with Carlos Sainz Jr.
A third pit stop appeared to have dropped Ricciardo out of points contention, but he took advantage of Fernando Alonso's power issues to snatch 10th on the final lap.
Kvyat got the jump on his team-mate on the opening lap and also slipped past Rosberg to take second. He then set about trying to pass Hamilton, but his Renault engine was no match for the Mercedes in a straight line.
The Russian lost out thanks to the first virtual safety car; Hamilton backed him and Ricciardo up and Nico Rosberg took advantage, passing both as soon as racing resumed. Kvyat tried to get the place back, but his error saw team-mate Ricciardo overtake; shortly after, a recovering Sebastian Vettel sent Kvyat further down the order to fifth.
Kvyat got back ahead of his team-mate after Ricciardo's collision with Hulkenberg, but soon after, he ran wide and lost control at the exit of Turn 19, sliding into the barriers on the inside and out of the race.
Red Bull didn't get the results, but their speed was broadly good and no team gave us more entertainment in the race.
They rise a spot to third.
Ferrari salvaged a good result after both drivers took 10-place grid penalties.
Sebastian Vettel qualified fifth on the grid, around a second-and-a-half down on polesitter Nico Rosberg. Kimi Raikkonen could only manage the eighth-fastest time. However, neither got to start where they qualified—after the many grid penalties were given, Vettel started 13th and Raikkonen 18th.
Vettel didn't make the best start of his career but spotted the first-corner carnage early; by scooting around the run-off, he made his way up to seventh by the end of the first lap. He soon passed Nico Hulkenberg for sixth but could do nothing about Sergio Perez.
He pitted for slicks at just the right time and began to close on the leaders, passing Daniil Kvyat. A stop behind the first safety car saw him fall to fifth, but when racing resumed, he was able to quickly overtake both Red Bulls to run in third.
From this point on, he tried to challenge the two Mercedes' but never quite had enough pace. He crossed the line in third, just over three seconds down on the race winner.
Raikkonen had a more eventful afternoon. He got a good start and was 10th at the end of the opening lap. His first stint was a combative affair as he fought the two Toro Rossos for seventh, eighth and ninth.
After switching to slicks, he tried to push hard on his out-lap but lost control and ended up hitting the barriers.
The Finn managed to get going again after an amusing fight with the Rolex advertising board he'd hit, but he had to retire a few laps later with overheating brakes—caused by damage sustained in the crash.
Ferrari remain second.
Mercedes secured their ninth one-two finish of the year but had to fight far harder than usual.
Nico Rosberg took his third consecutive pole with a lap of 1:56.824, and Lewis Hamilton made it a third consecutive front-row lockout with the second-fastest time. Even in the wet conditions, no one else got within a second of the two W06s.
Hamilton got a slightly better start and went down the inside of Rosberg into Turn 1. He pushed his team-mate wide, sending the German down to fifth. Daniil Kvyat was in second and was able to put pressure on Hamilton in the early stages; the Brit got a break with the first virtual safety car.
Rosberg took advantage at the restart to overtake both Red Bulls, but the RB11s were clearly quicker on the damp track. Kvyat tried to repass Rosberg, ran wide and opened the door for Ricciardo to sneak past both.
The Australian overtook Hamilton three laps later to take the lead, and Rosberg followed him through four laps later. Hamilton pitted for slicks and emerged in a net fourth, behind Kvyat. Rosberg was second after his own stop.
Hamilton soon overtook Kvyat and got Ricciardo shortly after. Rosberg, meanwhile, was busy building a gap at the front, but it was wiped out by the first safety car.
The Mercedes duo played cat-and-mouse until the safety car emerged for the second time. It left them line astern, Rosberg leading Hamilton, with 10 laps to go.
The titanic scrap we hoped for turned out to be a damp squib; Rosberg made a mistake on Lap 48 and Hamilton crept by to take a lead he never relinquished. Rosberg was left to hold off Sebastian Vettel for second.
Mercedes remain on top, but on the damp track, they were not the quickest team.