The show goes on with a great race in Austin after Formula 1's crazy self-implosion
Sky F1's Martin Brundle on why F1 got lucky in Austin on Sunday
Last Updated: 07/04/15 1:48pm
Thank goodness we had a great race with what was effectively 15 cars after Sergio Perez had attacked a few on the first lap and Nico Hulkenberg retired with engine issues.
As the two Mercedes slugged it out up front for much of the race, at least the two Williams and Daniel Ricciardo's flying Red Bull kept the Mercedes pit wall on their toes for strategy calls. Meanwhile, the rest of the pack took it in turn to dispute the same piece of tarmac on a regular basis, often with some bravado and not a little risk.
Jean-Eric Vergne barged firmly up the inside of Romain Grosjean into Turn 1, making firm contact. It subsequently dropped him from ninth to tenth, a decision by the stewards which was absolutely fair enough; but I wish we could let go a little more often and let the drivers sort it out amongst themselves. It was a championship point worth losing for Vergne because the move demonstrated to Toro Rosso why they should be keeping him for 2015.
Driver of the race Ricciardo had a hero/zero moment when he nailed Fernando Alonso into Turn 1. It was a trademark opportunist move but also perilously close to T-boning the Williams of Bottas. Fortune favours the brave, as they say.
We've become used to the situation now that when Lewis Hamilton gets Nico Rosberg firmly into his sights he is almost certainly going to beat him. He has a confidence stretching from their karting days that this will be the outcome and I suspect that plays out in both of their minds.
Williams will feel they wasted a podium there to Ricciardo's brilliance. His overtakes after another poor start - Red Bull need to study the onboards of the Mercedes starts - put him into play, and then a slightly tardy final stop for Felipe Massa, which should have happened a lap earlier anyway, put the ever-smiling Aussie in the champagne shower.
Sebastian Vettel's afternoon was confusing, his low downforce gamble from the pit lane start didn't really pay off, but more significantly his first set of medium compound tyres after the early safety car didn't seem to yield the right amount of grip. After discarding those, and despite a topsy-turvy four-stop strategy, he was blisteringly fast and almost usurped even Alonso on the last lap with some great overtakes along the way. It may have temporarily pleased him but a podium full of Mercedes drivers about to steal his crown, along with his team-mate sharing the glory, pretty much sums up his year.
Pirelli, though, got the tyres just right again, unlike Sochi. A good difference between the compounds in terms of pace and degradation but not so much that it looks ridiculous, and just enough to tempt drivers to try to reach the end but fail and have to go to plan B. Frankly, if I was a driver I'd be frustrated about that, but what goes around comes around in terms of opportunity, and it's much better for the show.
Oh yes, the show. I hope the power brokers don't sit back now and say, 'I told you 18 cars is ok', and I hope they stop squabbling in public and criticising F1. Some things need changing, so quietly sit down and change them. In the engine unfreeze, let's have some more exhaust volume and allow the competition to close up. We are in a different media and sports space now and applying logic from the old days just doesn't work.
I can't use the words here which I muttered over the weekend when I witnessed the craziness which went on. We got lucky on Sunday with a great race, but we need a grid full of competitive cars with interesting people to talk to and about. We are live on air with Sky F1 for 14 hours per weekend, we need a lot of content, variety, back stories, and inner sanctum access. And we need that because that's what you the fans want and deserve, not just a handful of ever more dominant key players and under siege drivers because the rest have gone broke and disappeared.
There's enough money sloshing around in F1 to run twelve teams properly and profitably if costs are contained and the distribution is more equitable. Self-interest is understandable - that's what competitive people are paid to do - but self-interest eventually has to include the greater good of the sport too.
So the championship goes down to the wire, even if Hamilton wins this weekend in Brazil and Rosberg retires. Indeed Lewis can finish second in both races now and comfortably take the title but I very much doubt that's in his mind. Interlagos can often throw up surprises though.
If by chance Rosberg takes the title with a double points victory in Abu Dhabi, I suspect some of you may engage in polite and informed discussion about the merits of that...
The 2014 Brazilian GP is live only on Sky Sports F1 this weekend. Extensive coverage of Race Day from Interlagos begins at 2:30pm on Sunday with lights out at 4pm.