After a frustrating build-up, disrupted by incessant rain, the United States Grand Prix today delivered a glorious feast of F1 action but while Lewis Hamilton ended the race with victory and a third world title.
The Red Bulls left the Circuit of the Americas with just a single point to show for their efforts, despite going toe to toe with the Mercedes in the first half of an incident-packed race.
At the start, in damp conditions, Hamilton muscled past pole position man Nico Rosberg in Turn One. The German was forced wide into the run-off area and that allowed Daniel to make a move to steal second. He was beaten to the punch by his team-mate, however, and as they exited turn two Dany was putting the pressure on Lewis Hamilton with Daniel third.
That battle shaped the opening laps as the young Russian attempted to get past the Mercedes which appeared to be less comfortable on the intermediate tyres.
The Virtual Safety Car was deployed on lap five, however, due to debris on the track from an incident involving the Sauber drivers, and when racing resumed it was Rosberg in fourth who made the most of the restart. He passed Daniel for third place through the 'Esses' and then overtook Daniil.
That wasn't the end of the contest though. The Mercedes driver failed to pull away from the Red Bulls and Dany again attacked Rosberg at the end of lap 12. He ran wide though and that allowed Daniel to slot into third.
The Aussie closed quickly on Rosberg and with the aid of DRS he powered past at Turn One on lap 12.
With the bit between his teeth, Dan set off after Hamilton and caught the Briton on lap 14. Hamilton, who was visibly struggling on his starting intermediates, couldn't hold a tight line through long right-hander towards the end of the lap. Daniel held his nerve and exercised impressive car control to take the inside line and the lead.
The Honey Badger then began to build a lead and by lap 18 he was 3.9s ahead of the championship leader, with Rosberg third and Dany fourth. That was the cue for Mercedes to pit Hamilton for dry tyres.
Daniel made his first stop, for soft tyres on lap 19 and in an impressive show of teamwork Daniil was able to put on the same lap to respond to Rosberg who also took on new tyres.
The beginning was really fun between both Mercs and both Red Bulls
The order now saw Daniel leading Rosberg from Kvyat. Hamilton now had good pace on the option tyre, however, and he passed Daniil on lap 21. Ahead Rosberg had found the same pace and he was able to get by Daniel on the same tour.
And with that the enjoyable part of the afternoon was gone for the Red Bulls. The drying track and the switch to slick tyres disadvantaged the pair and they slowly slipped back, being hurt by further safety car and virtual safety car periods.
Daniel's race was further complicated on lap 36 when he was hit by Force India's Nico Hulkenberg while the pair were tussling for fifth place.
Congratulations to Lewis Hamilton on defending his World Championship title, the first British driver to do that. He's a deserving champion.
Daniel's car was damaged but he continued on. Hulkenberg's race was ended though and with his car on the track edge the safety car was again deployed. Dany and Daniel again pitted in stacked formation on lap 38 and they dropped to P11 and P12 respectively.
Dany's race ended on lap 42 when he got too much of the artificial grass on the exit of Turn 20 and spun into the wall. Daniel struggled on and in a bid for more pace he made a third pit on lap 50 for fresh soft tyres. All he could though was make his way to tenth place.
"The beginning was really fun between both Mercs and both Red Bulls," he said afterwards. "It was a good four-way battle. To see the Mercs not getting away from us was awesome. I was enjoying that. In the lead we were quite quick for a few laps and it felt like old times.
"That obviously didn't last long and once we put the slicks on we just didn't have the pace," he added. "We struggled with the warm-up with the tyres and also struggled a lot with braking today. It was so tricky in the dry and then obviously there were the collisions with Hulkenberg and Carlos.
"It went downhill from then on. Even though we were on slicks it was never really dry out there. The kerbs were slippery and there was still a bit of a puddle through Turns 9 and 10, so it was definitely tricky. Dany spun off just in front of me on to the astroturf and into the wall. It was a crazy race and I hope the fans enjoyed it as it was quite action packed. Lewis definitely deserves the title. This year he was clearly on top of the rest so congrats and hats off to him for being the 2015 champion."
Dany too said he had enjoyed the battle with the Mercedes drivers.
"The opening laps were mega, it was very enjoyable and it was nice fighting, but then the track dried out," he said. "If it was a wet race I felt it could have been a victory today. It's easy to say that, but there's no point really, because once it dried out we were an easy target for everyone, which was a bit frustrating. We weren't able to be as competitive in the dry as in the wet so we'll have to have a look at that.
"In the dry, I was driving a bit over my limit when I crashed, I put the wheels on the artificial grass, tried to carry a bit more speed but it didn't work out and I'm disappointed with myself. Finally, congratulations and well done to Lewis on winning the Drivers' championship, he's done a really good job this year."
Team Principal Christian Horner also congratulated Hamilton on his third title win after also admitting that the team's pace on the dry tyres was not competitive.
"During the first half of the race the performance of our cars looked really encouraging," he said. "We were very competitive on the intermediate tyres, which allowed Ricciardo to take the lead and build on it, before we made a double stop, bringing both cars in together. The mechanics worked very well to turn them round with Kvyat in third place.
"So we looked in good shape at that point, but unfortunately, our pace on the dry tyres was simply not as competitive as the Mercedes and the Ferrari," he added. "In particular, we struggled to get the tyres up to temperature at the re-starts, especially after the second Safety Car period. After that, our race unravelled with Daniil's accident, which caused the final Safety Car.
"Daniel was involved in a collision with Sainz and that meant he needed a further pit stop, after which he fought back to grab the last available point on the last lap. A disappointing finish after a strong start. Finally, congratulations to Lewis Hamilton on defending his World Championship title, the first British driver to do that. He's a deserving champion."