Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Hamilton Hogties US Grand Prix Win at New Austin Track

Photo source: Pirelli Photo Service

Back after a five-year absence, the United States Grand Prix returns to the Formula 1 schedule in 2012 as a fixture on a brand new track in Austin. Called the Circuit of the Americas, the 5.516-kilometer, 20-turn race course would be inaugurated by an important penultimate round for the 2012 Formula 1 tour. Red Bull Racing's Sebastian Vettel and Ferrari's Fernando Alonso approach the second-to-last race of the season has the drivers separated by 10 points in what has shaped up to be a fierce fight to the end for the driver's championship.

Taking pole for the United States Grand Prix, Sebastian Vettel achieved an ultimate advantage on Saturday as his championship rival Fernando Alonso could only muster ninth place in his Ferrari. With the McLaren-Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton starting alongside on the front row, Vettel timed the lights effectively to gain the edge of McLaren driver. In fact, Hamilton had to battle early on with Vettel's Red Bull Racing teammate Mark Webber for the second place position.

Deeper in the starting grid, Fernando Alonso was desperate to gain better track position than ninth place. Gaining three spots on the opening lap, Alonso's Ferrari fought knowing a 15 point or more point gain by by Vettel in the United States Grand Prix would hand the Red Bull Racing driver the 2012 championship.

Being the first Formula 1 race on a very new Circuit of the Americas, drivers and teams were fighting to achieve maximum grip on the new pavement that has only prior to the race weekend received the baking from the Texas heat. Despite the tricky conditions on Pirelli slick tires, the 56-lap event presented several overtaking chances on track. An event requiring just one tire stops for most Formula 1 competitors, the first race on the Circuit of the Americas was also notable for having just two competitor retirements.

Photo source: Nissan/ Infiniti

The Toro Rosso-Ferrari of Jean-Eric Vergne suffered a suspension issue the second driver to drop out of the United States Grand Prix was Mark Webber on lap 17. "We had low battery voltage for a few laps before and then I lost gearbox sync and KERS, something was happening on the battery side. It’s frustrating; as we had a reasonable start to the race and a good fight with Lewis. We had issues to manage, but even when I knew we had them we tried to keep going and get something out of it, but we had to stop.”, said Webber. Understandably, the retirement of Mark Webber's Red Bull-Renault created many concerns for the mechanically identical car of Sebastian Vettel.

Though the electrical issue remained on the back of Red Bull Racing engineer's minds, the factor that would deny Sebastian Vettel's United States Grand Prix victory would come from another competitor. On lap 42, the Circuit of the Americas crowd witnessed a dramatic overtake maneuver. Closing to within a second of Sebastian Vettel's Red Bull-Renault, Lewis Hamilton was able to open the DRS element on his McLaren race car after turn 11. Able to make full use of his Mercedes-Benz engine's power with minimized drag, Hamilton sailed around Vettel. While Vettel hovered into DRS range of Lewis Hamilton's McLaren-Mercedes in the late laps, the overcome at the checkered flag was a win for the British driver and constructor.

A fourth victory in 2012, Lewis Hamilton's United States Grand Prix triumph will be one of his final moments with the team the brought him into Formula 1 in 2007. Hamilton is heading to Mercedes GP in 2013 as a replacement for the retiring Michael Schumacher.

In second place, Sebastian Vettel was just six-tenths of a second behind the McLaren crossing the finish line. Unable to celebrate victory, Vettel's Red Bull Racing team was able to claim enough points at the United States Grand Prix for a third-straight constructor's title in Formula 1. Red Bull Racing's team principal Christian Horner expressed the sensation of the team's season-long feat in post-race. “It’s incredible for the whole team to have won a third consecutive World Championship. The Constructors’ is what we use to measure ourselves against our competitors and, for every member of the team, it’s how we gauge our performance. The Drivers’ obviously has the prestige and public following but within the team they carry equal importance. So, to have achieved a consecutive third World Championship, which only three other teams in the history of the sport have achieved, puts us into a very elite group and having done it in such a short space of time is testimony to all the members of the team. That’s all the hard work, the long hours and dedication from every department. It’s a very proud moment for every single member of the team and Red Bull.”, Horner said.

After starting ninth, Fernando Alonso drove his Ferrari with conviction to claim the final podium position. A third place collected with some controversy since Alonso's teammate Felipe Massa held the spot late, the finish minimized the damage in the point standings. Sebastian Vettel gained an additional three points on Fernando Alonso to lead the Ferrari driver by 13 points heading into the final race in Brazil.

Photo source: Pirelli Photo Service

An additional thrill at the podium stand following the 2012 United States Grand Prix was the presence of 1978 Formula 1 World Champion Mario Andretti conducting the 'Question and Answer' session. A winner of 12 grand prix races (including the 1977 United States Grand Prix held on the Long Beach temporary circuit), Andretti's appearance attracted a stirring reception as he interviewed Hamilton, Vettel and Alonso.

The 2012 Formula 1 season is set to conclude at the Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace (also known as Interlagos) on November 25th.

2012 Formula 1
United States Grand Prix
Race Result

Pos # Car #/ Driver/ Constructor
1 4 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes
2 1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault
3 5 Fernando Alonso Ferrari
4 6 Felipe Massa Ferrari
5 3 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes
6 9 Kimi Raikkonen Lotus-Renault
7 10 Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault
8 12 Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes
9 18 Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault
10 19 Bruno Senna Williams-Renault
11 15 Sergio Perez Sauber-Ferrari
12 16 Daniel Ricciardo Scuderia Toro Rosso-Ferrari
13 8 Nico Rosberg Mercedes GP
14 14 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari
15 11 Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes
16 7 Michael Schumacher Mercedes GP
17 21 Vitaly Petrov Caterham-Renault
18 20 Heikki Kovalainen Caterham-Renault
19 24 Timo Glock Marussia-Cosworth
20 25 Charlie Pic Marussia-Cosworth
21 22 Pedro de la Rosa HRT F1
22 23 Narain Karthikeyan HRT F1
23 2 Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault
24 17 Jean-Eric Vergne Scuderia Toro Rosso-Ferrari

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