US Grand Prix – The Race
What a race for the first US Grand Prix in five years! Lots of drama and on track action. A great start by Fernando Alonso moving from his seventh place spot of the grid (thanks to team-imposed penalty on his teammate, Felipe Massa, which moved him up one spot and off the dirty side of the track) to fourth after the first turn, a gutsy charge up through the pack by the same Felipe Massa to finish fourth, some great passes at different places on the track, an electrical failure for Mark Webber, and a thrilling battle at the front between Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton were the key highlights of the show.
The front of the grid got away well at the start of the US Grand Prix, with Webber just edging out Hamilton for second place thru Turn 1 behind his teammate Vettel. Alonso had the most remarkable start, taking a deep but quick line through the first turn to move up three spots going into Turn 2. Overall, it was a relatively clean start with none of the carnage that some expected. Hamilton successfully passed Webber at Turn 12 on lap 4 after a failed attempt on lap 3, and then Vettel and Hamilton gradually gapped the field. On lap 13, Kimi Raikkonen made a great pass on Nico Hulkenberg around the outside of Turn 2 and into Turn 3. Shortly after that bit of excitement, we left our Turn 4 seats and gradually worked our way down to the Turn 11 hairpin.
By lap 16, Hamilton had worked his way to within 1 second of Vettel enabling him to us the DRS. In the meantime, Alonso was also closing in on Webber, whose KERS failed on lap 17, followed by a complete electrical system failure. Amazingly, Alonso was now in third. Vettel gradually pulled away from Hamilton a bit over the next interval, and then after pit stops, Hamilton once again closed the gap.
By lap 33, Hamilton was within 1 second of Vettel, allowing use of the DRS. Nine laps later, after closing the gap further, Hamilton finally passed Vettel for the lead at Turn 12. On lap 46, Jenson Button , who had made a nice run up from twelfth, passed Raikkonen for fifth after running side by side through Turns 12 and 13. Vettel tried in vain to catch Hamilton over the last few laps of the race; he did manage to set fast lap of the race. Congratulations to Lewis Hamilton on winning the inaugural US Grand Prix at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin.
US Grand Prix – Results
The top ten (points scoring) positions were:
- Lewis Hamilton – McLaren
- Sebastian Vettel – Red Bell
- Fernando Alonso – Ferrari
- Felipe Massa – Ferrari
- Jenson Button – McLaren
- Kimi Raikkonen – Lotus
- Roman Grosjean – Lotus
- Nico Hulkenberg – Force India
- Pastor Maldonado – Williams
- Bruno Senna – Williams
US Grand Prix – Overall Impression
Overall, the US Grand Prix experience at Circuit of the Americas exceeded my expectations substantially. Evidently > 120,000 people showed up for the race on Sunday, and I have heard reports that more than 25% of those came from Mexico – to see their hero Sergio Perez. The facilities were great with none of the hiccups seen in Korea or India in their maiden Grands Prix. The sight lines were superb at many places around the track which made walking about worthwhile and enjoyable. A nice margarita could be had in a cool souvenir glass for a mere $12. The weather was great the entire weekend. And logistics were relatively smooth: we left the track as the interviews were wrapping up, and we were cruising along toward Austin at 60 MPH within about 20 minutes. Great job to the organizers and the Circuit of the Americas, and congratulations to Austin on the first US Grand Prix in five years and the best one in a long time.
I took over a thousand pictures throughout the weekend, and I’ll be posting them here gradually as I sort through and pick out the best. Use coupon code USGP2012 for a discount on pics and other goodies.