LEWIS HAMILTON WINS THE WILD WEST RACE

19 Nov

The Michael Report- 2012 FORMULA ONE UNITED STATES GRAND PRIX

We apologise for any US puns in this piece of writing.

TEXAS was chosen to host the first United States Grand Prix since 2007, and the newly built Circuit Of The Americas certainly delivered an amazing exciting race, with lots of undulating twists, turns, the enthusiastic US crowd and one that Lewis Hamilton became a back to back American Grand Prix winner, albeit five years apart.

A superb McLaren dominated the race, as Lewis found an absolutely astonishing pace through the circuit, despite losing position in the opening run up the hill due to being on the dirty side of the track he was a man on a mission, tormenting Vettel and creeping up gradually to the Red Bull until he pounced and overtook Red Bull to cruise round a few more laps to take the chequered flag and became the first lone star of Formula One in this brand new venue, in his penultimate drive for McLaren.

The race was packed with side-by-side tussling and near-misses- positions swapped and swapped back; cars flew past under the DRS and some cars succumbed to the tricky corners, (inspired by Silverstone, Hockenheim and Instanbul) costing them dearly. Sebastian Vettel came home second with eighteen points, but team-mate Mark Webber trundled into the gravel and retired with an alternator fault (yet again). Christian Horner and Adrian Newey must be biting their nails and hoping that these errors don’t creep up on Vettel as the Championship title heads to Sao Paolo next week.

Ferrari had an excellent American Grand Prix, but their sheen in the Austin sunlight was somewhat shrouded by controversy even before the race began. Alonso had qualified in eighth, on the dirty and slippery side of the track, Massa in sixth, but speculation was rife that Scuderia deliberately broke a valve on the gearbox, forcing Massa to take a gearbox penalty, which would propel Alonso onto the easier and clean side of the track. Cheating? Yes! Unsportsmanlike? Yes! Sly? Yes! Against the FIA regulations? NO! Hence the negative press would be a small price to pay if Alonso were to gain positions and finish still in contention, which he did! After the first lap, Alonso had driven superbly and went from seventh to fourth, before managing to finish atop the podium in third, gaining fifteen desperately needed points, crucial to the Championship title. Felipe Massa managed to recover from eleventh to finish fourth with twelve points.

Jenson Button’s disastrous weekend went from bad to worse as the race started falling back to sixteenth, but tyre choice played to his advantage- the McLaren found pace and gathered speed under the harder compound tyre- once he pitted, he managed to claw back into fifth place.

The Lotus drivers coped well on Tilke’s new track, Grosjean, however, loved it a bit too much- the Frenchman ran wide and span out of turn nineteen, costing position, but managed to recover to finish behind team-mate Raikkönen, finishing seventh and sixth respectively. The two Williams drivers did themselves justice around the twisting Texan corners- Pastor Maldonado and Bruno Senna almost collided with each other near the RV rooftop cowboys, staying practically side to side in soaring seventh gear- thankfully, they went round to the end, finishing in ninth and tenth, the final points positions.

Despite some exciting racing from Michael Schumacher and Nico Rosberg in the tight corners and high speed straights, the Mercedes cars fell back and failed to score points for a sixth consecutive race, and things aren’t looking too promising for Lewis Hamilton’s new team; Sauber remained pointless today and although the Toro Rosso’s started well, Jean Eric Vergne decided to stop off at the Gravel Diner after spinning off the wagon trail and Daniel Ricciardo’s pace wasn’t quite enough to finish in the points.

Bernie Ecclestone vowed never to return to the states five years ago, but relented and should be pleased with the enthusiasm and revenue generated from Formula One making its grand return across the pond- Austin has the potential to be a classic race circuit, and we eagerly anticipate the next running of the race. McLaren will be barn dancing and hoe-downing till sun-up; Red Bull will hope that the forecast Brazillian rain will not dampen their hopes next week.

OFFICIAL STANDINGS UPDATE

Sebastian Vettel remains atop of the Drivers’ Championship with 273 points, 13 points ahead of Fernando Alonso. In Interlagos, Vettel must finish fourth to secure his crown and secure a third consecutive title, a feat only achieved by Michael Schumacher and Juan Manuel Fangio. Kimi Raikkönen increased his points tally to 206 points and Lewis Hamilton has re-taken fourth place with 190 points. The battle for fifth place lies between Mark Webber, on 167 points, and Jenson Button, on 163 points. Nico Rosberg has tumbled from seventh to ninth in two grands prix, remaining on 93 points. Meanwhile, Felipe Massa now holds 107 points to his name, and Romain Grosjean creeps towards the century with 96 points. In tenth is Sergio Perez with 66 points.

The Constructors’ Championship title race is over; Red Bull have clinched the crown with 440 points with another Grand Prix to go- Ferrari remain second with 367 points- McLaren, though, could return to second place with an impressive finale- they hold 353 points in third place. Lotus are safely in fourth place with 302 points. Mercedes are still fifth with 136 points, and Sauber have done nothing to gain on 124 points in sixth place.

Force India are in seventh, safely holding 99 points ahead of Williams’ total of 76 points in eighth. Ninth place goes to Toro Rosso with 22 points. Tenth place goes to a pointless Marussia, eleventh to Caterham and twelfth to HRT.

I will be back with the final report of the year next week, with a full review of the Brazilian Grand Prix and a complete set of official F1 standings. Who will win the Championship duel? Find out in a week’s time as we discover whether Sebastian Vettel or Fernando Alonso becomes the fastest driver in the world for a third time in their careers.

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