Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso will have to wait until the final checkered flag of the 2012 season in Sao Paulo. While many thought it would end today at the United States Grand Prix in Austin, Texas, it did not. The German holds a 13 point edge over the Spaniard.
“Lewis (Hamilton) beat us fair and square. We showed we had the pace today and now it’s full steam ahead to the next race,” said Vettel.
Red Bull notched the Constructors’ Championship today and now hopes their driver will earn his third-consecutive crown in Brazil. Team Principal Christian Horner commented: “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.”
... feels very special indeed.
Lewis Hamilton landed the victory with a stunning performance in his Vodafone McLaren-Mercedes. While Vettel never gave up the fight to take back the lead, Vettel had to settle for second; missing the win by six-tenths of a second. Laying down fast laps to retain his position – even from his own teammate -- Alonso did take the final step of the podium.
“I won the last United States Grand Prix, in 2007, so, to come back and win it again – in front of such a great crowd – feels very special indeed. There are a couple of grands prix that are somehow out on their own: there’s Monaco, Silverstone, Montreal, Spa and Monza. Now you can this circuit to that list – it’s already one of the best racetracks in the world, maybe even right up there in the top three,” said Hamilton.
Mario Andretti had the honor to interview the three drivers on the podium for the fans. The Italian-American commented on how thrilled he was to stand up there with three Formula One champions. Apparently he left out the fourth title winner – himself. Andretti’s championship was with Lotus-Ford in 1978.
“To overtake both Red Bulls in the race was the coolest thing for me. The backmarkers really came into play today – and, finally, they worked in my favour. I’ve often been caught out when I’ve been trying to get through traffic, but things finally went my way today,” smiled Hamilton.
Alonso received two gifts before the standing start; one yesterday due to Romain Grosjean receiving a five-place grid penalty for a needed gearbox change. The second one came this morning when Ferrari elected to change the gearbox on Felipe Massa’s car. The controversy started to spread around the Formula One paddock. Needless to say if the gearbox change was needed or not, it caused a lot of dirt flying. Alonso inherited another move up the grid, and instead of starting on the “dirty” side of the track, he got the “clean” side.
Alonso commented, "The decision regarding Felipe’s gearbox? It was a team decision of which I am proud, especially as it proved to be the right one: I don’t think everyone in this environment can say the same thing…"
Obviously it worked since Alonso made a brilliant start from seventh to fourth! The dirty side of the new circuit was not favorable to Hamilton as he did have wheel spin which allowed Mark Webber to move into second before the first turn.
Red Bull Racing also gave their main rival for the Drivers’ Championship a surprise – not intended – when Webber had to pull off the track and out of the race on lap 18 due to an alternator failure. It also allowed Ferrari’s Alonso and Jenson Button to battle for third.
“It was an unexpected podium which came at the end of a particularly difficult weekend. We did not have the pace to match Red Bull and McLaren, so to only lose three points to Vettel is in fact a nice present," said Alonso. "It could have been much worse, but now we will arrive in Sao Paolo in Brazil in with a chance right to the last. Maybe on paper that chance is not so big, maybe 25%, but deep down, I feel it’s much more than that."
In the closing laps, Hamilton, Alonso, Vettel and Massa were setting fastest lap times but in the end none of them could best Vettel’s 1:39.347 for a speed of 199.772km; Massa came close with a 1:39.402 (199.661km) on the 3.425 miles (5.513kms), 20-turn circuit.
The Brazilian was ecstatic over placing fourth. Massa’s renewed spirit has been noticeable since securing his future in 2013 with Ferrari. "For me, this result is a bit like a win, definitely the best race of my season: now I can say I’m happy to have started eleventh!"
Massa added, "Now we go to Interlagos, my home race. It would be nice to end the season on the podium, or even with a win. What’s certain is that I will do everything I can to help the team reach its targets: today, maybe I could have finished ahead of Fernando, but I’m well aware of the championship situation and I do what is right for Ferrari, as I’ve done throughout my career.”
Button came home fifth even though he remained on the harder Pirelli tyre for the first 32 laps. He held off both of the Lotus drivers, and said, “Starting on the dirty side of the racetrack was very tough – I ended up 15th by the end of the first lap. So fifth was probably the best result I could have had. I had a lot of fun this afternoon, and fought a lot of good battles on my way through. There was lots of action and lots of overtaking – and most of it was very clean, which was good to see.”
Nico Hulkenberg finished eighth after challenging for a top-five earlier in the race. The Force India-Mercedes driver could not hold off the two Lotus cars. However he did keep the two Williams-Renault cars from overtaking him.
Actually the Williams’ drivers put on quite a show: Pastor Maldonado and Bruno Senna were lucky they did not take one another out in their fight for position. Their brief touch on lap 52 might have had the team holding their breaths as Maldonado overtook Bruno.
There was one incident during the inguinal race between Kovalainen and Glock at Turn 16 which the FIA Stewards of the Meet will be investigating.