Lewis Hamilton (McLaren) has ensured the 2012 title race will go down to the wire by winning the United States Grand Prix in Austin this morning.
Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull) led for the bulk of the race, but once the race settled into its rhythm Hamilton was always in touching distance of Vettel. Hamilton ultimately took the lead on lap 42, using DRS to great effect, and was able to hang on for a well deserved victory.
So, not the result Vettel had hoped for in his 100th race. Especially when he looks across the podium to see Fernando Alonso (Ferrari), the only man who can take the championship away from him.
Alonso benefited from a sly move by Ferrari pre-race when they deliberately broke Felipe Massa’s gearbox seal, meaning the Brazilian would have to take a five-place grid penalty. This pushed Alonso up one place to P7, but he would now start from the clean side of the track. The dual world champ made the most of this cheekily gained advantage by exiting turn 1 in fourth place. He was never really in winning contention, but like a bad smell he has a habit of hanging about and just won’t go away.
Next weekend’s season ending race in Brazil will be compulsory viewing, especially with some talk there’s rain expected on race day as well.
Mark Webber did make a clean start from P3 and was able to pass Lewis Hamilton into turn 1, but he only had enough to pace to keep Hamilton behind for three full laps, seeing Hamilton use DRS to stroll by on lap 4. Worse was to come for Mark, though. On lap 16 he was advised over the radio that his KERS had failed, again. Then on lap 17 he retired from the race with the dreaded Renault alternator problem. It’s his first mechanical failure since 2009.
As seems to often be the case with Torro Rosso the intra-team battle is won by the person starting behind on the grid. Today Daniel Ricciardo started down in P18, four places behind Jean-Eric Vergne, but drove well to finish in P12. Ricciardo’s job was made a bit easier due to Vergne retiring from the race with a broken steering arm, although he had already overtaken his teammate by then.
Vettel’s second place was more than enough for Red Bull to secure their third consecutive constructors’ championship; they needed to collect only four points today. Although, it was all glum faces in pit lane as they and Vettel complained that Hamilton’s move past Vettel was made too easy due to Narain Karthikeyan (HRT) not using his mirrors, making Vettel vulnerable before the DRS zone. Whatever.
Interesting factoid, this is the first time Hamilton, Vettel and Alonso have all stood on the podium together. Luckily they were given some nice hats to wear, to make the occasion all the more memorable.
Overall, the return of F1 to the United States has been a great success. This morning’s race had plenty of action and fears the Circuit of the Americas would be hard for drivers to overtake was proved incorrect.
See you next Monday at 3am (AEDST) for what should be a thrilling climax to the 2012 F1 season.
2012 United States Grand Prix final placings
- Lewis Hamilton (McLaren) – 25pts
- Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull) +0.6 secs – 18pts
- Fernando Alonso (Ferrari) +39.2 secs – 15pts
- Felipe Massa (Ferrari) +46.0 secs – 12pts
- Jenson Button (McLaren) +56.4 secs – 10pts
- Kimi Räikkönen (Lotus) +64.4 secs – 8pts
- Romain Grosjean (Lotus) +70.3 secs – 6pts
- Nico Hulkenberg (Force India) +73.7 secs – 4pts
- Pastor Maldonado (Williams) +74.5 secs – 2pts
- Bruno Senna (Williams) +75.1 secs – 1pt
- Sergio Perez (Sauber) +84.3 secs
- Daniel Ricciardo (Toro Rosso) +84.8 secs
- Nico Rosberg (Mercedes AMG) +85.5 secs
- Kamui Kobayashi (Sauber) +1 Lap
- Paul di Resta (Force India) +1 Lap
- Michael Schumacher (Mercedes AMG) +1 Lap
- Vitaly Petrov (Caterham) +1 Lap
- Heikki Kovalainen (Caterham) +1 Lap
- Timo Glock (Marussia) +1 Lap
- Charles Pic (Marussia) +2 Laps
- Pedro de la (Rosa HRT) +2 Laps
- Narain Karthikeyan (HRT) +2 Laps
Mark Webber (Red Bull) +40 Laps
Jean-Eric Verge (Toro Rosso) +42 Laps
Fastest lap: Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull) – 1:39.347 (Lap 56)
2012 World Championship top 10 (Drivers) – Round 19
- Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull) – 273
- Fernando Alonso (Ferrari) – 260
- Kimi Räikkönen (Lotus) – 206
- Lewis Hamilton (McLaren) – 190
- Mark Webber (Red Bull) – 167
- Jenson Button (McLaren) – 163
- Felipe Massa (Ferrari) – 107
- Romain Grosjean (Lotus) – 96
- Nico Rosberg (Mercedes AMG) – 93
- Sergio Perez (Sauber) – 66
2012 World Championship (Constructors) – Round 19
- Red Bull Racing-Renault – 440
- Ferrari – 367
- McLaren-Mercedes – 353
- Lotus-Renault – 302
- Mercedes AMG – 136
- Sauber-Ferrari – 124
- Force India-Mercedes – 99
- Williams-Renault – 76
- STR-Ferrari – 22