Hamilton denies Vettel the victory, as the Championship goes down to the wire!
Lewis Hamilton has taken a historic victory at the brand-new Circuit of the Americas, in what was an absolutely enthralling United States Grand Prix. The Briton was followed home by Sebastian Vettel, with Fernando Alonso a distant 3rd. Red Bull have therefore secured their third Constructors’ Championship.
At the start Sebastian Vettel stormed into a comfortable lead, as fellow Championship rival Fernando Alonso enjoyed a sensational start from the clean side of the grid and catapulted himself up to 4th position after starting from 7th. Lewis Hamilton dropped from 2nd to 3rd, as Jenson Button fell backwards as the field negotiated the tricky opening sector. Michael Schumacher, Romain Grosjean and Kimi Raikkonen became locked in a grueling battle for 6th, which the Frenchman won as he progressed after his initial gearbox penalty.
Lewis Hamilton instantly challenged Mark Webber for 2nd position, however the Briton’s initial overtaking maneuver failed to stick as he ran wide and allowed Webber back through. However, the 2008 World Champion managed to make the move stick on the next lap, surging up the inside of the Red Bull driver at Turn 12. Romain Grosjean’s early pace was thrown away on Lap 7, as the Frenchman spun at the ever-tricky Turn 19 and lost many positions. Grosjean rejoined right in the middle of the melee for 9th position with Michael Schumacher, however the Frenchman continued to plummet through the order.
Several laps later and Romain Grosjean decided to pit after loosing many positions since his earlier spin, with the Frenchman now lapping towards the back of the pack. As Grosjean pitted, Lewis Hamilton began piling immense amounts of pressure on race leader Sebastian Vettel. Kamui Kobayashi and Michael Schumacher became the next drivers to make a scheduled pit stop, as Hamilton entered the all-important DRS zone and began to challenge for the race lead.
Jean-Eric Vergne became the first retirement of the race, as the Toro Rosso driver came to a halt on the grass at Turn 7 due to a steering issue on his car. Mark Webber was quick to follow the Frenchman into retirement, as the Red Bull driver picked up yet another alternator failure on his car only moments after suffering with a KERS failure. Nico Hulkenberg decided to pit as the Australian driver retired, whilst Lewis Hamilton began to loose out to Sebastian Vettel as his tyres began to wear out.
The McLaren driver was almost instantly brought into the pits, with Fernando Alonso following the Briton and also pitting on Lap 21. Sebastian Vettel was therefore forced to pit as well, with the Red Bull mechanics performing an utterly unbelievably quick stop on the German’s car. Kimi Raikkonen therefore found himself between race leader Sebastian Vettel and the McLaren of Lewis Hamilton as the Finn decided against pitting with the race leaders. Eventually the Finn was overtaken by Hamilton, before he decided to pit from 3rd.
Whilst the gap between Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton changed every lap, Fernando Alonso has silently risen to 3rd position. This would therefore deny Sebastian Vettel the Championship crown this weekend, and would see the Championship go down to the wire at Sao Paulo next weekend.
As the race entered it’s closing stages, Lewis Hamilton once again began to reel in race leader Sebastian Vettel and on Lap 42 the Briton used his DRS-advantage to full effect and stormed around the outside of the reigning Champion for the lead. The maneuver slightly flustered Vettel, who immediately vented his disbelief at being overtaken over the team radio.
After taking the lead, Lewis Hamilton wasted no time in opening up a comfortable gap to the Red Bull driver. Sebastian Vettel strove to close down the gap to the McLaren driver in the closing laps, however Hamilton remained uncatchable out in front and eventually crossed the line to take a historic inaugural victory around the stunning Circuit of the Americas. Hamilton was followed home by just under a second by Sebastian Vettel, with Fernando Alonso a distant 3rd therefore keeping his Championship hopes alive with the final race in Brazil next weekend. Red Bull have therefore secured their third Constructors’ Championship, making history by becoming the first team to win their first three Constructors’ titles in a row.
The 2012 Championship has been one of excitement and unpredictability, and is poised with a mouthwatering finale next weekend around the legendary Interlagos circuit at Sao Paulo. Rain is always a threat around the tricky circuit, and could well plague proceedings next weekend.
Formula One teams United States Grand Prix results
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source: Andy Young, motorsport.nextgen-auto.com, photo: ToileF1.com, photo Getty Images