Lewis Hamilton Overcomes Vettel to Win Inaugural United States Grand Prix

Lewis Hamilton overcomes Vettel to win the inaugural United States Grand Prix at the Circuit of the Americas.

McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton won the last U.S. Grand Prix in 2007. He’d love to grab another victory in its return.

For the first 41 laps of Sunday’s inaugural United States Grand Prix at Circuit of the Americas, Sebastian Vettel appeared poised to put the finishes touches on what had been a picture-perfect weekend.

Unfortunately for the reigning World Champion and Formula One points leader, Lewis Hamilton had other ideas.

Fast all weekend but having trailed Vettel in all three practices and qualifying, Hamilton spoiled Vettel’s weekend by passing the Red Bull driver with 15 laps to go and holding on to win by .6 seconds to secure his fourth victory of the season.

Vettel finished second with his championship rival Fernando Alonso completing the podium to ensure the battle for the drivers’ world title will be decided at the final race of the season in Brazil next Sunday.

Vettel can clinch his third straight driver’s title by finishing fourth or better in Brazil. Despite Vettel’s disappointment, his Red Bull team did wrap up the constructors’ championship on Sunday.

Millions around the world watched the race U.S. this week.

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McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton won the last U.S. Grand Prix in 2007. He’d love to grab another victory in its return.

He’s also tired of Sebastian Vettel christening all the new tracks in recent years with victories for Red Bull.

“I really would love to (win). Sebastian has a lot of wins on the new circuits. I hope I can get at least one,” Hamilton said Saturday after nearly knocking Vettel off pole position in qualifying.

Hamilton will start second Sunday. He acknowledged a love affair with the U.S., starting with his victory in Indianapolis five years ago.

“I think it’s the people, the way of life here. The weather is fantastic,” Hamilton said. “I came here this weekend. … I won the last U.S. Grand Prix, and I want it so bad.”

Although the 2008 world champion will switch to Mercedes next season, Hamilton said he’d work hard for McLaren to help the team in the constructor’s championship. Red Bull leads, trailed by Ferrari and McLaren.

“The fans have been amazing this weekend, so thank you so much,” Hamilton said on the podium. “I think this is one of the best Grand Prix we’ve had all year.”

If he can help push McLaren into second, “I will be very happy with that,” Hamilton said.

The $400 million Circuit of the Americas is ready for it’s opening race. The day has finally come! F1 has come to it’s tenth U.S. venue. A.J. Baime (automotive writer for The Wall Street Journal), calls this track “the best little road course in Texas”. The championship might be decided today in the return of Formula One to the U.S.

Recap

At the start, Lewis Hamilton gets away well. Vettel gets the lead. Alonso is up tof ourth as a Lotus runs off through the esses. There’s jockeying all over the place. Into the hairpin for the first time and the 3/4 mile back straight. The cars are very heavy with fuel. The brakes, and the effort the drivers need to use to apply them, will be paramount. You have to press 350 pounds of pressure onto them. Try that with a leg press at your local gym! Vettel and Webber lead. Webber fastest of all in sector two and Vettel fastest in sector three as Michael Schumacher is passed by Nico Hulkenberg. There’s very little tire wear as discussed in practice and qualifying the last few days. Kimi Raikkonen is pushing forward. This will be a one stop race more than likely. Romain Grosjean passes Michael Schumacher. The Mercedes is in a Lotus sandwich.

Vettel runs fast lap at 1:46.3 as DRS is engaged to open the rear wing on the backstretch. You have to be within a second of the car ahead to use DRS. Vettel is 1.4 seconds ahead of Mark Webber, with Lewis Hamilton holding third. Jenson Button is still struggling. He’s lost four spots from the start as Lewis Hamilton is pushing. Webber smokes the tires. Lewis Hamilton is on a mission to win this race. Felipe Massa is going OK after starting down the order. Four laps complete. Maybe the championship will go to the finale. Looking back at the start, Alonso had a lot of smoke coming off the brakes. He spun the wheels off the dirty line, too. Hamilton has gone past Webber. Don’t let down your guard, or the track will eat you alive.

Can Lewis Hamilton reel in Vettel. Hamilton sets fast lap. Not sure of the time. A lot is going on here right now. 1:45.497 is the actual lap time for Hamilton. Onto lap six now. Lewis Hamilton has a gap over Vettel. Romain Grosjean spins the Lotus and continues. It’s turn 19 again. Hamilton resets fast lap. Again, can’t figure out the times. Michael Schumacher battles Felipe Massa. Romain Grosjean is also in this battle. Paul di Resta has tires that are too hot rather than too cold. It’s warmer than any other time the cars have been on track through the week.

Nico Rosberg has to cool the motor on his Mercedes. Hamilton sets fast lap on lap eight at 1:43.614. He’s 3/10ths quicker than Sebastian Vettel as Romain Grosjean is falling off the pace. He’s flatspotted all four Pirelli’s on his car. Button passes Grosjean. The racing is really going well.

Daniel Ricciardo passes Romain Grosjean. Jenson Button and Michael Schumacher battle. Bruno Senna has already passed the five-time U.S. Grand Prix winner. Senna gets a draft down the back straight and goes right by. Ricciardo went around Rosberg on the straight. McLaren is ahead by 1.6 seconds over Vettel. He’s taking the fight to Red Bull. Vettel needs to get the gap down to a second to use DRS at turn eleven.

Romain Grosjean pits as Jenson bUtton and Michael Schumacher fight over tenth spot. Jenson Button is on hard tires at the moment. Grosjean has been on hard tires as well. Kimi Raikkonen is challenging Nico Hulkenberg who will be a Sauber driver next year. Sergio Perez is currently ninth. Kimi Raikkonen is wrestling the car and there is no addition grip in the hard Pirelli tires. DRS is enabled on lap eleven down the straight. Felipe Massa passes Paul di Resta. The KERS power boosting counters the effect of the DRS on the car that has passed. Massa reels in di Resta, controls the car into the apex of turn twelve, and goes by.

Rubens Barrichello and Dario Franchitti are among the racing drivers watching at the track. Barrichello ran 300 or so Formula One races before going to Indycars. Kimi Raikkonen passes Nico Hulkenberg, plowing b the Force India. Pastor Maldonado is battling Michael Schumacher for thirteenth. 14 laps complete. Kamui Kobayashi pits on lap 13. The pit window is opening now. The tires will be changed. Maybe there will be two stops in this race. Lewis Hamilton doesn’t want to be disrupted. Cancel the radio transmission so I can hear the DRS signal. Vettel could be running out of tires as Michael Schumacher pits on lap 15. Jean Eric Vergne is off the road. He did the same thing in practice. He was run off the road somehow. He hit the right hand curb and pull the Toro Rosso off after breaking suspension.

Massa passes Hulkenberg. As things stand, the drivers’ title will go to the finale in Brazil next Sunday. 40 laps to go. Lewis Hamilton is very quick and could be using up the tires. Vettel is either running out of tires, or trying to preserve them as Fernando Alonso closes up on Mark Webber. Hamilton is catching Vettel. There is no yellow flag. Mark Webber’s KERS just failed. They need more rear brake bias. Turn the knob to the rear brakes as Webber is now shut down, off the road. He may be losing drive in the car. There are 345 corner workers coming from the U.S. and thirteen other countries. Bruno Senna is passed by Jenson Button.

Ferrari now has an advantage over Red Bull. Nico Hulkenberg pits on lap 18. Webber could be out of this race. 20 laps complete. Eight to halfway. Felipe Massa is fifth, five seconds behind Kimi Raikkonen. Alonso runs off and back on at turn 19. Hamilton might pit soon. He does, on lap 21. That was a blindingly quick stop! 2.4 seconds for McLaren as Ferrari is slow! Oh boy. 6.3 second for Ferrari. Felipe Massa is still hounding Kimi Raikkonen. Alonso will have to pick up the pace as he’s now fifth. The right rear tire was an issue. Jenson Button is trying to pass Sergio Perez and does. Vettel has a really fast pit stop. Two seconds at least! 2.7 seconds. Wow! He resumes in P1. Bruno Senna tries passing Sergio Perez. Senna ran wide, and Jenson Button passed. Daniel Ricciardo also went by.

Six laps to halfway! The race is flying by! Red Bull could still clinch their third consecutive constructor’s cup. Jenson Button is trying to pass Fernando Alonso as Sergio Perez pits on lap 23. Button passes Alonso, running much quicker. The tires have surely come up to temperature. The DRS gives twelve miles an hour in top speed. Lewis Hamilton is fighting Kimi Raikkonen now. Senna runs fast lap at 1:42.390. Hamilton passes Raikkonen. Vitaly Petrov pits the Caterham. Pit stop time for Lotus and Kimi Raikkonen. He has a long stop at 6.4 seconds. Hamilton and Alonso whistle by the Lotus. Daniel Ricciardo still has to pit. Jenson Button is fifth.

Raikkonen had trouble with the right rear tire fastening onto the hub. Ferrari takes the advantage. Daniel Ricciardo also whistles by the Lotus. Felipe Massa pitted as did Narain Karthikeyan. One lap to halfway now. Massa leads Ricciardo and Raikkonen for fifth, sixth and seventh. Hamilton runs fast lap at 1:41.752. The gap between Vettel and Hamilton is a second and a half. Mark Webber explains his problems were due to an alternator issue. 28 laps down. 28 to go.; Raikkonen passes Massa as Hamilton sets fast lap again. Everyone seems to be using their DRS. Daniel Ricciardo is running fifth and still needs to pit. Romain Grosjean passes Nico Rosberg. He still needs to stop. Sebastian Vettel runs his personal best in sector one at 1:27.9 while Hamilton is 2/10ths ahead.

Felipe Massa is losing time to Kimi Raikkonen at the moment. When Button does pit, he’ll change to the medium compound tire per the regulations. The U.S. Grand Prix is now into it’s second half. Lewis Hamilton is closing on Sebastian Vettel, putting up fast laps. The gap is shrinking to 1.6 seconds as Hamilton runs fast lap at 1:41.529. Fernando Alonso is also back in contention it looks like. Interesting strategy by Ferrari for unsealing the gearbox. “Hey Mr. Whiting. Look. I cut the seal off the transmission and the seal shell fell on the floor!” Hamilton is within a second of Vettel as he can use his DRS. He closes up mightily on Vettel through turns seven, eight, and nine. Michael Schumacher, Sergio Perez, and Lewis Hamilton, do have homes/properties here in the U.S.

Can Vettel run the tires off the McLaren? Maybe into turn 12, Hamilton will be strong enough to get by the Red Bull. Will he make the pass at the end of the straight? Nico Rosberg pits on lap 35 for his first and only pit stop. Vettel resets fast lap at 1:40.959. There are twenty laps left as Jenson Button pits for medium compound tires. Sebastian Vettel was 19, scoring points in the last U.S. G.P. at Indianapolis, standing in for Robert Kubica at Sauber BMW when former F1 driver, Kubica, was out with injury. This race is amazing. Jenson Button is going after Romain Grosjean at the moment. Button makes a successful pass. Felipe Massa is running fifth! Wow! Would it be wise to risk another pit stop to change to medium tires before the end? Vettel and Hamilton will battle for the win. Alonso is 30 seconds behind!

Massa makes a bold move to pass Kimi Raikkonen. Raikkonen hit the paint on the outside of the track, losing traction briefly. Hamilton is right on top of Vettel now. The fans here in the states, love it! Michael Schumacher pits on lap 40. Red Bull will likely win their third constructor’s title in a row. Hamilton is pushing, using KERS and DRS. Paul di Resta is running sixteenth and is overtaken by the leaders. Vettel has a minimal advantage off some corners. Narain Karthikeyan is lapped by the leaders. Hamilton tries to pass and does so into turn twelve over Vettel. Hamilton won the last U.S. Grand Prix at Indianapolis in 2007. Vettel is flustered about overtaking. His engineer tells him, “just keep racing.”

Eleven laps to go. Jenson Button muscles his way by Kimi Taikkonen. He won’t make it this time. Well, maybe he will. Alonso runs fast lap at 1:40.141. Kimi Raikkonen did not edge Button over. Button may catch Massa who is eight seconds or so ahead. This race has been a huge success. The track is phenomenal. There’s a real scrap between Nico Hulkenberg and Bruno Senna. It looks like Red Bull will win the constructors championship even though the drivers’ title will go down to the wire. Six laps to go. Romain Grosjean wrestles the Lotus in seventh place. He and Kimi Raikkonen will finish sixth and seventh. This has been an amazing Grand Prix.

Grosjean locks the brake coming to the front straight. Can Vettel reel in Hamilton? Maldonado and Senna are running well for Williams. Maldonado battles Sergio Perez. The two Williams cars do touch wheels in turn one. Yikes! Three laps remain in the race now. Jenson Button is losing lap time due to using the KERS. The battery could be overheating. Felipe Massa gets fastest lap of the race at 1:40 flat! 1:40.050. The gap is 35.7 seconds between Vettel and Alonso. Hamilton resets fast lap now in the 1:39s with two laps to go. Massa resets fast lap again, at 1:39.743. It’s the last lap of the race now. 56 are going to be in the books and the first race at Circuit of the Americas will be complete.

Hamilton resets fast lap at 1:39.709. Vettel has one more shot. He won’t have enough distance or time to catch up. Hamilton won the U.S. G.P. in 2007 and he’ll win the first race at Austin. Ayrton Senna was the last man to win a U.S. Grand Prix at two different U.S. tracks at Detroit and Phoenix. Hamilton wins it! Vettel brings down fast lap to a 1:39.3 right at the end. Alonso will be third. Felipe Massa will be back with Ferrari, finishing fourth in the U.S. Grand Prix. Williams gets both cars in the points paying spots.

One race now remains in the 2012 FIA Formula One World Championship. It is the Brazilian Grand Prix at the Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace/Interlagos circuit in Sao Paulo, Brazil, to be run next weekend. That Grand Prix will decide the 2012 FIA Formula One World Champion.

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