Hamilton takes win as title battle goes down to the wire in Brazil

Lewis Hamilton achieved his 21st career victory at the Circuit of the Americans, denying the world championship leader Sebastian Vettel on scoring valuable points.

With Vettel finishing in second and his title rival Fernando Alonso taking third, this season’s Formula One world championship will go down to the wire in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

Despite not sealing the title in Austin, Sebastian Vettel’s second position means Red Bull Racing has won the constructors’ championship for the third successive year. An impressive record for the Milton Keynes-based team.

As for Hamilton, this was a great result for the McLaren driver. Won the last United States Grand Prix at Indianapolis in 2007 and five years later, he takes the chequered flag in back-to-back American style at Austin.

Hamilton’s relentless pursuit of Vettel kept tension building throughout the race.

The McLaren lost second to Vettel’s Red Bull team-mate Mark Webber at the start, but soon re-passed the Australian. Webber retired with alternator failure soon afterwards, no doubt prompting nerves in the Red Bull garage.

Vettel’s car was still running smoothly, but it did not have the speed to escape from Hamilton.

The champion pulled out a little gap just before the first pitstops, only for Hamilton to come back with a vengeance once they were both on fresh hard compound tyres.

Hamilton spent most of the middle of the race tantalisingly close to Vettel, but was frustrated time and time again by the Red Bull’s superior traction. The McLaren would close in through the fast first sector, then struggle to get near enough on the DRS zone straight.

Finally on lap 42 Hamilton managed to pull the move off. Vettel moved to the inside, but the McLaren’s straight-line speed advantage was so great that McLaren was comfortable ahead before the next corner – prompting angry radio messages from Vettel regarding the DRS effect and Narain Karthikeyan holding him up while being lapped.

The race was far from over, as Hamilton never quite escaped from Vettel. The Red Bull did not manage to get within striking range and Hamilton was able to win in America for the second time in his career, crossing the finishing line a mere six tenths ahead of Vettel, who at least wrapped up another teams’ title.

Alonso’s progress to third was mostly achieved thanks to a superb start from his controversial grid slot. He then swept around the outside at the uphill first corner to secure fourth, which became third after Webber’s exit.

His Ferrari team-mate Felipe Massa recovered from his generously-accepted P11 on the grid to fourth, showing great race pace throughout.

Massa came under slight threat from Jenson Button late on. The McLaren had fallen right back to P16 on the opening lap, before flying through the field as its tyres came to life. Button ran to lap 35 before pitting, and then battled past the two Lotus cars to secure fifth.

Kimi Raikkonen looked like he might challenge Alonso at one point. Both lost a few seconds at their pitstops, with Raikkonen falling back into traffic and then being overtaken by Massa and Button in the second stint.

Raikkonen finished just ahead of team-mate Romain Grosjean, who recovered well from spinning on lap five then requiring a pitstop on lap nine. He fell right back to P22, but flew thereafter.

Nico Hulkenberg claimed eighth for Force India by fending off battling Williams duo Pastor Maldonado and Bruno Senna. The pair banged wheels at Turn 1 in the closing laps as Maldonado passed his team-mate.

Daniel Ricciardo starred in the first stint, rising from P18 on the grid to fifth by staying out until lap 30. But that tactic did not pay off for Toro Rosso as Ricciardo was only P12 in the end.

Mercedes had a terrible race in Austin. Michael Schumacher was overtaken by rival after rival in the opening stint, falling from fifth on the grid to P14 before his first pitstop. He would require more tyres later on too, leaving him P16, three places behind team-mate Nico Rosberg.

Just 13 points separate Vettel and Alonso with the former as the title favourite heading into next weekend’s finale at Interlagos. Whatever happens, both drivers had done a brilliant job this season. Best of luck to the champions in Brazil.

United States Grand Prix race results after 56 laps:

1.  Hamilton      McLaren-Mercedes           1h35:55.269
2.  Vettel        Red Bull-Renault           +0.675
3.  Alonso        Ferrari                    +39.229
4.  Massa         Ferrari                    +46.013
5.  Button        McLaren-Mercedes           +56.432
6.  Raikkonen     Lotus-Renault              +1:04.425
7.  Grosjean      Lotus-Renault              +1:10.313
8.  Hulkenberg    Force India-Mercedes       +1:13.792
9.  Maldonado     Williams-Renault           +1:14.525
10.  Senna         Williams-Renault           +1:15.133
11.  Perez         Sauber-Ferrari             +1:24.341
12.  Ricciardo     Toro Rosso-Ferrari         +1:24.871
13.  Rosberg       Mercedes                   +1:25.510
14.  Kobayashi     Sauber-Ferrari             +1 lap
15.  Di Resta      Force India-Mercedes       +1 lap
16.  Schumacher    Mercedes                   +1 lap
17.  Petrov        Caterham-Renault           +1 lap
18.  Kovalainen    Caterham-Renault           +1 lap
19.  Glock         Marussia-Cosworth          +1 lap
20.  Pic           Marussia-Cosworth          +2 laps
21.  De la Rosa    HRT-Cosworth               +2 laps
22.  Karthikeyan   HRT-Cosworth               +2 laps

Fastest lap: Vettel, 1:39.347

Not classified/retirements:

Webber        Red Bull-Renault             17 laps
Vergne        Toro Rosso-Ferrari           15 laps

World Championship standings, round 19:

1.  Vettel       273
2.  Alonso       260
3.  Raikkonen    206
4.  Hamilton     190
5.  Webber       167
6.  Button       163
7.  Massa        107
8.  Grosjean      96
9.  Rosberg       93
10.  Perez         66
11.  Kobayashi     58
12.  Hulkenberg    53
13.  Di Resta      46
14.  Maldonado     45
15.  Schumacher    43
16.  Senna         31
17.  Vergne        12
18.  Ricciardo     10

1.  Red Bull-Renault          440
2.  Ferrari                   367
3.  McLaren-Mercedes          353
4.  Lotus-Renault             302
5.  Mercedes                  136
6.  Sauber-Ferrari            124
7.  Force India-Mercedes       99
8.  Williams-Renault           76
9.  Toro Rosso-Ferrari         22

Next race: Brazilian Grand Prix, Interlagos. November 23-25.

12 thoughts to “Hamilton takes win as title battle goes down to the wire in Brazil”

  1. Mark Webber admitted his retirement from the United States Grand Prix with another alternator failure would cause some sleepless nights for Red Bull.

    Alternator glitches had already proved costly for Webber’s team-mate Sebastian Vettel’s Formula 1 title challenge this year.

    The German retired from a dominant lead in Valencia with that issue and also dropped out of the Monza race as a consequence.

    Webber was holding third at Austin on Sunday, ahead of Vettel’s title rival Fernando Alonso, when his Red Bull ground to a halt on lap 17.

    “It was the alternator ultimately in the end,” said Webber. “So we lost the batteries on the car, we lost KERS, we lost our gearbox sync.

    “The laps before I retired I was in trouble and we knew it was a long way home from there.

    “It’s disappointing to lose a very good result here today for myself and the team, and for sure there are more nerves about our reliability.”

    Despite Webber’s retirement and Vettel losing the race to Lewis Hamilton, Red Bull was able to clinch the constructors’ championship for a third consecutive year.

    Source: Autosport.com

  2. Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel felt that he would have won this race in Austin without being held up by the HRT of Narain Karthikeyan. Autosport.com has the full story.

    Sebastian Vettel doubts whether Lewis Hamilton would have been able to beat him to United States Grand Prix victory had he not been delayed lapping Narain Karthikeyan’s HRT.

    Hamilton spent most of the race pursuing Vettel and appeared to be quicker.

    But although he could close through the first sector and in the back straight DRS zone, the McLaren driver was struggling to get within overtaking range of the Red Bull.

    That changed when Vettel came upon Karthikeyan on lap 43, with Hamilton able to gain several car lengths and then sweep past using DRS.

    “Everything seemed to be in control and here traffic is quite difficult and it didn’t work in my favour,” said Vettel.

    “Lewis was close enough to open his rear wing. It didn’t matter which side I picked.”

    Television viewers heard angry radio messages from Vettel after he lost the lead, and the German underlined that the traffic was the target of his displeasure.

    “I wasn’t too happy to send a deep invitation to Lewis going past Karthikeyan and he was right behind in the DRS zone,” Vettel said.

    “To do a big different in one corner is hardly possible and he took that opportunity down the straight.

    “I wasn’t happy as before that I had managed the gap to him, and had managed tyres to attack in the last few laps.”

    Vettel could only add three points to his drivers’ championship lead over Fernando Alonso, but his second place did allow Red Bull to clinch its third successive constructors’ title.

    “It was a shame to lose first pace but I think we did everything we could,” said Vettel.

    “It was fantastic job for the team today to seal the constructors’ championship, I am happy for that. The guys can be very proud of themselves, and they can have a drink tonight.”

    The second Red Bull of Mark Webber retired with an alternator failure – the same problem that had forced Vettel out of the European and Italian GPs. But Vettel said he was not concerned about the return of the issue.

    “If it was alternator it is not good news but I think we managed the last couple of races pretty well so it should be easy to explain and find the problem,” said Vettel.

    “After Monza I think we learned the lesson and we should be prepared enough for next week.”

  3. US Grand Prix winner Lewis Hamilton says first Austin win was an honour. Autosport.com has the details.

    Lewis Hamilton declared himself massively proud to become the first winner at the new Austin Formula 1 track after beating Sebastian Vettel to first place in the United States Grand Prix.

    The British driver started from second position and eventually managed to pass leader Vettel on lap 43, after having chased him since the start of the race.

    Hamilton, the last winner in the United States when the race was held at Indianapolis, took his fourth win of the 2012 season.

    “It has been a great weekend,” admitted Hamilton. “To be able to beat Red Bull and Sebastian is definitely a tough challenge but we managed to do it.

    “We were not so bad in the first stint but it was very difficult to follow and get past.

    “My tyres went off and then we pitted two laps before Seb and he came out quite far ahead, but traffic worked out quite well for once. Traffic usually catches me out, so I was glad it worked slightly in my favour.

    “What a great feeling to win the first grand prix back here in the States, so I am massively proud.”

    Hamilton is already out of the championship fight in fourth place, a position he could improve on if he outscores Kimi Raikkonen by 16 points in Brazil.

    The McLaren driver will compete in his final race with the team in Brazil, where he is hoping to be on top again.

    “It is exciting we have quite car and compete again with these guys,” said the Briton. “I am not fighting for the championship so it is more exciting for these guys – but I can have fun.”

  4. By finishing in third position, the championship battle goes down to the wire and for Fernando Alonso, this result felt like a race victory. Autosport.com has the details.

    Fernando Alonso declared his third place in the United States Grand Prix as satisfying as a victory after a difficult qualifying on Saturday.

    The Ferrari driver qualified in ninth position, but moved up to eighth because of a gearbox-change penalty for Lotus Romain Grosjean.

    On Sunday the Spaniard was elevated to seventh position on the grid after the team decided to incur a penalty for Felipe Massa in order to give Alonso a better chance at the start.

    The double champion made good use of that and moved to fourth on the opening lap before he inherited third when Mark Webber retired.

    The result allowed Alonso to stay in the championship fight going into the final race of the season in Brazil, as he is now 13 points behind second-place finisher Sebastian Vettel.

    The Spanish driver admitted the opening lap was crucial for his hopes.

    “We know that our championship is alive thanks to the first laps,” said Alonso. “We always qualified around seventh or eighth, and finish the first lap in the first three or four positions and after that the race becomes a bit easier if you are in leading group.

    “Today we knew we had a good chance. I tried to overtake people at the first corner and then the pace improved and we were in the leading group.

    “Today was not possible to have the pace of these two guys [Lewis Hamilton and Vettel]. They were too far ahead. I had enough to keep the guys behind.

    “This weekend it is like a victory for us. Losing just three points was something no one thought yesterday night or Friday night after practice. So we are happy to have another good Sunday and score good points again.”

    Alonso, who has not won a race since the German Grand Prix in July, needs to finish at least third to have a chance of winning the title in the Brazil finale.

    If he wins, however, he would need Vettel to finish outside the top four at Interlagos.

    “We go to Brazil with the possibility to fight for the championship,” he said. “It is something we have been fighting for during the whole year.

    “Only Seb is in a better position than us. We should be proud of ourselves, enjoy the race and see at the end what the outcome is.”

  5. Felipe Massa is confident he was quick enough to beat his Ferrari team-mate Fernando Alonso in the United States Grand Prix.

    The Brazilian had to drop to 11th on the grid when Ferrari broke a gearbox seal on his car so that Massa would pick up a five-place penalty. The aim was to elevate Alonso a position and put him on the clean side of the grid.

    Alonso came through from seventh on the grid to finish third, meaning he only lost three points to title rival Sebastian Vettel, while Massa showed strong race pace to recover to fourth.

    Massa admitted he had reluctantly accepted the penalty tactic, and said to go along with it showed his value to Ferrari, which had deliberated for many months before extending his contract into 2013.

    “For sure I was not happy this morning,” said Massa.

    “It’s impossible to see a driver happy with giving away five positions just to help your team-mate or your team, but we know how important that is.

    “Maybe it’s not easy to find another driver who will do that. I think that’s the most honest direction to take.

    “For sure I was able to be in front of Fernando in this race, but I did a very good help.”

    He reckons the race performance answered both his and Ferrari’s critics.

    “I think the best thing you can do for the people at home who like to talk, talk, talk about nothing is this result,” Massa said.

    “What we did today was fantastic. I was not happy at the beginning but I’m happy now.

    “God knows what to do and we just have to trust and do the best we can.”

    Massa is sure the Austin event was the best he has driven all season.

    “I think it was maybe my best race of the year,” he said.

    “For me it was like a victory. Starting 11th, I expected to gain more positions at the start – I gained just one.

    “But after that I was just trying to pass people, and that’s what I did.

    “I had incredible pace during the whole weekend.”

    Source: Autosport.com

  6. Mercedes driver Michael Schumacher blames tyre problems for his slump during the US Grand Prix. Autosport.com has the news story.

    Michael Schumacher described his United States Grand Prix as massively difficult after what he felt was a tyre problem caused him to plunge down the order.

    The Mercedes driver started the Austin race from fifth position but quickly dropped down the order as he struggled with a lack of grip.

    Eventually the German finished in 16th place as Mercedes continued with its pointless streak, now going for five consecutive races.

    “I can’t find any words other than ironic ones for the race today – there was a lot of action around me but unfortunately in the wrong direction,” said Schumacher.

    “To say that the race was a real struggle would be an understatement. I couldn’t get any grip from my first set of tyres, and there must have been some kind of damage for them to perform so badly.

    “We had to change our strategy to two stops which then compromised our race even further. All in all, it was much worse than expected today, especially considering that things did not look that bad yesterday and Friday.”

    Team-mate Nico Rosberg also had a tough day from 17th on the grid, the German at least finding some consolation in the fact the the team learned lessons for its 2013 car.

    Rosberg used an older spec car for qualifying and the race and he finished in 13th position.

    “It was a difficult weekend for us and unfortunately we weren’t able to score any points today. However we have learned some important lessons for next year and that’s what counts at the moment.

    “I hope we can be more successful next year here in Austin as I have enjoyed our visit. The track, the people and the city are absolutely fantastic. So I look forward to coming back here in 2013 and we will work hard next weekend to finish the season on a positive note.”

  7. With one race remaining, Lotus driver Kimi Raikkonen is now focusing on keeping third position in points table. Autosport.com has the details.

    Kimi Raikkonen says he is determined to fight to keep third place in the Formula 1 world championship after what he labelled as an “OK day” at Austin.

    The Lotus driver looked in contention for a podium finish early in the race after starting from fourth, but as the track got cooler he struggled for pace and eventually dropped to sixth position.

    The Finn is now 16 points ahead of race winner Lewis Hamilton with just the Brazilian Grand Prix to go.

    Raikkonen, who had won the previous race in Abu Dhabi, admitted it had not been an easy day for him.

    “It was an OK day, but not a very easy one for us,” he said. “I got a bad start and then I touched with a Force India at the second corner so I lost a few more places. After that the car was OK and I could get past some of the others.

    “Unfortunately, when it got cloudy it got too cold so the tyres stopped working and that’s where we saw Jenson [Button] get past. Basically, it was a race where we were just depending on the tyres to be in their window.

    “I’m still third in the championship and we’ll do everything we can to maintain this position until the end.”

    Team-mate Romain Grosjean also looked strong during parts of the race, but wound up seventh after spinning out while fighting for position with Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg.

    “Not a bad race but the spin on lap seven was frustrating,” he said. “The start was good, the first lap was good and the pace was definitely there.

    “I recovered pretty well from where I was to finish P7 and was fighting Kimi at the end which is a positive sign.

    “I pushed as hard as I could, so I was happy to bring home some more points for the team.”

  8. The United States Grand Prix stewards have deemed no action was necessary following an incident involving Heikki Kovalainen and Timo Glock during the race.

    The Finnish Caterham driver overtook his Marussia rival by making contact at Turn 15 when battling for 18th position near the end of the event.

    After the race, the stewards labelled it as a racing incident and said no further action was needed.

    Kovalainen finished in 18th, with Glock in 19th.

    “Late in the race I was able to get past Heikki in Turn 12 but in Turn 15 he dived in again and retook position, pushing me off the track a bit,” said Glock.

    Source: Autosport.com

  9. McLaren’s Jenson Button has commented that this weekend’s US Grand Prix was action-packed and it really shows Austin as an ideal venue for Formula One. Autosport.com has the news story.

    Jenson Button believes the level of action in the United States Grand Prix proves that Austin is the ideal venue for Formula 1’s American return.

    The McLaren driver was able to battle through to fifth, despite falling to 16th place on lap one with a bad start from 12th on the grid.

    “The end result obviously isn’t what we wanted. But I had so many great fights with about half the field,” said Button.

    “It’s a great place to race here. The low grip on the first lap made it very tricky. I think every car went off the circuit at some point. It was like driving in the wet.

    “But we put on a great show. Hopefully the American fans really enjoyed today. I don’t think we could’ve done any better really.”

    The Briton was also delighted with how clean the battles had been, including one spectacular dice with Kimi Raikkonen in particular.

    “There was a lot of overtaking, and most of it was very clean – which was good to see,” Button said.

    “Kimi gave me room on the outside. He’s fair.”

    Button acknowledged that he had been among those most sceptical about Austin’s overtaking potential at the start of the weekend.

    “I seemed to be wrong on that, which is good…” he joked.

    “From 12th, you wouldn’t say fifth is that amazing, but from where I was on the first lap, you would.”

  10. Sebastian Vettel has blamed Narain Karthikeyan for costing him victory at the US Grand Prix, however the HRT driver said he did nothing wrong over the incident… Autosport.com has the details.

    Narain Karthikeyan insists that there was nothing more he could do to keep out of the way of Sebastian Vettel despite the Red Bull driver blaming him for losing the lead of the United States Grand Prix

    Vettel said over the radio that “it’s Karthikeyan’s fault” after being passed by Lewis Hamilton, explaining in the post-race press conference that lapping the HRT allowed Hamilton to get close enough to attack.

    Hamilton passed Vettel on the run to Turn 12 after the Red Bull driver had caught and then briefly become stuck behind the HRT in the sequence of corners from Turns 3-7.

    It was clear before the race that traffic could be a problem in this part of the track and Karthikeyan drove in accordance with FIA race director Charlie Whiting’s guidelines.

    “I spoke to Charlie before the race because I knew a situation like this could come up,” Karthikeyan told AUTOSPORT.

    “It’s impossible to get out of the way in that part of the track unless we drive off the circuit.

    “Charlie said that it was absolutely fine not to move over from Turns 3 to 7 so I did not do anything wrong.”

    Karthikeyan added that as soon as he was through this section and reached Turn 8, he made space for Vettel.

    “Once I was through there, I let him past and he overtook me at the exit of Turn 7 into 8,” said Karthikeyan.

    “You cannot go anywhere else and it’s impossible to get out of the way before. You tell me where we can drive off the track?

    “If he complains, it’s too bad.”

  11. Ferrari boss Stefano Domenicali has no doubts the team made the right decision in incurring a penalty for Felipe Massa to give team-mate Fernando Alonso a better chance in the United States Grand Prix.

    The Italian squad decided to break one of the seals in Massa’s gearbox just before the race so the Brazilian would get a five-place penalty that would put Alonso in seventh position, and more importantly, on the clean side of the grid for the start.

    Drivers had already expressed their concerns about the disadvantage of starting from the dirty side.

    Alonso had a very good start and moved from seventh to fourth on the opening lap of the race. He finished in third position and kept his championship hopes alive going into the season finale.

    Massa said after finishing in fourth that he understood the decision, but that he was not happy about it.

    Domenicali insisted after the race that it was the right call and he is convinced any other team would have done the same in his situation.

    “Yes, otherwise we wouldn’t have done it,” Domenicali said when asked if the decision was in the spirit of the regulations. “I prefer to be totally transparent, because with something like that you can easily simulate something if you want. But I felt it was more correct to say the truth. This is our style, my style.

    “It is something that is our responsibility to do and retrospectively we knew that the difference in grip level on the two sides was very high. And we knew that if we were thinking of trying to be in the fight in Brazil it was very important to have the first car in front in the first couple of laps, otherwise the race would have been almost finished.

    “At the end of the day, retrospectively, I think that was the right thing to do. When you work for the Ferrari team you know that the team is the centre of the decisions and the drivers respect it. I have to thank Felipe for that.”

    The Italian reiterated his belief that Massa had understood Ferrari’s reasoning.

    “I think he understood. I explained to him the decision. I have to say that if another team principal is saying that we didn’t make the right choice he’s lying to you,” he said.

    Domenicali admitted Ferrari had thought about the possibility of Red Bull doing the same with Sebastian Vettel’s team-mate Mark Webber in order to put Alonso on the dirty side of the track again.

    The team boss said that was the reason why he waited until the last minute to make the call.

    “Yes, that’s why we waited until the last moment to do it. It’s part of the strategic things you have to decide. That’s part of the game,” Domenicali said.

    He admitted, however, that Ferrari did not think about the drivers who had qualified behind Massa and that were affected by the penalty.

    “To be honest, no. I say the truth. If I said it the other way around you wouldn’t believe me, so I say no.”

    Source: Autosport.com

  12. Despite Sebastian Vettel not winning the drivers’ title in Austin, his second place finish meant Red Bull Racing seal the constructors’ championship for the third successive season. An impressive record for the Milton Keynes-based team. Autosport.com has the news story.

    Red Bull boss Christian Horner says his team’s third consecutive title may be a dream come true for the outfit – but its job for the season is still only half done.

    Sebastian Vettel’s podium finish in Austin was enough for Red Bull to clinch its third straight constructors’ crown, and leaves him at the head of the drivers’ standings heading to the finale in Brazil.

    Although the constructors’ success means that Red Bull will achieve the maximum prize money from the season, Horner said there would not be too many celebrations just yet because the drivers’ battle was still wide open.

    “We are halfway there,” he said. “We have closed down one championship – and to have won a third consecutive constructors’ is something that we could only have ever dreamed about a few years ago.

    “To have achieved what we have in 2010, 2011 – and 2012 against the opponents we have in only our eighth year in the sport is something that is quite remarkable.

    “It is testimony to the long hours, dedication and determination that there is within the team, that we have managed to achieve this – and it is something every member of the team is fiercely proud of.”

    Horner believes that there was little to choose between the pace of Vettel and eventual race-winner Lewis Hamilton in the United States GP, with only the backmarker mix-up between Narain Karthikeyan proving the decisive moment.

    “I think it was nip and tuck between the two of them in the race. In the dirty air it was tricky to get too close, and Seb did a fantastic job in managing the gap to Lewis.

    “Lewis was a little stronger than us in the first sector, but in sectors two and three we were able to eke out a bit of a gap. It was about not making any mistakes and Sebastian was driving immaculately well.

    “I am quite convinced that without the backmarker he could have hung on, but that is motor racing. So to finish second, to have extended our lead by three points, is still a fantastic result.”

    He added: “We now head to Brazil with a 13-point lead and obviously still everything to play for. I have said all season that I think this season will go to Brazil and unfortunately I have been proven right today.”

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