Hamilton Texas Star
By: James Musoke on November 18, 2012 | 4:00 P.M. EST
Hamilton scored his fourth win of the season. (Photo: Getty Images)
McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton picked up the first victory at the inaugural United States Grand Prix held at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas, on Sunday - passing pole winner Sebastian Vettel on the 42nd lap to earn his fourth win of the season.
The Brit started second on the grid but initially lost that spot to Red Bull’s Mark Webber, who made the most of the better grip on his side of the grid to make a quick lunge past the McLaren. Hamilton had to act fast if he wanted to keep pace with Vettel and managed to reclaim his second spot back from Webber on the fourth lap, and take the fight to the two-time defending champion. The Briton spent numerous laps within a second of Vettel but could not quite engineer a pass before taking advantage of the leader being held up by an HRT to pass him down the straight on Lap 42.
Vettel stayed within two seconds of Hamilton right until the end of the race, but was never close enough to challenge.
"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,” Hamilton said. “There are a couple of Grand Prix that are somehow out on their own: Monaco, Silverstone, Montreal, Spa and Monza. Now, you can add 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. It’s a brilliant feeling to be finishing the season on a high. Hopefully, we’ll go to Brazil next week with the same level of performance. I'd love to win my final two races for Vodafone McLaren Mercedes.”
Vettel had to settle for second place ahead of his main championshp rival Fernando Alonso, who finished third. Alonso, who entered the weekend thirteen points behind Vettel, had a superb start to the race, jumping from seventh on the grid to fourth behind Red Bull's Mark Webber. Unfortunately, Webber suffered more reliability problems and his retirement with alternator failure on the 17th lap was enough to promote Alonso to a very critical third-place finish.
Alonso was initially supposed to start the race in the eighth position behind teammate Felipe Massa. However, a late gearbox change by the team cost Massa five places on the grid and also promoted his title-contender teammate to seventh. The Italian team openly admitted that it was a tactical decision taken in order to promote Alonso to a slot that was critically on the right, where grip was expected to be far superior as the cars left the line.
“We achieved our objective, which means keeping the drivers’ championship alive to the end,” said Pat Fry, Ferrari chassis director. “We decided to take a penalty that goes with changing a gearbox, which resulted in Felipe dropping five places on the grid but meant both drivers started from the clean side of the track, an important given Fernando is fighting for the drivers’ title.
"We expected this to produce an advantage for the Spaniard and a more or less similar outcome for the Brazilian and as things turned out, if you look at the order after the first corner, we were right. Once again, Fernando covered the first few hundred meters of the race in extraordinary fashion and from then on, he produced a great performance - profiting from Webber’s retirement to make it to the podium for the umpteenth time in this amazing season.”
Massa overcame the team sacrifice to finish fourth, ahead of McLaren’s Jenson Button - who fought his way all the way from 16th at the start to eventually come fifth overall. Lotus’ Kimi Raikkonen finished sixth, ahead of teammate Romain Grosjean - who came home seventh despite spinning off the track and having to endure an early pit stop to change tires. Nico Hulkenberg claimed eighth for Force India, ahead of Williams teammates Pastor Maldonado and Bruno Senna.
Team Red Bull wrapped up the 2012 Constructors Championship, earning its third consecutive title. The drivers' championship is still up for grabs with Alonso trailing Vettel by 13 points heading into the final race of the season next weekend in Brazil.