Yee haw! F1’s off to Texas
The land of Stetsons and ten-gallon hats welcomes Formula One to the “Circuit of the Americas” this weekend for the seventeenth round of the championship. With three races left there is plenty to play for and while Mercedes have secured the Constructor’s Championship, the Drivers’ title is still an open book with a load of points (including double at the final round in Abu Dhabi) on the table. Lewis Hamilton only needs to trip up and Nico Rosberg will be right back in the hunt. He currently trails the Briton by 17 points.
It has been quite a week for Formula One. The sport has moved from the sports pages to the business pages of the world’s media. Two teams – Caterham and Marussia – both find themselves under administration and will not travel to the Austin, Texas race. The likelihood is that they will not be present at the remaining races in Sao Paulo and Abu Dhabi either. Therefore, only 18 cars will start this weekend’s race, the smallest grid since Monte Carlo in 2005.
US Grand Prix - Hamilton the fastest gun in Texas on day one
Lewis Hamilton posted the fastest time in both of Friday’s practice sessions ahead of Sunday’s US Grand Prix in Austin, Texas. He was only just fastest though, and finished the day a mere 0.003 seconds ahead of his Mercedes team-mate and title rival Nico Rosberg. Seventeen points separate the two going into the weekend’s race (which is coincidentally the seventeenth of the season) and with 100 points on the table for the race winner in the remaining three races, there is no need sense of complacency in the Briton’s mind.
The Mercedes twins were in a league of their own, comfortably ahead of the rest of the 18-car field with Fernando Alonso’s Ferrari closest in third over a second behind.
Reigning World Champion Sebastian Vettel will start from the pit lane on Sunday after being forced into his sixth engine change of the season. His progress through the field on Sunday will, however, be slightly less arduous given that two teams have not made the trip to Austin; both Caterham and Marussia are under administration back at their UK bases. It remains to be seen if they will take any further part in races this year.
Rosberg surprise quickest in Austin
Nico Rosberg turned the tables on his championship rival when it mattered most by taking pole position for Sunday’s US Grand Prix in Austin on Saturday. His team-mate Lewis Hamilton had dominated all the previous sessions on the Circuit of Americas track but was unable to continue the dominance through qualifying on Saturday afternoon.
At the final throw of the dice Rosberg was almost .400 seconds quicker than the Briton. The two Mercedes drivers, who have dominated the show throughout the weekend so far, were almost a full second quicker than the Williams of Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa in third and fourth. Daniel Ricciardo in the Red Bull was fifth with the Ferrari of Fernando Alonso in sixth. The McLarens of Jenson Button and Kevin Magnussen were seventh and eighth respectively.
Reigning World Champion Sebastian Vettel will mandatorily start form the pit lane with his sixth engine change of the season.
Sunday’s race starts with two teams, Caterham and Marussia, not taking part and the threat of other teams pulling out. As the teams left the track on Saturday evening Force India announced that it was considering boycotting the US race in protest against what they see as the inequalities of the sport’s centralised funding support. However, this would seem unlikely, as memories are still fresh in the sport’s mind of the US Grand Prix in Indianapolis in 2005 when only six cars started the race. The race in Austin has done much to restore the damage that this event created in the crucial US market place.
Hamilton leaves them smoking in Texan duel
Lewis Hamilton extended his lead over championship rival Nico Rosberg by winning the US Grand Prix in Austin, Texas to take a 24 point lead in the title race with two races left to run.
Hamilton, starting behind Rosberg, overtook his German team-mate just under half distance in the 56 lap race and was never challenged. It was the 2008 Champion’s fifth straight win and tenth of the season and this 32 race victory gives him the most wins in the history of the sport by a British driver. Rosberg will leave the popular US race venue at a psychological disadvantage having once again lost out to Hamilton. He has not won since the German Grand Prix back in July and must return to winning form if he wants to wrestle back the championship lead that he held for so long earlier in the year.
A total of 75 points are available from the final two races in Brazil and Abu Dhabi; the UAE race counting double. The significance of the final showdown and double points is something of which Hamilton in particular is wary and no one will be counting their chickens just yet. Nevertheless, Hamilton’s imperious performance in Texas must make him the title favourite – most would say justifiably.
Third place went to Daniel Ricciardo. The Australian drove a great race to again finish on the podium but is now mathematically out of the title fight.
The US race has become a firm favourite amongst the F1 fraternity and some entertaining scraps throughout the field made it an interesting spectacle for spectators and TV viewers alike. The teams now fly south for the penultimate race of the season in Sao Paulo next weekend.
Yallabahrain will bring you the news from South America in a week’s time along with images from our friends at Sutton Images.