Hamilton Clinches Win For McLaren at Inaugural F1 Race in Austin
[Ed.: Originally posted November 19]
Lewis Hamilton, trailing leader Sebastian Vettel ever so slightly for the first 41 laps of today’s F1 race in Austin, Texas, finally found his chance to overtake the German to win the 2012 United States Grand Prix.
It was a day fraught with challenges ranging from driver unfamiliarity with the new Circuit of the Americas track to hard compound Pirelli tires not warming up immediately. Practice laps, which commenced on Friday and continued on Saturday, produced unsettling reports regarding the track itself due to its very recent completion. On established motorsport tracks, rubber put down from tires on previous races will improve traction; very few races have been conducted on the CotA track prior to practice time, which caused many drivers to spin out on the technical turns.
By Sunday, the drivers had enough familiarity with the track to steer clear of any hazardous bits, especially the outside bend of Turn 1. This didn’t stop Scuderia Ferrari from issuing the command to break a seal on the gearbox of Felipe Massa’s car in order to move teammate Fernando Alonso to the other side of the starting grid, away from the slippery side. More than a few cars overcooked the hairpins and slid off the track, but most quickly recovered.
An alternator failure Red Bull driver Mark Webber out of the race in lap 16, a very unfortunate development considering he was in third place when the component shut down the KERS system and gearbox sync. Toro Rosso driver Jean-Eric Vergne was also shut out on lap 14 due to suspension issues.