Lewis Hamilton became the winner of the inaugural race at the Circuit of the Americas after a race long battle with Sebastian Vettel. There was exciting racing up and down the field throughout the race, with only two retirements. Mark Webber fell foul to another alternator failure for Red Bull while Jean-Eric Vergne pulled off into the gravel early on the race. Despite the retirement for Webber, Vettel’s second place finish was more than enough to secure a third Constructors’ Championship in a row for Red Bull. Fernando Alonso finished in third place which was enough to keep the Drivers’ Championship alive going into Brazil, but Vettel has a 13 point lead.
There were a number of key moments in the race which led to its outcome. There were concerns about the start, with drivers starting in an even numbered grid slot expected to lose one or two positions off the line due to the lack of grip, and before the race Ferrari revealed that they would be breaking the seal on Felipe Massa’s gearbox. In doing so he incurred a grid penalty which resulted in both he and Alonso moving to the side of the grid with more grip. Ferrari did not beat about the bush in revealing they had done it to maximise Alonso’s chances in the race. It seemed to work as he moved up to fourth during the first lap and eventually finished third, aided by Webber’s retirement. Massa was also able to fight through the field and he finished in fourth. Another key moment of the race was a spin for Romain Grosjean at tricky Turn 19. He had been fighting with Nico Hulkenberg, in front of a train of cars which had developed behind Michael Schumacher. Grosjean’s spin saw part of the train pass him and Massa was able to pass Schumacher while Button and Daniel Ricciardo got past the Lotus driver. Button eventually finished the race in fifth place with Grosjean finishing just behind team-mate Kimi Räikkönen. Pit-stops played a key part for some drivers in the race with McLaren completing a slick 2.4s stop for eventual race winner Hamilton, while Alonso had contrasting fortunes with a sticky right rear tyre which cost him an additional four seconds. Räikkönen was another driver to have a slow stop – 6.4s – which proved crucial for Alonso as Räikkönen exited the pits just behind him, and allowed Alonso to continue on his way for the last podium spot. A key moment of the race came on lap 42 when Vettel got caught up behind traffic and Hamilton, who had been close to the Red Bull driver for a number of laps, was able to take advantage, using DRS to pull off a close move. He pulled into the lead, and while not able to completely drop Vettel who set the fastest lap of the race on the very last lap, he held on to win by a small margin.
So, after a lot of hype and build up, Austin have hosted their first race at the Circuit of the Americas, which provided the location for an exciting race. What do you think of the action? There was plenty of overtaking, some closer moves than others – for example between the Williams team-mates, and Button and Räikkönen – so it certainly looked like the layout played its part. Did you think the circuit lived up to the hype? What did you think of touches such as the drivers wearing cowboy hats on the podium? Too much or all in keeping with the occasion? Before the race Ferrari broke the seal on Massa’s gearbox in order for him to incur a podium. While this is not against the rules, some fans thought it was unsporting. It is not the first time we have seen team orders, or a driver being used to benefit their team-mate. For example, last time out Webber was told during the race not to put up a fight if Vettel came up behind him, and in the past drivers have been asked to let their team-mates through. All teams do it in one way or another, and Ferrari were honest about their reasoning, so what did you think of Ferrari’s move?