Formula One United States Grand Prix Preview and Live Thread

Formula One Returns to the United States with the World Championship on the Line [US Grand Prix Live Thread]

11/18/12 in Formula One   |   Eric_   |   7716 respect

Nov 17, 2012; Austin, TX, USA; Formula One driver Sebastian Vettel (1) during qualifying for the United States Grand Prix at the Circuit of the Americas. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-US PRESSWIREIt's been five years since the world's most popular and premiere form of motorsports, Formula One, has been on American soil. Today though, F1's on again/off again relationship with the United States switches back to on with the United States Grand Prix. Over the years, F1 has raced all over the US, from Watkins Glen originally, to the streets of Long Beach (which then became a longtime IndyCar race), Phoenix, Detroit, Dallas, Las Vegas, and most recently, the specially built road course at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. This time, however, F1 turns to a brand new track built specifically for it, the Circuit of the Americas just outside Austin, Texas.

You wouldn't think the wine and cheese atmosphere of F1 would fit with rough and tumble Texas, but so far this debut weekend has been a smashing success, which huge crowds both Friday and Saturday to watch practice and qualifying. It hasn't a fully smooth meeting, as this tweet from Mark Webber can attest, but overall, not much to complain about. The track itself looks amazing, and the drivers and teams have been very complimentary.

F1 this year started with near record parody, featuring seven different winners in the first seven races. Since then, things have turned mostly back to normal, with the big three teams of Red Bull, McLaren, and Ferrari winning most of the races. As such, a tight championship battle has turned into a two man race. Two time defending World Champion Sebastien Vettel has the lead right now as he looks for three in a row. He got the lead on the strength of four straight victories, only broken two weeks ago by Kimi Raikkonen at Abu Dhabi. Vettel leads Ferrari's Fernando Alonso by 10 points coming into today's race. The Ferrari hasn't been as fast as Vettel's Red Bull, but Alonso has been able to hang in there. Today's race is the penultimate of the season, and thus will determine if it will truly be a title race going to the finale at Brazil, or if Vettel will cruise to a third straight championship.

So far this weekend, it's advantage Vettel. He's been P1 in almost every session so far, and will start on pole. Alonso hasn't been nearly as quick, and will start 7th, and that's only aided by two grid penalties, including one for his teammate Felipe Massa for changing a gearbox. The speculation is this is yet another show of team orders by Ferrari. On pure pace, it's looking like the only one who can challenge Vettel is the man who will start alongside him, Lewis Hamilton. However, there is an important variable in play. Pirelli decided to bring their two hardest tire compounds to Austin, playing it conservative to the new track. The result has been a lack of grip for everyone, exacerbated by a track that only recently was completed and is still shiny and slippery. At the same time, the tires in practice were showing almost no wear. It could make pit strategy very interesting, while giving everyone spots on the track, particularly turn 19, where the lack of grip could end the day.

It's been five years, but Formula One is back in the United States. What we'll see today will look very different from what's happening at Homestead, but there should still be some great action. Q it up here throughout the race.
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11/18/12   |   Eric_   |   7716 respect

Results of the United States Grand Prix:

1. Lewis Hamilton
2. Sebastien Vettel
3. Fernando Alonso
4. Felipe Massa
5. Jenson Button
6. Kimi Raikkonen
7. Romain Grosjean
8. Nico Hulkenburg
9. Pastor Maldonado
10. Bruno Senna
11. Sergio Perez
12. Daniel Ricciardo
13. Nico Rosberg
14. Kamui Kobayashi
15. Paul di Resta
16. Michael Schumacher
17. Vitali Petrov
18. Heikki Kovalainen
19. Timo Glock
20. Charles Pic
21. Pedro de la Rosa
22. Narain Karthikeyan

Not Classified: Mark Webber, Jean-Eric Vergne

11/18/12   |   Eric_   |   7716 respect

Lewis Hamilton wins the United States Grand Prix! He won the last US GP at Indianapolis five years ago. Vettel was 2nd, Alonso 3rd. Full results to come later. However, it is believed that Red Bull has clinched the constructors championship. Vettel goes to the finale at Brazil with a 13 point lead over Alonso. It is not clinched yet.

11/18/12   |   Eric_   |   7716 respect

Two laps left. Vettel still trying to get within DRS position on Hamilton.

11/18/12   |   Eric_   |   7716 respect

Hamilton and Vettel are running pretty similar lap times right now. Hamilton up by just over a second with under 10 to go.

11/18/12   |   Eric_   |   7716 respect

Hamilton takes the lead!

11/18/12   |   Eric_   |   7716 respect

(Edited by Eric_)

Massa with a fantastic overtake of Raikkonen for 4th. Vettel and Hamilton have checked out on the field.

11/18/12   |   Eric_   |   7716 respect

Hamilton closing up to Vettel again.

11/18/12   |   Eric_   |   7716 respect

Hamilton used up his tires and lost time to Vettel. He just pitted for new tires in an incredible 2.4 seconds.

Alonso also pits, but it was slow and they lost some time.

11/18/12   |   Eric_   |   7716 respect

Webber is stopped on track (well, not directly on it, but you know what I mean). Huge since that's Vettel's teammate, and it also puts Alonso into third.

11/18/12   |   Eric_   |   7716 respect

Hamilton getting close to being able to use his DRS on Vettel.

11/18/12   |   Eric_   |   7716 respect

If you're wondering if Michael Schumacher still races like a dick, he just provided the answer.

11/18/12   |   Eric_   |   7716 respect

Hamilton gets 2nd back from Webber. It still looks like he's the only one with any chance of getting to Vettel.

11/18/12   |   Eric_   |   7716 respect

Some cars have gone off, but everyone got through the start clean. Webber got by Hamilton for 2nd, and Alonso got a great start to get to 4th.

11/18/12   |   Eric_   |   7716 respect

The start could be very interesting due to the lack of grip, and the dirt on the outside line where Hamilton will start from. Could be some early fireworks.

Also, you know how you know this isn't a typical F1 weekend: When you see SPEED's Will Buxton in a cowboy hat.