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Live Event Coverage

Grand Prix from the USA // Formula 1 World Championship 2012

Published by Christine

Sebastian Vettel took pole position for the inaugural race at the Circuit of the Americas, and for the championship challenge, it looks good for him to have Alonso so far down the order and on the wrong side of the grid. That could make for a great race for us, though, unless Vettel scampers away and never looks back. Meanwhile, we've seen the drivers finding the limits of the track, so there's still the potential for chaos this afternoon.

As it happened: 2012 United States - The Race

  • 18:30

    Hello and welcome to the Factbyte Factbox for the United States Grand Prix!

  • 18:30

    It's all kicking off in Austin today, with Ferrari causing a stir before the race has even begun!

  • 18:31

    If you were following along yesterday, you'll know that Sebastian Vettel took pole position, as well as leading all the previous sessions as well. He's looking good this weekend!

  • 18:31

    Meanwhile, championship challenger Fernando Alonso qualified down in ninth. Grosjean's gearbox penalty moved him up eighth, which you would think was a good thing.

  • 18:32

    Except the even numbered grid slots are all on the dirty side of the grid, and as COTA is brand spanking new, it really is a disadvantage on that side.

  • 18:32

    So, Ferrari have opted to get Massa a gearbox related penalty as well, shuffling both their drivers back to the clean side. More information here: https://sidepodcast.com/post/ferrari-gearbox-penalty-felipe-massa-alonso-promoted

  • 18:33
    Circuit Data
    Circuit of the Americas
    Local timezone-06:00 GMT
    First race2012
    Number of laps56
    Circuit length5.516km
    Race distance308.896km
    Start offset0.000km
  • 18:35

    Hard and mediumHard and medium compounds are on offer this weekend. Pirelli gave the drivers an extra set for practice, but there's still plenty of unknowns about the duration and strategies.

  • 18:36

    Whilst you're getting settled in for the upcoming race, do have your say with a safety car prediction: https://sidepodcast.com/playground/predict-the-race.php

  • 18:36

    You might also want to check out the comments: https://sidepodcast.com/dashboard and get yourself set up with some live timing: http://www.formula1.com/live_timing/live_timing.html

  • 18:38
    Grid Position
    1S VettelRed Bull
    2L HamiltonMcLaren
    3M WebberRed Bull
    4K RäikkönenLotus
    5M SchumacherMercedes
    6N HülkenbergForce India
    7F AlonsoFerrari
    8R GrosjeanLotus
    9P MaldonadoWilliams
    10B SennaWilliams
  • 18:41

    Interview with Mark Webber: "It's pretty greasy. We're just going to have to see how we go. In the first part of the race, getting temperature is going to be really important. We're going to see some twitches and wobbles in the first few laps.

    You just want to get to the apex [of turn 1] as quick as possible, late on the brakes but not too late obviously because there are people ahead."

  • 18:43
    Fastest Session Times
    Free Practice 1S Vettel1:38.125
    Free Practice 2S Vettel
    1:37.718
    Free Practice 3S Vettel
    1:36.490
    QualifyingS Vettel
    1:35.657
  • 18:44

    Interview with Lewis Hamilton: "It's gonna be difficult. It's quite slippery on this side, I don't know if you noticed on that side it's much grippier. Has Alonso moved up? Good for him, good for him. There's a lot of people turned out today, it's fantastic. They're so enthusiastic here, really just genuinely excited to be here."

  • 18:45

    Interview with Sebastian Vettel: "We start on the right hand side, it should give us a good start. Not that far to turn one, but then it's quite wide so it should be fine. Hopefully we'll get a good launch, a quick getaway and then we'll see."

  • 18:48
    2012 Race Wins
    PosDriverTotal
    1S Vettel5
    2F Alonso3
    3L Hamilton3
    4M Webber2
    5J Button2
    6N Rosberg1
    7P Maldonado
    1
    8K Räikkönen1
  • 18:50

    Marussia had a bit of a mad panic to get Charles Pic to the grid, after they could smell leaking fuel in the cockpit. They made it to the grid though, in the nick of time.

  • 18:52

    Felipe Massa on the enforced penalty: "It's difficult to find a driver like me."

  • 18:55

    The polls are now closed, and you guys have voted in your masses. 24% say no safety cars this race, whilst 48% think there will be one. 18% say two and 9% say more than two. That would be a hectic race!

  • 18:56

    We also had a poll for who will be the championship leader after this race, and 64% say Vettel, with the rest opting for Alonso. That doesn't mean he'll have won it though.

  • 18:56

    Weather

    24°C

    Track31°C
    Humidity31%
    Wind speed4mps
  • 18:57

    TweetTweet from @TheFifthDriver: The build-up has been spectacular: there's been a marching band, sky divers, country and western singers - the atmosphere is amazing!

  • 18:59

    The tyre data we have right now suggests that all the drivers are on the medium compound except Button in 12th and Rosberg in 17th.

  • 19:00

    The tyre blankets are coming off and the grid is clearing for the formation lap.

  • 19:01

    Vettel leads the pack away for the formation lap, their last chance to get a feel for the track before the action begins in earnest.

  • 19:03

    The pack now lines up, with Vettel waiting at the end for those red lights to come on.

  • 19:03

    Green flagRace started.

  • 19:04 Lap 1

    Vettel gets a great start as Webber also starts well and moves alongside Hamilton.

  • 19:04 Lap 1

    Streaming into the first corner, Vettel is through cleanly, whilst Alonso is up to fourth.

  • 19:04 Lap 1

    It looked like a reasonably clean first corner, much to our surprise!

  • 19:05 Lap 1

    Red Bull lead with a 1-2, Hamilton down to third and Alonso hustling to catch the McLaren.

  • 19:05 Lap 1

    Further back, Button has fallen way down the order to 16th behind Vergne.

  • 19:06 Lap 2

    Hülkenberg sweeps past Schumacher on the home straight and keeps the position into turn one.

  • 19:07 Lap 3

    Now it's Räikkönen who is going at it with Schumacher, the pair battling corner after corner. Kimi passed into turn one but Michael has retaken the place before the end of the lap.

  • 19:07 Lap 3

    Race Control: DRS enabled.

  • 19:09 Lap 3

    Hamilton was trying to make a move on Webber but ran off track in doing so. He jinked back on track and Webber moved aside but kept the place.

  • 19:09 Lap 3

    Hamilton is super fast though, it doesn't look like Webber can keep that place for long.

  • 19:09 Lap 3

    We've got replays of the first corner now, it was absolutely incredible driving from everyone to get through there cleanly.

  • 19:11 Lap 5

    Hamilton has made the pass on Webber, and he'll be up into second, chasing after Vettel now.

  • 19:12 Lap 5
    Gap Analysis
    PosDriverGap
    1stVET1:45.592
    2ndHAM+2.6
    3rdWEB+3.3
    4thALO+6.4
    5thHUL+10.2
  • 19:12 Lap 6

    There's a ten car train building up behind Paul di Resta in 8th place. He's holding up both Schumacher and Massa, and many more besides!

  • 19:14 Lap 6
    Driver Positions
    PosDriver
    10S Vettel
    20L Hamilton
    30M Webber
    43F Alonso
    51N Hülkenberg
    62R Grosjean
    7-3K Räikkönen
    85P Di Resta
    9-4M Schumacher
    101F Massa
  • 19:14 Lap 7

    Jenson Button is now up behind Pastor Maldonado, the gap between the two just 0.2 seconds as he tries to make his way back through the field.

  • 19:14 Lap 7

    Yellow flagYellow flags for Romain Grosjean as he spins and drops down to tenth place.

  • 19:14 Lap 7

    Green flagTrack is clear.

  • 19:15 Lap 7

    Felipe Massa makes the move on Schumacher and keeps the place into turn one. Grosjean is behind the Mercedes now.

  • 19:17 Lap 8

    Pretty much everyone is getting past Grosjean now, with Jenson Button making his way through. Button is now up to 12th, Grosjean down to 13th.

  • 19:17 Lap 8

    The replays of Romain's spin at turn 19 show that he was incredibly lucky not to be any further in the gravel, else his race would have been over.

  • 19:18 Lap 9

    Towards the back, Petrov heads up the "new" teams, with three seconds between him and Kamui Kobayashi in front.

  • 19:20 Lap 10

    Grosjean comes into the pitlane, the first stop of the afternoon.

  • 19:20 Lap 10

    RadioTeam radio to Hamilton: "Purple every sector. Six tenths faster than Vettel."

  • 19:21 Lap 10

    It's Button's turn on Schumacher now, with Jenson taking the inside, cutting across the pit exit and just squeezing his way through.

  • 19:22 Lap 11
    One to Watch
    Hülkenbergvs.Räikkönen
    5th+0.3s6th
  • 19:23 Lap 11

    Massa has passed Di Resta to move up to seventh place, not bad for the Ferrari driver who was thrust down the grid!

  • 19:25 Lap 12

    It's wheel to wheel action between Kimi and Nico, they're both giving each other just enough space to keep on track but Kimi can't quite make the move!

  • 19:25 Lap 13

    Massa is instructed that Kimi is being held up in front of him, and as they round the corner, Massa's onboard shows the two scrapping ahead of him.

  • 19:26 Lap 13

    Kimi has finally made the move up past Hülkenberg at turn one, keeping his foot down round the next few corners, determined to take that fifth place.

  • 19:27 Lap 14

    Button has put in the fastest first sector of the race so far, and he's closing in on a battle between Di Resta, Pérez and Senna ahead of him.

  • 19:27 Lap 14

    Kamui Kobayashi comes into the pitlane.

  • 19:28 Lap 15

    Vettel is now under serious pressure from Hamilton, he locks up his tyres as the McLaren bears down on him with increasing pace.

  • 19:29 Lap 15

    Schumacher pits, it's about time really, he's been dropping further and further back from an excellent qualifying position.

  • 19:29 Lap 15

    Yellow flagYellow flags.

  • 19:30 Lap 15

    Jean-Éric Vergne has parked off track.

  • 19:31 Lap 16

    He jammed on the brakes in a manner that looked like something broke on the car, and he's out of the race.

  • 19:32 Lap 17

    Green flagTrack is clear.

  • 19:32 Lap 17
    Gap Analysis
    PosDriverGap
    1stVET1:43.944
    2ndHAM+1.0
    3rdWEB+9.6
    4thALO+13.0
    5thRAI+22.8
  • 19:33 Lap 17

    Team radio to Webber informs him his KERS has failed again, as we look at the Australian pulled over to the side of the track.

  • 19:34 Lap 17

    He was sitting in third place, so Webber's retirement has now moved Alonso up to third.

  • 19:34 Lap 18

    Hülkenberg has pitted, we've had just four drivers visit the pitlane so far.

  • 19:34 Lap 18

    Webber walks away from his car, forlorn is the only word to describe him.

  • 19:36 Lap 18
    Driver Positions
    PosDriver
    10S Vettel
    20L Hamilton
    34F Alonso
    40K Räikkönen
    56F Massa
    67P Di Resta
    78S Pérez
    82B Senna
    93J Button
    108D Ricciardo
  • 19:36 Lap 19

    Everyone in the top ten has gone up, up, up. That's partly down to Webber and partly to Schumacher who has dropped down to 18th!

  • 19:37 Lap 20

    A quick replay of Fernando Alonso shows him run wide off track, no damage done sticking to the tarmac, but he's obviously pushing hard to catch the duo ahead of him.

  • 19:38 Lap 21

    Hamilton looked like he was losing a little bit of time there, but he has dived into the pitlane anyway. A good clean stop from the McLaren team.

  • 19:40 Lap 21

    As Lewis left the pits, Alonso came in and it was a slow stop for the Ferrari - a problem with the rear right. He's away after losing a couple of seconds there.

  • 19:41 Lap 21

    Vettel comes in from the lead of the race, an incredibly quick stop.

  • 19:42 Lap 23

    Button hasn't pitted, he's caught up to the rear of Alonso now, having started on the different compound.

  • 19:43 Lap 23

    Vettel remained in the lead after his stop, with Räikkönen (not stopped) between him and second place Hamilton.

  • 19:44 Lap 23

    Button sails past Alonso easily down the back straight.

  • 19:45 Lap 24

    Hamilton has passed Kimi now, so moves back up to second place. Räikkönen comes into the pitlane from third.

  • 19:47 Lap 24

    It was a slow pit stop for Räikkönen, which has let Alonso off the hook - his own delayed stop would have put the two on track at roughly the same time.

  • 19:47 Lap 26

    The McLaren drivers are currently trading fastest sectors, albeit on different tyre compounds. Hamilton sets the fastest lap of the race so far.

  • 19:48 Lap 26

    Massa is up to third now, with Button behind him - but the pair have still to stop.

  • 19:50 Lap 26

    Interview with Mark Webber: "Alternator, ultimately in the end, so we lost the batteries in the car, KERS, gearbox sync. We knew we were in trouble, it was a long way home from there. I think it's disappointing to lose a good result here for myself and for the term, and there's more nerves for our reliability in general."

  • 19:50 Lap 27
    Championship Prediction
    PosDriverPts
    1S Vettel280
    2F Alonso255
    3K Räikkönen204
  • 19:52 Lap 28

    It looked like we were going to get some early field spread, but after almost thirty laps, we've just got two drivers who have been lapped - the two HRTs.

  • 19:54 Lap 30

    Pit stops have been happening all through the field now, so that we're left with just Button, Ricciardo and Rosberg without a stop.

  • 19:55 Lap 30

    Ricciardo is all the way up to fifth place at this point!

  • 19:56 Lap 30

    And Ricciardo pits.

  • 19:58 Lap 32

    Hamilton sets the fastest lap of the race so far, a 1:41.632, and he's now just 2.1 seconds behind Vettel again.

  • 19:59 Lap 32

    Vettel made light work of passing backmarker Glock, Hamilton struggled and had to trail him for another couple of corners. The gap is still down to 1.6 seconds though.

  • 20:01 Lap 33

    The gap between Vettel and Hamilton is ebbing and flowing as they feed through the backmarkers. 0.99 here, 1.353 there.

  • 20:02 Lap 34

    They're so close now! It's really quite tense out there.

  • 20:03 Lap 35

    We've still got Button in third who hasn't stopped yet. Those hard compound tyres are working really well, and it must be a one stop strategy for him. Meanwhile, Rosberg, on a similar strategy, pits.

  • 20:04 Lap 36

    Vettel responds to the pressure by setting the fastest lap of the race, but he's not shaking that McLaren off.

  • 20:05 Lap 36

    Button finally dives into the pitlane on Lap 36. It's medium compound on the McLaren and off he goes.

  • 20:05 Lap 36

    Button comes back out into seventh place, behind Felipe Massa.

  • 20:07 Lap 37

    RadioTeam radio to Hamilton: "Lewis, suggest save some KERS for a lap so you can use all of it on the next one."

  • 20:07 Lap 37
    Championship Prediction
    PosDriverPts
    1S Vettel280
    2F Alonso260
    3K Räikkönen210
  • 20:08 Lap 38
    Driver Positions
    PosDriver
    10S Vettel
    20L Hamilton
    34F Alonso
    40K Räikkönen
    56F Massa
    62
    R Grosjean
    75J Button
    8-2N Hülkenberg
    91B Senna
    10-1P Maldonado
  • 20:10 Lap 38

    Button passes Grosjean for sixth place, he's got all the work to do again!

  • 20:11 Lap 39

    Hamilton's still got DRS use to Vettel but he's not quite close enough this time. The pair are 30 seconds up on Alonso who is now sitting comfortably in third.

  • 20:12 Lap 40

    Quick replay of Felipe Massa passing Kimi Räikkönen for fourth place, sitting behind his teammate now.

  • 20:13 Lap 41

    Meanwhile, the Mercedes pair are struggling on their tyres. They split their strategy, and had planned a 1-stop for both, but Schumacher has had to come in for a new set of tyres and a second stop.

  • 20:15 Lap 42

    The fastest lap is changing hands so often, Massa gets his hands on it for now - 1:40.572.

  • 20:16 Lap 42

    Lewis Hamilton pulls alongside Vettel and sweeps past to move into the lead of the race. FINALLY!

  • 20:16 Lap 42

    Replays show it was really close as Hamilton closed behind the Red Bull and just nipped to the right, it could have been a lost front wing and a puncture there. But it wasn't!

  • 20:17 Lap 43

    Vettel complains on his radio that it was a silly overtake. His team try and calm him down and "concentrate on the job in hand."

  • 20:18 Lap 44

    Hamilton secures his position out front with a fastest lap, he's off and away.

  • 20:19 Lap 44

    Now that that's out of the way, we can look further down the grid again!

  • 20:19 Lap 44

    Button still sits in sixth place, behind Räikkönen.

  • 20:19 Lap 45

    Williams are currently running both cars in the points, Senna ahead of Maldonado for 9th and 10th.

  • 20:20 Lap 45

    Button is hustling Räikkönen for position now, the pair of them really close but cleanly racing each other.

  • 20:21 Lap 45

    TweetTweet from @TheFifthDriver: Cracking dice between Jenson and RAI over 5th place. Hard, but respectful racing.

  • 20:22 Lap 45

    Three corners wheel to wheel with Kimi and Jenson, neither wanted to give it up but it was the McLaren who took the place.

  • 20:26 Lap 48
    Gap Analysis
    PosDriverGap
    1stHAM1:40.406
    2ndVET+1.4
    3rdALO+33.5
    4thMAS+45.3
  • 20:27 Lap 49

    It looks like Vettel is now catching back up to Hamilton, the gap is reduced to about a second, he'll be in the DRS zone any second now.

  • 20:28 Lap 49

    QuoteComment from Ryan: Is this Sauber v Mercedes battle the most unexiting championship battle ever? Looks like both going to score 0 again.

  • 20:28 Lap 50

    At the moment, there's also no danger of Caterham stealing back their tenth place in the constructors.

  • 20:29 Lap 50
    Retirements
    DriverReasonLap
    M WebberAlternator18
    J VergneUnknown15
  • 20:32 Lap 51

    QuoteComment from rethymno racer: 5 laps to go for Vettel's alternator

  • 20:32 Lap 52

    Replays show Romain Grosjean locking up massively as he chases down his teammate. He's 1.7ish seconds behind Räikkönen.

  • 20:33 Lap 52

    Maldonado passes teammate Senna to move up to ninth place. Replays show there was some wheel to wheel banging into turn one.

  • 20:34 Lap 53

    In the midst of the fun and games, Alonso set the fastest lap on lap 45 - 1:40.082.

  • 20:35 Lap 53

    And Vettel snatches the fastest lap, with just three laps to go.

  • 20:36 Lap 54

    Button's on the radio saying they're wasting lots of lap time by not using the full amount of KERS. Is there a problem there?

  • 20:36 Lap 54

    Hamilton's turn to take fastest lap now, and we're down into 1:39.913.

  • 20:37 Lap 55

    TweetTweet from @Williams_F1Team: Both drivers pushing hard in final stages - told to play safe on radio but no team orders - they are racing! #USGP

  • 20:38 Lap 56

    Final lap.

  • 20:39

    Chequered flagLewis Hamilton wins the United States Grand Prix!!

  • 20:40

    Sebastian Vettel crosses the line second, with Alonso joining the pair on the podium. The championship is still open!

  • 20:42

    Vettel did take the fastest lap of the race, 1:39.347.

  • 20:44

    Hamilton climbs out of his car, bouncing and clearly ecstatic. Vettel gets a bit tangled up in his car but finally manages to extricate himself from the cockpit.

  • 20:46

    Red Bull have won the constructors' championship here at the US Grand Prix, and it's three in a row for them.

  • 20:46

    Interview with Christian Horner: "It's fantastic, it's all down to the team. We've joined a list of illustrious names, I think there's only three other teams have done it in the history of the sport. it's something the team has worked incredibly hard for. It's something... well, speechless, really. The race unfortunately hinged on one backmarker that didn't use his mirrors, it cost Sebastian vital time... but there was nothing between the two of them, they were trading times throughout the race. But congratulations to Lewis, and it was important to finish ahead of Fernando."

  • 20:47

    Instead of the usual Pirelli baseball caps, it's Stetsons with the Pirelli logo for the three podium finishers. They all laugh but don them anyway.

  • 20:48

    It's a nice big ol' trophy for Hamilton, who gives it a kiss and thrusts it into the air to big applause.

  • 20:50
    Driver Positions
    PosDriverStops
    11L Hamilton1
    2-1S Vettel1
    34F Alonso1
    47F Massa1
    57J Button1
    6-2K Räikkönen1
    71
    R Grosjean1
    8-2N Hülkenberg1
    90P Maldonado1
    100B Senna1
  • 20:51

    A Race Control message we missed: Turn 16 incident involving Kovalainen and Glock will be investigated after the race.

  • 20:52

    Podium quotes - Lewis Hamilton: "First time winner here, I'm so happy. The fans have been amazing so thank you so much. The warm welcome we've had has been fantastic... for me and my team this is so special. It's been a long time since I had a win, and I'm just so proud and grateful for the support we've had."

  • 20:53

    Podium quotes - Sebastian Vettel: "First of all, thank you, as Lewis said it was incredible. I did my first race five years ago the last time we were racing in the United States. Amazing the amount of people we have all weekend, it's great for us to have so much support. Very happy for the team in particular, we won the constructors' championship. Thanks to all of you. The championship is looking a bit better after the race today, it was a close fight with Lewis. He had one chance and he took it... there wasn't much in between us all in all. A great race and a great result for us."

  • 20:54

    Podium quotes - Fernando Alonso: "The circuit was fantastic but the fans were fantastic all weekend. We really enjoy and we really have to say a big thanks to all the fans coming here to support us. The layout is interesting, challenging for us, for the engineers. We enjoy racing here, thanks to the fantastic facilities. I hope we put on a good show for everybody."

  • 20:56

    Ridiculously close at the end.

    Gap Analysis
    PosDriverGap
    1stHAM1:40.494
    2ndVET+0.6
    3rdALO+39.2
    4thMAS+46.0
    5thBUT+56.4
  • 20:57
    Championship Standings
    PosDriverPts
    1S Vettel273
    2F Alonso260
    3K Räikkönen206
    4L Hamilton190
    5M Webber167
  • 20:57
    Championship Standings
    PosDriverPts
    1Red Bull440
    2Ferrari367
    3McLaren353
    4Lotus302
    5Mercedes136
  • 20:59

    That was the first race at the Circuit of the Americas then, and it didn't fare too badly! The championship is still alive though, and we have just one week to wait before the final race in Brazil.

  • 20:59

    I will be back with the FBFB, and you WILL be joining me, I know it. So, in the meantime, stay tuned to https://sidepodcast.com and http://f1minute.com for all the news and views, and I will see you there.

All content in the series USA 2012




Sebastian Vettel took pole position for the inaugural race at the Circuit of the Americas, and for the championship challenge, it looks good for him to have Alonso so far down the order and on the wrong side of the grid. That could make for a great race for us, though, unless Vettel scampers away and never looks back. Meanwhile, we've seen the drivers finding the limits of the track, so there's still the potential for chaos this afternoon.
Vodafone McLaren Mercedes

Event start

19:00GMT +00:00

18 November 2012