AUSTIN, Texas (Nov. 18, 2012) – Lewis Hamilton has won back-to-back races in the United States – but they came five years apart after the Englishman took victory for McLaren Mercedes in the inaugural United States Grand Prix at the Circuit of the Americas™.
[lg_folder folder=”2012 Formula 1 United States Grand Prix Recap/” count=”6″ cols=”3″ paging=”false”]
Hamilton, race winner at Indianapolis in 2007 for the same team, said: “What a great feeling to win the first Grand Prix here back in the States! I won last time here as well so I’m massively proud.”
Starting from the front row of the 24-car grid, Hamilton, 27, passed polewinner Sebastian Vettel’s Red Bull on lap 42 of 56 with a clean move at the end of the DRS zone into Turn 12.
It was his fourth win of 2012, the 21st of his Formula 1 career – and a highlight in his own eyes. “That was my best win, guys!” yelled a delighted Hamilton to his pit crew, whom he leaves at the end of this season. “That was wicked!”
With Vettel second, the title fight continues to the last race in Brazil as Fernando Alonso’s Ferrari again fought through the field for the final podium position. Vettel now leads by 13 points with 25 more on offer next Sunday. While the German grumbled about traffic in the crucial moments of his fight with Hamilton, he was quick to see the positives.
“All weekend has been incredible for the whole Formula 1 paddock,” he said. “As Lewis said, the last race here, he won it; it was my first race in Formula 1 here in the United States and to come back and have so much support – so many fans at the signing session yesterday, it was absolutely crazy! – and a full house, it was really nice today to race in front of the fans.”
Alonso started seventh after teammate Felipe Massa took a late five-place penalty but the Spaniard rocketed through to fourth by the end of the opening lap. His race then ebbed and flowed with the pit stops, finally sealing third place when Jenson Button’s McLaren pitted on lap 35 after an extended first stint on Pirelli’s hard compound tires.
“Losing three points maybe was not in our thoughts Friday night after practice,” said Alonso, “so we are really happy again to have a very good Sunday and be still in the championship.”
Earlier Button, who started from 12th position, refused to yield when Michael Schumacher’s Mercedes squeezed him into Turn 1 on lap 10, the Englishman competing a clean overtake to launch a fine drive through the field that ended with fifth position behind Massa.
Next up were the Lotus Renaults of Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean, who recovered from an early spin, with the Force India of Nico Hulkenberg in 8th. The last two points-scoring places went to Williams pair Pastor Maldonado and Bruno Senna, who almost took each other out with just four laps to go.
In a clean, absorbing race there were only two retirements. The first was Jean-Eric Vergne in the Toro Rosso, the second was Vettel’s Red Bull teammate Mark Webber. The Australian was running third when he fell victim to another apparent alternator failure, a gremlin that has plagued the Renault-engined team this season.
Despite that, Vettel’s 18 points were more than enough to secure a third straight constructors’ title for Red Bull, who now have 440 points to Ferrari’s 367 and cannot be caught in Brazil.