It was back in 2010 when an investment group announced that they had designs on building a world class race track near Austin, Texas in an effort to bring Formula 1 back to the United States after a 5 year abscence. Along the way there were ups and downs but in the end they got the track finished and it was finally ready to hold its first official F1 event; which took place yesterday in front of over 100,000 fans. As a matter of fact the event sold out completely. Every last cheap seat to the super luxury suites were sold and accounted for by the time race weekend arrived.
So now that it is Monday, what happened? Did it all go off without a hitch? To put it shortly: Yes. The teams and drivers descended upon Austin, Texas at the beginning of the week and glitz & glamor aside it was business as usual. The only real talking point as far as the track went was the fact that the surface was very slippery since it was so very new. Before the F1 event only a few race cars have run the circuit so the asphalt was not “rubber-ed in” at all, making for a slick track. This made practice and qualifying very interesting! However, despite the slippery asphalt the cream still rose to the top as Red Bull, McLarren, and Ferrari still topped the charts.
On Saturday it was Sebastian Vettel who captured the pole position. Lewis Hamilton put up a valliant effort but missed Vettel’s time by a tenth of a second. Mark Webber qualified third which put Lewis in dangerous territory.
Then, we have the points battle. Sebastian Vettel came to America with a mission to clinche the driver’s title for himself and the constructor’s title for Red Bull. After the math was done it was determined that in order for Vettel to clinche the driver’s championship he had to win the race and Fernando Alonso had to finish 5th or worse. If Vettel finished second then Fernando could do no better than 9th, and if Vettel finished 3rd then Fernando would have to score no points at all. The third scenario seemed pretty unlikely so Vettel had to concentrate on winning.
Once the race went under way and the drivers charged up “Phil Hill” things seemed to go Red Bull’s way as Vettel and Webber began to run away from the group. However, Fernando charged his way from 9th place up to 4th. About mid way through the race Hamilton made his way around Webber then set his sights on Vettel. Meanwhile Fernando started to smell blood as Mark Webber’s race car started to have issues. The Aussie’s car finally gave up and Fernando Alonso grabbed third place and held on for all it was worth.
Vettel must have been shaken by the news that his teammate was no longer there to protect him because Lewis Hamilton caught Sebastian in lapse of concentration and pulled off a brilliant pass to take the lead. Hamilton went on to win the race with Vettel taking second place and Fernando Alonso kept his championship hopes very much alive by finishing third. Despite Mark Webber’s DNF, Vettel’s second place finish was enough for Red Bull to secure the constructor’s title and secure them a heafty check to add to next year’s budget.
The driver’s championship on the other hand will all come down to the final race of the season in Brazil next week. Without clinching in Texas, Vettel cannot drive with his “nothing to lose” attitude that he had in the final race of last year. Meanwhile Fernando Alonso will be racing with every ounce hes got to try and win his third championship.
It’s going to get real interesting in Brazil!
For a full post-race wrap up check out the results show from SPEED
[Photo: Mark Thompson/Getty Images]