Tag Archives: Texas

F1: Hamilton storms to win US Grand Prix

Austin – The 2014 United States Grand Prix got off to a roaring start on Sunday, as the 18 car field barrelled around Turn 1 and down to my vantage point on the Turn 2 berm. Nico Rosberg led the field for much of the first quarter of the race, maintaining his pole position despite the constant threat coming from his teammate, Lewis Hamilton’s challenges to that first place.

Lap 1 resulted in the first safety car deployment in the three years that the US Grand Prix has been held at Circuit of the Americas in Austin. On Turn 11, Force India’s Sergio Pérez gave all of his fellow Mexicans at the circuit a shock when he clipped Kimi Räikkönen’s Ferrari, causing Räikkönen to in turn hit Sauber’s Adrian Sutil. The collisions resulted in Pérez and Sutil’s retirements, leaving both Force India and Sauber with only one driver apiece on track, and for Sauber their greatest chance at point scoring all season. Sauber’s remaining driver, Mexican Esteban Gutierrez, remained at the back of the pack for the remainder of the 56 lap race, finishing in 14th over a lap behind race winner Hamilton.

After 16 laps, Force India’s Nico Hülkenberg retired after his car shut down on the track. Thankfully, there were no other major collisions or retirements on Sunday.

Perhaps the greatest surprise drivers on Sunday were the Lotuses of Pastor Maldonado and Romain Grosjean, who each were challenging the McLarens and Ferraris for the last couple points scoring places. Maldonado was successful, finishing in 10th, whilst Grosjean was a less successful, finishing in 11th and being lapped in the process.

Ferrari did decent today, with Spaniard Fernando Alonso maintaining 6th throughout most of the race, though he was running a full minute and five seconds behind the Williams of Valtteri Bottas for the latter half of the race. Kimi Räikkönen did not fair well at all following the collision on Lap 1, falling back eventually to finish in 13th after being lapped.

The McLarens of Jenson Button and Kevin Magnussen remained soldily in the back half of the points throughout the majority of the race. Despite this, Button fell behind to finish in 12th, a dramatic drop in the field from the season’s opener in Australia.

Williams did very well on Sunday, starting in the second row and staying largely in the upper half of the points throughout the day. Both Williams were overtaken by Daniel Ricciardo’s Red Bull, resulting in Massa and Bottas finishing in 4th and 5th.

The Red Bulls succeeded in holding the crowd at their mercy. Sebastian Vettel rose up from his start at 18th in the pits to finish at 7th, running the fastest lap of the race at 1:41.379.  His Australian teammate Daniel Ricciardo advanced from his 5th place start to take 3rd on the podium Sunday, no doubt keeping the eyes of the F1 world on him, as well as on the Mercedes.

The two Mercedes stayed within the reaches of 1st and 2nd for the entirety of the race, not looking back for even an instant. Hamilton overtook Rosberg on Lap 24, securing his second victory in three years in the United States.

As a result of Sergio Pérez’s causing of the collision on Lap 1, the Mexican will receive a 7 spot grid penalty at the next race in Brazil. Also, a statement by Sky Sports released after Sunday’s race revealed that there may be a chance for Marussia to return to the grid in Abu Dhabi.

 

F1: US Grand Prix Qualifying & Other News From Austin

Austin – The 2014 Formula 1 United States Grand Prix weekend is in its second day, with Qualifying taking centre stage at Circuit of the Americas, which is located south of Downtown Austin a few miles further down the road from the local airport.

In general, qualifying was as expected considering the buildup to Sunday’s race: Vettel didn’t make it past Q1, as per plan, due to his starting from the pit lane on Sunday after having changed his engine unit. Likewise, with the reduced grid, the Lotuses of Grosjean, the Sauber of Gutierrez, and the Toro Rosso of Vergne failed to make it past Q1.

Q2 once again only saw 4 drivers eliminated, due to the absence of the Marussias and Caterhams from the field. Maldonado’s remaining Lotus qualified 11th, followed by the Force Indias of Sergio Pérez and Nico Hülkenberg, and the Toro Rosso of Daniil Kvyat.

Q3 saw one big, and well deserved surprise, namely the 10th place that Sauber’s Adrian Sutil earned today. It is the Swiss team’s first Q3 appearance in 2014, and Sutil’s first since the 2012 British Grand Prix. Qualifying was headlined by the Mercedes of Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton, followed by the Williams of Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa. Red Bull’s smiling Aussie, Daniel Ricciardo qualified 5th, with Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso coming in 6th. McLaren’s Jenson Button and Kevin Magnussen qualified in 7th and 8th, though Button will face a penalty. Kimi Räikkönen’s Ferrari came in 9th.

In other major F1 news, following the financial troubles of Marussia and Caterham, other mid-level teams such as Sauber and Force India are likewise feeling the economic strain. A report released by The Independent this past week said that it costs 94.4 million EUR to run an Formula 1 team, according to Monisha Kaltenborn. The Sauber chief urged the FIA to undertake drastic changes within the sport to allow for smaller teams, such as Sauber, to receive equal amounts of money “that allows every team to at least live decently,” the BBC reported on Friday.

In a move that has further intensified the monetary situation here in Austin, Force India deputy team principal Bob Fernley said on Saturday that the team may boycott Sunday’s grand prix in protest of what the team refers to as a financial crisis within the sport. This of course would leave the multitude of Mexican fans without one of their two countrymen, Sergio Pérez, to watch on Sunday. Despite the statements from Force India, Alan Permane, Lotus trackside operations director, said in an interview to the BBC, “It’s not real for us. It’s not even been thought about or discussed.”

Force India’s team principal Vijay Mallya countered Fernley’s statements, saying that no such boycott would take place and that all 18 cars would run in Austin on Sunday. Later on Saturday, Bernie Ecclestone said that he takes the blame for the financial troubles faced by the smaller teams in Formula 1, and even Max Mosley, former President of the FIA, argued in favour of finding some way of levelling out the playin gfield in regards to team finances.

Williams has also caused a bit of a stir this weekend in Austin, with the absence of Sir Frank and his daughter, Claire Williams. Sir Frank was admitted to hospital in the UK to treat a pressure sore on his back. Despite the absence of their team principal, the Williams team still qualified 3rd and 4th.

Sunday’s Formula 1 United States Grand Prix will be broadcasted live in the United States on NBC starting at 13.30 Austin (14.30 New York, 11.30 Los Angeles). The race will be televised in the UK on Sky Sports from 18.30, with the race starting at 20.00. It will also be broadcasted by BBC Radio 5 Live.

I will be tweeting any major developments live from Circuit of the Americas through my Twitter handle @sthosdkane.

2013 F1 US Grand Prix – a fantastic success

USGP 13

Walking on the circuit after the Grand Prix.

Kansas City – I returned a couple mornings ago from a holiday of a lifetime. For a couple Christmases worth of gifts, my Mom bought my Dad and I weekend passes to the F1 United States Grand Prix in Austin, Texas. And what a fantastic weekend it was! As first-timers at going to an F1 race weekend, I thought we did a good job. Considering that the sport itself is worth a few billion, it makes sense that the prices were awfully high for most everything – the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes team hat that I bought cost me a week’s wages, and the little 6″ personal pizza was $4.00 more expensive than the local Texas wine at the concessions, we did a good job at that ever present necessity known as “money management”.

The grand prix weekend itself began on Friday with Free Practices 1 and 2 (FP1 & FP2 for short).

Foggy Friday morning

Foggy Friday morning

The first of the two was delayed by about an hour because of heavy fog in Greater Austin, covering the circuit and downtown alike, which made it impossible for the medical helicopter to travel between the venue, Circuit of the Americas, and the local hospital where causalities as my British and Irish friends would say (injured people in American English) would be taken. It was a fairly sensible problem, though I rather liked the fog, and wouldn’t have minded if cloud cover remained throughout the weekend. However, the fog lifted, and the Texas sun began to shine, thus the necessity for purchasing that hat. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a nice hat, quite good at keeping my face out of the sun, though it does mean that I’m advertising for Vodafone whenever I wear it, which is a slight problem as my UK mobile is with O2. Of course, since the 2013 F1 season has ended as of this past Sunday, Vodafone is dropping its’ naming sponsorship of McLaren Mercedes.

Jenson Button (GBR) at Turn 12.

Jenson Button (GBR) at Turn 12.

Our tickets were for the bleachers at Turn 12, at the end of the long straightaway that starts at Turn 11 with the DRS zone. Approaching our corner down the straight, the cars were travelling at around 200 mph (321 km/h), however to make the hairpin turn at our corner they had to decelerate to around 65 mph (104 km/h) . For the first day or so we saw more of the Catheram’s and Marussia’s than any other team. However, as the practise sessions ran down and the qualifying sessions commenced, the Red Bulls, Ferraris, Lotuses and McLarens appeared in full glory. From the hairpin at Turn 12, the drivers have to make a u-turn up at 13 and again at 14 before going around 15 and into the wider turn around the base of the observation tower, which leads into the latter turns and the starting grid.

One of the major highlights of the weekend was getting to see one of my favourite drivers, Mark

Mark Webber (AUS) coming up to Turn 12.

Mark Webber (AUS) coming up to Turn 12.

Webber, on his penultimate Formula One weekend as a driver. Not only is he a fantastic man, no matter what the luck may say, but he is also a fine driver. I’ve enjoyed watching him race for Red Bull more than his now-former teammate, 4 time champion Sebastian Vettel, because Webber has seemed, since I first starting watching F1 3 years ago during the Belgian GP, a sort of everyman of F1. He has been a driver that everyone from the English-speaking world can relate to, as long as that Australia-New Zealand rivalry doesn’t come into play.

Parc_Fermé

The Parc Fermé post-race.

The weekend came to a head with Vettel’s 8th consecutive win, which further secured his place as 2013 World Champion. Though I have said that I have preferred Webber to Vettel, it would be foolish of me to pass by Vettel without giving him praise for what he has accomplished. And on top of that, the fellow has shown his humility in interviews and over the team radio. He is truly a master at F1, at driving that awesome Adrian Newey creation that is the RB9. This is truly a historic time in the world of motorsport, and I’m honoured and amazed to say that for 3 days I was able to see the fastest man in the world express those terrific talents in person.

If you have a chance to go down to Austin in 2014, I’d highly recommend doing it. Though our

Free Practise 2 from the Turn 1 berm.

Free Practise 2 from the Turn 1 berm.

seats were at Turn 12, I also enjoyed standing on the berm just opposite the pit lane exit at Turn 1 and also from the berm at the base of the observation tower. Our Turn 12 tickets for Sunday were US$249 per person, whilst the local NBC morning news programme said that Sunday general admission tickets were around US$79 per person. Or, if you’re looking at going posh, I heard from a Ferrari owner on the bus that a weekend pass to the Ferrari club was in the US$4,000 range. They also had a couple of other nicer venues from whence to watch the Grand Prix, including a Legends Club, where such notables as Sir Jackie Stewart and Al Pacino were seen on Sunday. Someday, after I win my Oscar, I’ll look into one of the main grandstand seats. Though by that point I’ll be living in the UK, so Silverstone it is.