ALL PHOTOS: CRIS DEWITT FOR AMFM MAGAZINE
Lewis Hamilton won his fifth straight Formula One race of the season Sunday at the 2014 United States Grand Prix at Circuit of the Americas to extend his points lead over is Mercedes AMG Petronas teammate Nico Rosberg to 24.
While Hamilton posted the fasted lap times in all three practice sessions during the week, Rosberg managed to capture the pole position during Saturday’s qualifying when Hamilton experienced some excessive heating in one of his front brakes.
Hamilton’s win was his 10th of the year and pushed his lead in the points up to 316, compared with Rosberg’s new tally of 292. It was also Hamilton’s second win in three years at the new Texas track. Hamilton reprised his 2012 victory over Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel by passing Rosberg on Turn 12, the same place he overtook Vettel at the inaugural race. Hamilton then coasted to a fairly easy win, keeping a comfortable distance between himself and the remainder of the field for the final 40 laps.
Sharing the podium with the two Mercedes drivers was another fan favorite, Australian Daniel Ricciardo, who managed to overtake two Williams’ cars that qualified ahead of his No. 3 Red Bull Renault on the starting grid – Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas – who finished fourth and fifth, respectively. Ferrari’s Fernando Alonzo, Vettel, McLaren’s Kevin Magnussen, Scuderia Toro Rosso’s Jean-Eric Vergne and Lotus’ Pastor Maldonado rounded out the top.
Popular Mexican driver Sergio Perez of Force India and Sauber’s Adrian Sutil ended the day without completing a single lap after contact at Turn 12.
It was déjà vu all over again for Sutil. At last year’s 2013 USGP, his day also ended on the first lap when he made contact with Maldonado.
Perhaps the second-best drive of the day was turned in by Ricciardo’s Red Bull teammate, Sebastian Vettel, who started from pit lane, but by keeping fresh tires on his car (by making four pits stops instead of one or two) he managed to move up 11 spots and finish in seventh place, picking up six points to tie Alonzo for sixth in the championship. Speaking of points, Venezuelan driver Maldonado captured his first point of the season with his 10th-place finish in Sunday’s race.
Two more races remain on the Formula One calendar for 2014 – the Brazilian Grand Prix being held next weekend, followed by the final race of the season in Abu Dhabi on Nov.r 23 – at which double points will be awarded.
An estimated 3,000 team staff members come to the event from the various F1 teams including drivers, technicians, mechanics, marketing and promotion, and food service staff. Each team brings 100 – 120 people to each race. That total also includes the F1 staff, sponsors and nearly 500 members of the international media that travel to each of the races from all over the world.
Equipment is moved out to each track, sometimes weeks in advance of the race. As much as 30 tons of freight, shipped in specially designed crates and containers. Heavier pieces are even moved from continent to continent via container ships. Build four identical garages that are moved around the world. After each race the full garage is packed and shipped to location four races hence on the schedule.
Each team requires roughly 100 hotel rooms for the week, and need to arrange for transportation to and from the track for all the personnel. Each team has travel managers who travel to each site to coordinate everything. Chefs also fly in early to buy groceries for 20 meals for up to 80 people. All the equipment is packed up and gone 24 hours after the race. Since there are only two more races on the season, the gear used here in Austin will go back to team headquarters, most of which are located in the United Kingdom.
Lewis Hamilton: “It’s been an incredible run. This whole season has been incredible, really. I have to say, my team did just an incredible job. Nico was very quick in qualifying, and I had acouple of problems out there, but thankfully I was able to correct them today.You never know exactly how the race is going to go, but I pushed as hard as I could, especially in the first stint.It seemed to be even quicker on that stint. Once I got past Nico, it was really just about controlling it. Coming here today, it was just about having the same determination and hunger to get that win that I had two years ago. And as I’ve said before, there’s not a better crowd in which to that in front of, than the one here in Texas.
I felt very confident on that lap, going into Turn 12.There was a big headwind and I just felt like it was the exact moment I was waiting for.So I was close enough at that point to throw the car to the inside, and that’s what I did.Nico wasn’t defending there really, so I think I almost caught him unaware.And after that, it was just a matter of maintaining my lead.
“Also, the weather was great today and the circuit here is just fantastic. I went into the race today thinking I needed to win another race here, just like I did in 2012. And in the end it turned out just the same. I caught Nico today at the very same point I was able to catch Sebastian two years ago – in Turn 12. And after I was past him, I simply concentrated on managing the tires. It’s such a great feeling to have a race like this. It feels great when you know you’ve really done the very best you can, and come away with a win.
Nico Rosberg: “It’s really pretty simple … I just wasn’t able to get into a good rhythm out there early on. It just took a really long time to get into a good groove, and it really didn’t come until after Lewis passed me. In the overtake, I knew there was a chance that maybe he’d try to get past me in the early going, so I got a little defensive. All I can say is that Lewis did a really good job of driving, and after he went past I just wasn’t able to get back around him. I finally found a good rhythm five or 10 laps later, but unfortunately for me, it was just way too late.”