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Austin-tatious: Hamilton Is Dominating In Texas

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Sunday, November 2 2014

Lewis Hamilton was sensational at the U.S. Grand Prix in Texas on Sunday.

AUSTIN, Texas – Lewis Hamilton exited Texas as the winningest driver in Great Britain’s glorious Formula One history and Circuit of The America’s less-heralded tenure Sunday afternoon, complete with Stetson hat and sheriff’s badge.

Hamilton’s second United States Grand Prix victory in three starts at COTA stretched his championship advantage over Mercedes AMG teammate Nico Rosberg to 24 points after 17 of 19 FIA Formula One World Championship events. The 2008 World Driving Champion, Hamilton’s 32nd career victory also pushed him past Nigel Mansell for most F1 wins by a British driver.

“It’s been an incredible run. This whole season has been incredible really,” said Hamilton, who scored his 10th win and fifth in a row at the expense of his pole-winning teammate before an enthusiastic crowd of 107,776, upping total attendance to 237,406 for the three-day weekend.

“You know, this is an incredible place,” said Hamilton, addressing the fans who poured out of the grandstands and the Turn 1 hillside area onto the track to salute the 29-year-old winner. “I’ve got such great support here, so a big, huge thank you to the fans here. Again, I’ve been so fortunate – I’ve got an incredible team. I had a great competitor today and I’m really grateful to be up-front. I’m really excited. It’s such a privilege to be representing my country and to be at the top of the driver wins is really quite special.”

Hamilton marked the occasion by commandeering a black Stetson sporting a silver sheriff’s badge from American F1 icon Mario Andretti, who conducted the post-race public interview session.

Winner of the inaugural USGP here in 2012, Hamilton passed Rosberg in Turn 12 on Lap 24 in a race that saw the Silver Arrows teammates lead the entire 56-lap/191.947-mile distance. Daniel Ricciardo of Infiniti Red Bull Racing was best of the rest in third.

Appropriately, Hamilton became 2008 World Champion on the same date six years ago, perhaps another indication for Rosberg that his pursuit of a first title is fading.

Rosberg led 22 of the first 23 laps, surrendering the point during a pit stop for Pirelli tires on Lap 16. Hamilton pitted one lap later and the stage was set for the race’s turning point. Hamilton moved into Rosberg’s slipstream on the track’s backstretch, which begins after Turn 11 of 20. With the aid of his driver-adjustable rear-wing (DRS), Hamilton passed the second-generation German star on the inside under braking through Turn 12.

“It’s obviously a very good circuit to be able to follow,” Hamilton said of the 3.427-mile layout, “but it’s not easy and it was very hard through the middle sector to try to stay as close to him as possible and get as close as I could to the DRS zone. And I was quite a bit back, I would say, but I felt very confident. There was a big headwind into (Turn) 12 and I just felt like I was waiting for the moment really, to just be close enough to throw it up the inside. And that’s what I did.

“There’s kind of a…you have to decide how much of a risk you’re willing to take. Nico wasn’t defending there really so almost caught him unaware. And after that, really I was just trying to maintain it. But what an incredible achievement. I’m so grateful.”

Hamilton went on to lead 32 of the next 33 laps en route to a margin of victory of 4.314-seconds at 184.895 mph over Rosberg, whose performance began to slip after that first of two pit stops.

“It’s pretty simple that I didn’t find my rhythm early on,” Rosberg said. “It took a long time, like all the way until after Lewis passed me. In the overtake, I knew there was a chance. Maybe he would try or not, so went kinda halfway defensive but Lewis just did a good job and that’s it. Five or 10 laps later I started to find a better rhythm and then I felt OK _ but it was, unfortunately, just way too late.”

Both Mercedes aces were the centers of attention all day, beginning with a pre-race driver’s parade in classic American convertibles. Hamilton, in fact, has been the object of an adoring Yank fandom since a promotional trip to New York City early last week.

“The support from my fans and the tons of flags out there and team tops and team caps – I really am so grateful for that support that I have here in the US,” Hamilton said. “It’s amazing. I hope it continues to grow over the years. Great weather, the circuit’s just fantastic. I went into the race thinking I need another race just like 2012 and it was like that. I was catching him (Rosberg) through exactly the same points at which I was catching Sebastian (Vettel).

“There wasn’t a moment in the race when I didn’t think that I would get him. Once I was past, I was able to relax for a second and really try to manage the tires, because I knew that perhaps he would push at some other point. And so I was always having to respond. It’s such a great feeling when you have a race like that, it just feels great that you’ve really done it as best as you can.”

The season’s final two rounds will be contested at Brazil on Nov. 7-9 and Abu Dhabi on Nov. 21-23. Through a pained smile Rosberg said he was not ready to concede.

“Same approach from me – fully-committed, full attack, try and be on-pole in qualifying and then win Interlagos and that’s it,” Rosberg said. “There’s a definite shot at the championship this year, even with the points that I’m now behind and anyways, there’s still Brazil to come; in Brazil it’s even possible to completely turn it around. You never know what’s going to happen there, so I’m sure it will be an exciting end to the season.”

Hamilton echoed that sentiment, albeit from the position of the man in command. “Same as for Nico, really, because we’re hunting for those points,” Hamilton said. “I think during the year you have to be balanced in the risks you take and I think that so far I’ve not been taking too many risks. I’ve done what I needed to get by in the safest way, in the cleanest way, which has worked all year, so I should just continue to do the same. Even in this race, I was looking after the car, trying to nurse it home and make sure that it had no problems. And I think you’ve just got to keep going until the last checkered flag.”

FIA Formula 1 United States Grand Prix results after 56 laps/191.947-miles around the 3.427-mile/20-turn Circuit of The Americas in Austin, Texas, with car number in parentheses, driver, country, chassis/engine, laps completed, and time/gap:

1. (44) Lewis Hamilton, Great Britain, Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team, 56, 1:40:04.785

2. (6) Nico Rosberg, Germany, Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team, 56, plus-4.3-seconds

3. (3) Daniel Ricciardo, Australia, Infiniti Red Bull Racing/Renault, 56, plus-25.5-seconds

4. (19) Felipe Massa, Brazil, Williams Martini Racing/Mercedes, 56, plus-26.9-seconds

5. (77) Valtteri Bottas, Finland, Williams Martini Racing/Mercedes, 56, plus-30.9-seconds

6. (14) Fernando Alonso, Spain, Scuderia Ferrari, 56, plus-95.2-seconds

7. (1) Sebastian Vettel, Germany, Infiniti Red Bull Racing/Renault, 56, plus-95.7-seconds

8. (20) Kevin Magnussen, Denmark, McLaren/Mercedes, 56, plus-100.68-seconds

9. (25) Jean-Eric Vergne, France, Scuderia Toro Rosso/Renault, 56, plus-103.86-seconds

10. (13) Pastor Maldonado, Venezuela, Lotus F1 Team, 56, plus-107.87-seconds

11. (8) Romain Grosjean, France, Lotus F1 Team/Renault, 55, plus-1 lap

12. (22) Jenson Button, Great Britain, McLaren/Mercedes, 55, plus-1 lap

13. (7) Kimi Raikkonen, Finland, Scuderia Ferrari, 55, plus-1 lap

14. (21) Esteban Gutierrez, Mexico, Sauber F1 Team/Ferrari, 55, plus-1 lap

15. (26) Danil Kvyat, Russia, Scuderia Toro Rosso/Renault, 55, plus-1 lap

16. (27) Niko Hulkenberg, Germany, Sahara Force India F1 Team/Mercedes, 16, engine

17. (11) Sergio Perez, Mexico, Sahara Force India F1 Team/Mercedes, 1, accident

18. (99) Adrian Sutil, Germany, Sauber F1 Team/Ferrari, 0, accident

Note _ Button qualified P7, dropped five grid spots for gearbox change; Kvyat qualified P14, dropped 10 for engine change; Vettel qualified P17, started from pit for power unit change; Maldonado finished P9, but Stewards of the Meeting added five seconds to race time for pit-lane speeding violation.

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Sunday, November 2 2014
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  • Martha says:

    My first time to attend F-1 Race.
    A class A race.
    Your article really sums it up about the driver and race on Sunday.
    I would say if you ever get a chance to see this race. Go!
    It was wonderful being with folks from all over the world.