Eight turned out to be the lucky number for SEBASTIAN VETTEL/Red Bull Racing at Circuit of the Americas where he won his eighth straight 2013 Formula One race at the United States Grand Prix, breaking the existing record of MICHAEL SCHUMACHER-7. Vettel won from the pole position, his eighth this season. He did doughnuts, third race in a row and FIA is no longer fining him for not bringing the car directly back to Parc Ferme. And then he did a little dance across the podium to the top step.
The Sunday attendance figures was 113,162. This coupled with the Friday count of 58,276 and Saturday’s 78,886 meant a total of 250,324. Last year’s Sunday attendance was 117,429 and a three-day total of 265,499.
Second and third were ROMAN GROSJEAN/Lotus and MARK WEBBER/Red Bull Racing.
RICK PERRY, Texas Governor, presented Vettel’s trophy. The Constructors trophy was presented by RED McCOMBS, COTA Co-Founder. Texas Attorney General, GREG ABBOTT gave the runner-up trophy to Grosjean. ACCUS President, NICK CRAW, did the honors for Webber.
MARIO ANDRETTI did the podium interviews. Vettel gave a great big shout out to Texas, congratulated his team, and told Mario he was a legend. Mario told Grosjean to keep up the good work. With Webber, Mario talked about this being his last race in America. Webber said starting position was crucial, good job for the team, gave well wishes to the American fans for the last time, and then exited Stage Left before all the pomp and circumstance were quite finished.
Meanwhile down below the podium, the first annual Track Invasion had begun.
Red Bull has won the Constructor’s trophy so many times it seems as though everyone on the team has had a chance to accept the trophy.
I’ve heard the German national anthem so many times this year I know it better than Advance Australia Fair. I’m even recognizing the Austrian anthem.
Fourth and fifth were LEWIS HAMILTON/Mercedes and FERNANDO ALONSO of Ferrari.
NICO HULKENBERG of Sauber, who had run fifth much of the race, was finally passed by Alonso, who had gridded and run seventh for a long time. Seventh, behind Hulkenberg were SERGIO PEREZ/McLaren, VALTTERI BOTTAS/Williams, NICO ROSBERG of Mercedes, and JENSON BUTTON/McLaren.
What did Lotus know that we didn’t prior to the race? An hour before green flag, Lotus handed out music DVD’s to listen to “in case the race got boring.”
There wasn’t a lot of on-track passing up at the front of the field, and notably the top five stayed in position for a long while. After pit stops there was some recycling of positions. But, there was no concern that Vettel wouldn’t win the race. And for a while, Webber thought he’d at least finish runner-up, until he had bobble and passing issues.
All cars finished except ADRIAN SUTIL/Sahara Force India, who was hit by PASTOR MALDONADO/Williams and spun off into a barrier on the first lap, tearing up his car and strewing debris all over the course. It caused the only Safety Car situation, which was cleared up quickly. Sutil was not hurt. Last year the race ran caution-free.
On the last lap, JEAN-ERIC VERGNE/Toro Rosso hit ESTEBAN GUTIERREZ of Sauber, causing the young Mexican Rookie to spin. After the fact, the Race Stewards applied a 20-second penalty to Vergne in lieu of a drive-through penalty. This dropped Vergne from twelfth to sixteenth, and moved Gutierrez up to thirteenth. FELIPE MASSA/Ferrari moved up to P12, and HEIKKI KOVALAINEN/Lotus picked up P14. Vergne didn’t agree with the penalty, saying it was the fault of Gutierrez. NIGEL MANSELL was the driver on the Race Steward’s panel.
If your car number was 20, 21, 22 or 23, it would seem you got an automatic blue flag. Poor MAX CHILTON/Marussia. He got more blue flags than everyone put together, or so it would seem. Race Control seemed to be monitoring their times carefully in case the 107 percent rule had to be invoked.
Pit Stops were quick, and none more so than Webber, who had a 2.3 for his first stop. On the other hand, returning driver, Kovalainen had a lengthy pit stop for tires – more than thirty-seconds. Doesn’t sound like much in the context of things, but compare that to Webber’s stop and you can see how much distance could be made between two cars with that bit of luck. Kovalainen finished fifteenth.
The fastest laps just kept peeling off, one by one. Most were set by Red Bull Racing – almost equally by Vettel and Webber. Vettel had the ultimate fastest race lap of 1:39.856/123.500 mph/198.754 kph – on Lap 54 of the 56-lap race. Hulkenberg also had a good lap.
The TV feed had some technical issues. The picture was OK, but the sound was a high-pitched buzz near the end of the race, so there were a lot of commercial breaks until it was resolved. There was an encore TV broadcast aired soon after the original
The top Driver Points are: Vettel-372; Alonso-227; Hamilton-187; KIMI RAIKKONEN-183; and Webber-181.
Raikkonen had successful back surgery Thursday, and although he watched the race, the Lotus team reports he fell asleep half way through. The team handed out more music.
The top Constructor Points are: Red Bull Racing-553; Mercedes-348; Ferrari-333; Lotus-315; and McLaren-102
One race remains – the season’s finale next weekend in Brazil.