Lewis Hamilton wins the Austin GP

So – is there anyone out there this morning not playing a game of ‘what ifs’? What if Lewis Hamilton had not broken down in Singapore and in Abu Dhabi? What if Lewis did not have to start from the back of the grid in Spain? What if there had not had been all those pit-stop cock-ups, the tyre strategy miscalls, the blind alley set-up development that sunk Jenson Button’s mid-season? All of these, and more, and we would be looking at a three-way shoot out for the title in Brazil next week.

Driving as he did yesterday, Lewis Hamilton left nobody in any doubt that although the title will be decided between Sebastian Vettel (a close second yesterday) and Fernando Alonso (a distant third), Lewis Hamilton remains one of the very greatest drivers ever to have sat in an F1 car.

A great drive then, on what looks like one of the great racetracks, the ‘best-of-compilation album’ of corners that is the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas. Its designer, the much-maligned Herman Tilke, has cited Spa and Silverstone and Hockenheim as influences, but all we could think of as they raced up the hill to Turn One and swept back down from it into Two was Brands Hatch. Only much, much wider. Wide enough, it seemed, to get just about the entire field through at the start and, remarkably, for there to be no accident.

Plenty of overtaking followed, most notably 15 laps from the end when Lewis finally got by Vettel at the peak of his second assault, once both drivers’ hard tyres had warmed up, and with both drivers going as hard as they could. All you American fans, if that was your first Grand Prix, then rest assured that was as good a race as we’ve had this season – the last thing you needed was another Red Bull demo run.

(Although, regardless of the euphoria, it should be pointed out that a quick trawl of the big US network sites this morning by the Sunday Afternoon Club didn’t find a lot of ink).

Still. We liked it. It started controversially with Ferrari asking Felipe Massa to take one for the team, ceremoniously breaking the FIA seal on his otherwise unchanged gearbox, demoting him to 11th and putting Alonso in sixth, and more importantly on the clean side of the track. As you might imagine, Alonso made it count. His lonely third was largely achieved by a great start.

But were Ferrari right to do so? Inside the rules? Absolutely. Within the spirit of the rules? Meh. But we applaud it. It is a team sport. It is sport not just for engineering superbrains and driving superheroes, but for cunning and nous. It was a clever thing to do. Just like Red Bull starting Vettel from the pits in Abu Dhabi in that RB8 sprint car. Particularly in a season where the margin has been narrower than ever, you have to grab every fraction. That’s what Ferrari did. We at the Sunday Afternoon Club think it was kind of cool. You lot?

Ultimately though, will Alonso make it count next weekend? He believes he can. But then again, he would. The F2012 is part-powered by Alonso’s faith this year. He needs to win in Brazil, realistically, with Vettel off the podium. Can he do it? Well here are a couple of factors to take into account when you place your bet. Number one it will most likely rain in San Paulo. And when it rains there, it rains.

Number two, rather more worryingly for Red Bull, was Mark Webber’s retirement yesterday with alternator failure. Since Renault lost Vettel and Grosjean to the problem in Valencia, it’s been running last year’s alternators to be safe. The supply of those ran out in Abu Dhabi. It was one of the new — Valencia spec — units that failed on Webber’s car. Both he and Vettel will be running them in Brazil.

Ladies and gents, it may be a two horse race. But it is far from over…

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Hope Vettel takes the race in São Paulo.

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Please don’t forget to mention Massa’s great race to P4! He has shown that he still has the guts and the skills to be as fast (if not faster) then Alonso.

And congrats for the win to Ham. Totally worth it. Hopefully he realizes what dumb mistake it was to sign for Merc, which had another weekend heading down to oblivion.

I feel really sorry for both Schumi and Rosberg. Both their talent is wasted in a car like this.

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Fantastic race and what a track so much better than the Indianapolis Track! Was good to see a proper race up front for once, Lewis said he wasn’t going to let Vettel have it easy and kept his word, I’ll admit without Karthikeyan’s help the move may have been a lot more diffcult and possibly not possibe, but Lewis has had enough bad luck with back markers so it’s nice they helped him out for once! Glad the title race is kept alive till the last race and we know Brazil can be very unpredictable, 2007 – Lewis leading championship against Alonso – Raikkonen takes it, 2008 Massa thinks he’s won the championship and then Lewis emerges 5th on the final corner. I hope it’s a close race and reliability doesn’t play a part. Also congrats to Massa, he took the penalty for the team to help his teammate- how many would do the same??? and still came through 4th, best drive from him since 2008 and a word to Rob Smedley too, easily the most enthusiastic pit to driver radio talk ever. Unlucky for Grojean who pulled off some good overtakes then messed it all up, but the move of the race Button on Raikkonen-any closer and they’ed have been sat in each others cockpits. Easily one of the best races of the season, but already counting down to Brazil!

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Chances are bad but come on Ferrari, you can do it! Come on Alonso!

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why do we need benson if top gear can deliver precise f1 analysis? FANTASTIC article!!!

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As an American F1 fan, I was glad to see the whole event to go so well. Hopefully, F1 is in USA to stay. Hopefully the New Jersey race will be just as good. Bernie is talking about more races is US. I’m not sure who will step up, but there are many tracks I’d like to see F1 cars race at; Laguna Seca, VIR, Watkins Glen but they all seem unsuitable. Where else?

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I DON’T CARE ABOUT LEWIS HAMILTON. Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel, two of the best drivers of this generation, are having a title fight right to the last race and the first thing TG speak of is a driver who’s lying fourth. For your own sake, TG. Get your noses out of Hamilton’s backside and pay attention to the championship. At this rate we’ll never hear a TG report about the winners of next year’s races. just about what Mercedes are doing.

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These: @electricdawn @Crawshy
Awesome job Massa. May you some day get into a team that values you.
As far as the championship is concerned, I’m a pessimist. Vettel has got it in the bag.

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Congrats to Lewis. He drove very nice and all team worked very hard to claim the victory allthough I don’t like him he deserved the win.

I’d really like Alonso to win the championship. He had loads of bad luck this season and is a briliant driver squeezing maximum from that Ferrari all the time. Taken into consideration how much better other constrctors are from Ferrari this year I’d really if he won it.
I quite like Vettel aswell but he is too lucky for my taste. It always works out for him too good. And yesterday when Hamilton drove past him he started to cry about it… Wasn’t cool.

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I believe that Fernando’s drive was fantastic and consistent but The car did not allow him the energy needed to make it count. The team cannot blame the Pirelli any more now because yesterday’s third place was not about the tyres as it was the case in the beginning races of this season.

Ferrari have to go back to the drawing board for this but with the amount of time that they have until Wednesday, Stefano Domenicali has to have a constant supply of Panadol intravenously fed to him!

Given that I am Maltese and our close proximity to Italy makes me more of a Ferrarista than anything, I feel that the design and build team at Maranello are lacking the focus and understanding of the rules or misinterpreting the results from the wind tunnel.

Alonso has to pray for a BIG miracle this weekend in Brazil. His focus and determination is going to put everything in perspective.

Forza Ferrari

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Greetings from Sacramento California. First up great article. Secondly we motorsport fans don’t think much of the media here when it comes to motorsports. It’s all stick &ball stuff here. Pressing on though if I may speak on behalf of the rest of your cousins on this side of “the Pond” it was truly a great race, a desperately needed great track, and hopefully one step closer to shunning the overpowering shadow of NASCAR. Not that we don’t think it’s alright it just ain’t all period. Much continued success to TOP GEAR. Some say…..(as I do) “Damn good show!!!”

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what if romain grojean knew how to drive and did not crash into Alonso?

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Great race yesterday, Felipe Massa is a
star for taking that penalty and finshing fourth.
if Rod Smelley, want a new challenge
how about being a Trained Counsellor.

Alonso did well, in the Mobile Ferrari
Go kart that is this year 2012 F1 Car.
Hamilton as Alonso, call him was too good
yesterday and made Vettel cry like a Girl at
a Chick flick.

AWESOME DRIVE Hamilton, come on Signor
Fernado Alonso his Driving and Willpower has
carried Ferrari to this Title showdown.

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Mc Laren had the best car this year in my opinion. But Hamilton or McLaren can’t finish, that’s why he’s only fourth. He will imagine next year how it feels to have really a bad car. And old Alonso is the best driver, haha, while young Vettel wins his 3rd or 4th title next year. Wake up from envyness , before he smashes all Schumi records!!!

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Excellent race, excellent track. I can’t think of any other track where you would see so many different racing lines used by the drivers. Yes, being a new track has a lot to do with that, but it also highlights how challenging it is. I saw overtaking take place in 5 different places (4 of them without DRS), and the track is only going to get better.

Regarding Ferrari’s tactical move, brilliant. Massa’s job right now is to help the team since he is not fighting for anything.

I have a feeling that we’re in for a crackin’ Brazilian GP.

BTW, my money is still on Alonso.

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come on Alonso

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HAHAHA, VETTEL. WHAT A CRY BABY. THIS DRS IS RUBBISH ,ITS EASY TO OVERTAKE. HE DOESN´T COMPLAIN WHEN HE USES IT. FANTASTIC RACE FROM HAMILTON. CARN´T WAIT FOR SUNDAYS RACE, SEE IF IT RAINS TO MAKE THINGS MORE INTRESTING.

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GO ALONSO!!! THE PRESSURE IS ON VETTEL AND THEY SAY THAT IT´S GOING TO RAIN ON SUNDAY. SEE IF MASSA CAN HELP AGIAN AND HAMI AND BUTTON ASWELL. ANYTHING IS POSIBLE!!!!! FORZA FERRARI.

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Please get your facts right before you write for a famous blog related to cars !!

Alonso started 7th position and the cleaner side of the track is for all the ODD positions! Vettel had the cleaner side since he was on the right! Since the first turn is a left turn, all the drivers had laid down more rubber on the right side of the track during practice, qualifying and also during races by other cars!

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“demoting him to 11th and putting Alonso in sixth” Alonso was promoted from 8th to 7th, not 7th to 6th. The odd grid slots where on the clean side of the track, where pole position is…

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It’s highly unlikely but only a great miracle will seal the Drivers’ championship for Alonso – if Vettel finishes 5th or lower or crashes/gets involved in an accident during the race/ has a bad pit stop strategy and so on and so forth..

I do badly wish for the underdog to win but at the moment everything is going Vettel’s way even with his second place at Austin.

Think the Austin race event is the best so far ( even better then Abu Dhabi ) and the track looks marvelous. Congrats to Hamilton! What a magnificent drive by Jenson Button and Kimi Raikkonen and Felipe Massa.

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Great Race, Hamilton / Vettel = brilliant, Alonso has done what was possible with his car, Hulkenberg another great Race, interesting Track and a lot of Racing Fans on the Track.

Massa putting down a brillant performance. But you all saying he is a Great Team player because he accepted Ferraries decision, come on people he didnt had any other choice.
If he would have told his Team he didnt want to do that , they would have told him to shut up or he will lose his Job. So he did what he was told to do and tryed to keep a smile on his Face, There is nothing else you can do in such a Situation ( ok quitting is a option)

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What if? What if Hamilton hadn’t signed up with Mercedes? Then he could’ve said: ‘Too bad, but there’s always next year’. Now he can’t.
@TTRS: yes and no. Massa can’t have had an easy time of it with Ferrari. His temperament is definitely alpha male, but with Ferrari he is contractually stuck in beta mode. I admire how he has made his peace with that through the years. What if? What if Massa had never signed up with Ferrari, but with Renault or Williams instead?

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Great race, asphalt chess

Lewis the driver of the race – the answer for me is that he is no as consistent as the 2 top drivers.

Alonso never let go – chapeaux! Ferrari improved a lot in race pace, they are close to RB and McLaren if not on par. Their weakness still is qualifying, why are they so slow? Lack of skill? Car? Any inside?

Vettel was driving strategic – almost flawless, didn´t take any risk in the in-fight with Lewis, also he couldn´t defend, the McLaren was flying with Lewis especially in the last stint – great to watch!

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Alonso moved from 6th to 3rd. Massa moved from 11th to 4th! Props to Massa I say.

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