Yee-Ham! Lewis wins in Texas as Alonso fightback ensures title battle goes down to last race in Brazil
21:20 GMT, 18 November 2012
Lewis Hamilton has won the inaugural United States Grand Prix at the Circuit of the Americas.
The outgoing McLaren star overtook Sebastian Vettel in the closing stages to secure his fourth victory of the season.
Vettel finished second with his championship rival Fernando Alonso completing the podium to ensure the battle for the drivers' world title will be decided at the final race of the season in Brazil next Sunday.
Champagne moment: Hamilton celebrates after his brilliant victory in Texas
Yanks for the memories: Hamilton points to the United States flag on his helmet after winning in Austin
Unites States Grand Prix: Classification
1. Lewis Hamilton (McLaren)
2. Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull)
3. Fernando Alonso (Ferrari)
4. Felipe Massa (Ferrari)
5. Jenson Button (McLaren)
6. Kimi Raikkonen (Lotus)
7. Romain Grosjean (Lotus)
8. Nico Hulkenberg (Force India)
9. Pastor Maldonao (Williams)
10. Bruno Senna (Williams)
It was not the race Red Bull
expected, however, because although the 15 points from Vettel's
runner-up spot mean they are constructors' champions for a third
consecutive grands prix, there was little celebration on the pit wall.
It was also not the 100th grands prix
Vettel was expecting either as the 25-year-old German had been flawless
in practice and qualifying around the 250million purpose-built Circuit
of The Americas on the outskirts of Austin.
But it was a thoroughly deserved
victory for Hamilton, who was robbed of wins in Singapore and Abu Dhabi
as he suffered mechanical issues when leading.
Over the line: Hamilton overtook Vettel to win the inaugural United States Grand Prix
All the talk immediately before the
race, however, had centred on a seemingly controversial move from
Ferrari in deciding to break a seal on the gearbox of Felipe Massa's
In doing so, it immediately incurred a five-place grid penalty for the Brazilian, dropping him from sixth to 11th.
More importantly it promoted Alonso
on to the clean side of the grid from eighth to seventh, giving him
better traction at the start as the dirty side had been the described as
potentially like starting 'in the wet' by Massa.
Yee-haw: Hamilton poses with his winners' trophy and flanked by Vettel and Alonso on the podium (below)
It was a clever tactical move from
Ferrari which they blatantly said was done because 'the interests of the
team come before anything else'.
It sparked a fierce debate in the
paddock as Ferrari had effectively found a loophole in the regulations
to aid their own cause and keep Alonso in the championship hunt.
It proved crucial because emerging
out of the signature uphill turn one Alonso had gained three places to
climb to fourth behind a Red Bull one-two.
Lew beauty: Hamilton wins in Austin to claim his fourth grand prix victory of the season
Unsurprisingly Hamilton, on the dirty
side, lost second place to Mark Webber as Sebastian Vettel was away and
clear from the 36th pole position of his career.
Ordinarily, with Vettel out in front
into the first corner that would signal a comfortable cruise to the
flag, but not on this occasion.
Hamilton eased his way past Webber on
lap six that signalled a stunning battle between the Briton and Vettel
as they went head-to-head and wheel-to-wheel at one stage.
In the first half of the race
Hamilton managed to close to within a second, but as his set of
medium-compound Pirelli tyres started to lose their grip, he never got
close enough to attempt a pass.
End of the road: Webber was forced to retire on lap 18 with an alternator failure
Ahead of the first round of pit stops
Alonso's cause was further assisted when Webber was forced to retire on
lap 17 as yet another alternator failure to afflict a Red Bull saw him
grind to a halt.
Following the flurry of activity in
the pitlane, Hamilton then began to chip away at Vettel, eking out
tenths of a second here and there until crucially closing the gap to
within a second.
That allowed him to use his DRS on
the long straight between turns and 11 and 12, but for a number of laps
the 27-year-old continued to fall just short.
Then on lap 42 of the 56 Hamilton
finally managed to get close enough to Vettel to execute a manoeuvre
into turn 12, the duo inches apart at one stage before Hamilton made the
For Alonso, it was crucial as in one
fell swoop Hamilton had taken seven points off Vettel, limiting the
damage as the Ferrari was a long way adrift in third such was its pace
compared to the leaders.
Hamilton, however, failed to pull
away from Vettel and the last few laps were tense, but the Briton did
enough to hold on for the win, with Alonso a staggering 40 seconds down
The trio were followed by Massa and
Jenson Button, fifth in his McLaren after starting from 12th, followed
by the Lotus' of Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean.
Chase: Hamilton hunts down Vettel before overtaking the Red Bull driver