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United States Grand Prix – Who was your Driver of the Day?
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Posted By: James Allen  |  19 Nov 2012   |  5:42 am GMT  |  263 comments

Formula 1’s return to the United States turned out to be a big success as the brand new Circuit of the Americas delivered one of the most exciting races of the season, featuring a race-long duel for the lead and some strong drives through the field.

There were impressive performances from both title contenders – Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso – and two former champions – Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button, while Felipe Massa overcame a cruel psychological blow to score a great result – but who was your Driver of the Day?

Lewis Hamilton

It’s not every day that you pass both Red Bull cars to win a race. Arrived in Austin on the back of a disappointing race in Abu Dhabi which saw him retire from the lead of the race with a mechanical failure. Looked comfortable on the new Circuit of the Americas track, and set the second fastest time in first practice, albeit 1.4 seconds slower than pace-setter Sebastian Vettel. Pulled out a brilliant lap in qualifying to achieve the second fastest time, just one tenth of a second behind Vettel. Lost a place at the start to Mark Webber, but repassed the Red Bull driver on lap four. Chased Vettel down and took advantage of the German getting held up in traffic to close up and then pass him at the end of the long straight. Held on to take his fourth victory of the season, second successive win in the United States and 21st triumph of his career.

Sebastian Vettel

On fire in Friday practice, finishing 1.4 second clear of the field in first practice and 0.7 seconds clear in the second session. Dominated third practice and each segment of qualifying to take his sixth pole position of the season. Made a clean getaway from pole to lead after the first corner, but struggled to pull away at the front as he has so often done. Resisted pressure from Hamilton, but lost time in traffic which allowed Hamilton to close up. Lost the lead to Hamilton, but easily held on to second to extend his championship lead over Fernando Alonso to 13 points going to the final race of the season in Brazil.

Fernando Alonso

Arrived in Texas knowing a strong result was necessary to keep his title challenge alive. Struggled for pace on Friday and continued that poor form on Saturday. Was beaten by his Ferrari team-mate Felipe Massa in all three segments of qualifying to end up ninth fastest. That became eighth, as a result of Romain Grosjean’s gearbox penalty. Promoted to seventh on Sunday as his Ferrari team chose to pick up a penalty deliberately on Felipe Massa’s car which dropped the Brazilian behind Alonso and allowed the Spaniard to start on the clean side of the grid. Made a good start, rising to fourth at the start but struggled to keep pace with the leaders. Inherited third when Webber retired and maintained that position until the end of the race, allowing him to go to Brazil with a shot at the title.

Felipe Massa

Recovered from the forced five place grid drop by his team to emerge a giant on Sunday. Looked more comfortable at the Circuit of the Americas compared to his team-mate Alonso. Replicated that pace in qualifying to outqualify Alonso for only the second time this season with the sixth fastest time. Demoted to 11th after his team decided to take a penalty deliberately to aid Alonso’s title challenge. Kept his nose clean at the start, but passed just one car to run 10th. Put good moves on Michael Schumacher, Paul di Resta and Kimi Raikkonen to rise up to fourth and help Ferrari’s push to beat McLaren to second in the constructors’ championship. JA’s shout for Driver of the Day on BBC Radio 5 Live.

Jenson Button

Looked strong in Friday practice, finishing fourth and fifth fastest in practice, but had his weekend compromised in qualifying when his McLaren suffered a power issue in Q2. Started the race 12th but lost a host of places after struggling for grip off the line as he was on the dirty side of the grid. Battled back impressively, running quite deep into the race before pitting and putting moves on Michael Schumacher, Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean. Climbed up to fifth but ran out of laps to catch Massa.


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263comments

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1

James will the Texas GP track for next year use a different tyre like super softs to soft mediums (yellow markings).

2

The winner is Massa

Quali says nothing about race speed of a car. RB has a lot of down force so they are good on cold and clean track right from the start. Schumacher found a trick to warm tyres for quali, but the trick was of no use for race, …

Once there it is hotter and more rubber, doubt RV were still the fastest car.

So why should Hamilton be DotD, if he was in fastest car and was NOT able to overtake without help. Vettel was able to counter everytime in a slower car 😉

3

Felipe Massa by a mile. Got screwed by his team and took it on the chin then gained 7 places and completely out drove his team mate.

Can’t stand Ferarri, but totally in Massa’s camp and hope that he can be on equal footing with Alonso all season next year to see what they’ll do…

4

It was me of course. I drove a Ferrari with HRT performance to 3rd. I am amazing. No one is as good as me. I should have 10 world titles by now. Anyone’s achievements, if achieved at my expense, must be because their car is better.

5

No one can take this DOTD but Lewis and if anyone else would come a close second it’d be Vettel…. 30+ seconds to the third place finisher which was Alonso.

Staggering performance by both Hamilton and Vettel.

6

When Lotus fix their pit-stops 🙁 Today it cost another podium..

7

I am unashamedly Jenson’s No 1 fan and yes he drove brilliantly but Lewis Hamilton is the outstanding driver of the weekend at Austin. Since signing with Mercedes he’s become a different person…. much calmer and happier. I hope Ross Brawn can give him a car worthy of his talent if not in 2013 then 2014, but Mclaren will surely miss him.

8

I would say Michael Schumacher. Driving a dog of a car from 5th to 17th (almost last) without getting discouraged and mentally drained.

9

I vote for Narain Karthikeyan…

10

Yesterday’s, race was epic to watch, lots of overtaking. I believe the best overtaking was firstly with Lewis and Sebastian, Jenson with Michael and then with Kimi. Massa also did some good overtaking with Kimi.

It would be great if all the tracks on the F1 calendar were re-tarmacked, to create this spectacle and also use the wrong tyres as I feel that next year it could go with super softs / softs or the soft tyre with Hard (medium)…..

11

Lewis definitely. Was great to see Lewis and Vettel going wheel to wheel but when will Vettel grow up. If the race doesn’t go perfectly to his plan we hear him having a tantrum every time.

Lewis’ did a ‘stupid’ overtake

It was all Karthikeyan’s fault

Time to grow up Sebastian!

12

Got to be Hamilton, although Alonso drove a very strong race, too.

13

Daniel Ricciardo should be on the list. It’s easy to focus on the drivers in this list because they are all in cars capable of winning. Ricciardo was very impressive with the number of overtakes he made in his first stint before those still in front of him started to pit. Given the machinery at his disposal, for me his performance was the most impressive.

14

Massa gets my vote. Your team pings you for daring to out qualify Alonso. Then you still rave to 4th.

Domenicali should be ashamed. It is still supposed to be sport.

If Alonso wins this title, I won’t watch f1, he is a master manipulator.

Even Schumacher pales in comparison. If only you all knew the real machinations behinds the spaniard.

15

As A Mclaren fan I am genuinely concerned for the team next season.The trick in F1 is to both qually and race over the two days. This also include,s the team using every disposable tool available.By this I mean team tactics. Love it or loath it in order to win F1 you have to use them. All the top teams other than Mclaren appear to use them. Even LH,s heroic driving is not enough as Ferrari demonstrated. Without LH,s qually speed I beleive Button and Perez will do o.k but will not win the championship.

16

To be honest I don’t understand why Vettel is even in the list. He should have won this race, he had the fastest car. He did an okay job… but dotd should be for people who do great jobs? Nico Hulkenberg did a much better job this weekend and isn’t even on the list.

17

I voted for Massa. Hamilton and Vettel were in a different league but Massa’s pace and the way he came back up giving the 2 fingered salute to Ferrari’s “dirty tricks” was brilliant.

I doubt Massa would have finished higher than 4th anyway even if he started where he was supposed to (they wouldnt have let him finish in front of Alonso).

I hope he can replicate the performance at his home GP next weekend. For two reasons, 1, I would generally like to see him back at the front again. 2, if Alonso looses the title race I think it is fair to say that Massa performing below par for most of the season is a contributing factor in this. Massa has not been taking points off Alonsos rivals in the same way that Webber has, Alonso needs a strong team-mate in the same way that Schumacher did with Barrichello and indeed Massa himself.

It also makes me question the philosophy of throwing the kitchen sink at a car development wise. Was it last year or the year before Mercedes stopped developing new parts for the car and instead just focused on set up and learning how to use what they had, they consequentially became quicker again at the end of the season. I wonder if this is what is happening to Massa, he is not getting the new parts that Alonso is but has had a recent increase in speed whereas Alonso has been stagnant if not slower than the rest of the season. Is it just a case of Massa learning to drive the car compared to Alonso wrestling a constantly changing prototype?

18

Really wanted to vote twice this time…once for Lewis Hamilton and another for Felipe Massa. In the end, had to go with Massa though. Bounced back from the gearbox change incident to drive a really strong race to 4th. Really pleased for him because not so long ago I don’t think he’d have been able to overcome such a setback.

Hamilton and Seb Vettel were both really strong, on a different planet from the rest. Lewis was really hungry and, yes, Vettel was unlucky with the traffic on that given lap but equally it was Hamilton’s one chance and he took it emphatically. Great job!

The racing throughout the field was really good, and the wide track and open corner entries were conducive to wheel-to-wheel action. Throughout the field, some really good drives (Jenson Button to 5th, Romain Grosjean recovery drive, Nico Hulkenberg fending off the Williams cars) and overtakes. One of the races of the season, yes, but I believe we will only be able to judge the true success of Austin as a venue in the next 2 or 3 years; will the fans keep coming back? The circuit is nice and, on the evidence of today’s racing, one would hope so. But you can never say with certainty.

Title battle? On paper, Vettel is favourite. But those extra 7 points could be crucial. Instead of needing victory, Alonso now only needs a podium if Vettel retires (or misses the points). 13 points in not a lot in today’s money, and funny things can happen in the final round. There’s still a lot to play for.

19

Hamilton: clearly driver of the day. He was the fastest all weekend (IMO). He showed his class. Incredible driver.

Massa: amaizing speed all weekend, specially in qualifying. A master class of how to deal with the worming up issues the car has had since three or four races, massively accentuated in this track with these tyre choices and temperatures.

Vettel: very good weekend. Very fast both in qualy and the race. I think he should have been able to keep the lead. Alonso would have won in the same situation, that’s one of the differences between the two. Even so, what a driver!

Alonso: clearly not in the same league of these three previous drivers this weekend, in terms of speed. I commented after the Abu Dhabi grand prix that he is having troubles to get heat into the tyres. Maybe James Allen could shed some light into this, but I fear that even Alonso himselft does not know why he is having more troubles than Massa in this regard, as it has been the other way around for three years.

But that said, I want to extend a bit here, and despite his lack of speed this weekend (for the first time in 19 races), give praise to him. He is such an amazing driver that he can circumvent these problems and end up in the podium, with similar race pace to Massa, after a very good start and braking later than any body else going into turn 1. Only the COMPLETE racer could deal with the situation he was in this weekend as he did. He dominates absolutely every aspect of driving and racing. He is the “total” racer of his generation, without any shadow of doubt.

20

Sorry, I wanted to say “warming up”, not “worming” up. jeje

21

James, can we tag a RBOTD poll as well on the end?

Road Block of the Day.

This would not go to Kartekeyan, because he was only a road block at one crucial moment only.

Someone else was a road block all race long. Clue: retiring after Brazil.

[with all due respect to him and his many fans here]

22

I’m surprised so many are choosing Massa over Button. They achieved the same thing (finished 7 places ahead of their grid position), but Button had to do it from the slow side of the grid and make his way through a lot more traffic, while Massa had the benefit of more clear air. Yes Massa finished closer to his team-mate, but he started a lot closer as well.

A lot of people are pointing to the team-ordered grid penalty – what is that, some sort of “sympathy vote”? Objectively it doesn’t make Massa’s drive any better does it. Being 11th on the grid because of a team order doesn’t make Sunday afternoon any harder than being 11th because of a genuine mechanical failure – or just qualifying in 11th to start with.

Anyway I’d give driver of the day to Hamilton. It was great to see Hamilton and Vettel fighting each other in closely-matched cars, and for Hamilton to come out on top like that was a significant moment.

23

I do give my vote to Hamilton although Massa had a great race. But you can only vote for one haha!

The point is that as Vettel didnt have the best car (I would same Red Bull and Mclaren were pretty close this weekend) he didnt win.

Seems like Adrian Newey magic didnt work for Vettel this weekend.

24

1. Lewis 2. Massa 3. Button

25

Easily Hamilton DOTD. The way Vettel sulked on the radio said it all. What a turkey Seb is to move to the inside then back to the middle -is barely legal and highly dangerous.

Massa was next best with an inspired drive from 11th to 4th. The Lotus could not contain him even though they held off Button for quite a while.

26

They have to crack down on those shudder moves. Perez did one on Hulkenberg in India that was even more dangerous than the one Vettel pulled on Hamilton. And nothing came of it.

28

It has to be Massa. On a straight fight in Austin, Massa would have definitely beaten Alonso. That is why I am voting for him.

I don’t have any problem with what Ferrari did. They want to win the championship and they knew their number one driver doesn’t have the skills to come from a less cleaner side. It is good they realised his weaknesses and reacted to that.

But this again raises the question. Does Alonso really deserve the championship? I don’t think so. Shame!

29

Apparently this season you have only watched this one race.

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