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What We Learned United States Grand Prix 2016

The Big Picture: Formula One head honcho Bernie Ecclestone has a love/hate relationship with the United States, as shown in detail in his handling of the United States Grand Prix. Unfortunately, the hate part of that equation has resulted in little media coverage, lukewarm TV broadcasts, and abandoning a beautiful road course in Indianapolis for Circuit of the Americas.

The Event:  Austin Texas is the new home of the United States Grand Prix. Five years of hard work has resulted in a well-percolated event featuring attendance of 269,000, Taylor Swift’s only live concert in 2016, which drew 80,000 all by itself, and a super competitive racing competition. In any other year, I would say good job guys, you’ll be okay until Uncle Bernie’s extreme greed goes into hyper-drive again resulting in the loss of another good venue. Fortunately, F1 has been sold, so this will mean either the result of future races being infinitely worse or hopefully will be better.

In Our Last Episode:  Nico Rosberg took the win at Suzuka to bring his wins this year to nine and make it very likely he will win his first driver’s championship in 2016.

Qualifying:  Lewis Hamilton edged out his teammate Rosberg to take his ninth pole of the season. Then the rest of the grid lined up rather neatly as cars seem to do in Formula One. The boys of Red Bull were ahead of the esteemed Ferraris, followed by the solo dancing Nico Hulkenberg, followed by the Williams guys.

Start: Lewis Hamilton had an excellent start as did Rosberg. Jenson Button had a phenomenal start, advancing eight positions on Lap 1; good job JB. Vettel continues in his season of crummy starts, and other than that, it was a pretty clean beginning to the race.

Race:  Lewis Hamilton took command of the event from the start and maintained up to an 11 second lead for most the race except for pit stops. Nico Rosberg was edged out of 2nd by Ricciardo, but team strategy brought him back to it when the Virtual Safety Car (VSC) came out. I noticed that the VSC, in contrast to a regular safety car, does not destroy the race leader’s margin, or anyone else’s for that matter. There were also numerous competitive “mini races” throughout the field, which made viewing the race even more exciting. 

Best Team:  As usual, Mercedes continued to execute flawlessly for another one-two finish.

What We Will Remember: Lewis Hamilton ran his race strategy perfectly to win his 50th Grand Prix. He is only one win from tying Alain Prost, and goodness knows how many from matching the great Michael Schumacher. Mighty nice company to keep, Lewis.

Quote of the Weekend: “In the beginning of the race the supersoft tyres helped me but the actual start I felt wasn’t really that much better than the Mercedes. Then I saw Nico going to the outside so it gave me an opportunity on the inside. Obviously, I would have loved to have lead out of Turn 1 but second was good enough. I tried to stay with Lewis the first couple of laps but then his soft tyres could go a bit better. I think we were looking good for P2 but then the Virtual Safety Car didn’t work in our favour today. I’m not going to be too disappointed, it’s just cool to be on the podium here. I love coming here, the anthem was pretty awesome before the race, I had goosebumps, I’m not gonna lie, and then the podium after was great. It’s another big bag of points and we at least had Nico’s pace so that’s encouraging and we’ll try and do what we can in the next few days. Obviously Max and Kimi had their misfortunes today so it was just me and Seb out there, but we still gained a little bit on Ferrari so we’re looking good. We’ll try and keep going like this and get on the podiums for the last few races.” Daniel Ricciardo, RBR driver

Runner-up Quote of the Weekend: “Eighth place was a good recovery after our race was compromised on lap one. I was hit hard from the rear under braking for turn 11 by Kvyat, who made a mistake and came in with no control. All of a sudden I was effectively in last place and with a badly damaged car. It was a difficult recovery, but step by step we got back into the points and in the end, we didn’t get a bad result. We got all the strategy calls right and this helped us overcome the damage to the car because we made up positions in both pit stops. To come away with four points and to move up to seventh in the drivers’ championship is a good result in these circumstances. It’s important to hold on when you get a difficult weekend, especially in races with high attrition, and score every point you can get, but the regret remains because I think we could have finished fifth today.” Sergio “Checo” Perez, Force India driver

Schedule: Next week, October 30th at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, the Mexican Grand Prix. Ole!

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or staff. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

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Formula One Open Wheel

United States Grand Prix 2016 Preview

Momentum? The season thus far certainly favors Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg to take the Driver’s Championship. But, if any driver could be said to “own” a track, Lewis Hamilton has dominated COTA’s 4 F1 races, winning all but 1. So, Hamilton seems to have history on his side.

Needs A Good Run? Just about everyone, but we have to consider that Honda is banking on better runs because so many millions have been spent on their McLaren team.

Sentimental Favorite?  We are told Lewis Hamilton is the most popular of the F1 drivers who visit Austin each year.

Challenges? Texas hospitality is warm and generous. The food in Austin is delicious. These present a significant problem to the drivers and those of the crews who must watch what they eat to fit their clothing. Look for major eating after Sunday’s race and for some of the circus members to stay behind and eat up.

Quotes:

“First up, we’re back in the States – which is like a second home race for me these days. I love the country, the culture, the people and the track, so I can’t wait to get started. I’ve got some great memories from Austin, with three wins from four races and, of course, the title win last year. That was one of the highlights of my career, no doubt. It’s almost like the American fans have adopted me as their own, so I’ll try to channel all of that positive energy into this weekend.” Lewis Hamilton on his strategy to maximize his points for the remainder of the season.

“Looking ahead to Austin, we’ll be hoping for some drier weather than last year – which won’t be difficult, given the torrential rain which simply didn’t stop until Sunday last time around! The weather conditions in 2015 have also had a knock-on effect in that we actually have very little up-to-date data from which to establish the performance of the car and the tyres at this circuit. Teams will therefore have to work on the basis of records from 2014, which is an unusual challenge heading into a race weekend. We have the medium, soft and supersoft tyre compounds available this weekend, which will likely produce some quicker lap times than those previously seen at this circuit.” Paddy Lowe, Technical Director, Mercedes.

“COTA is one of the few anti-clockwise circuits on the calendar, and has a bit of everything: fast corners, slow corners and heavy braking zones, so you need a car with good balance, which tends to be one of the strengths of our car. There’s lots of fast, sweeping corners in the first sector, the long straight in the second sector, and then the infield section in the final sector which is tight and twisty with long apexes and high g-forces. You really need to prepare the car for everything! For a driver it’s great fun and I hope we enjoy a better result there than in Suzuka.” McLaren driver Jensen Button.

“The track in Austin is sick, I love it. It has a lot of unique features like the wide apex at turn one, you could fit about four cars side by side through there. There are loads of opportunities to overtake and have fun throughout the whole track. It has fast flowing sections and hairpins, pretty much everything I like in a track. Austin city is also awesome, I really like its character. It’s raw and authentic which makes it cool without trying to be. The old school bars and music venues which are super cool just makes it work. Pete’s Piano bar and Rainey Street has a lot of local music which is a really nice vibe and I want to check out Hotel Vegas this year.” Daniel Ricciardo of Red Bull Racing.

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.