Paul Gilham

F1 United States Grand Prix: Diary from Austin

Infiniti sent SB Nation contributor Matt Weaver to the United States Grand Prix, giving him a behind-the-scenes look at Sebastian Vettel's attempt to secure a third-consecutive F1 World Driver's Championship. Matt writes about his expectations leading up to his first F1 Grand Prix weekend in the first of several F1 diary entries.

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Epic podium atmosphere bookends US Grand Prix

Lewis Hamilton won the inaugural United States Grand Prix at Austin in a thrilling duel with Sebastian Vettel.

Vettel’s runner-up finish did not reward him with the World Drivers’ Championship but it was good enough for him to bring home Team Red Bull’s third-straight Constructors’ Championship. The Drivers’ Championship will still be on the line at Brazil because Fernando Alonso minimized the damage of finishing behind Vettel, securing third place, and is only 13 points behind the defending champion heading into the finale.

The atmosphere above parc fermé was electric as the Red Bull guests celebrated a team championship and reveled in the moment of standing right next to the most star-studded podium of recent memory.

I was in the middle of the fracas, collecting one of the championship tee-shirts, getting drenched in champagne and taking this awesome picture of Mario Andretti, Sebastian Vettel, Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton – four World Champions on the podium at Circuit of the Americas.


This was also, remarkably enough, the first time that Alonso, Vettel and Hamilton have shared the podium – the three no. 1 drivers from the top-three teams in Formula 1. Adding 1978 World Champion Mario Andretti was just the cherry on top.

We quickly left COTA as soon as the race ended and traffic flowed much better than a crowd of 120,000 fans would indicate. It took only 30 minutes to get to downtown from the track – just 10 minutes longer than what it took on Friday and Saturday.

That’s a testament to the city of Austin and COTA’s logistic group who had a contingency plan for every problem all weekend and there wasn’t many.

I will have a complete post up soon containing my final thoughts on a fantastic weekend in Austin and at Circuit of the Americas. Thank you for taking this journey with me and I hope you’ll continue reading.


Mark Webber thinks F1 can thrive without the U.S.

In a brief Q&A session today at the Red Bull hospitality booth, Mark Webber told fans and media that Formula 1 doesn’t need the United States to survive.

"Formula 1 has lived a long time without the United States and its survival is not based on whether or not we continue to race here.”

While it may not be important to Formula 1, it is important to the race teams and its sponsors. The United States is the largest market for both Red Bull energy drinks and the Infiniti luxury car brand which sponsors the race team.

Red Bull Team Principal Christian Horner is of the mindset that the United States is important for Formula 1, if only for sponsor exposure.

“It is important to our partners that Formula is a true World Championship and that means racing in the United States,” Horner said.

Webber also asked that American fans unfamiliar with Formula 1 display patience as they continue to learn the sport. He also urged that fans keep watching the sport beyond this weekend at Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas.

“We hope that everyone continues to watch the races and listen to the commentary,” Webber said. “There are a lot of things to learn about but try to be patient and take the time to learn the sport. I think that once fans do, they’ll find it to be quite exciting.”

Webber asked for patience because he doesn’t think today’s United States Grand Prix will deliver on the excitement that the most recent Formula 1 race in Abu Dhabi produced two weeks ago. The most exciting moment of the race is likely to be at the start as drivers will have to navigate a very wide frontstretch into an uphill and narrow turn 1.

But even then, Webber is still convinced that the start will be clean and the drivers will be on their best behavior.

“I don’t know how exciting the race will be,” Webber said. “I don’t think the track will provide a lot of overtaking but there has been a lot of mystery involved in this weekend. The track is still very new and there is still room for additional speed and grip.”

When asked if he followed United States NASCAR or IndyCar racing, Webber was more familiar with the latter. He called Will Power a personal friend, not remarkable given their shared Australian and New Zealand heritage. But the more surprising answer was that he was a fan of 2004 IndyCar Champion Tony Kanaan.

“I’ve watched him race and he’s a lot of fun,” Webber admitted.

Sunday will mark Webber’s sixth start in a United States Grand Prix. All of his previous starts came at Indianapolis Motor Speedway where he holds a best finish of seventh in the 2007 United States Grand Prix. His previous five starts all resulted in retirements.

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