AUSTIN, Texas – Lewis Hamilton charged by Sebastian Vettel late in Sunday’s United States Grand Prix at Circuit of the Americas to earn his fourth Formula One World Championship victory of the season.
Vettel got the jump on Hamilton, who won the last United States Grand Prix at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 2007, and the rest of the field during the standing start. Vettel’s teammate Mark Webber settled in behind the front two in third. Webber, however, didn’t last long as an electrical issue sidelined him after only 16 laps.
Meanwhile, Vettel’s championship rival Fernando Alonso made a strong charge through the field after the initial start. Originally Alonso was to start ninth on what was considered the dirty side of the starting grid, but the Ferrari team came up with a clever way to move Alonso to the clean side of the grid.
Before the race started Ferrari officials broke a seal on the gearbox of Alonso’s teammate, Felipe Massa, resulting in a five-place grid penalty to Massa. That moved Alonso to the clean side of the grid and he capitalized by advancing quickly through the field to third.
Meanwhile, at the front of the grid, Vettel maintained his lead on Hamilton. Hamilton closed to under a second on several occasions before and after mid-race pit stops, which allowed him to use his DRS to dramatically close up on Vettel at the end of the passing zone entering turn 12.
Finally, on lap 43, Hamilton moved by Vettel entering turn 12 to grab the lead away. Once out front, Hamilton slowly pulled away aboard his McLaren to a .6-second victory.
“I’m so happy. The fans have been amazing this weekend, so thank you so much for the warm welcome,” Hamilton said post-race. “I think this has been one of the best, if not the best grand prix we’ve had all year, especially for my team. This is just so special.”
Vettel settled for second and will take a 13-point lead over Alonso into the Formula One finale in Brazil in next weekend. Alonso finished third on Sunday.
“The championship is looking a bit better after the race today,” said Vettel, who is seeking his third-straight Formula One World Championship. “Obviously it was a close fight with Lewis. He had one chance and he took it. After that I tried to stay with him and maybe pass him again, but he was probably as quick as I was. There wasn’t much in between us all day long.”
Thanks to Vettel’s second-place finish, Red Bull Racing locked up the 2012 Constructors’ Championship.