What We Learned United States Grand Prix 2017

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THE BIG PICTURE:  Last year was the final Bernie Ecclestone (United States hating) USGP. Fast forward to 2017, and Formula One is now owned by Liberty Media, an American company. From this, we can perhaps hope that this race will not be given the Bum’s Rush as Indianapolis was by Formula One. With Liberty in charge, maybe there will be two US F1 races? Three?

EVENT:  Huge attendance numbers have become the norm for the Austin race – over 250,000 tickets sold each year. So have concerts – this time it was Justin Timberlake. It is evident that USGP organizers work very hard to produce a high-quality event. Bravo!

IN OUR LAST EPISODE:  Points leader Lewis Hamilton cruised to an easy victory after Sebastian Vettel failed to start the race due to spark plug problems. Renault continued its run to be the most classless of all F1 teams by booting Jolyon Palmer despite having a contract.

 QUALIFYING:   For the first time this year, Lewis Hamilton led each practice and grabbed his 11th pole position of 2017 out of 17 races. Vettel would start next to him on Row 1.

 RACE:  Vettel took the early lead on Lap 1. But, it wasn’t long before Hamilton’s superior car snatched it back and the Briton controlled the race until the checkered flag. Vettel was able to reclaim his second-place position which pushed Hamilton’s title clinch to another week. Austin was really about Max Verstappen starting last due to grid penalties, then fighting his way up to finish third.  Unfortunately, race stewards penalized the Flying Dutchman five seconds, bumping him back to fourth. Boo!

BEST TEAM:  Mercedes. They’ve clinched the Constructors championship for the fourth year in a row.

WHAT WE WILL REMEMBER:  Lewis Hamilton and Olympic champion Usain Bolt doing “The Bolt” together on the podium. Classic F1 hokum at its best. Hamilton also controlling every practice and the entire race. Verstappen’s amazing final lap pass that wasn’t.

QUOTE OF THE WEEKEND: “Firstly, I want to say big congratulations to everyone in the team – both back at the factory and here. There has been an incredible push for this kind of performance this year. We really pulled together more than I have experienced and seen over the last five years to create something quite special. I’m really proud for everyone, especially going from one era of car to another which is something that has never been done before. It shows the strength of the team and I’m proud to be part of it. The race was great, it was probably one of the most fun races that I have had for a while – and there were quite a few fun ones this year. I didn’t get away to a great start, but I was kind of chilled about it, knowing from the past that I can overtake here. I had a lot of fun trying to get closer and overtaking. Today the wind changed 180 degrees and it made the track so special to drive; the car felt amazing going through the Esses. We have three more races left this season – and that’s three I want to win.” Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes driver

QUOTE OF THE WEEKEND RUNNERUP“I am feeling good after the race but of course it is never nice to be about to step out onto the podium and then have it taken away. They should at least let us talk it through in the stewards’ room first and voice our opinions. I had a great race and I am happy with fourth but it’s the way I got there that hurts. I got a five second penalty and one penalty point for what? I ran wide on a track with no limits that everyone is running wide on all weekend, why do I get punished? The rule is we cannot protest so all we can do is move on to Mexico, weird rule. We have an amazing race with loads of overtakes and action and then due to 5cm or 10cm of kerb the result is changed, people don’t like to watch that. At the end of the day I had a lot of fun and a great race. I feel I made some really good overtakes and had nice rhythm with really strong pace and balance in the car. Taking all these factors into account and no engine penalties I’ll hopefully start near the front and achieve a better result in Mexico.” Max Verstappen, Red Bull driver

SCHEDULE:  Next week, on October 29th, the series goes to Mexico City at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez.

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

Lisa Davidson

Lisa Davidson is a graduate of the University of Arizona and spent her corporate career as a Controller. She is a lifelong writer who has been covering open wheel racing since 2000 and is the author of historical articles and co-author of one book She and her husband, photographer Jeff Davidson, have two daughters and make their home in Murrieta, CA.

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