The front two rows of the starting grid for the inaugural US Grand Prix at Circuit of the Americas (also the first event at the track itself) consisted of Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull), Lewis Hamilton (McLaren), Mark Webber (Red Bull), and Kimi Raikkonen (Lotus) in positions 1-4 respectively. Webber jumped into P2 at the start, with Alonso moving into P4. Niko Hulkenberg (Force India) ran fifth during Lap 2.
Hamilton and Webber battled for P2 throughout Lap 3 and 4, with Hamilton eventually securing second spot and setting sail after Vettel, consistently resetting fastest lap through the first 10. The gap had shrunk from 2.6 to 0.9 sec by Lap 15. On Lap 17 Webber retired from P2 with an alternator failure. The retirement (and a Hulkenberg pit stop) reset the Top 5 as Vettel, Hamilton, Alonso, Raikkonen, and Felipe Massa (Ferrari)
Hamilton and Alonso both pitted on Lap 21, with McLaren pulling off their stop 4 sec faster than Ferrari. Vettel pitted one lap later from the lead, with a 2.7-sec stop allowing him to retain it. Raikkonen pitted from third on Lap 25, the Lotus team putting in a turtle-like 6.4-sec effort. Top 5: Vettel, Hamilton, Massa, Button, Alonso. Massa pitted on the next lap (3.4 sec).
As Lap 28 began, Hamilton was still turning fastest laps, cutting Vettel’s advantage back down to 1.5 sec. By Lap 34, Hamilton had closed onto Vettel’s gearbox. Vettel responded with fastest lap on 36. Following Button’s pit stop, the top 5 had returned to Vettel, Hamilton, Alonso, Raikkonen, and Massa. Lap 40 saw Vettel leading Hamilton by 0.9 sec, but the two of them ahead of Alonso by 30 sec.
Hamilton passed Vettel to take the lead during Lap 43, with Alonso steady in third but Massa having overtaken Raikkonen for P4. Button took P5 from the Finn during Lap 47.
Hamilton held on to win. Vettel’s second-place finish was enough to clinch the constructor’s championship for Red Bull despite Webber’s early retirement. Hamilton’s victory, however, saw him overtake the Aussie for fourth in the season standings. Even so, going into the final race in Brazil only Fernando Alonso remained in a position prevent Vettel from taking his third-straight driver’s championship.
Felipe Massa and Jenson Button each had very strong showings, moving from 11 and 12 on the grid, respectively, to finish fourth and fifth. Romain Grojean’s seventh-place finish moved him into eighth in the season standings.
Driver standings - Top 10
273 - Sebastian Vettel (Germany) - RBR-Renault
260 - Fernando Alonso (Spain) – Ferrari
206 – Kimi Raikkonen (Finland) – Lotus-Renault
190 - Lewis Hamilton (Great Britain) - McLaren-Mercedes
167 - Mark Webber (Australia) - RBR-Renault
163 - Jenson Button (Great Britain) - McLaren-Mercedes
107 – Felipe Massa (Brazil) - Ferrari
96 – Romain Grosjean (France) – Lotus-Renault
93 - Nico Rosberg (Germany) – Mercedes
66 – Sergio Perez (Mexico) – Sauber-Ferrari
Constructor standings - Teams scoring points
440 - RBR-Renault - Vettel, Webber
367 - Ferrari - Alonso, Massa
353- McLaren-Mercedes - Hamilton, Button
302 – Lotus-Renault – Raikkonen, Grosjean
136 - Mercedes – Rosberg ,Michael Schumacher
124 - Sauber-Ferrari – Perez, Kamui Kobayashi
99 – Force India-Mercedes – Paul di Resta, Nico Hulkenberg
76 - Williams-Renault – Pastor Maldonado, Bruno Senna
22 – STR-Ferrari – Daniel Ricciardo, Jean-Eric Vergne
Next event: FORMULA 1 GRANDE PRÊMIO PETROBRAS DO BRASIL 2012 – Sao Paulo - Nov. 23-25, 2012