It’s true that, despite having half a century of history behind it, Formula 1 has never really caught on with motorsport fans in the United States.
Nevertheless, last week it returned to the Land of the Free after a seven-year hiatus. The last time an F1 GP was staged on American soil it was in Indianapolis; now, it took place at a brand-new track in Austin, Texas.
With the two title contenders, Red Bull Racing’s Sebastian Vettel and Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso, being close in the drivers’ standings, F1’s return to the States could very well determine the outcome of the championship.
As it turned out, it did crown a champion – though it was for the constructors’ and not the drivers’ title. Despite Ferrari leaving Texas with its two drivers having scored more points, Red Bull’s advantage was big enough for the team to bag its third consecutive world championship.
Truth be told, the tifosi should be happy that the title will be decided next Sunday at the final race of the season in Brazil. Alonso, who finished third behind McLaren's Lewis Hamilton and second-placed Vettel, admitted that the Scuderia should be proud about the result.
“We will try to go to Brazil with the possibility to fight for the world championship, which is something that we fight for all through the year”, said the Spaniard who trails Vettel by 13 points. “Only Sebastian is in a better position than us but we should be proud of ourselves, do our best, fight all the race and see what the outcome at the end is.”
Hamilton, who was the only one that could follow Vettel’s pace and, after 42 laps, passed him and went on to win the race, commented that it was very tough, but also a delight, to beat the reigning champion.
On his part, Vettel said that he could have won the race if he hadn’t been held up by a backmarker. He was referring to HRT’s Narain Karthikeyan, who was being lapped by the two race leaders when Hamilton used the DRS system and made his passing move, while the German was caught up behind the Indian driver.
“I wasn’t too happy to send a nice big invitation to Lewis when I obviously had to go through Karthikeyan and he was basically right behind at the DRS zone”, said Vettel. His anger was heard over the radio with some impolite comments that, he later clarified, “were not targeted at Lewis, it was more targeted at the backmarker which, as I said, gave a nice big envelope with an invitation to Lewis.”
The HRT driver replied that the criticism directed to him by Vettel and the Red Bull team in general was unfair, as there was nowhere else to go.
Well, let bygones be bygones. The first Texas F1 GP is history and we’re heading to a nail-biting finale at Interlagos that has seen its fair share of championship-deciding races, and which will be the place where the 2012 Formula 1 world champion will be crowned.