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Formula 1 report Nº 18

Williams have confirmed 20 year old Formula 2 champion ‘elect’ George Russell as one of their drivers, making him the second rookie on the grid after Lando Norris in the McLaren. Force India have confirmed Per for another season and it is expected they will have Str alongside the Mexican.  That leaves 2 seats available, one at Williams and one at Toro Rosso.

Mick Schumacher, 19 year old son of Michael, has been crowned as the 2018 European F3 champion, qualifying the youngster for an FIA Super Licence enabling him to enter F1.

The 21 race calendar for 2019 has now been confirmed by the FIA and it begins as usual in Australia, but a week earlier on 17th March.  There will not be another triple-header, but it has six back-to-back races.  The season will finish in Abu Dhabi a week later than this year on 1st December.

United States GP Round 18. Circuit of the Americas, Austin, Texas.

56 laps @ 5.515km/3.427ml = 308.405/191.948ml.

Lap record 1m 37.766s held by S. Vettel Ferrari (2017).

The circuit was built on 890 acres of undeveloped land at Elroy in Travis County, in Texas and situated 19kms south of Austin. It was officially opened on 21st October 2012 with Mario Andretti running ceremonial laps in the Lotus 79 that he drove when he became the last American to win the F1 drivers championship in 1978. The major feature at COTA is the observation tower which stands 77mtrs high and has an elevator hoist-way surrounded by a stairway with 419 steps leading to the observation platform 70mtrs above ground level which can accommodate 70 spectators! The circuit includes re-creations of the Maggotts, Becketts & Chapel sequence at Silverstone, Hockenheim’s Arena Bends and a replica of Istanbul’s Turn Eight, also with inspirations from the Senna ‘S’ at Interlagos and the Sebring- Auspuffkurve at the old Österreichring.  The circuit also boasts a 1km long back straight between turns 11 & 13 and a very steep 133ft elevation to turn 1.  It as usual has 2 DRS zones. It is the third of the five anti-clockwise circuits on this year’s calendar and has 20 turns.

Friday morning for FP1 was overcast and wet after heavy overnight rain. Qualifying in the afternoon was overcast and windy and the temperature only at 19˚C. Ham got his third pole position at this circuit and setting a new track record of 1m 32.237s around the 5.513km lap with Vet, Räi, Bot & Ric making up the top five. Vet had a 3 place grid drop after failing to slow sufficiently under the red flag in FP1. Ver got 5 places for a new gearbox & both Toro Rosso drivers for new power unit elements.

A bright & sunny start for the race at 1.10pm local time with the temperature at 20˚C. Ham lost the lead to a fast starting Räi. Gro clashed with Lec and more drivers were banging wheels and spinning. Alo was caught up in all that, being forced off the circuit and going out. Ric & Vet had a coming together, putting the German into a spin and going to the back of the pack. Gro retired with accident damage after 2 laps. Ric came to a grinding halt on lap 8 with a loss of power bringing out the VSC for a couple of laps. Lec also retired with accident damage after getting caught up in the first lap incidents. Ver stormed throught the field to get in a points-paying position by the first round of pit stops. Sai was handed a 5 second time penalty for leaving the track and gaining an advantage. There were lots of good battles and some very close wheel to wheel racing some a little too close.

All in all a very exciting race with plenty of action. Rai got his first win since the Australian GP way back in 2013 and his 21st career victory. Ver & Ham joined him on the podium. Ham posted the fastest lap on lap 40 with 1m 37.392s; another new lap record, 0.374s faster than last year’s. Oco (8th) & Mag (9th) were both disqualified for fuel infringements which promoted Har & Eri into the points. Gro was given a 3 place grid drop for Mexico – causing an accident as well as another penalty point. Two more and he will get a one race ban.

Formula 1 report Nº 19 – 2018.

Mexican GP Autódromo Hermaños Rodríguez. Round 19.

71 laps @ 4.304km/2.674ml = 305.584km/189.890ml.

Lap record 1m 18.785s held by S. Vettel Ferrari (2017).

The circuit was built on a dried up lake bed and opened in1962.  It was originally named the Magdalena Mixhuca circuit as it is located in the municipal sports park of the Magdalena Mixhuca in the SE area of Mexico City and sits 2,285mtrs above sea level, with 22% less oxygen, making it difficult for the cars and drivers. The name was changed later when Ricardo Rodríguez died during practice for the non-Championship race in1962 aged 20 years.  His brother Pedro also lost his life behind the wheel at the Norisring, Germany in an Interserie Sports Car Race on 11th July 1971 aged 31 years old.

From 1962 until ‘79 it was 5km in length with 14 turns.  It was then shortened in 1980 to 3.991km with 9 turns until 1985 during which time F1 did not use the venue. Another change for the 1986 season with F1 returning increasing it to 4.421km, again with 14 turns which lasted until the final race in 1992 when Our Nige’ won from pole, driving a Williams-Renault V10, with his team mate Patrese and Schumi in a Benetton-Ford Cosworth V8 joining him on the podium. Formula 1 races were again held there from 1963-1970 (8) and again from 1986-1992 (7) before returning to the calendar in 2015 with a revised layout, making this the 19th race to be held at this venue, but only the 4th on the new layout. The circuit boasts an extremely fast slightly banked final corner turn 17 “Peraltada” leading on to the 1.2km start/finish straight. For 2016 it was revamped and now has17 turns with the final turn being renamed ‘Mansell Turn’. No single driver appears to have dominated at this venue. There are 2 DRS zones the first along the main straight and the second between turns 3 & 4 both operated by just one detection point.

A bright and sunny 18ºC started the weekend. There were three reserve drivers in the FP1 session; Giovinazzi in the Sauber of Lec, Norris in the McLaren of Alo & Latifi in the Force India of Oco.  As per usual there was a ‘hero’s welcome for local boy Perez.

Ric got his first pole at this circuit with Ver giving the team their first front row lock-out since COTA in 2013 (Vettel & Webber). Ham, Vet & Bot made up the top five.

The race began in front of a grandstand full of fans many of which in their ‘Halloween’ fancy dress.  The temperature was 18ºC. Ver & Ham got passed Ric. Hül & Oco collided. Alo went wide to avoid the clash but collected some debris from the Force India. Har made contact with Alo. Har & Oco both pitted at the end of lap 1 for repairs. Alo pulled off the circuit at turn 11 with a smoking McLaren VSC for a very short spell.  The second VSC was caused by Sai stopping with an electrical problem.  There was lots of action and position changes, especially during the pit stop stage. Per retired with a brake problem. Har & Oco had a coming together for which the Kiwi was handed a 5 second time penalty. Another retirement for Ric; this time hydraulics.

A very exciting 71 lap race, with plenty of overtaking and some minor off-circuit excursions. Ver got his second win at this circuit, first of the season and the fifth of his career in 1h 38m 28.851s. Vet & Räi joined in on the podium celebrations. Ham finished 4th to win his fifth world championship. Bot was 5th, 1 lap down and recorded the fastest lap making another new lap record of 1m 18.741s on lap 65 only 0.044s faster than last year.