F1’s 2019 U.S. Grand Prix: A Bumpy Weekend at the Races

by Lisa Davis on November 7, 2019 in Entertainment, Lifestyle, Austin,
Ferrari Seb Vettel Stacy James 20191102 3940 e1573156758571

Austin was at least 130 decibels louder over the weekend when F1’s elite automotive speedsters made their way to the 2019 U.S. Grand Prix at Circuit of the Americas.

The Circuit of the Americas (COTA) has proudly hosted Formula One (F1) for the last seven years. Fans from across the globe flock to Austin to watch the currently only Grand Prix held in the United States. The 3.426-mile track was specifically designed to bring F1 back to the States and get people in America excited again about F1. In past years, COTA has been a favorite amongst the teams and drivers. This year, however, proved a much different experience.

Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen finished third in Austin bringing his podium appearances to 29. The Netherland native was F1’s youngest competitor at 17 when he got behind the wheel at Toro Roso. At 18-years old, he became the youngest race winner in Formula One. Photo James Stacy

“Bumpy” was the buzzword during the sell-out weekend at COTA. Beginning in Friday’s Practice 1 session, F1 drivers were complaining of headaches and backaches caused by bumps on the merely seven-year old track. Today’s F1 cars prefer tracks with high-speed corner combinations, s-bends, straights and chicanes where they can reach speeds of up to 230mph— the last thing these highly-tuned machines, or their drivers, want are bumps. 

The bumps at the Circuit of the Americas racetrack plagued the F1 drivers but none more than Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel where the German was forced to retire his SF90 on lap eight of the U.S. Grand Prix.
Photo courtesy Scuderia Ferrari Mission Winnow

The COTA track had deteriorated significantly compared to last year with the bumps likely resulting from recent heavy rains. These sources of collective aggravation led to the retirement of Scuderia Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel to the disappointment of fans around the world. Vettel’s right-rear suspension failure during lap eight turned the prancing horse into a scarlet three-wheeler.

In his third year with Mercedes AMG Petronas, the shy but fierce Valtteri Bottas collected his 11th career pole position and seventh race win at the 2019 U.S. Grand Prix. Photo James Stacy

Ultimately, Finnish driver Valtteri Bottas, who drives for Mercedes AMG Petronas, won the race, but the real winner was his team mate Lewis Hamilton who captured his sixth F1 World Championship title and third consecutive drivers’ crown. With a one-stop strategy, Hamilton officially ties for most F1 championship wins with the legendary Michael Schumacher, who retired from the sport in 2012.

Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen didn’t make it easy on Hamilton. The Dutchman finished on the podium in third position coming within less than a second of Hamilton. Ferrari’s second in command, Charles Leclerc, finished fourth in his U.S. Grand Prix debut. Red Bull’s Alexander Albon rounded out the top five.

Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo (pictured with Bevo, the Texas Longhorns mascot) donned the Texas Longhorns logo on his crash helmet for the F1 race in Austin. His infectious personality easily makes him a favorite with Texas Formula One fans. Photo courtesy Daniel Ricciardo

Austin’s favorite Aussie Daniel Ricciardo, who wears a Texas cowboy during the week of the race, first fell in love with the Music Capital of the World during his 2014 U.S. Grand Prix debut with Red Bull, finished this year’s race in sixth place. Sporting a Texas Longhorn crash helmet, the now Renault driver is known for his larger-than-life smile that can light up the Texas sky. 

Even starting from fifth position, Mercedes AMG Petronas’s Lewis Hamilton only needed to finish the race higher than eighth place to wrap up the championship title. The British driver finished second and secured his spot in F1 history with six career championship victories. Photo James Stacy

Since Mercedes already won the World Constructors Championship at the Japanese Grand Prix in October, the two remaining F1 races, Brazil and Abu Dhabi, might have teams focused more on testing new strategies or pushing FIA limits rather than winning. 

The unsung heroes of F1 are the teams’ pit crews. Former Red Bull Racing driver Mark Webber clocked a 1.92-second pit stop at the 2013 U.S. Grand Prix, the first in F1 history under two seconds. Photo James Stacy

Regardless of their overall standing going into winter break, these 20 ridiculously talented drivers just want an all-out racing experience inside the world’s most technologically advanced vehicle. Hopefully, they will look back and appreciate not only the athleticism, endurance and intuition they brought to the 2019 F1 season, but the sheer joy experienced by their fans.

Formula One heads to Brazil at the Heineken Grande Prêmio Do Brasil November 15-17

Cover: German driver Sebastian Vettel in the SF90, at the 2019 U.S. Grand Prix. Photo James Stacy

Lisa Davis lives in Austin and is the Editorial Assistant for Texas Lifestyle Magazine and an honors graduate of Concordia University Texas with a Bachelor’s Degree in Communication and Public Relations.