The Formula 1 World Championship is almost over. The Mercedes team arrives in Austin, USA, intent on winning the World Drivers' Championship, after winning the World Constructors' Championship. Lewis Hamilton was the author of a perfect season and victory for the sixth time in the World Championship is now a certainty: the British driver, in fact, must cross the finish line of the United States Grand Prix in at least eighth potion, if he wins the teammate, Valtteri Bottas. Bearing in mind that the only Grand Prix in which Lewis Hamilton failed to cross the finish line in one of the top five positions is the one held in Germany, where he made a mistake due to the rain, the odds that the British driver will not be able to win the World Championship are very minimal. Furthermore, the Mercedes driver boasts ten victories out of eighteen Grands Prix held so far, and fifteen podiums. The only rival, if you want to define it that way, was his teammate, Valtteri Bottas. Scuderia Ferrari did not express itself on the same level, between problems of reliability, communication and strategy, and not even Max Verstappen was able to express himself to the maximum, as he was busy solving the related problems that emerged this year from Red Bull Racing. It can therefore be said that the fates have already been decided, even if the results were already plausible before the summer break. During the season, there was much discussion on the theme of entertainment, entertainment and the involvement that this sport is giving to its audience, which at the moment seems to be increasingly declining. This is why the new technical regulation is presented in Austin, in the United States, which will come into force starting from the 2021 season (later postponed to 2022 due to the Covid-19 pandemic). The idea is to change the image of Formula 1, to bring back more hard-fought, balanced and spectacular races, to bring more audiences together, especially young people, and obviously to increase economic revenues. Leading figures at Liberty Media made the announcement, from Chief Executive Officer Ross Brawn to Liberty Media CEO Chase Casey, as well as FIA President Jean Todt and Nicholas Tombazis. Ross Brawn explains:
"We have produced more attractive cars, capable of duelling more closely. In every race the cars lose parts after a few contacts. The new cars will not have these problems. There will be less opportunity to work on the car. The car analyzed on Friday will be the one that will go to the race on Sunday. New components will be able to be tested, without using them in the race. A reduction in the cost of parts will also be introduced. There will be great attention in 2020 on these machines. The teams will not be able to exceed the time limits allowed".
And Nicholas Tombazis adds:
"We have tried to desensitize certain cars. We hope that these new regulations will reduce the speed differences. The main objective is one: to allow the cars following to attack those in front more easily. The aerodynamic rules will be controlled by some cars , which will make it easier to manage. However, there are several other areas that can be changed. We think we have taken a big step in getting the creative and aero teams to be. We will bring a weight increase, a logical consequence of the weight increase of engine, tires and bodywork. The car will also undergo some safety improvements. On fuel, our key objective is to take a step towards environmental sustainability. Renewable content will go up to 20%, but we are looking to increase it to achieve this goal".
Jean Todt, present by videoconference at the presentation of the project, expresses his opinion regarding the price reduction plan:
"The most important financial rule that will be introduced from 2021 is a cost ceiling that will reduce the gap between the various teams. A maximum of 600 million euros which we consider a good step towards greater sporting balance".
Ross Brawn adds:
"There will also be new financial rules, which I was convinced by those with wider knowledge of the subject. We will introduce a cost cap, which will reduce the gap between the various teams. The financial regulations are the most radical change in Formula 1. Something had been tried in the past, without success. In the past there was a restriction on resources, the result of a gentlemen's agreement, now we will introduce stricter rules. And whoever violates them will receive heavy penalties".
However, these arguments must not divert attention from the current season, which still sees teams and drivers fighting each other for the remaining positions in their respective championships. Excluding the two Mercedes drivers, Charles Leclerc, Sebastian Vettel and Max Verstappen are enclosed within just sixteen points, and are fighting for third place in the standings. Scuderia Ferrari has taken six consecutive pole positions in the last six races, but has since managed just three victories. This means that half the time the Maranello team failed to maximize its potential. The Texan circuit could prove to be positive for the cars from Maranello, as team principal Mattia Binotto admits:
"We come from six consecutive pole positions, but also from three victories in the last six races: we want more than this. We are encouraged to know that we have a car package that puts us in a position to fight for the top step of the podium on most tracks. This is undoubtedly an improvement on how we started the season and this is due to the hard work done by the guys, both in Maranello and on the track, which has allowed us to be competitive again. The last three races of the season must serve as a test bed in which to develop as a working group and to learn how to operate in the best possible way in view of next season. Up front the fight is very close and every detail counts to bring home a higher number of victories. Hopefully Austin will be the place to put these concepts into practice. Obviously everyone's attention will be on the tires after the surprising longevity displayed by Pirelli's hard compound in Mexico. We know that every track brings its component of surprises: for our part, we have to manage to frame the possible dynamics to prepare ourselves to react in the best way every time. We won last year and the team is highly motivated to bring home an excellent result".
Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel arrive in Texas aware of the difficulties that the circuit presents. The Monegasque admits:
"I really like racing in the United States and especially in Austin. The city is beautiful and the atmosphere of the whole Grand Prix weekend is particular, I would say different from all the other rounds of the championship. The track is just as unique. In building it was inspired by various parts of other famous circuits in the world and it is a very interesting challenge to tackle.There is a long straight, but there are also curves of different types which make it necessary to have a ideal balance.It turns anticlockwise and this makes it different from most circuits and particular to tackle even from inside the cockpit".
And Sebastian Vettel adds:
"The United States Grand Prix in Austin is completely different from Mexico, where it was raced at high altitudes. The Circuit of the Americas is an extremely fun track that mixes very different corners and lots of changes of direction. It's quite bumpy , especially near the braking points, and this makes it all too easy to lock the wheels. The strategy is usually open: you can do well with either one or two pit stops. Here it is always quite difficult to bring the tires in the best performance window and for this reason Friday is precious. Last year due to bad weather the data collected was not useful while this year clear skies are expected but very low temperatures. I think the track, also considering the result of the last year, is suitable for our car, but we have learned that it is never wise to take something for granted. It is better to get on track before committing too much".
However, the two will have to be careful of Max Verstappen, who in 2018 was the author of a memorable race:
"A year ago it was great to come back from the back of the grid to the podium. COTA is a really complete track, with lots of overtaking opportunities, a great place to celebrate 100 Grands Prix. Obviously Mexico's sixth place isn't much, but given how the race had gone we couldn't do more. Our car should be competitive in the US, so I'm looking forward to hitting the track and having fun first at the LA fan festival where I'll be giving the crowd some donuts. I think we can have a good race. Last year, getting on the podium from behind was a great result. I had the opportunity to do a different strategy which turned out to be positive in the end, but this year we want to start up front and see what we can do. In Mexico the car went very well, we have to continue along that line here".
Regarding the penalty suffered in Mexico at the end of qualifying, the Dutch driver says:
"I think it was corrected by the FIA, we spoke to the stewards. As I said, I didn't see any yellow flags, but there is one rule: when there are yellow flags you have to slow down. I have no hard feelings about it. It was unfortunate that I didn't see the yellow flag and in hindsight there was no need for me to try to set that time as I was already on pole. But throughout the tour I was thinking that I didn't know what the others were doing, whether they were improving or not. I didn't see the yellow flag and improved my lap. In hindsight it wasn't necessary. Next time I'll lift my foot, but it went the way it did. At the moment we are not in a position to fight for pole under every circumstance, so I was enjoying that moment too. However it was a good result and showed that the car can still perform very well. It represented a nice injection of confidence, even if in the end we didn't start from pole position".
Finally, answering a question about the relationship that the Red Bull Racing driver has with Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel, he says:
"Unfortunately I didn't have the chance to compete with Hamilton often, but only in some races, because in most of the times we didn't have a comparable material. In most cases he was better than his teammate and when you have the best car and you are better than your teammate you can win the championship. It is extraordinary of him that he is close to winning his sixth championship. I as a torpedo against him? They look at turn 1 or turn 2 in Mexico I don't think they did. I think that was a stupid statement to make. I think I'm a tough but fair racer, so I don't think it was fair of him to say that. But it's easy to throw barbs at others. That's fine with me, it's not a problem. If they talk about you it's always good, because it means you've entered their brain. So for my part I just want to focus on my riding and enough said, I have nothing to add. Lewis and Seb more aggressive with me than with the others? I do not know. You should ask them. It just shows that I've gotten inside their brains, their heads, and that's good. For my part, I don't need to throw barbs at others at a press conference. Firstly because I think it's a lack of respect and secondly because I prefer to fight on the track, which I love to do. I like to fight hard, but within limits. Otherwise if they want me to stay behind I better stay at home if I can't fight them. We are in Formula 1, we are the best drivers around. Sure, you fight for victory, because that's what we live for".
In conclusion, answering a question relating to the future technical regulations that will be introduced starting from 2021, Max Verstappen says:
"I'd say it's still early. I haven't looked into all aspects yet as they have just been announced. In the end, however, it doesn't matter what the appearance of the cars is, the important thing is that they allow us to make more beautiful races and to better follow those in front of us. We would like to be no more than two or three seconds slower than we are now. Because if we were slower than four or five seconds it would be too much and we wouldn't want it. As long as we stick to that, it's fine. I'm sure the teams will have different ideas and bring a different look to the cars. So we'll see how things play out over time. Times like in 2016? Yes, honestly I didn't enjoy driving cars as much at the time as I do now, but you have to find a compromise. If it allows you to better follow who's ahead, that's fine. Then I imagine that the cars will improve over the course of the season".
His teammate, Alexander Albon, comes to the United States for the first time:
"I am really excited, I will get to know the United States for the first time in my life and it has always been a dream of mine. The track looks beautiful, with a first sector reminiscent of Suzuka, on the simulator I prepared myself for the fact that there will be lots of holes and dips. The car will be a little more aerodynamically unloaded and this obviously makes driving more fun. I'm back from my best weekend in Red Bull in Mexico, the goal is to continue like this".
In Texas, Carlos Sainz Jr. will also celebrate the milestone of 100 Grands Prix:
"It will be a special race for me, reaching such a prestigious milestone as the 100 Grands Prix at the age of 25 is certainly an honor, Formula 1 has always been my dream and already having so many starts behind me is very gratifying. In Mexico we experienced a nightmare Sunday and there is a great desire on the part of the whole team to redeem a result that is decidedly below expectations. The United States Grand Prix is one of the most beautiful races of the year, with these cars driving in the first sector is decidedly exhilarating and even being able to find the apex in Turn-1 is not easy. I can't wait to start preparing properly for qualifying and the race starting on Friday".
While his teammate, Lando Norris, says he's excited to race in Texas:
"Austin is one of my favourite tracks, I have been looking forward to racing there since I rode in FP1 a year ago. I want to put Mexico behind me and score important points for the drivers' standings and to close the accounts in the race for fourth place".
Regarding the previous race in Mexico, the British driver says:
"It wasn't a great race as a team, especially after qualifying, because we thought we had a chance to score points. There are quite obvious aspects, like the fact that my racing was compromised at the pit stop. These are simple problems to understand, but not easy to solve, at least that quickly. I'm not worried about pit stops, I've had some bad luck and it's the first time it's happened. We have some solutions in preparation that will be good for us. We are not worried about the temperatures on the track here in Austin, they will be similar to those of the Barcelona tests and the difficulty of getting the tires into the right window of use could be an advantage and not a disadvantage".
And finally, he takes stock of the 2019 season:
"I'm partially happy, not entirely. I didn't make any huge mistakes or crashes or stupid things. But as a driver I think everyone would answer the same way, because there is always room for improvement. I am 90% happy with the things done. There are small details to improve, such as making less confusion on the lap in qualifying, or making more progress on the set-up over the weekend. But I think I did a pretty good job, the year was pleasant and positive. In 2020 I want to start strong right from the first races".
Speaking of the future, the British driver admits:
"The key thing will be to have better races, with more chances for all the teams to fight. For the look, I would change the color, but other than that the cars aren't that bad, we've already seen some drawings. I don't mind them, the important thing will be to have good races, with the possibility of following who's ahead and creating more enjoyable GPs for us too, compared to the current ones. I think the regulation won't allow us to win races or get on the podium on a continuous basis, but it will certainly offer us better opportunities. I hope it will be an opportunity to rebalance the values on the grid and make the races more enjoyable both to watch and to race".
Although expectations were different, the season for the Haas team was disappointing. Team principal Guenther Steiner admits:
"The best news is that there are only three races left until the end of the season. In the long run, it is only good that we have identified a very important basic aerodynamic problem. With the seasonal rule change we went in the wrong direction. We didn't understand it right away and continued to get to a point where it is impossible to develop the car further. We are now at an impasse. We can keep trying like crazy, but no remedy will ever work with this project. Mechanically the car is good. Solid. The problem is all in the aerodynamics. I don't want to point the finger at anyone: the whole team is called into question, and a large part of the responsibility for the failure is mine. I take the blame for not having seen the lack of progress in the developments we have brought to the tracks".
On the eve of the United States Grand Prix, George Russell was also asked for his opinion on the single-seaters we will see from 2021:
"For me it's not important what the new cars look like, nor how fast. The important thing is that there are some hard-fought races. The weight is higher, and I think this isn't ideal for any of us. The Formula 3 cars were a lot of fun to drive, but they were lighter than the Formula 1s. Honestly though, that's enough to improve the chance to fight on the track".
The British driver prefers to talk about the improvements of the FW42 over the course of the season:
"The updates introduced on the car recently are more for 2020. We knew we couldn't get much performance from the current car, but they are very promising for next year. Overall, the car is certainly more driveable than at the beginning of the season. In the first rounds of 2019 it wasn't pleasant at all, even completing just one lap was complicated, but we worked a lot to improve the set-up and balance. To make the single-seater even more driveable we must now rely on the engineers at the factory, to be able to introduce more downforce".
And of his growth in driving skills:
"I'm happy with some things. I've gained experience, but not enough to understand certain dynamics, which you learn race after race: the tyres, the starts, it being very complicated to start from the back of the grid with all the cars in front, the management of the aerodynamic load. However, I believe that these are all things that have made me grow and that will make me a better rider next year".
Finally, Russell admits that he has Lewis Hamilton as a model from which to take an example:
"He has been an inspiration to me for a long time. Since I decided to become a Formula 1 driver I have always been inspired by him, and especially in recent years my respect for him has increased: Lewis not only relies on his natural talent, but also has great attention to detail , giving great importance to work with the team. By orbiting the Mercedes environment, I was able to better appreciate these aspects, and therefore my esteem for him has grown".
For this Grand Prix, the FIA establishes two zones for the activation of the Drag Reduction System: the first zone is located on the straight between turns 11 and 12, with a point for determining the gap between drivers established after turn 10; the second zone is fixed on the pit straight, with a detection point located after turn 18. While the former Formula 1 driver, the British Derek Warwick, is appointed assistant commissioner for the race. He has already performed this function in the past, most recently at the Italian Grand Prix. Pirelli, sole supplier of tyres, brings the C2, C3 and C4 compounds for this race. In the first two free practice sessions on Friday, the riders will be able to use next season's tyres. In particular, each driver will have two sets of the following season's C4 compound. Mario Isola, Pirelli Motorsport Director, says:
“Austin is always a very exciting race, both on and off the track. This year will also be particularly significant, because for the first time the teams will test the 2020 tires during free practice on Friday. Each driver will have two sets of the 2020 C4 compound at their disposal before testing the entire range during the two days of collective testing scheduled as always in Abu Dhabi after the Grand Prix. Austin is a particularly representative circuit due to the type of asphalt and the rather different corners, and is therefore particularly suitable for testing next year's tires for the first time".
Friday 1 November 2019 the situation of the track is critical, due to the presence of asphalt that is not in perfect condition. The drivers consider it dangerous to leave the pit lane due to the presence of a depression. This also forces the mechanics to lift the single-seaters off the ground. The fastest at the end of the first session is Max Verstappen, who precedes Sebastian Vettel by 0.169 seconds. In third place is the other Red Bull Racing driver, Alexander Albon. The two Anglo-Austrian cars tackle the session with more aggressive engine mapping than Ferrari did. In fourth place is Pierre Gasly on Toro Rosso, followed by Daniel Ricciardo and Romain Grosjean. Charles Leclerc closes with the seventh fastest time, penalized by problems first with the accelerator and then with the gearbox. In reality, the Monegasque would have obtained the second fastest time, however cutting the track, in the fastest lap, at turn 19. The sensors positioned by the FIA in the curve in question highlight the cut, canceling the time. A similar sanction is also envisaged for other various drivers. The Mercedes team uses the session to test the C4 compound tyres, foreseen by Pirelli for 2020, and for this reason Lewis Hamilton is eighth, while Valtteri Bottas is seventeenth. The Finn completes 40 laps with this new type of tyre, which are also tested by Sebastian Vettel. The only driver who doesn't try them is Lando Norris, from McLaren. Williams Racing test driver Nicholas Latifi only completes a few laps after his car engages neutral, without having the possibility of restarting it. At the end of the second free practice session the fastest is Lewis Hamilton.
The Briton, also taking advantage of the slipstream of another car, set a time of 1'33"232 on the Soft tyres, demonstrating a certain competitiveness also in the simulation of the race pace, when he uses the Medium and Hard tyres. This competitiveness is also confirmed by the performance of Valtteri Bottas who, however, does not go beyond the fifth fastest time in the qualifying simulation. Charles Leclerc follows in second place, ahead of Max Verstappen by a few thousandths of a second. The Ferraris are experiencing a certain difficulty in preserving the Soft tires , in the race simulation; Sebastian Vettel is also the author of a spin. The session was interrupted with a red flag, due to Romain Grosjean going off the track, in the sequence of corners in the first sector. At the end of practice, the Mexican driver of Racing Point, Sergio Pérez skipped the weight check of his car.As a result of this, the driver was cleared to start from the pit lane by the marshals.The track put a strain on many drivers who had had many spins, including Sebastian Vettel, Antonio Giovinazzi, Daniil Kvyat. Compared to the other circuits, the Texan track features many bumps and some problematic places such as the fast corners in the first sector, where there were indeed many off-track excursions. Lewis Hamilton complains that he suffered from severe headaches due to constant jolts. But he is not the only one: Max Verstappen, Sergio Perez and Nico Hulkenberg also express their dissent, while Daniel Ricciardo has a conflicting opinion:
“Some corners are quite hard on the body, but that adds character to the track. You are forced to be careful. It is certainly difficult, but it is a challenge. It's not like the other circuits. Now when we come to Austin we'll know what we're getting into and we'll know it won't be a walk in the park. Some modern circuits are far too perfect. I like tracks with some flaws. For now it's fine, I don't think there are points that are so extreme that we can't afford to drive. For now the cars don't fall apart, so everything is fine".
At the end of the day of testing, Charles Leclerc talks about the work done:
“I think the day was a good start to the weekend. To take stock, FP1 was ok, FP2 was less. We have to work for tomorrow, but Mercedes is stronger in terms of race pace. We have to try to improve the long run, while we are competitive in qualifying. We had problems with the Soft tyres, I encountered them especially on the rear, so we have to take the right steps especially for Sunday. Hamilton in particular was very strong today. Overall it was a good day. Despite the problem I had in the first session and my best time canceled by Race Direction, the car gave me good sensations, especially in the qualifying configuration. We still have to work to improve our race pace because we have seen that our rivals are already in place in this respect. Let's see what Saturday has in store for us. The track is quite bumpy, something unusual in Formula 1. But I'm sure that over the course of the weekend we will be able to adapt to this as well".
And Sebastian Vettel adds:
“It's always fun here in Austin, even if the track is probably not in the best shape given how many bumps there are. However it is like this, we can't help it and this makes everything a little more complicated for us. The car initially seemed good to me, and that's good, but then we tried some modifications that didn't go in the right direction. At least we understand what we need and I think we can improve on the fastest lap. As far as race pace is concerned, however, there is still a lot to do to be at the level of the rivals. We know our weaknesses and strengths: in qualifying our limits are less evident, while in race configuration we are more in difficulty. All in all, however, I'm confident we can improve a lot: we'll focus on our weaknesses and see what we can bring home".
As previously mentioned, Lewis Hamilton is among the drivers complaining about the track conditions:
“The track is very bumpy this year. Disconnections add character to a circuit, and so I'm not a fan of perfectly smooth circuits. But this time they're really huge. The problem for the riders is that we don't have much suspension, they don't move much and we feel every little bump, with the spine absorbing all the compression. The bumps were a big problem in the first free practice, but we made some set-up changes and in the afternoon I felt more comfortable. I can't wait to get out on track, I love this track in general and the car handled quite well. However, we still have a lot of work to do, we'll get to the bottom of the data to be stronger on Saturday".
While Valtteri Bottas talks about the work done in anticipation of next season:
"The morning was all about development for 2020, so the lap times weren't representative. We focused on the new tyres, which are very interesting. It was very cold, which is why it was very difficult to warm up the tires enough to get them to work. In certain areas of the track the bumps were very big, for example through turns 5 and 6, which are high speed. If the car doesn't have a stable rear here, it's quite difficult to push it to the limit. Braking into turn 1 isn't easy with these bumps, because you have to modulate very precisely. The difference between the top teams is minimal, and I personally struggled in the afternoon, losing time on the straights. I didn't feel right with the car, so we'll have to work to regain confidence".
Even the technical director of Mercedes, James Allison, confirms what was expressed by Valtteri Bottas:
"We worked hard throughout the day, taking advantage of the two extra sets of tires with the 2020 construction. The whole first session was dedicated to these tire prototypes, and we tried to get a good feeling especially regarding the differences with the current tire; the hope is that we have collected sufficient preliminary data. In the afternoon we moved on to our usual work and we are satisfied with the pace achieved. In particular, Lewis had an excellent session both with a full tank and in qualifying configuration, on all the tires tested. Valtteri, on the other hand, wasn't so lucky, especially on the flying lap since he wasn't able to take advantage of any slipstream; on the race pace, however, he felt much better. We think we can reproduce these good performances on the flying lap also on Saturday afternoon".
McLaren's Spanish driver, Carlos Sainz Jr., had to face some unexpected difficulties:
"I think we'll have a harder time finding the right balance this weekend: it took us longer than usual to reach a better compromise. All in all we still managed to build a decent foundation. We expect an intense fight to reach the top ten, it will be a difficult challenge but we will make sure to maximize our chances. It was a different Friday than usual for us, being able to test the new tires for next year. Unfortunately, my first impression of these tires wasn't very positive".
And it wasn't an easy day for Lando Norris either:
"A complicated day with all those bumps, much worse than last year. Currently it is very easy to lose the front wheels and flatten. However we have taken a good direction to follow for the day on Saturday. We are there with the others on the pace, all very close. It will be a matter of putting together a good lap and seeing where it can take us, so there will be a lot of work to do".
The Performance Director of the McLaren team, Andrea Stella, concludes by saying:
"Today was a busy day. In addition to the classic program, we experimented with the 2020 tires and carried out some specific internal tests for next season. In general the sessions went as planned without delays and major problems, and we are happy with our work. Based on the results, it looks like it will be another weekend where the teams we fight with will all be very close. Our intention is to get into Q3 and score points on Sunday, but to do that we will really need to extract the maximum performance from our car".
It was undoubtedly a more productive day for Toro Rosso and in particular for Pierre Gasly:
"We had an excellent day of testing, finishing in fourth and seventh position in the two sessions. I had a great feeling with the car and I'm happy with the set-up found in FP1 and FP2. We were able to get the car to where I wanted it to be, so I'm happy with that. There will be slightly different conditions tomorrow, so we need to make sure we can achieve similar performance by anticipating all the changes to bring the car to a similar position over the next couple of days as well. I really like driving on this track, it's quite particular: it has fast corners, and that's what I like about a circuit".
While for Daniil Kvyat:
"It was a normal Friday where we completed our program and managed to do the laps we wanted. There are a couple of corners where I can improve, so things should go well".
A regular day also for Daniel Ricciardo:
"The morning session was quite smooth. while in the afternoon it seemed that others had found a little more pace. We are not far away and I am sure we will be able to find something more. We will go through everything to find out what areas we can improve on, but I think it will be small things. It's nice to ride here again, it's a great track, even if it's very cold. Of course today everyone was talking about the bumps, but I prefer it like this, rather than completely smooth. It all adds up to the fun factor and challenge".
And for Nico Hulkenberg:
"Our long run simulations went well, however, with low fuel load, it was difficult to find the pace. We hope to strike a balance, but overall, the overall performance isn't too bad. The mid-deployment themes are all looking fast again, so it's going to be about pulling everything out and being on top. The track is quite bumpy, but this gives it some character and makes it interesting in places. It's part of the Austin challenge and we have to face it".
A crash into the barriers on lap two in second free practice prevented Romain Grosjean from being able to complete the work program scheduled for the afternoon session.
"FP1 was good. The car seemed to have a lot of grip, maybe because I drove NASCAR yesterday, and when I got back into a Formula car I thought I had more grip. It was a good session, I'm happy about it. We made some changes to the car during FP2. and in hindsight we haven't had the improvement we hoped for. The conditions are not easy, there are many bumps, but it is also quite beautiful. We will take the positive aspects from the first free probes. Obviously we haven't had the chance to do a race pace simulation, but we'll take whatever Kevin (Magnussen) did and apply it to our car".
Nothing exceptional, however, for Kevin Magnussen:
"FP1 was decent. We knew we had a big test schedule in FP2, so we tried to start straight away with the qualifying simulations during the first free practice. We wanted to get some insight into balancing the single-seaters. So in this afternoon's session we did a lot of aero tests. So, we're not concerned about the timing, we saw how it went this morning, which was more representative of our actual pace. We are probably just outside the top ten. It would be nice to find more, and actually be in the top ten, but we're all very close, so we'll just have to try and see what we can do tomorrow".
Lance Stroll proved to be more at ease in the corners of the Austin track than his teammate Sergio Perez, setting the ninth fastest time in both sessions.
"It was a very solid day and I immediately found the pace. The balance of the car was good, both for the flying lap simulations and for the race pace simulations, so we'll see what happens tomorrow. It is a track where a little creativity is allowed: it is very wide, so there are more lines, particularly in the intermediate sector. It all depends on the car and obviously on the driver's preferences. It's generally a pretty rough track, there are two or three big bumps that are really upsetting the cars, but it's something we all have to deal with. It's not good for the engine either, which in this way suffers large rev peaks. I don't think there is a quick fix for this year, but I hope things will improve at the next round. It was good to test the 2020 tyres, but it's too early to draw any conclusions, we need to get more data".
For Sergio Perez, however, the tests have not reflected the initial hopes:
"The track conditions today were extremely difficult and several riders had big problems with the bumps. I struggled to find the right balance on the car, so I have to try and improve it for tomorrow. Lance was much stronger – not just on the flying lap but also on the long run, so hopefully I can catch him tomorrow and be in contention for Q3. It's very important to improve my race pace, because that's where the points are awarded".
A gearbox problem compromised Nicholas Latifi's session.
"Today the conditions were difficult, the track was beautiful but very bumpy, so I preferred not to take any risks. Unfortunately, I only had two laps due to a gearbox problem. It's an incredible track to drive on, even with the few laps I've done. All in all, it was very enjoyable".
While for Robert Kubica the extreme conditions of the circuit represented a major limitation:
"The conditions were quite extreme, because of the bumps. We focused a lot on the simulations with next year's Pirelli tyres, evaluating the handling and the impact on aerodynamics. It was my first time at COTA and driving a Formula 1 car here is a great feeling. It's one of the best modern tracks on the calendar".
Finally, George Russell says he enjoyed racing at the Austin circuit:
"I really enjoyed driving around this circuit, it has a nice layout and felt very fast, even though our pace came out as expected by the team. The track is bumpy, but that didn't affect my simulations too much. It wasn't ideal but it added more character to the track and I can't wait to get back on track at the weekend. As a side comment, I'd like to wish the England players the best of luck in the Rugby World Cup final".
On Saturday 2 November 2019, at the end of FP3, Max Verstappen, on Soft tyres, set a time higher than Friday's best performance, but managed to be the fastest. The track feels slower, even in the presence of higher asphalt and air temperatures. The Red Bull Racing driver is 0.2 seconds ahead of Sebastian Vettel. Lando Norris, with McLaren, manages to precede the two Mercedes drivers, Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton. Charles Leclerc was forced to abandon the session right from the start due to a problem with the power unit. A unit already used will be refitted on his car, in order to avoid incurring a penalty on the starting grid. During the afternoon, in Q1, the first driver to set a reference time was Alexander Albon, who however was beaten almost immediately by several drivers. Lewis Hamilton takes the lead (1'33"454), followed by Max Verstappen, less than 0.1 seconds away. Sebastian Vettel does two warm-up laps before trying to set the time, while Charles Leclerc, who missed the third practice session free due to a technical problem, he uses the first minutes to regain confidence with the track.It constantly improves in the last minutes of the session, which leads to big changes in the standings. Lando Norris takes the lead, while Daniel Ricciardo climbs to sixth, then beaten by Kevin Magnussen. Romain Grosjean recovers thirteenth, as Lance Stroll, who climbs back to ninth place. George Russell also climbs, up to sixteenth place. Pierre Gasly, who came out of the top fifteen positions, finally obtains the fourth fastest time. The two drivers are eliminated of Alfa Romeo, Antonio Giovinazzi and Kimi Raikkonen, the two of Williams, George Russell and Robert Kubica, and Sergio Pérez, who in any case will start from the pit line.Ferrari and Mercedes use the Medium tires in Q2, which will be the one to use even at the start of the race. With an improving track, that doesn't guarantee that a first attempt will be enough to qualify for the deciding stage. Lewis Hamilton set a time of 1'33"045, ahead of his teammate, Valtteri Bottas, and Sebastian Vettel by 0.1 seconds. The other Scuderia Ferrari driver, Charles Leclerc, subsequently moved up to third place. Max Verstappen opted for Medium tyres, unlike Carlos Sainz Jr., fourth, but with the Soft compound.
Pierre Gasly stops 0.6 seconds behind, while Lando Norris follows 0.2 seconds behind. The Dutch Red Bull Racing driver is only 0.075 seconds behind Lewis Hamilton, before his teammate, Alexander Albon, on Soft tyres, set the best performance, lapping in 1'32"898. Lance Stroll is the first to take to the track to make a new attempt, as is Kevin Magnussen: however, the two do not improve. Lando Norris does better, rising to seventh place. Even Romain Grosjean does not improve, and remains among those eliminated. Carlos Sainz Jr. rises to eighth position, and Nico Hülkenberg also enters the top ten. The Ferraris improved further, while Lewis Hamilton, who was attempting a lap on Soft tyres, decided to abandon the attempt, also because, in the penultimate corner, he risked an accident with Max Verstappen. With the flag exposed Daniel Ricciardo improves, eliminating his teammate; Pierre Gasly also comes back among the qualifiers. The two Haas of Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen, Nico Hülkenberg, Daniil Kvjat and Lance Stroll are eliminated. Carlos Sainz Jr. and Pierre Gasly are the first to take to the track in Q3. However, Lewis Hamilton takes the lead, with a time of 1'32"321. Immediately after comes Valtteri Bottas who, with a time of 1'32"029, also sets the track record. Sebastian Vettel finished the lap just 0.012 seconds behind the Finn, while Max Verstappen in third was 0.162 seconds behind. Charles Leclerc pushes Lewis Hamilton into fifth place, while Alex Albon sets the sixth fastest time. Daniel Ricciardo makes only one attempt, and closes the practice setting the eighth fastest time. The track seems to improve in a not so evident way, as happened in Q1. During the second attempt Max Verstappen makes a mistake in the first sector, contrary to Sebastian Vettel, who improves in the first part. Lando Norris takes eighth position. Vettel improves again, in the second sector, but not in the third, and closes qualifying in second place.
Not even Charles Leclerc and Lewis Hamilton improve, author of an error in the lap. Thus, Valtteri Bottas conquers his eleventh pole position, thus interrupting a streak of six consecutive pole position starts for Ferrari. Mercedes confirms its unbeaten run for five years in qualifying at the Austin track. For Sebastian Vettel it is the 100th start in the front row. Valtteri Bottas gets the fifth pole of the season, and at the end of qualifying he expresses all his satisfaction:
"I'm happy, I put together a great lap. Yesterday was complicated, many things didn't work on the car but we analyzed the data and managed to improve. Today we focused on the details and we managed to achieve this performance. To be honest, we lacked a bit of grip in the first sector, so I'm happy that nobody managed to do better despite that. It's been quite some time since we started from pole, so it's a good feeling. I knew before qualifying that the car had the potential to fight for the front row, I just had to put in a good lap. I am very satisfied with my first lap in Q3. It wasn't perfect, but good enough to get us pole. It's always an advantage to start from pole. Now is the time to try and keep the lead at the start tomorrow. Our long runs looked good yesterday so hopefully we can get a good result in the race".
Sebastian Vettel, second by just 0.012 seconds, is satisfied:
"First of all, congratulations to Valtteri. I'm satisfied with qualifying, even if we were missing something. In the last attempt I lost a bit on the straight, but overall I did two good laps. Let's hope to start well tomorrow and then we'll see. The straight here is long, sure, but not that much, and then it's uphill… We'll all start on Medium tyres, so no one up front will have an advantage in the first stint: we'll all be on equal terms. We will see, it will be a long race".
With this second position, Sebastian Vettel celebrates his 100th front row in Formula 1:
"The front row isn't bad here, as demonstrated by Kimi's departure last year. It will be important to get everything right at the start and make no mistakes with the tire strategy. We saw last Sunday that sometimes the risk pays off, so we'll make all the necessary assessments before the start. In terms of race pace, we weren't in place on Friday but I think the car made progress today in all respects, so let's see what the values will be in the race in the Grand Prix".
Verstappen was also very fast, but he stopped 0.067 seconds off the Finnish driver's time.
"We are competitive, it is a good result for us. We were all very close together so it's shaping up to be an interesting race. Normally on Sunday we are faster, also seeing how last year went. This gives us hope for tomorrow. Let's wait and see what happens".
Lewis Hamilton was unable to go beyond fourth position, due to a mistake by him:
"Qualifying was quite bad, but that's how it went. You can't always win, Valtteri did a great job, congratulations to him. I wasn't fit enough today, he has nothing to do with the car. It's about me, I didn't put in any good laps today. Clearly the car had the ability to be up front and I just couldn't. It was my mistake".
The British driver also minimized the moment of tension experienced on the track in Q2 with Max Verstappen and Daniil Kvyat:
"I was trying to keep the tyre temperatures high and we had a little contact but nothing big. I'm honestly not thinking about winning the title right now, I'm just trying to digest what just happened and I need some time".
Regarding the episode that happened in Q2, Daniil Kvjat says:
"The misunderstanding with Max and Lewis? I don't know, it seemed so stupid to me. What's the point... they were already inside and they're having this fight, useless. I don't know… like kids really. My tires were very cold afterwards, because I had to brake and jump. Despite this though, it was a very good round. Then I went out at turn 19, but just a little. The ride was really good though. All weekend the car sucked, then on the last lap it got good".
Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff prefers to talk about the qualifying result:
"It was a very close qualifying, with more cars in the space of a few tenths. It's nice to be on pole again, I missed that. It's a shame for Lewis. We need to see what we can do strategically. With aggressive tactics he can still compete for the win. I think it was a good thing that the FIA directive was published. This is a clarification of what can be done. It is good that the Red Bull request has been made public. Both for Red Bull and for us... It is important that it has been published. So, we'll see".
Even the Scuderia Ferrari team principal, Mattia Binotto, prefers to talk about the qualifying results, emphasizing that the Maranello team preferred to work ahead of the Grand Prix:
"We come from many consecutive pole positions, we want to fight for it at every track, we hoped to extend the series. It was very tight, I think Bottas did a fantastic last lap and a fantastic last sector. The difference was as subtle as it has been in previous ones. So it's also not surprising that it's not always a Ferrari that takes pole and rightly so. Nice for sport, it was a tight qualifying. Now let's try to reverse the trend. Starting up front hasn't been good for us in the last few races, who knows we might do better tomorrow instead. The race is long, we also saw it in Mexico. It's not that always being behind is a disadvantage. What will count will be the race pace. Tire degradation. Compared to yesterday we improved, we got ready for the race. Charles has also gained confidence with the car and will be able to do a good race".
After Valtteri Bottas took pole position, everyone is wondering if the request expressed by Red Bull Racing to the FIA has slowed down the Ferrari power units. In fact, the Anglo-Austrian team had forwarded a request to the Federation on Tuesday 22 October 2021, asking if it was possible to circumvent the measurement of the petrol flow in a complex way, by injecting fuel at times when the sensor does not detect the data. Red Bull Racing consultant Helmut Marko reveals the secret:
"Ferrari's lead had simply become too obvious. That's why we asked for clarity".
Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff does not detect any unfair moves by the Red Bull Racing team:
"It is a standard procedure, and this time the response from the FIA was clear".
Naturally, the question also arises after qualifying, and Wolff replies:
"The three cars on the straights were closer together than they were before. But I can't say for sure why".
Helmut Marko is a little clearer:
"Our delay from Ferrari on the straight wasn't so bad, on the long straight only three or four tenths. Yesterday they were double".
But if you analyze the data compared to Mexico, Ferrari's advantage has not been drastically reduced. It could also be that Scuderia Ferrari has opted for more downforce to make the tires work better. GPS data shows the Maranello cars are still fastest on all the straights at Austin, 0.53 seconds better than Mercedes, 0.6 seconds better than Red Bull Racing. Half of that measured the previous day. In any case, Lewis Hamilton also clarifies his thoughts:
"Ferrari is still better than us on the straights, but seems to have lost some power compared to before. It will be interesting to see if this continues".
As for Lando Norris, far from topics involving Ferrari, Mercedes and Red Bull, the day was positive and the Briton qualified in eighth position:
"The day went well for us compared to where we were yesterday, I think we've made good progress. The wind helped us and we took advantage of it but tomorrow it will be back to the way it was yesterday. Seventh and eighth places are good for us. We have to stay focused only on ourselves and not repeat another Mexico".
Carlos Sainz Jr. is also happy with the result obtained in practice:
"I'm very happy, the two laps in Q3 were amazing. Suddenly I found two or three tenths more from myself and the car than I expected to be able to have. When it did 32.8 it felt really good. It's a crazy time to do it here, we really got close to last year's pole. I think McLaren has made huge strides. The car gets excited for some reason with the tailwind, but it's going back in the other direction tomorrow, so that will have a bit of an influence on us. We have to keep our heads down and analyze so as not to repeat another Mexico".
After many difficulties, Daniel Ricciardo finally managed to enter Q3 and qualify in ninth place:
"We had some difficult weeks in qualifying, where I wasn't too happy with myself, but this time it went much better. I pulled everything I could out of the car. In the race I will stick out my horns and try to move forward. We'll start with the soft tyre, which is perhaps not the best tire to start the race with, but that's the way it is. We are on the clean side of the grid, so we will try to make up positions from there and carry on with our heads down".
While Nico Hulkenberg had to stop in Q2, and will start from the eleventh position:
"We weren't good enough to go to Q3. I lacked a bit of pace, a bit of harmony in the car and I wasn't able to get that last tenth out which would have allowed me to move on to the third session. However, I'm happy with my laps, that's how we take them. Eleventh is a good starting position and we have a certain freedom on strategy, which sometimes becomes an advantage. In the race, I'll be ready to attack and fight".
The main Alfa Romeo team, Frederic Vasseur, is on the other hand surprised by the result of his drivers in qualifying, after the good sensations transmitted by the tests carried out on Friday:
"We made some big steps forward this morning and we were confident for qualifying. Losing both races in Q1 is therefore disappointing, even if the gaps were very small and every tenth lost here and there would have advanced us to Q2. It won't be easy to start from the rear, but we'll try to recover as much as possible and do our best, taking advantage of every opportunity that presents itself".
And Kimi Raikkonen confirms:
"It's disappointing to go out in Q1 after a good morning session. I crashed in Turn 12 which cost me at least three tenths, which would have brought me up four or five places and into Q2. Without the mistake I would have easily passed the cut. We have a lot of work to do now, we will try to do our best".
Even Antonio Giovinazzi admits that the team expected a completely different result:
"We expected a lot more for today, especially after a FP3 where we looked pretty good and in the end I missed a place in Q2 by a very small margin, less than a tenth. Starting from behind the race will be difficult. We need to figure out how to maximize our race pace and believe in ourselves, and we'll see what that leads to".
However, the good momentum of Pierre Gasly continues, as he once again managed to get into Q3:
"I felt strong in the car this weekend. We were in the top ten in all the sessions which was nice. We made it to Q3 for three races in a row so we can be happy. I am satisfied with today's performance and I like the way the team works. Sunday is the day that counts, and we hope to be able to continue the points series useful for the constructors' championship. Our race pace was good on Friday, but the McLarens are quick and the Renaults look strong too, so I expect a very tough battle. Starting on the Soft tire is clearly not ideal, as we are in the same situation as Mexico, but I think that if we have a good first stint we can hope to score some points".
While his teammate, Daniil Kvyat, continues to face more problems than the French driver:
"I had problems with the car all weekend but when we got to Q2 the car improved. I'm happy with the laps I put in in the second qualifying heat, as it was a good recovery from a difficult weekend, and it's a nice confidence booster to be able to find a good pace when it matters most. It's a shame my last lap got cancelled, but rules are rules. During the Grand Prix we will do our best from thirteenth position, and I think it can be a good race. This year I have always felt more performing on Sundays, so I hope I can extract a good performance from the car".
The return to the aerodynamic specifications tested in FP1, during the last free practice on the cars of Magnussen and Grosjean, gave the desired results, but the higher temperatures expected in the race could ruin the Haas team's expectations. Admits Kevin Magnussen:
"It wasn't a bad afternoon, it could have been worse. We are just outside the top ten, with the free choice of tires for the GP. I don't know if it's an advantage, we'll find out, I haven't thought much about it yet. But I'm quite happy with qualifying in terms of personal and team performance. We improved over the weekend and had some pretty tough aero tests - that upset the weekend a bit, but we did a good job with what we had".
And Romain Grosjean adds:
"I think we got the most out of the car by finishing fifteenth in both Q1 and Q2. We had a complicated weekend, with a car that was excellent in FP1, then worsened in FP2 due to a different aero package that had big problems at high speeds. We then went back to the first free practice package in FP3, and unfortunately I had some problems with the rear wing. We therefore had to modify some specifications in view of the qualifications. I was losing something like half a second on the flying lap, there wasn't much I could do. We'll see what happens in the race. If it's warmer, they might work better for the tyres, but right now we lack a lot of top speed".
Lance Stroll confirms the good performance shown in free practice also during qualifying, entering Q2 and setting the fourteenth fastest time.
"Q1 went well, but in Q2 I got stuck in turn 1 and that compromised the rest of the lap, which is a shame. I would have liked to be in the top ten. But that can happen in qualifying when you push yourself to the limit, and the gaps between the mid-field cars are so tight that a small mistake can cost you a couple of places on the grid. Now we focus on the race: I hope to be able to gain some positions at the start and compete for points".
The penalty imposed on Sergio Perez, on the other hand, nullifies any attack on the Mexican's fastest lap, who will start the race from the pit lane.
"After missing the weigh-in on Friday, I will be forced to start the race from the pit lane. It's a real shame, but I'm determined to make up for the disappointment with a strong performance. We have prepared the car totally for Sunday so hopefully that will pay off. We will also try to make a difference with the new power unit, to fight hard and see what we can achieve".
The better weather conditions gave the FW42 greater stability, allowing George Russell to complete qualifying without any particular problems.
"I really enjoy riding here, especially now that the conditions have improved and it's warmer. As expected by the team, at the moment we are further away than normal because this track is not suitable for our car. Getting the tires into the optimum window on an evolving circuit is a challenge, however it was a good lap. In the race I will try to have fun and collect as much information as possible for next year".
As happened to Robert Kubica, even if the car does not allow him to go beyond the twentieth and last potion:
"The track is really nice to drive, and Austin is probably the best of the modern circuits. FP3 and my last attempt in qualifying were positive, but the gap to George is big. We made some changes before qualifying to help our race pace, so hopefully it pays off. Overall, everything went well".
Sunday 3 November 2019, at the start of the United States Grand Prix, Valtteri Bottas maintains the lead of the race, while Sebastian Vettel, who started second, was immediately passed by Max Verstappen, at the first corner. During the first lap, the German driver was also passed by Charles Leclerc, Lewis Hamilton and Lando Norris. For a contact with Carlos Sainz Jr., Alexander Albon is forced to stop in the pits to replace the tires. Sebastian Vettel suffers handling problems, and is also overtaken by Daniel Ricciardo. The German driver's race ends on the seventh lap when, due to the failure of the right rear suspension, after passing over a curb, the driver is forced to retire.
"It was very difficult to get the car to work. I had no grip on the first lap and I had to let many people pass without being able to resist. I struggled a lot to get the tires working and cornering and then the suspension broke. I had done many laps in free practice, even several long runs, without any problems. I do not know what happened. Motor? No, I don't think that's it. I think it's a more structural issue than the rear suspension. We will now look into and see what happened, but evidently something went wrong".
On the ninth lap Daniel Ricciardo passes Lando Norris, for fifth place. Valtteri Bottas maintains the lead of the race, with an advantage of about two seconds on Max Verstappen, 3.5 seconds on Lewis Hamilton and over 12.5 seconds on Charles Leclerc. On lap thirteen, Max Verstappen, now pressed by Lewis Hamilton, stops in the pits to change tyres. The Dutchman switches to using the Hard tyres. The same action is carried out, during lap 14, by Valtteri Bottas. Lewis Hamilton takes the lead of the race. The Briton precedes Charles Leclerc, Valtteri Bottas and Max Verstappen. The Finnish driver overtook Charles Leclerc on lap fifteen, taking second place. Shortly afterwards, the Monegasque also gave the position to Max Verstappen. Valtteri Bottas tries to reduce the gap from Lewis Hamilton, who continues on the same tyres. On lap 19 Lando Norris pitted, and on lap 20 Charles Leclerc also made a pit stop and restarted on Hard tyres. The Monegasque's pit stop lasted over seven seconds, forcing him to rejoin the track in sixth place, behind the two Renaults. The tire change made by Daniel Ricciardo and the overtaking on Nico Hülkenberg allow Charles Leclerc to return to fourth place. On lap 23, Valtteri Bottas catches up with Lewis Hamilton, who returns to the pits to mount Hard tyres. The Briton returns to the track behind Max Verstappen. On lap 25 Carlos Sainz Jr. passes Nico Hülkenberg, and is seventh, behind Lando Norris. Alexander Albon also climbs from the rear who, on lap 31, catches up with and passes Carlos Sainz Jr.. Between laps 34 and 35, both Max Verstappen and Valtteri Bottas stop in the pits. For both riders, the mechanics are mounting Medium tires.
Lewis Hamilton returns to the lead, trying to get to the end of the race with just one stop. In two laps, between number 35 and 37, Alex Albon overtook Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo, moving up to fifth position. The Thai made his second pit stop to change tires on lap 41, and dropped back to ninth position. Charles Leclerc, who has a wide margin over his pursuers, pits for the second time on lap 42. Soft tires are mounted on the Monegasque's car. Therefore, the Ferrari driver sets the fastest lap during lap number 44. Alex Albon, in a few laps, passes Pierre Gasly, Carlos Sainz Jr. and Daniel Ricciardo, and returns to fifth position. In the final laps Lewis Hamilton slowed down due to the deterioration of tire grip and was caught up and passed by Valtteri Bottas on lap 52. Max Verstappen also approached the Briton, but could not pass him as, at the end of the long straight second sector, the yellow flags are displayed for Kevin Magnussen's exit from the track. Valtteri Bottas wins the United States Grand Prix and takes his seventh career race, while Lewis Hamilton takes his sixth World Drivers' Championship, the third in a row. For the Briton it is also the 150th podium in the history of the World Championship. In third position concludes Max Verstappen, followed by Charles Leclerc, an incredible Ales Albon, Daniel Ricciardo, Lando Norris, Carlos Sainz Jr., Nico Hulkenberg, and Sergio Perez, given that Daniil Kvjat was penalized by five seconds on the race time and one point on the Superlicense for a contact with Sergio Pérez. The Russian, tenth on arrival, climbs to twelfth position. Lewis Hamilton confirms himself among the greatest drivers of the sport, overtaking Juan Manuel Fangio, moving to just one title from Michael Schumacher.
Lewis Hamilton is determined to break every record, and being still young he is ready to enter the new era expected in 2021 as a winner. Even if it is the sixth victory of the Formula 1 World Championship, the sensations one feels are always new, and with a moved voice the new World Champion thanks all the people who have helped him achieve this goal:
"It's overwhelming if I'm being honest. Yesterday was a complicated day for us. Valtteri has done a fantastic job, congratulations to him, absolutely. Today I just wanted to make a comeback to give this moment to the team. I didn't think the one-stop race was possible but I put in as much effort as possible. I feel so many emotions at the moment. I have my whole team here... to all the people who are in the factory, my mother, my father, my stepmother, my adoptive father, my uncle Giorgio and all the family who watch me from home: it's an honor to be at the level of the riders which you mentioned. My father taught me never to give up when I was six or seven years old. It's basically my family motto and I pushed as hard as I could. I was hoping to give them a win but it wasn't possible, unfortunately the tires were finished. How many titles can I get to? I don't know how many championships, but as an athlete I feel fresh as hell at the moment. I am ready for the next race and we will definitely not give up and keep pushing in the next races. I have to thank all the LH team that follows me around the world and all the people who came here making this weekend as special as it is. Thanks to all the British, American fans with the British flags who supported me all weekend".
And he continues:
"It's hard to say if this is the best looking title, all six were totally different and the journey to reach each one was totally different. Right now I feel wonderful. We had an incredible race, ended with one double: Valtteri did a great job today, but starting fifth and leading until a few laps from the end when the tires collapsed is something that no one had foreseen and which makes me very proud for how i drove. When I set off today I wanted the race to be like this. I didn't want to finish eighth and win the Championship like this, staying on the sidelines of the race. I wanted to win in a way that I think is as close as possible to a champion's performance and I wanted to do it like this. And in the end I succeeded, also thanks to the strategy which was fantastic and allowed us to get this one-two finish. Right now I'm really very proud for everyone. At the moment I don't realize I'm just one title away from Michael Schumacher, I can't realize it, I can't believe it. I still remember when I was standing in the chair watching the Grands Prix and now I'm a six time world champion, I'm up there with the greats. I still feel like a normal guy from Stevenage. It's really bizarre to be here competing in this sport, which has been my life and has given me a purpose in life, I'm really, really grateful to this sport for all of that".
The celebrations in the Mercedes pits involve everyone, given that the Anglo-German team took the ninth one-two of the season and the seventh victory for Valtteri Bottas. The Finn conquered the first place with determination, proving flawless since Saturday.
"I'm satisfied, it's a great victory. I feel good. It has been very good sensations since yesterday in the car. We have a competitive package in the race, I'm very happy with this win. I could have concentrated only on this weekend, trying to do it in the best possible way to maybe keep the world championship open, but clearly it wasn't enough and Lewis won the title. I wasn't sure what the best strategy would be. Luckily though my pace was quite good and I was able to make the two-stop race work which wasn't planned at the start, and also hit some traffic. I failed my personal goal this year, but there is always next year. For me, he deserved this year because he had a fantastic season".
After that, Valtteri Bottas congratulates Lewis Hamilton:
"First of all I have to congratulate Lewis, he has been very strong all season and deserves to win the championship. Putting together six world titles is a real feat. Beating him isn't easy, he has few weaknesses, almost never makes mistakes and is really consistent in driving throughout the championship. However, I am satisfied with my season, I had really positive moments and this gives me great energy for 2020. For example, in the past I had never been able to be effective in Austin, and instead this year I took pole position and won the race. It wasn't easy to beat Max and Lewis and this makes this win even tastier".
Mercedes principal team Toto Wolff can only be proud of his team:
"I'm really proud. I am proud of every person who has contributed to our success. One rider who wins the race and the other who wins the championship, there couldn't be a better script. We decided to let them race against each other and we will continue like this next year. Lewis seems really motivated and he wants to win every single race. He always wants more and we need to give him the best car. It's a perfect day for us. The two strategies were ultimately very close. The only chance for Lewis to win was the single stop and it worked, because he started fifth and finished second: he can be satisfied".
The Austrian manager also talks about the evolution of Lewis Hamilton over the years:
"He is a completely different person, much more mature, a perfect teammate for all of us. That's why I like working with him. But he's not just one important person, or a few people, he's always the whole team. There are many people who are not seen who work a lot. For that I am happy for the whole team. Everything we have in the package has worked, between the speed of the car, the work of the team, the management of the weekend, we have done everything ok. We haven't made many mistakes, just once at Hockenheim, and scoring points is an important aspect".
And finally, he comments on Sebastian Vettel's gesture of fair play, who congratulated the British driver after the race:
"All riders are different, Sebastian is always a very kind one. I don't know if the other way around it would have happened".
The real disappointment comes once again from the performance of Scuderia Ferrari. A disappointment aggravated by a situation that was not understood even by Charles Leclerc, aboard the SF90:
"I honestly don't understand what went wrong in the first stint. I usually have an idea of what went wrong, but this time I really don't have an explanation. We have to analyze the tires well, as I said on the radio in the car. I had no grip especially on the front left. One tire was not working as expected, we need to focus our analysis on that. On the other two sets we didn't go so badly, but still we struggled a lot today. It certainly wasn't an ideal situation, but the gap we saw today certainly doesn't depend on that. We struggled a bit like in Hungary. Or at least, I had this feeling in the car. It's certainly something stranger than in Budapest, because there the difficulties were seen from the first to the last stint".
Max Verstappen was competitive in practice but slower in the race, although in the closing laps he managed to get close to Lewis Hamilton. His race was compromised by a floor problem. To make known this important detail is the team principal of Red Bull Racing, Christian Horner:
"We had damage to the front wing endplate after contact in the first stint, and then damage to the underbody at the rear, which we don't know about, whether it was caused by that contact or when he went wide on the first lap. The fact is that from the 5th lap we noticed a lack of downforce, and there was a considerable hole in the bottom".
While Max Verstappen complains about the strategy:
"The strategy didn't work, but we did the best we could. The Mercedes was a little quicker than us today. I tried to give everything and hope that something would happen, but we have nothing to recriminate. It was a good race. It was fun because anyway I saw the Mercedes in front of me and we had good pace. Finally, there was the yellow flag and I couldn't use the drs. We could have gotten second place. I was having trouble with the car, due to strong understeer. Initially, I was told it was due to a problem with my slightly damaged front wing, but after the race I looked at the car, and noticed that there was a large chunk missing from the floor in front of a rear tyre. So, that cost me precious time in the race".
He continues the Dutchman:
"It was a good race, but we were a little short on speed to really be able to attack the Mercedes. Unfortunately we couldn't fight against each other, but Lewis must be congratulated because he is very consistent, he doesn't make many mistakes. This is the way to win championships. And then their team, which has been so strong for many years. This too is extraordinarily impressive. Great result for both Lewis and his team".
Verstappen is adamant that there is a link between the FIA directive relating to the power unit released on Saturday, and the poor performance of the two Ferraris over the weekend:
"This is what happens when you stop cheating. These aspects have now been examined very carefully, but we must continue to keep an eye on the situation".
However, the Scuderia Ferrari team principal, Mattia Binotto, responds firmly:
"I read a lot of considerations during this weekend and also after the race, and I find several statements really disappointing. They are completely wrong and are not good for this sport. It is good that there was a clarification, but we have not even read it in its entirety. It had no impact on our race performance. In the past, other teams had a technical advantage, but nobody pointed the finger at them. If we have an advantage in terms of power units, it's because we've worked hard. It would simply be correct if some comments had not been made".
Tensions between Red Bull Racing and Scuderia Ferrari escalate at the end of the United States Grand Prix, when Mattia Binotto looks for Christian Horner in his motorhome. After the Grand Prix, British journalists interviewed Christian Horner and tension rose when Mattia Binotto passed in front of the group, glancing at the British manager. Mattia Binotto then returns to the pits, only to reappear a few minutes later. When Christian Horner greets the journalists, Mattia Binotto enters the Red Bull Racing hospitality and looks for the team principal. A rather clear and frank exchange of views begins between the two. The Italian manager speaks of legal actions but Christian Horner replies, saying that he has only expressed an opinion regarding the alleged case relating to the incorrect use of the flowmeter. The level of the discussion becomes more tense, then Mattia Binotto nods and leaves the hospitality of Red Bull Racing. The Scuderia Ferrari team principal has denied the hypothesis that the cars from Maranello use an illegal system, but it is a fact that the single-seaters of Leclerc and Vettel did not express themselves in Austin as happened in the recent past. In the discussion - in which the deafening silence of Red Bull Racing will be noticed later - Toyoharu Tanabe, Honda F1 manager intervenes, who says:
"We need data from Brazil and Abu Dhabi to get a clear picture. Only then will we find out something, but to date we can't say anything about the Austin race. We can't distinguish how far downforce has been and how far power unit performance has been. The gap between us and Ferrari in terms of top speed was smaller than in previous races. This is clear data. But we don't know if this is attributable to the engine or the chassis. Their race pace was not as good as in previous races, so their package was different or they simply didn't adapt to the track. We'll see the difference in top speed in the next races".
For the moment, therefore, no team has expressed an official protest, but there is still talk of technical directive 035/19 issued on Saturday, during the weekend of the United States Grand Prix. Since the start of the season, Mercedes, Red Bull Racing and Renault have been raising theories about the Ferrari engine. But these teams are unable to explain why the engines produced in Maranello are able to gain around 50 HP in some moments of the weekend. Be that as it may, there is a background: the big teams wanted to remain united during the discussion on the new technical regulation with the FIA. But then Scuderia Ferrari sided with the Federation. And then the tolerance jumped. The fact remains that for now there is no evidence of any infringement of the technical regulations. For this reason, the rivals have not yet made an official protest. Only the Red Bull Racing team has speculated that the flowmeter signal has been manipulated to inject petrol in the intervals where it is not detecting flow. With the advantage of injecting more fuel than allowed, with an advantage in terms of power. The Red Bull Racing team allegedly tested it on the bench and sent the evaluations to the FIA, asking if this trick was legal. Obviously the answer was negative. If Ferrari did something similar, Austin was forced to stop immediately, lest they incur an official protest. Meanwhile, swearing by the case of the flowmeter, Ross Brawn, sporting director and general manager of Formula 1, expresses an opinion on the indiscretions proposed by Red Bel Racing and Max Verstappen:
"I think Ferrari's opponents read what they want to read in the numbers. Austin turned the clock back six months: it has been since the Barcelona race that a Ferrari driver has not finished a Grand Prix without getting on the podium. After the break, Ferrari seemed to have made a breakthrough, taking six pole positions and three victories, but in the end the Maranello team came back, and in a surprising way. Not so much in qualifying, as Vettel was only 0.012s behind Bottas, but certainly in the race: Leclerc crossed the finish line with a huge gap of 52 seconds from the Finn. From the outside, it's difficult to explain the decline in performance, and I certainly don't want to speculate on the latest FIA technical directive relating to fuel flow measurement. What is clear, however, is that Ferrari struggled in Texas, especially in tire management. There will be a lot to do in Maranello in the next few days to analyse, reflect and develop countermeasures, above all because all this will be useful for next year".
The Australian driver of Renault, Daniel Ricciardo, managed to obtain another extraordinary result in Texas, finishing the United States Grand Prix in sixth position:
"Austin is certainly one of the best races we have done this year. The initial plan was to make just one stop, but the extra pit from everyone else made things a little more nervous. Despite that, we achieved our goal of beating both McLarens and that's really nice. It was a very competitive race from us and we showed good pace. I also really enjoyed the battle with Norris, with several back and forth, but in the end we managed to keep sixth place".
And his teammate, Nico Hulkenberg, is also happy:
"I'm really happy with these two points, especially after losing some ground on the first lap. It was a race with two contrasting sides: the first was not great as I lost positions in turns 1 and 2 and that made things difficult, but then the second was a lot of fun. We revised our strategy by going over two stops, maybe a lap or two late, but then we started catching the others up front. We had good pace, some fun battles, so we can be happy".
It is also a positive day for McLaren, which with Carlos Sainz Jr. obtained eighth place:
"It was a good day for the team. We managed to bring home some more good points, so I can't say enough compliments to everyone. Personally, I feel we could have achieved more, but my race was compromised at the start after being hit in the first corner. My pace was still decent and we managed to secure an important eighth place. All in all, therefore, it was a positive weekend and we look to Brazil still aiming high".
And with Lando Norris seventh place:
"It was a good race for me and the team. I had a great start at the start and was already fifth after the first lap. We are doing a good job in this sense and it is one of our strengths. The rest of the race was a bit more complicated, especially the first stint on the Soft tyres. I struggled a lot compared to Ricciardo, but we kind of expected it. With the Hards it went better and we got close to the pace of the Renault, but I still tried to manage the tires without pushing too much, hoping for his mistake to try to overtake him, but then we correctly decided to stop a second time by switching to the Mediums . It was a fun race for me, even with some overtaking in the last stint".
And Sergio Perez can also be considered satisfied, who despite having started from the pit lane managed to conquer the tenth position:
"We had an extraordinary race as a team and managed to recover well. We chose a very aggressive one-stop strategy, also showing good pace. On the last lap, Kvyat crashed into me and damaged my front wing, but he was penalized and we recovered tenth. An important point, which takes us to sixth place in the Constructors' classification, two races from the end of the Championship".
The same cannot be said for his teammate, Lance Stroll, who was unable to go beyond thirteenth place.
"I've certainly had better days. It's a shame because I felt good in the car and knew I could fight for the points, but sadly things didn't go our way. I didn't have an optimal start, suffering damage to the car following some contact. The track was very bumpy and on the outside of turn 2 I hit a bump, which caused me to oversteer a lot and made me lose several positions. Given our track position, the team tried to mix things up a bit by switching to a two-stop strategy: we were showing good pace in the second stint, but ran out of tires in the final part of the race".
Even for the Haas team, the United States Grand Prix did not meet initial expectations. Romain Grosjean finished his race in fifteenth position, one lap behind Valtteri Bottas:
"It was a difficult day. We knew that in the race it would be a little more complicated. Unfortunately we didn't have top speed, so at the start of the race I couldn't overtake anyone. The 'plan A' was medium and then soft, so we tried to stay out for a long time with the medium. Unfortunately they collapsed and everyone was passing me and we lost a lot of time in that moment. Then we went hard and it went better. I was happy with the balance and the lap times. But we were already too far away and we didn't have a chance to fight".
While Kevin Magnussen was forced to retire on lap 52 due to a brake problem:
"I had a brake problem at the end of the race. It was a tough day, we weren't fast enough, we lacked grip and pace. We had some problems, I think it's clear enough, but I still tried to do my best. I managed to be ninth over the first few laps which was nice but it was clear we didn't have the pace and we started to drop back. Then the race ended with the failure of the brakes".
Haas team principal Guenther Steiner adds:
“Clearly this is a disappointing result, but we cannot say unexpected. We know where we are at the moment and it's not where we would like to be. We didn't have enough speed in the car, Kevin retired with a couple of laps to go with a brake system failure. We will investigate what happened. There are two races left and we will stay focused, hoping to get something good".
Pierre Gasly's race started very well, however, during lap 54 the French driver was forced to stop due to a suspension problem, caused by a contact with the Racing Point car of Sergio Perez:
"It had been a really good race, mostly finishing in the top ten and keeping up with the McLarens. At the end I found myself fighting with Sergio, but he touched me at Turn 13 breaking the right front suspension, so we were forced to retire the car. We were fighting, he threw himself inside the corner and the contact bent the suspension. I don't think it was something big, but it was enough to take me out of the points and finish our race. It's really disappointing to end a weekend in which we had been so competitive in this way".
For Daniil Kvyat, however, the race turned out to be more difficult than expected:
"It was a difficult race, we were a little off the pace compared to our direct rivals. We also used the tires a bit more than usual, so that's something we'll need to look at. Despite these problems, I managed to take tenth position on the track, with an overtaking move on the last lap. I think it was a tough but fair manoeuvre, one of those intense battles that everyone wants to see and as we have already seen this season, without other riders being penalised. I'm angry and disappointed about this penalty, because I don't think it's good for our sport".
Also the Polish driver of Williams Racing, Robert Kubica, was forced to retire due to an oil leak:
"The pace wasn't there, so we tried to make an alternative strategy by stopping rather early. I struggled with grip and the bumps turned out to be quite annoying on a full tank. I had a hydraulic leak and had to go back to the pits to collect the car. Now he's already headed to Brazil, it's a nice track and we hope to get a better result".
While George Russell managed to close the race, but not without encountering numerous problems:
"This race was more difficult than usual. I struggled with overheating the tires before they ran out, making the car difficult to drive. So we decided to stop for the second time, only to find ourselves in the middle of the blue flags for the lap-overs for the rest of the race. I want to congratulate Lewis Hamilton on his sixth title".
The Formula 1 World Championship, in fact, ends in Austin, after Mercedes, already World Constructors' Champion, also wins the World Drivers' Championship with Lewis Hamilton and also conquers the position of Vice World Champion with Valtteri Bottas . The season, however, will end in Yas Marina, and in between the Circus will move to Sao Paulo, to compete in the Brazilian Grand Prix. Charles Leclerc, Max Verstappen and Sebastian Vettel will compete for third place. But, above all, the case relating to the flowmeter used by Scuderia Ferrari on its cars exploded in Austin, but at the moment no team has filed an official protest. Will it happen at the Brazilian Grand Prix?