2019 United States Thoughts
THE BIG PICTURE: Formula 1 is always a fascinating case of technology. If Ferrari did what some think they did, it was a brilliant -- even if illegal -- use of EMI to mess with the fuel flow sensors. Of course they deny it. But when the FIA clarification directive is followed by Ferrari losing top end speed -- exactly the benefit many believe they got from this -- it's a bit too much to be a coincidence.
EVENT: Another bonanza attendance mark. And the Dallas Cheerleaders were there again, so all was right with the event.
TRACK: Us folks in the northern regions of America, especially the Northeast and Midwest, are well acquainted with bumpy tracks thanks to permafrost. Of course, it wasn't permafrost but sinking (sinking!) that has troubled COTA. Nonetheless, to see COTA suffer a bumpy fate is bizarre.
QUALIFYING: Bottas claims his first front row spot at COTA as nobody could beat his first lap, Vettel just barely misses, Verstappen can't make a revenge statement, Hamilton is way off, McLaren is strong, Alfa Romeo is disappointing, and hey Stroll makes it to Q2.
RACE: Another interesting strategy battle, but this time an intra-team one. While the midpack fought furiously for every position.
START: Bottas leaves the fighters in the dust, Verstappen wastes no time, Hamilton pulls off an incredible move, Norris is brilliant, Sainz and Albon are the first turn victims, and Ferrari falls off a cliff.
HAMILTON: Hail the champion. Six times. Mind boggling we are seeing another Michael Schumacher feat in our lifetime. And do you think the Queen will finally knight him?
BOTTAS: Never qualified on the front row at COTA. Never finished in the top four at COTA. Until he claimed pole and won the race this year.
MERCEDES: Six driver titles. Six constructor titles. In six years. The greatest F1 team dynasty in history.
VERSTAPPEN: Max behaved himself and when he does, he sure is good.
ALBON: Another solid drive ... again from the back. If Red Bull was looking to replace Alexander next year, who could it possibly be? Looks like it's his drive to keep in 2020.
RED BULL: For a team that once got caught on fuel flow irregularities, they sure knew what they were looking for with Ferrari.
LECLERC: Charles had nothing for the front runners.
VETTEL: Say what you want about Sebastian. He is quite the sportsman. Last year, he went into the Mercedes garage personally congratulating every member of the Silver Arrows team. This year, he hung around after his DNF and went up to the cooldown room to personally congratulate Hamilton.
FERRARI: Whether Ferarri will ever admit it or not, assuming they can figure it out, one has to wonder if Vettel's car was broken before the start. It was also obvious the suspension gave way in the fateful trip through Turn 9 long before Vettel went wide, which the failure caused him to do.
RICCIARDO: Drove like the Daniel we love.
HULKENBERG: Riding out his F1 career.
RENAULT: Nice comeback after the disaster of the last few races.
NORRIS: Back to having a good race.
MCLAREN: Ditto squared.
KVYAT: The only thing missing this week from Daniil punting another driver off the track on the last lap was him screaming how the FIA is ruining racing.
PEREZ: This week's torpedo victim.
GIOVINAZZI: Antonio gets to keep his ride for next year. Mainly because Ferrari has a say in that seat, and quite frankly, they have nobody else available to fill the seat. It's not like Giovinazzi is the future of Ferrari.
SKY SPORTS: It was hysterical watching the Sky Sports commentators fumble through their ignorance trying to figure out what the "XII" meant on Daniel Ricciardo's tribute helmet to the University of Texas Longhorns.
WORD OF THE WEEKEND: Six.
STAT OF THE WEEKEND: 1,000 -- Formula 1 has had 1,016 races. In 1,000 of them, a British driver took part. Only 16 were devoid of a British driver.
HISTORICAL STAT OF THE WEEKEND: The first time a driver clinched the title in America was at the first USGP in 1959 at Sebring (coincidentally, considered to be the bumpiest track in the world). It was the last race of the season on December 12, a perfect date for Florida. Jack Brabham in a Cooper-Climax clinched the title despite running out of gas. He had to push the car over the finish line for fourth place, enough points to beat out Tony Brooks who finished third. Bruce McLaren won the race, becoming at the time the youngest GP winner. Part of his purse was a parcel of land adjoining Sebring Lake.
QUOTE OF THE WEEKEND: Lewis Hamilton saying what all his competitors fear, "As an athlete I feel fresh as can be right now."
QUOTE OF THE WEEKEND RUNNERUP: The Sky Sports commentator who responded to Lewis Hamilton complaining on the radio that COTA is the bumpiest track in the world, "No. Sebring is. Until you've race at Sebring, you don't know what bumpy is."
SCHEDULE: The championships have been decided. Now, we just race for fun. Which can sometimes mean more fun and excitement.
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