F1 Sunday – the Rest of the Story…

Where was I before real life interfered?

Oh yes – the USGP. In my grandstand seat on Sunday, sipping a COTA Flame, waiting for the races to begin. As I write this, the temperature hovers around freezing and the rain is pooling in my backyard. Last Sunday it was 86 degrees without much of a breeze. Even in the shade, the heat pressed down on us throughout the day. No matter, though. I had my COTA Flame to keep me cool and a fair amount of excitement to distract me from the heat.

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The pace car stretches its gullwings before work begins.

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Heikki gets a nameplate! Kimi Raikkonen, one of my favorite drivers, skipped the U.S. (and upcoming Brazil) Grand Prix to have back surgery. (The back story is a pay dispute with his team, Lotus, whom he is leaving next year for Ferrari.) Still chasing points for second or third place in the Constructor standings, Lotus tapped Heikki Kovalainen, a fellow Finn and former F1 driver, to take Kimi’s place for the last two races. The decision was so last-minute that the nameplate above Heikki’s garage was blank until Sunday. I was relieved when it finally appeared – go Lotus!

Up first Sunday morning was the second Formula Vintage race of the weekend. The field was fairly small, and many of the cars had been at the vintage races the month before, so this was a fairly drama-free race.  Here’s a photo of the three winning cars and drivers.

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Mario Andretti presents the trophy to the winner! That was the most exciting part.

Next up was the weekend’s second Ferrari Challenge race. Please allow my tweet below to set the stage:

These are the rich guys, often with more money than training, who throw their racing Ferraris around the track like hooligans. It is quite entertaining. No injuries were reported from Sunday’s shenanigans, so I feel perfectly free to be amused. Here’s video (not by me) of how the race started:

Sadly, it was the Lavender Menace, the winner from the previous race, that took the bump on Turn 1 of Lap 1. Nevertheless:

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Here’s Lavender Menace, pre-bump, leading the pack on the formation lap.

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And then:

And THEN…epic battle between first and second place, resulting in:

It was delightful. My COTA Flame was out by the end.

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Here are the winners, congratulating themselves on not killing anyone.

With that tomfoolery done, it was F1 time.

First, the drivers’ parade. Each driver took a lap around the track in the back of a classic car, waving to the fans. I didn’t get great photos, since the parade started right where my seat was, but here are a few to give you the idea.

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Mark Webber, Red Bull Racing

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Vettel driving the car himself and, per usual, trying to one-up his teammate, Webber

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Romain Grosjean (Lotus) in the white car

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Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG Petronas

Now…down to business.

Here’s a photo of Vettel climbing into his car. My seat was right across from his garage.

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Then everybody headed out to the grid. They kindly moved slowly so I could get some photos.

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Heikki!

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Nico Rosberg. He very considerately wore a bright yellow helmet so I could tell him apart from his teammate, Hamilton.

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Speaking of which, here come Hamilton (foreground) and Vettel.

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The starting grid, at least through P7. Good job to Nico Hulkenberg for starting in P4.

Then a lovely rendition of the National Anthem, followed by a very cool flyover.

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Finally, a warmup lap and grid formation:

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And we’re off!

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Grosjean!

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Vettel

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Hamilton!

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Mark Webber, third place

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Romain Grosjean, second place

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Ornery Vettel, the winner

And here are the chaps themselves:

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Governor Rick Perry is to the left of the podium, next to prominent businessman/COTA investor Red McCombs (in orange sweater). Attorney General and Governor candidate Greg Abbott is in the wheelchair to the right.

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Seb gets a big-ass trophy from Perry.

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Hats off to Webber, who is leaving Formula 1 after this season.

Then champagne, a wave and the warm-and-fuzzies:

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(The rotund guy is the Red Bull Racing team manager, I believe.)

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A little chat with Mario Andretti to end a great day.

 

It was a delightful weekend – Ferrari collisions, guys in champagne-soaked racing suits and few logistical hiccups. Won’t you join me next year? You know where to find me!

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