What a difference a year makes! The 46th running of the United States Grand Prix (Locally referred to as “Formula One”) took place on October 23, 2016 at the Circuit of the Americas (COTA) in Austin, Texas. by all accounts it was a rousing success!
After a disastrous 2015 event marred by horrendous weather, low turnout and months of speculation as to whether financial issues with the race might force its cancellation for 2016, this was a make or break year that could determine the future of the USGP in Austin. Eventually COTA was able to make the finances work to continue hosting the only F1 race in America.
For the very first time since Formula 1 gas taken place at COTA, year-over-year attendance increased. Surprisingly, this year’s race in Austin had its highest attendance since its beginning in 2012, with a total for the three day weekend of 269,889. 101,667 attended the Sunday’s race.
The big draw for many was on Saturday night when Country/Pop Superstar Taylor Swift played her only concert of 2016. It was estimated that over 80,000 people attended the show after the day’s qualifying time trails, which most certainly raised the day’s total attendance. Usher and The Roots performed on Sunday after the final race.
The USGP always attracts celebrities and VIPS. This year we spotted Tennis Superstar Venus Williams, Gayle King, Gerard Butler, Texas Governor Greg Abbott and U.S. Olympian Lindsey Vonn.
Coming into the finals, Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg entered with a 33 point lead over teammate Lewis Hamilton in the World Drivers’ Championship. The Mercedes team held an impenetrable 208-point lead over Red Bull Racing in the World Constructors’ Championship, having secured the Constructors’ title in the previous race in Japan.
The race started off well for Hamilton, leading on the run up to Turn 1, with Jenson Button and a Toro Rosso running wide out of the first corner. Daniel Ricciardo slotted into second while Hamilton’s teammate and closest championship rival Nico Rosberg fell back to third. Valtteri Bottas suffered a puncture and had to pit after the first lap. Nico Hülkenberg retired on lap 7 due to earlier collision damage. On the corner before the backstraight DRS zone, Esteban Gutiérrez of the Haas F1 Team locked up the front right tire heavily and retired subsequently due to brake problems. On lap 31, Max Verstappen retired due to a gearbox problem and stopped out of the first DRS zone, triggering a Virtual Safety Car period. Kimi Räikkönen retired after coming out of the pit lane during a routine stop with a loose wheel. Hamilton went on to win his 5th race in the United States, with Nico Rosberg in second and Daniel Ricciardo rounding out the podium spots. Hamilton reduced Rosberg’s lead in the Drivers’ Championship to 26 points with 3 races left in the season.
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All photos © 2016 Jim Chapin Photography.
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