Austin F1 now one for record books

Track completed a few days before first race

Updated: Sunday, 18 Nov 2012, 6:18 PM CST
Published : Sunday, 18 Nov 2012, 4:55 PM CST

AUSTIN (KXAN) - Circuit of The Americas on Sunday entered the record books as the first purpose-built Formula One racetrack in the country to host its own Grand Prix.

An exuberant crowd of 117,429 packed the new 330-acre facility to watch Vodafone McLaren Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton claim his fourth Grand Prix of the season and his second U.S. Grand Prix victory in five years, having won the 2007 F1 race last hosted in Indianapolis.

Red Bull Racing’s Sebastian Vettel, current points leader in the drivers’ standings, was second with Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso third. McLaren was awarded the constructor’s trophy for Austin’s inaugural event.

Hamilton’s victory means both the driver’s and constructor’s titles won’t be decided until the season’s final race in Saὀ Paulo, Brazil, next weekend.

The $400 million sports and entertainment venue, completed only days before its first major event, received rave reviews from the tens of thousands of fans who traveled the world to witness Formula 1’s return to the United States. The 3.4-mile, 20-turn circuit produced several opportunities for overtaking, highlighted by Hamilton slipping past pole sitter Vettel on Turn 12 to take the race lead during Lap 43. Fans packed the stands and general admission areas to cheer on their favorites and to watch Hamilton pass under the checkered flag and back into U.S. racing history.

Total attendance for the three-day event was 265,499 with Friday’s practice sessions and Saturday’s qualifying rounds drawing 65,360 and 82,710, respectively.

“The entire Circuit of The Americas team thanks our guests, our community, our new Formula One family and racing fans around the world for making our first Grand Prix such a remarkable experience,” Circuit chairman Bobby Epstein said. “The racing was spectacular. The crowd was enthusiastic and appreciative, and we showed the world that Formula 1 has a new U.S. home in Austin, Texas.”