After what can only be described as an excitement-fuelled coma, we’re finally awake again after a sensational USGP to bring you the Badgerometer.
Trouble is, there was just too much excitement to fit in. Seriously, the Badgerometer broke, and we had to go buy a new one specially for this week.
With that in mind, here’s our Top 5 from the United States – but with a few honourable mentions thrown in first!
15 – HamElton
Elton John was playing a gig with his band at the end of the race, and moonlighted by doing the podium interviews too. It was a pretty decent interview – nothing special, but he’s a huge star, so it was great to see someone arguably as famous as Arnie do the interview.
Other Elton John puns include “Like a HAMdle in the winned”, “Saturday night’s alright for fighting (but not qualifying) ” and “Don’t go breaking my hat”… but we’ll get to that last one later.
14 – Defiant donuts
Lewis Hamilton’s race engineer Bono instructed the new triple-champ to “Look after [his] car” on the cool-down lap.
Lewis did some donuts instead.
13 – Craig Slater: Against all odds
Sky Sports News hero Craig Slater battled the inclement weather during Saturday’s perennially-postponed Qualy session, with an inverted umbrella to boot.
Despite this, he delivered an insightful, professional report while getting drenched. That’s top quality journalism right there!
12 – I’m on a boat!
With so much free time on Saturday afternoon, the F1 teams started one-upping each other in a game of pitlane boating. Sauber went first with some sort of box on wheels, propelled by a pit stop lollipop…
And then Force India clambered into what looked like a storage box.
11 – Red Bull hit two centuries
Red Bull racing have already been here for ten years, and in Austin they hit two hundred Grand Prix as well. It’s a sign of just how long F1 seasons have become now, with 18 races the minimum of late. In that time they’ve gone from the fun-loving new kid on the block to midfield obsolescence, then the cutting edge of aerodynamics and of course, those four straight titles.
Nowadays, Red Bull enjoy threatening to quit the sport if they don’t get everything they want, and not deciding on engine providers.
Despite the current state of affairs, the team were in the mood to celebrate in Austin, particularly its two drivers as evidenced by…
10 – Making it into the points
Forget Torvill and Dean – Red Bull’s Torviil and Dan danced in the pit lane on Saturday to entertain the crowds who came along, not knowing that the session would be put on hold.
(I know this is a really tenuous ice skating link but basically the Dans had a dance and it was cool…as ice!)
9 – Just scraping into the points
Two teams celebrated their ‘birthdays’ in Austin, with the Swiss marque Sauber notching their 400th race, and as mentioned Red Bull, their former sponsors hitting half that much with.
Interestingly, that also means it’s two hundred Grands Prix ago that Sauber last raced with Red Bull as a sponsor.
There were cakes and pretty ladies to celebrate (how else?) and – we’re not quite sure – but Marcus Ericsson seems very okay with it all.
8 – Scrapping in the midfield
For those who had tickets to the Circuit of the Americas, and therefore traveled to downtown Austin on Saturday, it was a colossal pain in the arse when Qualifying was delayed over and over again.
For us back at home? Not so much.
For the first time since Australia 2013, we got to see two proper F1 sessions (Come on, FP1 and FP2 don’t count) in a whole day. And that was awesome.
7 – Climbing well from the grid
Verstappen holds his own… yet again!
Rookie of the
year decade millennium Max Verstappen can do no wrong, it seems, as the Dutchman posted an incredible fourth place come the chequered flag, matching his best finish of the season on Hungary.
We’ve praised him a hell of a lot already this year so we’ll keep it short, but there was a collective sigh when Vettel passed him for third.
6 – Just behind the frontrunners
If Formula 1 had no fan base, there would be no point in racing, and there’s nothing more disheartening than an a lack of supporters (See Korean Grand Prix 2010-13 for more details) and an empty grandstand.
With that in mind, it was incredible to see such a great turnout through all three days of the US Grand Prix, with thousands of plucky punters sitting out in the most atrocious weather just to catch a glimpse of the action.
It’s hard to get much more dedicated than that, and it’s a really encouraging sign that F1 has finally started to have an impact in the United States. Which is pretty good, y’know, considering that new team you might have heard of coming in next year.
Unless you’re a hater, it’s hard not to be impressed by his third WDC. It’s an incredible feat, and makes you wonder if we’re entering a ‘Hamilton empire’, much like the ones established by Schumi and Vettel. Three titles, and the first Briton to take two in consecutive years is history occurring right in front of our eyes, so take it in while you can.
Sky and BBC asked the question “If Hamilton wins his third title, is he a legend?”
Well, legendary status usually comes after a driver retires, but three titles can’t be a bad start. The legendary Ayrton Senna is Hamilton’s idol, and Hamilton now reckons he has nothing left to aim for now that he’s equalled the Brazilian, but that doesn’t mean he won’t be hungry for a fourth.
There’s the argument that with the championships both wrapped up there’s not an awful lot to look forward to in the remaining three races, but as we saw in Austin, the midfield are more than capable of providing thrilling entertainment.
Plus, with just four points between Rosberg and Vettel, and Force India not far away from Red Bull, there’s still plenty to play for.
It was a race of attrition, so McLaren’s bolstered fortunes can partly be pinned on that, but in the wet weather, the Honda engine didn’t actually perform too badly.
For once, it wasn’t a case of watching Renault-powered chaps soar past, and it was JENSON with the non-upgraded power unit that stole those eight glorious points.
And he did it in super-fine style too, overtaking the dueling Ricciardo and Sainz in one fell swoop, then surpassing his ailing team mate Alonso as they began the next lap as well.
Kimi Raikkonen spun off the track on Lap 20, skidding through the gravel and clouting the barrier. His front wing was certainly broken, but the extent of damage to his suspension was unknown.
While all of this is pretty commonplace for a tag with the barriers, the Iceman’s methods for getting back on the track were not quite so much, resembling what you might do if you get stuck between three cars and a building on Grand Theft Auto – rev the hell out of the engine and wiggle the steering to freedom.
To his credit it actually worked, and he pitted for new carbon and rubber. It didn’t last long though, as he retired on Lap 25 with excessively high brake temperatures. Still, he could have just called it a day then and there lodged in the TecPro, but his will to fight shone through.
The Star Spangled Manor
As you may be aware, Manor are a team very dear to us here at Badger thanks to their generosity, racing spirit, and now, awesome one-off livery tweaks.
With America’s first American in America since American Scott Speed raced in America in 2007, Manor decided to decorate their rear wing end-plates with the country’s red white and blue flag, which fits perfectly with the team’s livery this year.
One part of me can’t help but think that it’s terribly ironic though. With US resident Alexander Rossi, sponsorship from Airbnb and the stars and stripes on the bodywork, Manor are the closest thing to an American team in 2015, and in 2016, the actual American team will be operating from the old Marussia factory in Banbury. Yeowch.
Irony aside though, we LOVE the new look. Will it stay for the Mexican race? Probably not, but all good things come to an end.
After perhaps the most offensive use of headwear since Jay Kay of Jamiroquai stopped doing gigs, Nico Rosberg caused a Twitter tsunami in a teacup when he lobbed his cap at Lewis Hamilton after the newly-crowned champion chucked it into his team mate’s lap.
At first, I thought maybe it was a bit of cap banter from the German, but Nico’s disgruntled expression both in the cool down room and on the podium indicated that all was not well on the other side of the garage.
It seemed that the Polesitter was unhappy with Hamilton’s ‘aggressive’ start, as the team mates made slight contact going in to turn 1. In Lewis’ defence, EVERYONE made contact at turn 1…
Part of me does sympathise with Rosberg – he’s come out second best as Hamilton’s team mate three seasons in a row now; the last two in a world-beating car. That has to hurt a lot, but as the son of perhaps one of the most sporting gentlemen in the history of motor racing, you really ought to lose with a bit more dignity, perhaps something Felipe Massa 2008-style.
What you’ve got to remember is that Rosberg made a mistake late on in the race that let Hamilton past, and he must have been absolutely livid with himself, as well as irked at the first corner. The hat thing was probably all he could muster.
It’s also worth remembering that that was also the heat of the moment with a lot of adrenaline in the system – later on, Hamilton and Rosberg both went to the same bar and celebrated, the latter partying hard and singing ‘Living on a prayer’ with Will Buxton, which you simply must see.
Twitter duly exploded after ‘#Hatgate’, and many people speculated that the Lovers’ tiff between Nico and Lewis was back in full swing,
The saying “Never let the truth get in the way of a good story” rings true here though – people want the drama of Hamilton and Rosberg being at odds with one another, but that’s just not the case, and there was more than enough drama on-track.
The reality is that he has nothing to lose now. With both titles already sewn up, don’t expect anything less than Rosberg at his best in the last three races!