F.1 – GP USA: THE POINT…by Gian Carlo Minardi

FAENZA- The first Austin GP was amazing both for the track layout and for overtakings. According to forecast, we saw a very performing McLaren on hard and medium tyres and a Hamilton so determined to have an impact on the team before leaving it.
Sebastian Vettel was extremely competitive over the weekend but he will have been afraid to have the same technical issue which forced his teammate to quit the race. Once again the Ferrari and Fernando Alonso optimized both the strategy and the result, getting a valuable third place finish which allow the Spaniard to play it well for the next race in Brazil. It won’t be an easy task for sure, especially if we consider the points gap with the 2 leaders. What is more, we should also consider that in the last few seasons Interlagos didn’t bring good luck to the Italian team.
Given the very short time between the last race and the next one, I don’t expect big technical amendments to be made on the cars. Tyre compounds and weather will have a deep impact on the final result. The Ferrari should improve its downforce while, unlike Red Bull and McLaren, its strength is reliability. Beyond a little mistake made on Saturday when trying to make an all-out effort on used tyres, the Ferrari didn’t make any mistake over the last few races, demonstrating to be the best team. The Red Bull issues come from an extreme downforce. Anyway, the Austrian team won the constructors’ championship on Sunday. With only one race to be run and a wide points gap between Alonso and the Red Bull driver, the zero point scored by the Spaniard because of car clashes caused by other racers weigh against the “Scuderia”, especially if we compare them to Vettel abandons due to his car technical issues.
Praises have to be conveyed to Felipe Massa who, after accepting the team orders, jumped up to 4th, finishing just behind the Spanish teammate and setting the second fastest lap of the race. That is the Massa the Ferrari needs to have; on the domestic track the Brazilian will probably creep up the 13 points gap between Vettel and Alonso.
Good weekend for Lotus; both Lotus drivers finished the race in top 10. Raikkonen is fighting against Hamilton and the Williams, to preserve the third place. Unfortunately the Sauber lost another chance to attack the Mercedes to get the fifth place in the world championship. One more disappointing weekend for the German team which scored no points.
With a view to the final race in Interlagos, Raikkonen and the McLaren will probably be variables in favor of Ferrari. The Scuderia is now less performing than the rivals.
Gian Carlo Minardi