The 2019 Texas Motor Speedway Grand Prix was staged over the weekend of May 12th and 13th. It was the first-ever Formula One race held in the state of Texas. The occasion marked the 100th anniversary of the famous track, located in Houston, Texas. This year’s event was also notable for being the first World Championship race held in Texas in over three decades. The track was originally built in 1929 and has served as a home to some of the most memorable sporting events of all time.
At least since the beginning of the twentieth century, motorsport fans in Texas have been eagerly awaiting this weekend’s racing to take place. One of the most famous venues in the state, the original Texas Motor Speedway was first opened in 1929. It is often referred to as the ‘Mother of All Motorcycle Rallies’ because it was the first big bike race held in the United States. Since then, the track has hosted numerous other competitions ranging from IndyCar to Formula One. The track’s current configuration was first laid out in 1951. Ever since, it has only gotten better with age.
The 2019 Texas Motor Speedway Grand Prix was the culmination of a season-long fight for the Formula One World Championship. For weeks, Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel disputed the coveted title as they relentlessly battled it out across five continents. After two weeks of intense racing, the 2019 World Champion was … Lewis Hamilton!
The 2019 Texas World Champion
The celebrations of Hamilton’s fourth World Championship started right away after the checkered flag waved at the end of the race. The English driver stormed across the track to give the traditional hand shake to the many photographers and journalists who’d gathered at the finish line. As he did so, the normally stoic Vettel, who’d been struggling with injuries all year, grinned from ear to ear.
Indeed, it had been a remarkable comeback for Hamilton. After a bad start to the season, which included a long term injury, he went on to dominate the race winning seven out of the eight rounds. He’d also outscored Vettel on aggregate, by a total of 59 points. It was easily the best season of Hamilton’s career. The only blip on an otherwise perfect season was a pit stop infringement penalty, which cost him one World Championship point. But, even that paled in comparison to the drama that unfolded before and after the race.
On Saturday, May 12th, the Formula One circus made its way to Texas for the start of the 2019 season. The Grand Prix was preceded by a Practice Session, which was held the previous day. Fans were treated to some thrilling action as both Ferrari and Mercedes put on a show with their cars. With the track being a street circuit, there were numerous passing zones, which made for some amazing showdowns. Racing started at 9:00am local time and lasted until 5:00pm. The checkered flag waved for the last time at 4:16pm.
Sebastian Vettel was one of the early leaders as he stormed past Mercedes Formula One World Champion Lewis Hamilton, heading into the first corner. He quickly drew level and began to pull away. However, less than half a lap later, the German driver’s pace slowed dramatically as he struggled with a loss of power. It was immediately obvious that something was wrong. Vettel pulled over and jumped out of the car. After quickly conferring with the team, it was soon clear that the 7th anniversary of Marussia’s historic B-Max failure was going to be remembered this year.
The Silence Of Vettel
Sebastian Vettel’s car didn’t stop running however. The data that was being fed to the onboard computer suggested otherwise. It wasn’t until sometime later that day, after he’d been replaced by another driver, that the full extent of the damage became clear.
When asked about the accident during the post-race press conference, Vettel chose to remain silent. He wasn’t the only one…
There was plenty going on behind the scenes as well. The team had tried everything possible, as they were frantically looking for a replacement engine. With the championship already wrapped up, they didn’t have time to wait for the problem to be fixed. Team Principal, Toto Wolff, said he was “disappointed for Seb” but had to think of the team’s best interest. “We are here for a race,” he explained. “If we want to bring home points, we have to finish the race.”
The Drama Continues
The start of every season is usually marked by a dramatic press conference, where each of the teams introduce themselves and reveal their goals for the coming year. During the 2019 season’s introductions, Mercedes’ Michael Schumacher put an end to any drama, by announcing that the team would be withdrawing from Formula One at the end of the year. Rumors had already begun to circle, suggesting that Mercedes were looking to join another team for the final season …
McLaren Looking To Repeat As World Champions
While other teams were struggling to complete a single lap without incident, McLaren had been operating on a completely different level. Indeed, it was the ‘Pratt Family’s’ car that set the pace during the Practice Session, as it was consistently fast and reliable. On Saturday, they’d made no changes to their vehicle, which was a big surprise given that most teams were scrambling to get their cars fixed before the race.
Even more surprisingly, McLaren had qualified on pole position, which was eventually taken by Frenchman, Charles Leclerc. It appeared as though the team had adapted well to the new conditions, which proved that theory wrong. After starting from the front row, Sebastian Vettel spent the majority of the race struggling for pace, eventually finishing in 4th place, behind the leading pack. It was a completely different story the next day, as a delighted Kevin Magnussen took his first victory for the team, finishing ahead of teammate, Fernando Alonso. The highlight from Magnussen’s perspective was the fact that he became the first Dane to win a Formula One World Championship. Finally, after fourteen years of planning and dedication, McLaren had their hands on the trophy they’d worked so hard for. It was an emotional moment for the team. On the podium, Magnussen was visibly choked up, as he congratulated his fellow drivers and team-mates. “This is awesome,” he said. “I can’t believe it. This is so surreal.” McLaren had finally done what the rest of the grid could not. It was a fantastic return to form for a team, who’d won the constructors’ championship back in 2001. Next year, they had their sights set on an even sweeter victory, as they aimed to win a second consecutive World Championship. For now, though, they could enjoy the moment, as they hoisted their prized possession, surrounded by friends, family, and an ecstatic support crowd.
Race Day Review
Saturday’s Practice Session had shown that conditions were about to change, as rain began to fall heavily. The teams were forced to take cover in the pits, as they waited for the storm to pass. In the end, it was probably a good thing, as the weather prevented any dangerous moments on track. However, the conditions proved tricky as they changed throughout the race. From dry weather to wet and then back again. It was impossible to get the hang of the new track surface and make the most of it. As a result, only four cars finished the race. Things went from bad to worse for Vettel, as he lost several laps before he was able to continue. It wasn’t until the very end of the race that he was able to fight his way back to the front. Although, the German driver did manage to finish the race, he never really had a chance of winning. After starting from the front row, Alonso’s strategy of running flat out in the beginning cost him. In the end, he finished in 6th place, almost 25 minutes behind the leading group.