Hamilton completes “2012 encore” en route to popular, historic USGP win

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AUSTIN – Interestingly, Lewis Hamilton made an impromptu appearance at the COTA Fan Fest in downtown Austin on Saturday night, asking fans to wish for a “2012 encore” on Sunday.

Less than 24 hours later, he got it.

The Mercedes driver qualified second yesterday – as he did then, except in a Mercedes-powered McLaren – and would require a move for the lead on the run down to Turn 12 in order to make it back to the front.

MORE: Watch a full replay of the U.S. Grand Prix

So as he did to Sebastian Vettel that year, Hamilton did to his teammate Nico Rosberg on Sunday after hounding him and reeling him in following the first round of pit stops.

Hamilton maximized his run on Pirelli’s soft tires in the opening stint, failing to lose too much time to Rosberg. Even though he had a microscopically slower first stop – 3.1 from his Mercedes crew compared to Rosberg’s 3.0 – he was able to begin reeling him in.

And it all built to the crescendo of that move, on Rosberg’s inside on the run down to Turn 12. Hamilton got the run, moved to the inside and completed the outbraking maneuver.

“It’s a very good circuit to be able to follow, but it’s not easy,” Hamilton explained. “It’s hard to stay close through the middle sector, but I wanted to be in the DRS zone. I felt confident – there was a bit of a headwind into 12 and I was just close enough to throw it up the inside. You have to decide how much of a risk you’re willing to take, but Nico didn’t full defend. I may have caught him unaware.”

That put him in position, and from there, he was able to bring it home en route to his fifth straight win – the first time in his career he’s been able to achieve that illustrious feat. It’s his tenth this season and 32nd of his career, the latter of which is a new record for British drivers and also puts him equal with Fernando Alonso all-time.

The win was a case of Hamilton overcoming the braking issues that plagued his qualifying session on Saturday. He spoke of the team’s improvement to get the issue sorted.

“We had some problems but corrected them today,” he said during the post-race press conference. “I pushed as hard as I could in the first stint. The second stint, I seemed to be even quicker. Once I got past, it was about controlling it.”

Hamilton spoke of what his third win in the U.S. meant, considering how much he’s been embracing this week in the States.

“I just went into the race with the belief I could win it,” he said. “From New York, I felt I could win it. There’s been tons of flags, caps, shirts. Great weather, fantastic circuit. I’m so grateful for the support in the U.S.

“I said need another race like 2012, and I was catching exactly at the same points as I did to Sebastian. There wasn’t a portion in the race where I didn’t think I could get him. It’s such a great feeling when you have a race like that.”

The win also puts him 24 points up heading to Brazil next week.

IndyCar teams with NASCAR on IMS road course doubleheader in 2021

IndyCar NASCAR doubleheader 2021
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The NTT IndyCar Series will be sharing Indianapolis Motor Speedway with the NASCAR Cup Series in a race weekend doubleheader for the second consecutive season, but both series will be on the road course in August 2021.

IMS announced Wednesday that IndyCar will hold an Aug. 14, 2021 race on its 14-turn, 2.439-mile road course. It’ll be a day before NASCAR’s premier series runs the same layout for the first time after the Brickyard 400 was contested on the 2.5-mile oval for the first time in 27 years.

This season’s rescheduling of the IndyCar GMR Grand Prix to July 4, 2019 (a day before the Brickyard 400) led to the first NASCAR-IndyCar doubleheader weekend. The Xfinity Series also raced on the IMS road course for the first time July 4 after the IndyCar race ended.

INDYCAR AT IMS THIS WEEKEND: Harvest GP schedule, entry lists

IndyCar will be holding its second race weekend this year at the IMS road course Friday and Saturday with the Harvest GP.

“Our first NASCAR-INDYCAR weekend was a big success last July, with positive feedback from
our loyal fans who watched the races on NBC and from the drivers, teams and participants
involved,” IMS president Douglas Boles said in a statement. “The Xfinity Series’ debut on the IMS road course provided exactly the kind of thrilling action from the green to checkered flags that we anticipated, so we know the teams and drivers of the Cup Series will put on a great show as they turn left and right for the first time at IMS.

“We can’t wait to welcome back fans to see NASCAR and INDYCAR together during this
exciting weekend as we add another memorable chapter in the long, storied history of the
Indianapolis Motor Speedway.”

It also will mark the first NASCAR Cup-IndyCar doubleheader with a crowd as fans weren’t permitted at IMS in July because of the novel coronvavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Over the course of Wednesday, NASCAR is releasing its 36-race slate for next season. IndyCar has yet to release its full 2021 schedule.