United States GP Paddock Notebook – Sunday

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AUSTIN, Texas – What. A. Day.

If Saturday was a day to remember for all the wrong reasons, or seek to forget as quickly as possible, then Sunday, October 25, 2015, at Circuit of The Americas was a day that will live on in Formula 1 lore for days, months and/or years to come.

A World Champion has been crowned, as Lewis Hamilton has taken a dramatic, emotional victory in the United States Grand Prix to claim his third title – the tenth driver in history to reach that threshold.

Furthermore, Hamilton won it after one of the crazier, more exciting and entertaining Grands Prix in recent memory.

And it happened on a day when both qualifying and the race took place in the same day, adding to the intensity up and down the paddock all day today.

Here’s the roundup from the track:

SESSION REPORTS

PADDOCK NEWS AND FEATURES

THOUGHTS FROM THE TRACK

Hamilton 2, Rosberg 0

When World Championships have been there for the taking, Lewis Hamilton has seized the opportunity ahead of his Mercedes AMG Petronas teammate Nico Rosberg. That sentence crystallizes matters and makes it simpler than it really is. But when it has come to crunch time, Hamilton has delivered while Rosberg has wilted. The moments are too many to count in the last two years, but Hamilton has a clear mental, psychological edge on his teammate… even if recently, Rosberg’s held the upper hand in qualifying. My MotorSportsTalk colleague Luke Smith will undoubtedly have more on Hamilton’s latest World Championship, and the magnitude of what it means.

Hamilton vs. Rosberg…

In a standard, not ridiculously crazy as all-get-out Grand Prix, Hamilton’s forceful pass of Rosberg into Turn 1 off the start might have stood as the sole pass for the lead. But four Safety Cars (two Actual, two Virtual), varying tire strategies and various weather conditions later, it wasn’t the form book-type Grand Prix as you’d come to expect. Rosberg, as you might expect, was pissed at how it all went down. Again, more on this to come in the coming days, too.

…and Rosberg vs. Rosberg

Still, despite all the changing elements of this race, it still shaped up as Rosberg’s to win, and he didn’t pull it off. Rosberg’s rare moment of wheel spin exiting Turn 15, on entry into Turn 16 – the first of the triple-apex right-hand sweeper around the COTA Observation Tower – removed a near-certain victory from his grasp after losing near-three second lead.

The subplot was too sweet to ignore. Here was Rosberg, son of 1982 World Champion Keke, losing his own latest shot at a championship in the same country where his dad won his only title. Thirty-three years later, it’s Rosberg’s teammate who has clinched the title on U.S. soil, the first driver to do so since.

Vettel’s proper post-race decorum

While Rosberg was miffed, Sebastian Vettel had also lost out on the World Championship, and he’d entered the race in second place in points. Yet his demeanor, body language and expression was so much better… even despite being mad at himself for not finishing higher than third.

Yes, it’s easier to be less outwardly pissed when you’ve overachieved expectations in your first year in a new team, and you’ve won four World Championships previously. Or when you haven’t been beaten – again – by your teammate.

But Vettel didn’t have to be as diplomatic, congratulatory or as jovial as he was in the post-race press conference, where he and Hamilton joked about how long they wanted to make their championship-clinching presser. Vettel made several efforts to properly note it was Hamilton’s day. The two were almost bonding as if to troll Rosberg – they have seven championships between them and there was Rosberg, sitting to Hamilton’s right, looking less than thrilled.

We can only hope for a proper Hamilton vs. Vettel World Championship duel next season, provided Ferrari continue to improve.

Mad Max the 18-year-old superstar-in-waiting

Max Verstappen is 18. He is also ridiculously good.

Having had the opportunity now to have seen him on site and in person for the first time, I was simply awed by his racecraft, his poise, and… this will seem strange to say for an 18-year-old, but his maturity. His post-race interview with NBC’s Will Buxton sounded of someone at least three or four years older, and considering how effortless he was in moving through the field while others made some daft, questionable moves, the sky is the limit.

Rossi’s dramatic, glorious, almost-points P12 day

You remember when we wrote in IndyCar that Conor Daly recorded the best 17th place finish in recent memory at Long Beach earlier this year? Probably not.

But was Alexander Rossi’s 12th place in Austin, in his Manor, the best 12th place finish in recent memory in F1? You betcha.

It was ohsoclose to an elusive and incredible point for the team, but it was a near-perfect reward for the hard work, dedication and incredible effort put in by the American on home soil ahead of his home Grand Prix. Credit not just to Rossi, but to the Manor team and all of Rossi’s own personal PR/media team for their efforts during this week.

A day for the midfielders

We haven’t touched on them much in the wake of the title, race and other drama that took place today, but great finishes for all of the runners from fifth through ninth: Sergio Perez, Carlos Sainz Jr., Jenson Button, Pastor Maldonado and Felipe Nasr. For Maldonado, eighth marks his third consecutive points-paying finish, a career first, and for Sainz, it was a nice bounce back after his crash in qualifying, just rewards for his Toro Rosso team.

A great day for the fans

I’ll touch on this more in a post-weekend column, but I was so impressed – and surprised – by the fan turnout today. Certainly more than I would have pegged to show up.

Lewis Hamilton is the undoubted driving star of the USGP weekend, 2015, but the fans are the overall stars.

The other contenders for “overall stars” awards: the corner marshals, the track workers, and the TV crews, who undoubtedly had hours to fill – or if you were a cameraman/woman, torrential conditions to deal with. All the unsung heroes must be the ones celebrated this weekend.

***

I’ll undoubtedly have more to come in the next day or two from COTA.  All told, what a day, what a weekend… and we’re thankful you were there to be a part of it on MotorSportsTalk on NBCSports.com.

IMSA Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta: How to watch, start times, schedule, entry list

AUTO: NOV 13 IMSA - Motul Petit Le Mans
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Start times, TV schedule: The IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship will conclude the 2022 season this weekend with the Motul Petit Le Mans at Michelin Road Atlanta, which also will mark the end of the line for the DPi class.

The premier Daytona Prototype international category, which started in 2017, will be replaced by the new Grand Touring Prototype (GTP) class with its LMDh cars that will establish a bridge to Le Mans.

For the third time in four years, an Acura will be crowned the champion in DPi as the No. 10 of Wayne Taylor Racing holds a 19-point edge over the No. 60 of Meyer Shank Racing.

Last year, WTR’s No. 10 entered the season finale with a 19-point lead but lost the title to the No. 31 Cadillac of Action Express.

Full-time WTR drivers Filipe Albuquerque and Ricky Taylor (who will be joined by Brendon Hartley in the No. 10 this weekend) have a series-leading four victories this season. The MSR duo of Tom Blomqvist and Oliver Jarvis (who will be joined by Helio Castroneves this weekend) won the Rolex 24 at Daytona and have five runner-up finishes this year.

Championship scenarios in the other four categories:

GTD Pro: Points leaders Matt Campbell and Mathieu Jaminet will clinch the title by starting in their No. 9 Pfaff Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R.

–GTD: There are 140 points separating the top four teams with Roman De Angelis and the No. 27 Heart of Racing Aston Martin Vantage GT3 leading by 45 points.

–LMP2: John Farano is first in the driver standings by 33 points over Dwight Merriman and Ryan Dalziel. In the team standings, the No. 52 PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports leads by 19 points over the No. 8 Tower Motorsport (Farano’s team).

–LMP3: No. 54 CORE autosport drivers Jon Bennett and Colin Braun lead by 83 points over the No. 74 Riley Motorsports of Gar Robinson.

Here are the start times, starting lineup, schedule and TV info for the IMSA Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta (all times are ET):


Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta start times, schedule, TV info

When: Saturday, 12:10 p.m. ET

Race distance: Ten hours on the 12-turn, 2.54-mile road course

TV: Noon-3 p.m., NBC; 3-10:30 p.m., USA Network. Peacock, the NBC Sports App,and NBCSports.com will have streaming coverage of the event from flag to flag beginning at noon. Leigh Diffey and Dave Burns are the play by play announcers with analysts Calvin Fish, Townsend Bell, James Hinchcliffe and Brian Till. The pit reporters are Kevin Lee, Hannah Newhouse, Dillon Welch and Matt Yocum.

IMSA.com live TV qualifying stream: Friday, 3:35 p.m. ET.

IMSA Radio: All sessions are live on IMSA.com and RadioLeMans.com; SiriusXM live race coverage will begin Saturday at noon (XM 207, Internet/App 992).

Forecast: According to Wunderground.com, it’s expected to be 63 degrees with an 85% chance of rain at the green flag.

Entry list: Click here to see the 48-car field for the IMSA Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta


Daily schedule IMSA Petit Le Mans

Here’s a rundown of the Petit Le Mans at Michelin Road Atlanta in Braselton, Georgia:

Wednesday, Sept. 28

9:30 a.m.: Mazda MX-5 practice

10:25 a.m.: Porsche Carrera Cup

12:30 p.m.: Prototype Challenge practice

1:15 p.m.: Mazda MX-5 practcice

2 p.m.: Porsche Carrera Cup practice

3:30 p.m.: Michelin Challenge practice

Thursday, Sept. 29

8 a.m.: Prototype Challenge practice

9 a.m.: Porsche Carrera Cup qualifying

9:50 a.m.: IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship practice

11:40 a.m.: Prototype Challenge qualifying

12:10 p.m.: Michelin Challenge practice

1:50 p.m.: Mazda MX-5, Race 1

2:55 p.m.: IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship practice

5 p.m.: Porsche Carrera Cup, Race 1

6 p.m.: Michelin Challenge qualifying

7:30 p.m.: IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship practice

Friday, Sept. 30

8 a.m.: Prototype Challenge race

9:50 a.m.: Mazda MX-5, Race 2

10:55 a.m.: Porsche Carrera Cup, Race 2

1:10 p.m.: IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge race

3:40 p.m.: IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship qualifying

Saturday, Oct. 1

9:15 a.m.: IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship practice

12:10 p.m.: Petit Le Mans