F1's successful return leaves U.S. wanting more

Mon Nov 19, 2012 1:12am EST
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By Steve Keating

AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) - Lewis Hamilton claimed the victory and Red Bull clinched the constructors title but the biggest winner at the U.S. Grand Prix was Formula One with commercial supremo Bernie Ecclestone immediately calling for more races in America.

"The future of F1 in the USA? I think we'll finish with three races here within the next three years," a beaming Ecclestone told reporters. "The race was fantastic wasn't it? Really was a super race.

"If you tried to plan this, to have the (title) race finish in Brazil, you couldn't have done a better job.

"Everybody is very happy here. The governor's happy, they're all happy. You feel good when you've done something that works."

On a busy sporting Sunday with a full slate of National Football League action and NASCAR crowning their champion in Florida, the U.S. Grand Prix held its own, delivering gripping drama as Formula One made a rousing return to America following a five-year absence.

Circuit of the Americas, the United States's only purpose-built F1 track carved spectacularly out of the south Texas scrublands at a cost of $400 million, provided a magnificent stage as McLaren's Hamilton out-raced championship contenders Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso for the win.

A capacity crowd of almost 120,000 flooded into Formula One's newest venue on a sun-splashed day to cap off weekend of partying that had attracted jet-setters and A-listers along with the political and business elite to the quirky Texas capital.

Among those spotted roaming the paddock were Mexico president Felipe Calderon, Texas governor Rick Perry, movie mogul George Lucas, celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay and director Ron Howard, who is about to release a Formula One-themed movie.   Continued...

McLaren Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain, Red Bull Formula One driver Sebastian Vettel (L) of Germany and Ferrari Formula One driver Fernando Alonso (R) of Spain drink champagne during the podium ceremony after the U.S. F1 Grand Prix at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas November 18, 2012. Hamilton won the U.S. Grand Prix on Sunday while championship leader Vettel failed to clinch his third consecutive drivers' title on his 100th career start. Alonso came in third. REUTERS/Robert Galbraith