Formula One
race update

Formula 1 eyes on Austin: World champions will be chosen deep in the heart of Texas

Formula 1 eyes on Austin: World champions will be chosen deep in the heart of Texas

The 2012 Formula 1 World Driver's Championship will be won in Austin on November 18 at the inaugural United States Grand Prix at Circuit of the Americas.

On Sunday, race fans around the world witnessed one of the great races in the history of Formula 1 as Sebastian Vettel, the superstar 25-year-old driver for Red Bull Racing, came from a last place start in the pit lane (due to a fuel irregularity ruling) to place third on the podium at the crash heavy Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi. Vettle rose 23 places over the race's 55 laps overcoming both his penalized start and a broken front wing.

Kimi Räikkönen won the Grand Prix, driving for Lotus, but all eyes were on the battle for the World Championship as Ferrari's Fernando Alonso, Vettel's closest rival, finished second.

Coming in to the United States Grand Prix in Austin, only 10 points separate Vettel (255 points) from Alonso (245 points) for the 2012 World Driver's Championship, everyone else is out of range.

The USGP drama

In two weeks, Austin, Texas becomes the focal point for an epic Formula 1 battle, and millions around the world will be watching as Sebastian Vettel drives to become only the third (and the youngest) three-peat world champion in F1 history, and his team, Red Bull Racing, wins a third straight F1 constructors championship.

Vettel, a German driver in the No. 1 car, is defending his titles won in 2010 and then repeated in 2011. He is quite simply the most dominating driver in racing today. He won 11 of 19 races last year and scored the highest number of points in Formula 1 history. Vettel became the youngest driver ever to win a Grand Prix at age 21 back in 2008 and has dominated the worlds greatest racing series.

While Vettel won the last two championships, his closest contender, Spaniard Fernando Alonso in the No. 5 car and driving for the Ferrari team, is no upstart. Alonso won the drivers championship in 2005 and 2006. 

The United States Grand Prix is the penultimate race of the season and this inaugural race will arguably host one of the great battles in history as two of F1's finest drivers fight it out on the Circuit of the Americas track.

The winner of each race is awarded 25 points, while the top 10 finishers earn points for themselves and for their team based on how they finish.

The 2012 season

Formula 1 fans call this 2012 season the best in a decade as eight different drivers have won at least one race. Until Sunday, Vettel, after a slow start to the season, had taken four straight and led 205 successive laps. Alonso won three races this season staying in the hunt for Vettel.

As if it needed any more drama or irony, the USGP will be Vettel's 100th career Formula 1 race, and should Red Bull win their third constructor's championship, which is all but assured, they will win it in Red Bull's best energy drink market. Red Bull is planning a celebration here rivaling any in the world.

What to watch

While the race for first will take up most of the headlines, there is more for a new Formula 1 fan to watch for in Austin November 18.

Michael Schumacher in the No. 7 car, is a Formula 1 legend and winner of more championships (7) than any driver in F1 history. He announced last month that he will retire (again) at the end of this season. Schumacher's seven championships put him two ahead of the next leading champion and five ahead of any current driver. Austin gets a treat watching him race for the last time.

The Mexican born Sergio Perez in the No. 15 car named COTA his home circuit last year when the USGP was announced. He is out of contention for the championship, driving for Sauber, but he is a rising star in racing.

What fans lovingly call "the F1 circus" is packing it's bags in Abu Dhabi and preparing to set up the tents in Austin, Texas, and the entire Formula 1 world will be watching.

Austin Photo: Kevin_Formula 1 update_November 2012_finish line
Lotus' Kimi Räikkönen crosses the finish line winning the Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi, with Ferrari's Fernando Alonso close behind. Photo by Paul Gilham / Getty Images
Austin Photo: Kevin_Formula 1 update_November 2012_Alonso, Vettle
Sebastian Vettle (r), Kimi Räikkönen (second from right) and Fernando Alonso (second from left) celebrate the podium in Abu Dhabi. Photo by Dimitar Dilkoff / AFP