Formula 1 update

Racing world eyes Austin for upcoming Formula 1 Championship

Racing world eyes Austin for upcoming Formula 1 Championship

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

On November 4, race fans around the world witnessed one of the great races in the history of Formula 1 as Sebastian Vettle, the superstar 25-year-old driver for Red Bull Racing, came from a last-place start in the pit lane (due 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, Vettle's closest rival, finished second.

Going into the United States Grand Prix in Austin, only 10 points separate Vettle (255 points) from Alonso (245 points) for the 2012 World Driver's Championship. Everyone else is out of range.

The USGP drama
Next week, Austin becomes the focal point for an epic Formula 1 battle. Millions around the world will be watching as Vettle 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.

Vettle, a German driver in the No. 1 car, is defending his titles from 2010 and 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. At age 21, Vettle became the youngest driver ever to win a Grand Prix back in 2008, and he has dominated the world's greatest racing series.

Although Vettle 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.

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

Michael Schumacher, in the No. 7 car, is a Formula 1 legend and winner of more championships (seven) 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 will get a treat watching him race for the last time.

The Mexican-born Sergio Perez, in the No. 15 car named COTA, 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 its bags in Abu Dhabi and preparing to set up the tents in Austin. The entire Formula 1 world will be watching.

Austin Photo: Kevin_Formula 1 update_November 2012_Alonso, Vettle
Sebastian Vettle (right), Kimi Räikkönen (second from right) and Fernando Alonso (second from left) celebrate the podium in Abu Dhabi. Photo by Dimitar Dilkoff / AFP
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