US Grand Prix

Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton of the Mercedes Team have dominated Formula 1 racing this season, and Sunday’s US Grand Prix at Circuit of the Americas was no exception.

Rosberg started on the pole, but Hamilton passed him on lap 24 and crossed the finish line 4.3 seconds ahead of his teammate, giving Hamilton his fifth straight victory and 10th of the year. Daniel Ricciardo of Infiniti Red Bull Racing took third, 25.5 seconds back, and the Williams-Mercedes team of Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas finished fourth and fifth.

Hamilton’s 32nd career win also put him ahead of Nigel Mansell as the most successful British Formula 1 driver in history. 

“My family worked so very hard for many years to get me here and to be amongst the greats,” Hamilton said. “I could die and go to heaven right now, and I’d be good.”  

The Grand Prix was the third annual Formula 1 tilt at COTA and is the only U.S. stop on the circuit. Mercedes, Infiniti Red Bull, Ferrari and Williams-Mercedes have eaten up more than 80 percent of the total points this season. 

Three teams — Lotus Racing, Force India and Sauber Ferrari — were rumored to be considering a boycott of this race to call attention to the widening economic disparity between the larger sponsored teams and the smaller independent ones. Two other teams, Marussia and Caterham, went bankrupt earlier in the week, limiting the field to 18 cars.

In recent seasons, the most successful teams have been those with the largest budgets. Precise financial figures are a closely held industry secret, but each car costs more than $7 million to build and teams spend a minimum of $100 million per year to compete. 

The weekend also featured a post-race concert by Kid Rock and two smaller series races featuring Ferraris and Porsches.

Matt Cadieuex, Infiniti Red Bull Racing engineer, breaks down the process that goes into building a championship Formula One car. Red Bull Racing has won three back-to-back Formula one Constructors Championships.

Photo Credit: Charlie Pearce | Daily Texan Staff

Matt Cadieux, a head engineer and chief information officer at Infiniti Red Bull Racing, spoke Wednesday to a packed auditorium of UT engineers and Formula One enthusiasts about the behind-the-scenes engineering that he said plays a critical role in the company’s champion racing team.

The team Cadieux works for, sponsored by Red Bull, already has three World Championships under its belt, and Cadieux said the team hopes to win this weekend’s US Grand Prix with the help of driver Sebastian Vettel. The race will be hosted at the new Circuit of the Americas track, which is about 15 miles south of Austin. Yet despite what he called growing glamour of the sport and its brand, Cadieux said the sport is still mainly a battle between engineers.

“What a lot of people see is the glamorous side of racing,” said Cadieux. “But the reality is that we’re just a hard-working engineering company.”

Cadieux emphasized his point with a multimedia presentation highlighting the Red Bull team’s world record 2.05-second tire change and aerodynamic improvements in downforce that keep pressure on the tires in even the sharpest turns — using the windstream to push the cars toward the tracks with enough force that they could, hypothetically, drive upside down. Though Cadieux also stressed the athletic endurance of Formula One drivers, he emphasized the major role technology plays in determining victors.

“The opportunity to create incredible things like this is why I’m an engineer,” mechanical engineering sophomore Howard Kay said.

The event was sponsored by the Cockrell School of Engineering in conjunction with Red Bull and Formula SAE, the UT student formula racing team. Bharg Gor, a chemical engineering senior and the team manager of Formula SAE, said the team has seen a substantial increase in the number of engineering students interesting in formula racing as a result of Austin’s hosting of the US Grand Prix.

“This year we’ve had more recruits than before because last year’s US Grand Prix in Austin was wildly successful,” Gor said. “Publicity events like this are a big help to our team’s efforts  to recruit.”

The FIA Formula One World Championship sees the Austin-based US Grand Prix as an important part of its brand-expansion strategy.

“The United States is the world economic superpower and a huge untapped market for Formula One racing,” Cadieux said. “Our hope is that hosting a US Grand Prix here in Austin will change that.”