F1's return to the USA was a much-hyped affair, but the inaugural United States Grand Prix at the Circuit of the Americas provided the sort of spectacle to enthral a capacity crowd.
From front to back, the field defied the lack of grip provided by the new Austin facility, and the conservative nature of Pirelli's tyre choice, to produce passing aplenty, and a thrilling car-and-mouse chase for the overall honours.
Sebastian Vettel may have claimed pole position in Saturday's key qualifying session – annexing the best position on the cleaner side of the grid – but could not resist a fired-up Lewis Hamilton for the entire 56 laps. Despite losing second place to the other Red Bull car of Mark Webber into turn one, Hamilton was soon past the Australian and hounding Vettel.
Determined to leave McLaren on a high, and keen to avenge two lost victories in Singapore and Abu Dhabi, the Briton would not be denied, sweeping around the outside of Vettel to assume a lead he would not lose.
The German posted a succession of fastest laps in his pursuit, but had to settle for second – enough to confirm a third successive constructors' title for RBR. However, with Fernando Alonso benefiting from Ferrari's pre-race tactics and Webber retiring, Vettel still faces the prospect of the drivers' championship will go the wire.
Massa overcame the setback of being forced into a five-place grid drop to battle back from eleventh at the start to fourth at the chequered flag, while Jenson Button used an alternative tyre strategy – running the hard Pirelli from the start – to rise from twelfth on the grid (and 16th on lap one) to round out the top five.
The Briton had to pass both Lotus drivers on the way, with Kimi Raikkonen claiming sixth, one ahead of Romain Grosjean, who defied an early spin and subsequent change of tyres to come from the tail of the field to finish seventh.
Force India's Nico Hulkenberg finished eighth, with the two Williams drivers squabbling over position before Pastor Maldonado bettered Bruno Senna for ninth.
So was Hamilton the star of the race, or did the Briton merely earn his stripes while others shone more brightly around him?
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