Damn, Our Formula 1 Track Looks Good

Congratulations, America.  

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Okay, so maybe Sunday’s Formula 1 U.S. Grand Prix wasn't the most engaging race to watch. Fair. As expected, the Mercedes-AMG team dominated. After smashing the lap record in qualifying, Lewis Hamilton took the win, as he has at four of the five U.S. Grand Prix races held in Austin, Texas. His teammate, Nico Rosberg, finished second, maintaining his lead in the F1 driver point standings. Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo nabbed the final podium spot. The high point might've been Fernando Alonso, who finished fifth, whooping over the radio after a ballsy overtake of Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz, Jr. Nice to know McLaren-Honda’s veteran still has a pulse. Besides that, this year's event was... fine?

But! When they got ready to build Circuit of the Americas, back in 2011, the planners did so with visual appeal in mind. That means the track is explicitly designed to present well on television, and translate beautifully into still pictures. Even if the race itself isn't particularly compelling, the glossies are captivating. That's good news, and worth celebrating. 

So, here, the 2016 F1 U.S. Grand Prix in photos. Drink it all in.

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Red Bull's drivers rocked the U.S.A. kicks. Super duper fresh. 

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Lights out! The race got off to a hectic start. Sergio Perez hit Daniil Kvyat; Valtteri Bottas suffered a nasty puncture; and Nico Hulkenberg's day ended early. Who go away clean? Mostly Lewis Hamilton. 

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You had to feel for Max Verstappen. In rapid succession, the teenage prodigy: (1) Laid down the day's fastest lap, (2) Pitted to find his team wasn't ready, and sat while they scrambled to change his tires, (3) Retired due to catastrophic engine failure.  

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Circuit of the America's blue flag system, new for this year, basically blew itself up trying to keep backmarkers out of the way. Blue flags, Team Renault. Blue flags everywhere. 

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Kimi Räikkönen's was released from the pits with only three wheels tightened. That's one less than needed, if you're counting along at home. Being Kimi, he peeled out, realized something was amiss, and proceeded to reverse (a long way) back to the pits. No luck. The Iceman's day ended early.

Daniel Ricciardo put in work, keeping on Nico Rosberg's tail, and giving it a decent run in the race's closing act. But with the Mercedes cars in their own league, Red Bull is mostly taking on Ferrari; Sebastian Vettel finished fourth, but didn't look to be in serious contention. 

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Seriously, guys: Other F1 tracks do not look this cool in photos.

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Braking problems continued to bother the hometown Hass F1 Team. Esteban Gutiérrez was forced to retire early, but Romain Grosjean held on for tenth place, scoring points for the fifth time this season.  

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But this one was all Lewis Hamilton. He was in another galaxy, slowing toward the end, but leading his teammate by as much as ten seconds for extended intervals. 

Peter J. Fox

And so he took the win, joining Alain Prost and Michael Schumacher as the only drivers in F1 history with 50 first-place finishes to their credit.  

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Hamilton, the defending World Champion, keeps his title hopes alive. Daniel Ricciardo drinks from his shoe on the podium. Taylor Swift plays a live concert, Circuit of the Americas announces record-breaking attendance for the race (269,889) and all is right with the world.

It's been real. See you next year, Formula 1.