- Associated Press - Saturday, November 17, 2012

AUSTIN, TEXAS (AP) - McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton won the last U.S. Grand Prix in 2007. He’d love to grab another victory in its return.

He’s also tired of Sebastian Vettel christening all the new tracks in recent years with victories for Red Bull.

“I really would love to (win). Sebastian has a lot of wins on the new circuits. I hope I can get at least one,” Hamilton said Saturday after nearly knocking Vettel off pole position in qualifying.

Hamilton will start second Sunday. He acknowledged a love affair with the U.S., starting with his victory in Indianapolis five years ago.

“I think it’s the people, the way of life here. The weather is fantastic,” Hamilton said. “I came here this weekend. … I won the last U.S. Grand Prix, and I want it so bad.”

Although the 2008 world champion will switch to Mercedes next season, Hamilton said he’d work hard for McLaren to help the team in the constructor’s championship. Red Bull leads, trailed by Ferrari and McLaren.

If he can help push McLaren into second, “I will be very happy with that,” Hamilton said.


KEEP IT CLEAN: F1 asked drivers to clean up their language during live broadcast interviews after Vettel and Lotus’ Kimi Raikkonen said some choice words following the race in Abu Dhabi. Vettel jokingly dropped another expletive Saturday before the cameras were rolling.

Reminded by the post-qualifying news conference moderator about the no-swearing directive, Vettel acknowledged him and still did it anyway.

And after Vettel answered a question in German during the live broadcast, Red Bull teammate Mark Webber jokingly asked the moderator if Vettel cursed in German and whether that was allowed.


SIR JACKIE SMILES: Count former three-time Formula One champion Jackie Stewart among those impressed by the new Circuit of the Americas built for the return of the U.S. Grand Prix.

“It looks great,” Stewart said as he walked the paddock area while wearing a blue plaid cap that matched his plaid pants.

Stewart said he had toured only the track with an elevated view from a helicopter, but said he planned to get a ride around the course Saturday afternoon.

Stewart compared some of the rolling topography and the challenging nature of the course to sections of the old Nurburgring in Germany. The first turn at the Circuit of the Americas is a hairpin left at the top of a 133-foot rise. Two-time defending champion Sebastian Vettel of Red Bull has called the circuit a “fun track.”

The Circuit of the Americas is the first facility in the U.S. designed specifically for Formula One, and the track has won high praise from officials and drivers all week.

“It’s the first time the U.S. has had something like this. I’m very impressed,” Stewart said.

Stewart said the return of the U.S. Grand Prix makes him optimistic for the future of the sport in the country it left for five years.

“It’s a great thing for Austin and for the U.S.,” Stewart said.


CELEBRITY SIGHTINGS: The first U.S. Grand Prix since 2007 brought out some of the world’s most famous and wealthiest.

“Star Wars” creator and filmmaker George Lucas strolled the paddock, where he stopped and shook hands with actor Patrick Dempsey before ducking into the McLaren team tent. Dempsey stopped to take pictures with fans before qualifying, as did actor Matt LeBlanc.

Mexican business magnate Carlos Slim was in the pit area during qualifying. The race is expected to draw several thousand fans from Mexico to support Mexican driver Sergio Perez, who is 10th in the driver standings and will jump from Sauber to McLaren in 2013.

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