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Andretti Praises Circuit Of The Americas UPDATE
America's last F1 World Champion Mario Andretti dons a Texas Cowboy hat while interviewing the top-3 finishers
It wouldn’t be Texas without a cowboy hat – and American racing legend Mario Andretti ended up wearing one as he greeted the top three finishers in the United States Grand Prix in Austin Sunday.

Race winner Lewis Hamilton, second placegetter Sebastian Vettel and third-placed Fernando Alonso all wore the iconic headgear when they appeared on the winners’ podium.

Vettel got into hot water last time he spoke on the podium in Abu Dhabi, but this time the 25-year-old German’s sense of humor came to the fore.

When the drivers’ support staff handed them the obligatory team caps, Vettel promptly put his cowboy hat on the head of 1978 world champion Andretti – the last American to win a grand prix.

“You have the resolve and did a fabulous race,” Andretti said to Hamilton, then asked for his reaction to being first-time winner on the Circuit of The Americas.

“I’m so happy,” said Hamilton, winner of four races in 2012. “The fans have been amazing this weekend, so thank you so much. The warm welcome we’ve had has been fantastic and I think this is one of the best, if not the best grand prix we’ve had all year. It’s been a long, long time since I had a win [6 races ago], I’m just so proud.”

Vettel came to Austin for his 100th grand prix start and was magnanimous after losing the lead with 14 laps to go. “First of all, thank you very much,” said the German. “Actually I did my first race five years ago last time we were racing in the U.S., so it’s a very nice comeback today. It was my 100th Grand Prix and amazing, the amount of people we had all weekend. All in all a great race and a great result for us.”

Last but not least Andretti, whose first grand prix victory came in a Ferrari in South Africa in 1971, spoke with the man currently gracing the cockpit of the red cars, Fernando Alonso. “You like it? You enjoy the ride?” he asked the Spaniard.

“The circuit was fantastic and the fans fantastic all weekend,” Alonso said. “Big thanks to all the fans coming here, Americans, Mexicans and the South Americans that came also to support us. We enjoyed racing here thanks to the fans, thanks to the fantastic facilities and I hope we put on a good show for everybody and people will enjoy even more next year.”

11/18/12 Former F1 Champion Mario Andretti described the vision for Austin’s new track as a “courageous investment." Andretti spoke at a dinner the Circuit of the Americas executive team hosted for more than 40 sponsors and potential partners at Austin’s III Forks steakhouse. Andretti: “This is mission accomplished. I have a great relationship with journalists all over the world. Journalists we know can be brutal, but I’ve never seen so much positive reaction from journalists in every country. They see Europe. They see Asia. They see the Middle East. The expectations were nowhere near what they found here. They have spoken in a positive way because they believe in what was delivered." Tripp Mickle Sports Business Daily
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