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Nico Rosberg

Friday at the 2014 USGP

Friday at the 2014 USGP

Race Review: German Grand Prix

Fernando Alonso came in first while Sebastian Vettel took second position (though Seb was penalized for his overtake on Jenson Butto - Photo by Lars Baron/Getty Images)
Nothing throws a wrench into Race day grid positions like a bit of rain on Qualifying day. That is precisely what we had at the German Grand Prix this weekend. Some teams were prepared (or lucky) while others were slightly doomed (or not prepared). Alonso, the front-runner of the championship after British Grand Prix, was certainly prepared with a wet setup and capture Pole position. Not so lucky was Massa, Rosberg and Grosjean, none of them made Q3 Top-10 shootout.

To keep things interesting, Hokkenheim gave the German Grand Prix a sunny and dry race day. Alonso was on pole, followed by Vettel and Schumacher. With 4 wins in the pocket and a 3rd place on the grid, I had high hopes for Schumacher. However, ultimately it was just not meant to be. Schumacher ended the race at 7th.

Taking full advantage of the pole position, however, is Alonso. Alonso blew away the competition, surged ahead and never looked back from the moment the race started. Alonso seems to be ready for any challenge and made his strategy stick in recent races. Even in a seemingly less competitive car, Alonso has driven the wheels off of the Ferrari and took the top spot on the podium for the German Grand Prix. This is the 3rd win for Alonso at the Hokkenheim track. I think he may have shed some joyous tears on the podium. In my pre-race post, I've mentioned that the odds are in Schumacher, Alonso and Hamilton's favor at this Grand Prix, I'm mildly excited that my guesses are getting more accurate in this unpredictable season.

Hoping for a comeback from a disappointing finish last week, Hamilton started on 7th and ended up retiring at Lap 58 due to lack of pace and a puncture. With a bit of reversed fortune, Button did very well in the race, going from 6th to 3rd by lap 12 and just kept pushing up front. It certainly helped that McLaren has dramatically improved their pit stop time, with one of Button's stop taking a fleeting 2.31 seconds, fastest ever in the records. All these with some good driving nudged Button to 2nd near closing stage of the race. That was until Button started losing tyres performance. Vettel saw the weakness and decided to be naughty (and play innocent), attempted to pass Button on Lap 66, went wide AND off the track that give him some grip to slip in front of Button to take 2nd place on the podium.

Even though Vettel was on podium for 2nd, the stewards investigate the overtaking move and decided to give him a 20-second penalty which dropped him to Fifth. Quite the misfortune for Vettel at the home race. As a result, Button is 2nd, with Raikkonen taking 3rd in the 67-lap race. Button must be absolutely thrilled to be back on the podium after a drought of wins.

Honorable mentions of the Hokkenheim race are Kobayashi, who went up 7 spots with a 2-stop strategy to end the race in 5th, and Perez, went up a whopping 11 spots to 6th place. Both of these drivers are not always the front-runners, but are always driving their heart out with their cars, great pleasure to watch and definitely adds to the entertaining factor of the race to see them dual!

Grid girls, what's going on with the outfits? Is it because we're still in Europe that the last few races your outfit has not changed? It's still a red dress with a white bow-knot in the front and red heels. I was hoping that there'd be some new outfits, but alas. And who wins the Post-race Best hair award? That prize goes to none other than Button, who kept his cool on the podium with cool head and hair while waiting for the stewards to decide Vettel's illegal overtaking move.

That's all for the German Grand Prix! Can't wait for the Hungarian Grand Prix to come around July 27-29! Catch you then!

Hot Texas Nights Bring Motorsports to Austinites

 // More photos in the gallery

What do you get when you mix a hot new venue with a lively international bunch and one of the oldest automobile manufacturers in the sport of Formula 1? Another successful event creating buzz about Formula 1 and motorsports in Austin.

// Javelina

Javelina is the first restaurant to open up in a popular part of Austin - Rainey Street. This recognized historic district is now Austin's newest entertainment district, situated close enough to a highway (IH-35) but closer yet to Lady Bird Lake in southeast downtown. The majority of the bungalow-style homes have been renovated and repurposed as bars with food trailers sprinkled throughout the 120 acres, but when Javelina opened earlier this winter it became the latest laid-back Austin bar to offer cocktails uniquely paired with in-house prepared bites.

What makes it uniquely Austin is its ample patio space: lining the lot line is a very rustic, very Austin untreated mesquite wood fence, lined with just the right amount of twinkle for hot Texas nights. Speaking of heat, even though we hit 100' F as guests started to arrive at 6:00 PM, the conversation, crowd and vibe was so great it wasn't a point of contention. An equally inviting indoor space provided relief for guests until the sun set, with a newly installed shuffleboard table providing entertainment for guests.

Javelina prepared light hors d'oeuvres and offered a $5 "F1 Burger" (or veggie burger) for the event, but one of my favorite stories from the night comes from Adam Moorehead of Legion Firearms. He joined a table of guests and started learning about the dynamic international makeup of the group. Adam prepared a plate with chips and queso - a Texas staple - and others at the table did not know what queso was. Adam took advantage of the opportunity to introduce the group to the melted cheese appetizer that is served in nearly every restaurant in Texas, especially of the Tex-Mex variety, and they (of course) loved it! This is a small example of friendly Texans sharing and teaching others, this time over food.

With queso and cocktails flowing, Javelina's General Manager, Carlos Gacharna, noticed everyone having a good time. He said it was great to see all the name tags with countries from all over the world.

// EuroCircle

That's a unique feature of EuroCircle events that many enjoy: Kaisa Kokkonen, who is originally from Finland, founded EuroCircle in New York in 1999 and is now an Austin resident, prepares the nametags which list the guest and their country of origin. This proves to be an instant conversation starter as you quickly get a sense of the true diversity of the crowd. Guests easily connect with others by reading the country listed on their nametag and greeting each other in their native language.

You may recall we joined forces with the largest networking group with an international influence a few months ago. We had such a positive experience that we wanted to do it again, and this time we invited a new partner to join us to make the connection to motorsports even more apparent.

// Mercedes Benz of Austin

If you're an F1 fan you are already familiar with Mercedes' involvement in Formula 1 - the Mercedes AMG Petronas team had a great showing at last week's European Grand Prix in Valencia, Spain. Arguably the most well-known F1 driver of modern day, Michael Schumacher, completed his first podium finish since returning to the sport in 2006 after a short retirement. His teammate, Nico Rosberg, won this year's Chinese Grand Prix, took second place in Monaco, and is currently 5th in the Formula One World Championship with a total of 75 points.

For Austinites not yet familiar with Mercedes AMG, the event proved to be another experience to teach others in a social environment. Patrick Van den Nieuwenhuysen of Mercedes Benz of Austin provided the hosts with stylish white, turquoise and silver Mercedes AMG Petronas hats (team colors) so guests could easily identify us among the lively crowd. Our helpful event ambassadors, Jenny Tynes, Mike Boone, Allison Berguin and Mike McKinnon greeted guests at the entrance and mingled throughout the night while sharing their working knowledge of motorsports with fans of every experience level. They also distributed Mercedes' gifts of embroidered bags, key chains and tire pressure gauges to guests which were appropriately themed for the event.

Patrick also invited Will Hardeman of Continental Automotive Group to experience his first EuroCircle event and showcase one of the slickest cars on the road right now - the Mercedes E Class. Javelina had a perfect space in front of the raw-mesquite fence out front to position the car for guests to check out on their way in to the event. It also proved to be an opportunity for passersby to peek in and join us.

Thank you to Mercedes Benz of Austin for providing the light hors d'oeuvres and goodies for our guests and Javelina Bar for hosting us for the evening. We'd also like to thank Mike Boone and Jenny Tynes for welcoming the 200+ guests and Kaisa Kokkonen and Allison Berguin for insuring EuroCircle Austin members came out and enjoyed the evening.

// We look forward to seeing everyone at our next event!

 // More photos in the gallery

Feature: A Closer Look at the Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula 1 Team

Sunday race action - Nico Rosberg of Mercedes AMG Petronas at the 2012 European GP. Image courtesy of Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team.The following is a feature by Austinite Mike Boone. Mike is an avid F1 fan and he prepared this information to educate guests at tonight's networking event with EuroCircle at Javelina. We think it will be a great primer for new F1 fans, so we'll have copies to distribute at the event.

// What do you need to know about the Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula 1 team? Here are some helpful facts:

The first Mercedes involvement in Formula One came four years after the first race in 1954. Mercedes has also served as an engine provider to other teams with their engines winning two constructors and four driver’s championships. The current team has been competing since 2010 after the purchase of Brawn GP.  As a constructor Mercedes have won two drivers championships and ten races in Formula One.

Mercedes' drivers for 2012 are Michael Schumacher and Nico Rosberg, although it is now known that Schumacher is retiring at the end of 2012 while Lewis Hamilton, currently at McLaren Mercedes is joining Rosberg at Mercedes AMG Petronas.  Also, Mercedes AMG currently supply McLaren and Force India with engines.

The name for the Mercedes constructor in was changed for 2012, the team removed the GP from their name and added AMG, the high performance division of Mercedes.

At the China race this year Nico Rosberg won first pole position for Mercedes since Fangio last did it in 1955.  Rosberg went on to win the Chinese Grand Prix this race which was the first win in China, in 57 years.

// About the Team

Full name: Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team (2012 – )

Base: Brackley, Northamptonshire, United Kingdom

Team Principal: Ross Brawn

CEO: Nick Fry

Technical Director: Bob Bell

Website: www.Mercedes-AMG-F1.com

Previous name: Brawn GP Formula One Team

// 2012 Formula 1 Season

Drivers: #7 Michael Schumacher and #8 Nico Rosberg

Test Driver: Sam Bird

Chassis: Mercedes F1 W03

Engine: Mercedes-Benz

Tires: Pirelli

// F1 World Championship Career

Debut: 1954 French Grand Prix

Latest Race: 2012 European Grand Prix (photo above was taken there)

Races completed: 57

Constructor's Championships: 0

Drivers' Championships: 1954 and 1955

Race Victories: 10

Pole Positions: 9

Fastest Laps: 9

The information above was compiled from the Mercedes AMG Petronas website and Wikipedia.

Race Preview: Spanish Grand Prix

Spanish flag and GP artwork by PJ Tierney. Click on the photo to read more about his work!Catalunya, Spain, Alonso, Victory. Words that belong together. Or rather, words that the Ferrari team must be whispering loudly as they prepare for this weekend's race at Circuit de Catalunya.

After waiting for three weeks, I am so ready for a race weekend. With Red Bull finally getting back to the top podium spot and the herculean comeback effort from The Iceman in the Bahrain race, the musical chair of "Who will win this race?" continues amongst the top contenders. Will this be the race that Webber nudges past the consistent 4th place? Will McLaren team gets the pit stops right this race around (they better!)? Will the new nose on the McLaren cars bring new competitiveness for Hamilton and Button? Will tyres strategy come into play as early as qualifying? Will Lotus team continue to hustle for top spots? Will the Spaniard be victorious? Will we see Rosberg's almost-shampoo-commercial-worthy resilient Post-Race hair? These are the questions I want answers to, in the next few days. The Spanish Grand Prix weekend cannot come soon enough!

Great Race, Great Friends, Great Watch Party

// Downtown Watch Party

Our eleventh watch party in downtown Austin was hosted by Lavaca Street Bar for the Chinese Grand Prix. As with all of our events, there's always a very strong mix of new visitors, averaging around thirty percent over our events this past year. Sunday's event was an exception, with nearly fifty percent of the 75+ attendance visiting the downtown watch party for the first time ever. 

This great balance of old and new fans is making a great conversational environment, allowing those of all knowledge levels to participate and feel welcome. Our more seasoned fans helped to welcome newcomers to the sport by offering advice and sharing their experiences with each other. Most conversations in the room, if not about the exciting race itself, usually focus on individuals sharing their first race experience or excitement for the future GP in Austin.

With a great crowd in attendance, the energy was right for the stunningly entertaining Chinese GP. We all helped congratulate Mercedes GP driver Nico Rosberg on his first win in the sport and Mercedes' first win in 57 years as a factory team. The race had all of the elements to make for great viewing, so good company to watch with on a Sunday afternoon make it all the more enjoyable.  

// Lavaca Street Bar

Our guests raved about the Chinese-themed food provided - fresh egg rolls, savory pots tickers, teriyaki flavored wings, ribs that rival the best local BBQ joints and a fresh noodle & veggie mix. It's no surprise everyone enjoyed the food; Lavaca Street's menu is being redeveloped by Casey Fannin, an amazing chef and close friend of Tyson Cole of Uchi and Uchiko restaurants. If you didn't know before enjoying the fare, it was evident after as the food was delicious!

At the end of the race we raffled off a copy of the SENNA movie DVD and a movie poster to continue to spread the word about this amazing film.  If you haven't seen it, check out the trailer here and rent it on Netflix or buy a copy here. Congratulations to Kärt Klein; enjoy the movie - again! (She has seen it before and is a big fan!)

A very special thanks goes out to DNA Events for their production expertise and support to help make this event possible.  In addition, a special thanks to Premiere Party Central for their donations of the chinese-themed table decor, and thanks to Paul Walhus of Spring.net for stepping up as our photographer at the last minute.

// What's Next?

We're already back in planning mode for our next watch party. We've decided to focus on a hand-picked number of watch parties this season in order to create truly engaging fan experiences. But you won't have to wait long to see your F1 friends and meet new Austinites!

Tomorrow, Thursday, April 19, we're hosting a joint happy hour with EuroCircle - "a free informal community for expats and Europeans or Europhiles." Come celebrate the diversity of Austin at this international networking event and learn about Formula 1™ coming to Austin. Join us back at Icenhauer's tomorrow night from 6:00PM - 10:00PM for networking and mingling over cocktails and light hors d'oeuvres. Icenhauer's is located on the famed Rainey Street and you will feel truly welcome in this renovated 1895 home with an expansive patio and cool drinks!

Icenhauer's - 83 Rainey StreetWhat: Happy Hour with EuroCircle and The Austin Grand Prix

When: Thursday, April 19, 6:00PM - 10:00PM

Where: Icenhauer's, 83 Rainey Street, Austin, TX 78701

Why: Let’s celebrate the diverse crowd that Austin welcomes and embraces as well as the fantastic arrival of F1 in Austin!

Hosts: Kaisa Kokkonen (EuroCircle), Allison Berguin (France) and Kerri Olsen (The Austin Grand Prix)

Cost: Free

Parking: On surrounding streets and a pay lot where Rainey Street intersects with Driskill Street

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