Lewis Hamilton won his sixth Formula 1 World Championship at the United States Grand Prix in Austin by coming second, whilst teammate Valtteri Bottas took his fourth win of the season and first at the Circuit of the Americas, as he tried to keep his championship hopes alive.
Bottas drove a superb race from pole but it was Hamilton’s one-stop strategy that really paid off to secure his third consecutive drivers’ championship title, being one of only two Formula 1 drivers to have achieved this remarkable feat.
Max Verstappen took the final spot on the podium with a late charge in the race, finishing under a second behind Hamilton as he crossed the finish line.
Valtteri Bottas said after the race: “First of all huge congratulations to Lewis – six championships is an impressive achievement! He had a strong season and he deserves the title; he was better overall. Lewis is a tough opponent, he has very few weaknesses, makes almost no mistakes and drives very consistently. But I’ve been gaining some good momentum, so I’m looking forward to another close fight with him next year. It’s been a really good weekend for me and the team. I struggled at this track in previous years, so it was great to cross the line in first place. It was not an easy race; I had a strong start and a good first stint, but we had to switch to a two-stop to cover Max and I was a bit worried that Lewis on the one-stop might be on the better strategy. It was a proper fight and quite a bit of fun; I had to really push, but my pace was strong, and I managed to catch Lewis towards the end. We had a good battle on track, and I passed him to secure the win. It feels really good to win the race like that when you have to really fight for it.”
A jubilant Lewis Hamilton said: “It’s hard to explain what I’m feeling right now, to be honest. Cloud nine doesn’t even get close, it’s somewhere far above that. It’s been the hardest year I can remember; it’s been so challenging, going through the ups and downs, so right now I’m just so full of emotion, it’s overwhelming. I feel truly humbled, and really, really grateful to everyone back at the factories, the entire Daimler family and everyone at PETRONAS – everyone who has worked so hard to enable us to do what we do and achieve this. It’s such a privilege and honour to work for this team, to be able to go out there and have the platform to put in performances like today. And Niki, I miss him so much. Today, he’d have taken his cap off. I wouldn’t have been able to do this without Niki, he’s here with us in spirit. I saw my parents right after the race and seeing my dad’s smile, it says it all. My family have supported me since day one, they worked so hard for me to be here today. I’m so glad they could all come out here, together. Yesterday was a difficult day and today I just wanted to recover and deliver a one-two for the team. Valtteri did a fantastic job, so huge congratulations to him.”
Red Bull Racing
For Max Verstappen, who started sixth on the grid, third was a good result for the Red Bull team and commenting after the race, Verstappen said: “For us, it’s been a positive weekend and I’m very happy to finish third on a track like this. On the last few laps, the yellow flags hurt me, and I couldn’t pass after the straight, otherwise I think we could have finished second. After the race I realised I was missing quite a big piece of my floor which is a shame as I think we could have been even more competitive otherwise. I had a good start and then I tried to follow Valtteri, but it seemed like they had a bit more pace than us so to finish roughly five seconds behind him is a good achievement, especially considering our car damage. I think the two stop was the right way to go and I don’t think we could have done anything differently as it was the fastest strategy for us. I think we’ve taken a good step forward and we’re back in the fight. It’s still not going to be easy, but we won’t give up. It is of course very impressive for Lewis to win his sixth title and you have to be very consistent to achieve that, so he deserves it.”
It proved to be a difficult United States Grand Prix for Ferrari, leaving with just a fourth-place finish for Charles Leclerc, while Sebastian Vettel’s race was cut short on lap 8 when the right rear suspension on his Ferrari broke, forcing the German to retire form the race.
Charles Leclerc said afterwards that “It was a really tough race, especially during the first stint where the front tyres did not feel right. It was difficult to find the grip and we have to look into how exactly that happened. The other two stints were a bit better, but not good enough. Our competitors were just too quick, so it was a rather lonely race for me today. It’s a shame for the team that we didn’t finish the race with both cars. Congratulations to Lewis for the title. He is a great champion and deserves it.”
Red Bull’s Alexander Albon managed to finish fifth, following contact with Carlos Sainz’s McLaren on the fist lap. The Renault team faired better, with a sixth-place finish for Daniel Ricciardo and teammate Nico Hulkenberg finishing ninth. McLaren also performed well here in Austin, with both Lando Norris and Carlos Sainz finishing seventh and eighth respectively.
A five-second penalty for Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat who crossed the line tenth, meant that Racing Point’s Sergio Perez ended up getting the final point of the race with whom Kvyat had collided with. Poetic justice perhaps!
Haas F1 Team
The Haas F1 Team had a disappointing home Grand Prix with Romain Grosjean finishing 15th and teammate Kevin Magnussen being forced to retire just two laps from them end thanks to a brake failure on his car, which was cruel luck. Commenting after the race Magnussen said: “I had a brake issue at the end there. It was a tough day at the office. We weren’t fast enough today, just lacking grip and pace. We have some problems, that’s pretty clear, but I tried to do my best anyway. I got as high as ninth on those first laps – it was good fun, but then it was just so clear that we didn’t have the pace and we started to drop down the order. The race then ended with the brake failure.”
The top ten were Valtteri Bottas, Lewis Hamilton, Max Verstappen, Charles Leclerc, Alexander Albon, Daniel Ricciardo, Lando Norris, Carlos Sainz, Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez taking the final point.
Despite a superb win for Valtteri Bottas, this year’s United States Grand Prix very much belongs to Lewis Hamilton, who continues to re-write the series’ record books.
The penultimate round of this year’s championship takes place on Sunday 17th November at Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace in Sao Paulo, better known as Interlagos, for the 2019 Brazilian Grand Prix.
Simon Burrell is Editor of Our Man Behind The Wheel, a professional photographer and former saloon car racing driver.
Photographs courtesy of Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport, Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool, McLaren and Haas F1 Team
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