Lewis Hamilton took a step closer to a fourth drivers’ championship title by winning the United States Grand Prix in Austin. The win also comfirms Mercedes’ as the Constructor champions for a fourth consecutive year. Sebastian Vettel finished 10-seconds behind his rival with teammate Kimi Raikkonen completing a double podium for Ferrari after Max Verstappen who initially overtook the Finn on the final lap for third, was given a 5-seconds penalty for leaving the track and gaining advantage.
Valtteri Bottas crossed the line in fifth ahead of Esteban Ocon with Carlos Sainz impressing on his Renault debut with a 7th place finish for the French team. Sergio Perez finished eight followed by Williams’ Felipe Massa and Danill Kvyat on his return for Toro Rosso taking the last point.
Vettel got the better start over polesittet Hamilton, the German jumping ahead into the first corner for the race lead. But the Briton and his Silver Arrow car which has topped every session this weekend at Circuit Of Americas was not ready to play second fiddle on this crucial Sunday. Hamilton erased the 1.3 seconds lead and with DRS breezed past the Ferrari on the back straight on lap 6.
Vettel was the first to pit among the top six, changing from the pink (usually purple) ultrasoft to the soft tyres on lap 16. This move nearly became an undercut success for the Red’s No.5 after Hamilton made his only stop on lap 19, somehow lost 4 seconds in the process emerged ahead of the SF70H all over his mirrors.
Vettel made his second stop on lap 38 for supersoft to cover a threat from Verstappen who had weaved his way through the field and now aiming for a podium finish. The German came out behind Bottas and his Ferrari teammate Raikkonen. The two Finns had a mini battle for P2 with the 2007 world champion getting past his younger compatriot. Vettel on freher rubber chased down the vulnerable Bottas for third place and was kindly giving a tow by Raikkonen to limit the point loss to race leader Hamilton.
Verstappen also got past the second Silver Arrow and was soon on the tails of Raikkonen. On the final lap, the 20 year-old aggression paid off on the Ferrari to take third but the Dutchman was given the news while in the cooling room of his 5-seconds penalty for going off-track to gain advantage. He was walked out with Raikkonen coming in to take his place.
Lance Stroll missed out on the points in 11th place followed by McLaren’s Stoffel Vandoorne and F1 debutant Brendon Hartley in the Toro Rosso. Haas in their home grand prix finished 14th for Romain Grosjean with Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson in between the Frenchman’s teammate Kevin Magnussen. Daniel Ricciardo and Fernando Alonso both retired with engine failures. Pascal Wehrlein and Nico Hulkenberg also did not see the chequered flag.
Hamilton(331) now with a 66 points lead over Vettel(265), needs to at least finish 5th in next Sunday’s Mexico Grand Prix to win his fourth drivers world championship. Mercedes have wrapped up the Constructor’s Championship for a fourth straight year with three race to spare. The Brackey-based team have further proven their dominance in the era of hybrid engines.