US Grand Prix: 6 things you need to know as Hamilton wraps up title number 6
So Lewis Hamilton couldn’t quite win the race, but he did pick up his SIXTH world championship title today at the Circuit of the Americas in Texas.
Here’s how it all unfolded, and everything you need to know from the United States Grand Prix:
1. It's ssix of the best for unstoppable Hamilton
Lewis Hamilton had – by his standards – a poor day on Saturday, qualifying only fifth. But come race day he had his game face on and *so* nearly managed to win this race with some epic tyre management.
He jumped both the Ferraris on lap one to get up to third, then used the same one-stop strategy he used to win in Mexico last week to end up in the lead with 20 laps to go.
This time, he couldn’t quite make his rubber last as long as he did in Mexico, and in the end pole man Valtteri Bottas caught and passed him for the lead with just four laps to go.
Not that it ultimately mattered, as second was easily enough for Hamilton to seal his sixth world championship title.
But it says so much about the man who burst on to the scene as a rookie with McLaren back in 2007 that despite needing just four points to take the crown, he pushed as hard as he possibly could for victory here in Austin, fighting wheel-to-wheel with Bottas.
Yes, he has had the best car in the hybrid era, but it’s never just about the car, and Hamilton time and again proves he is simply the best driver of his generation. He’s now just one title behind what everyone assumed was the uncatchable record of Michael Schumacher – and right now, surely no one would bet against him to match that before he hangs up his helmet.
2. Bottas on top form
He has been overshadowed by Hamilton in each season they have been team-mates, but there have certainly been races where Valtteri Bottas has had the measure of the Brit since they've both been driving Mercedes cars.
This weekend was one of those times – the Finn nailed the pole position and victory double. It was a typically unfussy victory for Bottas, who needs more of these results earlier on in the season next year if he is to ever beat Hamilton to the championship.
3. Vettel is a class act
As it turned out, this year Sebastian Vettel did not put up the kind of title battle he managed in the first half of last season, and today’s race was another one to forget for the four time champ. After tumbling down the order in the first few laps from second on the grid, his rear suspension then gave up, putting him out of the race after just eight laps.
It’s not been a vintage year for the German, but he showed his class after the race by taking the time to hunt down Hamilton in the cool-down room and offer his congratulations to his rival. Nice touch.
In the other Ferrari, Charles Leclerc had a somewhat subdued race as the red car struggled for pace throughout the race. He eventually finished fourth, but was more than 50 seconds behind the leaders.
4. Did K-Mag cost Max second place?
After Valtteri Bottas overtook Hamilton on lap 52, the Brit’s problems weren’t over: Max Verstappen was behind him, and catching him fast. The Dutchman closed right up on the Mercedes and, with the power unit turned all the way up to 11, was lining up a move on Hamilton to take second place.
But then Kevin Magnussen suffered what looked like brake failure, beaching his Haas in the gravel trap at the end of the back straight.
And that meant double waved yellow flags at the very spot where Verstappen would have tried a lunge past Lewis. We’ll never know if he would have made it stick, but in the end Max had to settle for third.
5. Lando gets one over on Carlos
The biggest intra-team bromance is surely at the happy house of McLaren where Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris look like they’re enjoying driving alongside each other.
Carlos took the spoils on Saturday, out-qualifying Lando to tip the quali battle 10-9 in the Spaniard’s favour. But on race day it was Norris who was in charge, running fifth in the early stages and eventually coming home an excellent seventh, with Sainz eighth.
6. Danny Ricc is best of the rest
Starting from ninth on the grid, Daniel Ricciardo had a superb race, jumping both the McLaren’s ahead of him to take sixth place and best of the rest behind the big three teams.
A very solid result, but it still seems a shame to see the Aussie only fighting for the top of the midfield positions. Let’s hope Renault can give him a car soon which will allow him to battle right at the sharp end.