Hamilton seals sixth victory in US Grand Prix
Lewis Hamilton has won the United States Grand Prix at the Circuit of the Americas to move within touching distance of his fourth world championship.
The Englishman claimed his fifth victory at the Austin circuit, taking nine championship points more than second-placed Sebastian Vettel to move 72-points clear at the top of the standings.
With just three races left in 2017, there is a maximum of 75-points left available in the drivers’ championship.
Hamilton started from pole before losing the lead immediately to Vettel at the opening corner, the Ferrari making a near perfect start to claim the inside line at the first turn.
The German’s time out front was short, with Hamilton retaking the position as they headed down the back straight for the fourth time.
Use of the undercut by Ferrari saw Vettel come close to Hamilton as the Mercedes driver emerged from his stop on lap 20, who then controlled the remaining 36 laps to win.
Daniel Ricciardo retired from the race while sitting an effective fourth, having twice gone wheel to wheel with Valtteri Bottas.
The Red Bull driver’s attempts at the first corner were easily defended by the Mercedes driver, with Ricciardo’s aggressive first attempt on Lap 2 drawing the attention of the stewards, who decided no further action was required.
Ricciardo pulled off the circuit with engine issues shortly after his stop, pulling his Red Bull off circuit towards the end of lap 16.
Strong early pace saw Max Verstappen move from sixteenth on the grid to 10th in the opening ten laps, progressing to sixth at the first round of stops began, which became fifth when Ricciardo retired.
A second stop on Lap 38 switched the Dutchman onto the Super Soft tyres in an effort to pressure Ferrari and Mercedes to react in the closing stages.
Verstappen had been cruising up to the back of the battling Raikkonen and Bottas, the move working as Ferrari reacted with Vettel on the following lap.
It dropped the German to fourth, rejoining just in front of the Red Bull and behind the Bottas/Raikkonen squabble.
With another stop all but guaranteed to drop both Raikkonen and Bottas behind Verstappen, neither Ferrari nor Mercedes opted to stop their men, the duo 15s ahead of Vettel but haemorrhaging time
After almost 10 laps tucked underneath the rear wing of the Mercedes, Raikkonen made his move on Bottas stick at the end of the back straight to seize second place, nine seconds off the back of Hamilton.
The additional pace afforded by his fresher tyres saw Vettel pass Bottas with six laps remaining, going around the outside at the first turn as the German threaded the needle between the Mercedes and Stoffel Vandoorne’s lapped McLaren.
Bottas was then muscled out of fourth place by Verstappen, his tyres no match for those on the Red Bull.
Powerless to mount a defence, Mercedes pitted Bottas with three laps to run in the 56-lap race.
Ahead, Raikkonen stepped aside to allow his Ferrari team-mate back into second, the Finn then coming under the attention of Verstappen, who looked to have stolen the final podium place with an audacious move on Raikkonen on the final lap two corners from home.
The move was immediately investigated by the stewards for ‘leaving the circuit and gaining an advantage’ and Verstappen slapped with a five-second penalty to be relegated back behind Raikkonen.
Engine issues ruled Fernando Alonso out, both McLarens having run inside the top ten in the early stages only to fall back after the pit stop sequence, Stoffel Vandoorne finishing 12th.
Debutante Brendon Hartley ran last in the opening laps before bringing the Toro Rosso home 13th ahead of Kevin Magnussen who was turned around by Marcus Ericsson in front of the New Zealander in the closing stages.
Hamilton’s win, and Bottas’ fourth, was enough to see Mercedes crowned constructors’ champions for the fourth successive year.
Vettel must now finish no worse than second at the Mexican Grand Prix to keep his dwindling championship hopes alive.
Formula 1 heads to Mexico City for that race next weekend, with opening practice starting Friday.
Results: United States Grand Prix
|1||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes||1:33:50.991 (56 laps)|
|4||Max Verstappen||Red Bull/Renault||+16.768|
|6||Esteban Ocon||Force India/Mercedes||+1:30.980|
|8||Sergio Perez||Force India/Mercedes||+1 lap|
|9||Felipe Massa||Williams/Mercedes||+1 lap|
|10||Daniil Kvyat||Toro Rosso/Renault||+1 lap|
|11||Lance Stroll||Williams/Mercedes||+1 lap|
|12||Stoffel Vandoorne||McLaren/Honda||+1 lap|
|13||Brendon Hartley||Toro Rosso/Renault||+1 lap|
|14||Romain Grosjean||Haas/Ferrari||+1 lap|
|15||Marcus Ericsson||Sauber/Ferrari||+1 lap|
|16||Kevin Magnussen||Haas/Ferrari||+1 lap|
|DNF||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull/Renault|