After a weekend of rain, the sun crept from behind the clouds to dry the Circuit of The Americas, where Lewis Hamilton won the US Grand Prix and his third F1 title.
Chaos from lights to flag saw Lewis Hamilton win a mammoth US Grand Prix that had it all, safety cars & virtual safety cars, rain & sun, wet tyres & dry tyres, cars crashing and a title decided. But the race did not go all to plan for Hamilton as he fell back down the order, strategy fell away from him and Rosberg pulled away at the front more than once.
Off the grid, Hamilton managed to make the better start and snatch the lead from Rosberg into turn one after forcing Nico wide. After he lost the lead, Nico even slipped back down the order and into fourth place, behind both Bulls, before Perez eased ahead into the esses.
Rosberg had been unhappy with his front end on the laps from the pit land to the grid, leading to frantic discussions with his mechanics on the grid to find a quick cure. Unfortunately, the issue he faced caused his fronts to take a while to warm up but eventually found the grip levels to move back ahead of the Force India.
Limited front end grip for the Mercedes duo allowed the Red Bulls to keep in touch of Hamilton for the lead and down the back straight, Kvyat tucked in behind. Unfortunately for Daniil, the position was not there for the taking just yet but elsewhere, Carlos Sainz was racking up the positions after starting from the back row.
Carlos was able to make his way through the back half of the field over the first lap as others tripped over each other. Grosjean was one who was caught in the battle zone as he felt contact at the rear and took a rear-left puncture after contact with Massa. Bottas also hit the rear of Alonso under braking as he got loose into turn one, causing him to pit and take on a new front wing and soft tyres.
Valtteri was not the only man to run the dry tyres this early after Nasr had switched onto the options after contact of his own with his team-mate. As the pair ran into turn one, Ericsson ran over the front wing of Nasr as the Brazilian held the apex. However this caused Felipe to lose his front wing and need to stop early on, while the track remained set for inters.
After the chaotic turn one on the first few laps, Kvyat was holding his own in second and looking into turn one for the lead. At one stage he even got ahead of Hamilton but he wide allowing Lewis to regain the lead as race control engaged the virtual safety car so the debris could be cleared.
As soon as the VSC period ended, Rosberg mugged Ricciardo for third after Hamilton had backed Kvyat and Ricciardo into Rosberg as Lewis cooled his tyres. Once connected to the pack and in a podium slot, Rosberg even moved ahead of Kvyat down the back straight for second.
However despite now running one and two again, the Mercedes duo were overheating their tyres and allowing Kvyat to keep on Nico. As his tyres went away, Kvyat tried a lunge into the final corner but ran deep into the run off before darting back onto the track.
Rosberg felt Kvyat’s route back into the action was late and dangerous, but Daniil had no run off to use before returning and had fallen behind Riccardo for 4th. Riccardo though was using his new third place to attack Rosberg for second and took him into T1 after Rosberg once again locked his front left tyre and ran deep into the corner.
As soon as he gained second, Riccardo was sticking his Red Bull onto the rear of Hamilton. He initially kept behind Lewis for a few laps, but as Lewis began to struggle for grip Daniel was strolling by into the penultimate corner and taking the lead of the race.
After loosing his lead, Rosberg was picking a fight with Lewis for position again. This time Hamilton was defending for position and kept holding on, just. But after regaining the position with the switch back at the end of the back straight, Lewis ran wide into turn 13 and lost the position to Nico before hitting the pits for softs. Up until this point the soft tyres had previously not been working for others but Hamilton’s tyres had gone and he needed the fresh rubber.
Lewis’ pit stop however came one lap too early and he lost fourth place to Kvyat when the Russian and Rosberg left the pits on the softs. Luckily for him though, he had heat in his tyres and could attack straight away in a bid to take back the lost places.
On the softs, Rosberg was also looking to attack and took back the lead of the race from Ricciardo while Kvyat lost third to Hamilton. Elsewhere, Hamilton’s other title-rival, Vettel, had moved himself into 5th after starting in 13th. But it was his team-mate getting the screen time as he wiggled away from the wall and somehow managed to continue racing after slipping off the track and side-swiping the barrier.
After being slow on the inters, the Silver Arrows were now flying on the softs with Rosberg building up a sizeable lead while Hamilton took second from Ricciardo. But after creating a 10 second gap, the safety car was coming out as Ericsson became stuck out on track after T11 following a full loss of power.
While the safety car rolled out of the pits, Raikkonen was becoming another retiree of the race as his brakes began to overheat following his crash. Vettel also joined him in the pit lane, but unlike the Finn, Vettel was not retiring and instead taking on the medium tyres as he looked to run to the end.
As soon as the race restarted, the extra pit-stop came to the aid of Vettel as his medium tyres switched on far faster than the Red Bull’s softs, allowing Sebastian to move from fifth, to fourth and then eventually third after two moves were needed to overtake the Aussie.
While Ricciardo fell behind Vettel, Kvyat was coming under attack from Verstappen and Hulkenberg. Neither of which he could keep behind him after running deep into turn one and down to seventh. Like Kvyat, Ricciardo was unable to hold back Verstappen but as Hulkenberg looked down the inside of Daniel with a broken front wing, contact between the pair snapped the German’s suspension and brought out another virtual safety car period.
Under the virtual safety car, Rosberg and the Red Bulls were called into the pits but title-chasing Hamilton remained on the circuit despite being on tyres that would not see him to the end.
Unfortunately for Hamilton, the VSC period ended before he could pit and lose little time. But while he hit the hammer to create a gap to pit in, the full safety car was coming back out as Kvyat ran over the astroturf and span into the barrier to end his race. This time Hamilton hit the pits for new tyres, as did Vettel who had fallen to third, allowing Rosberg to regain the lead. But with fresh tyres, Hamilton was chasing the title.
When the safety car peeled back into the pits, Rosberg had bunched the pack into a huddle and rocketed away over the line to keep his lead. But a few laps later, Nico lit up his rear tyres and almost crashed out of the race at turn 16. But as he fought for control, Lewis swept by and into the lead.
Running behind Nico was Vettel as the duo ran second and third, enough for Hamilton to take the title. Except Sebastian was attacking hard with the fresh tyres while Hamilton began to build a lead.
While Vettel attacked Nico to keep his title chances alive, Jenson was charging through the lower point scoring positions picking off Sainz and Ricciardo in turn 12 before storming down the pit straight and having the run on Alonso.
After Jenson took Alonso it became apparent Fernando had a power loss with his new Honda unit, causing him to drop further back down the order after the two McLaren’s had been running in the middle of the points. Eventually he fell to 10th with only Ricciardo and Rossi behind after the Aussie pitted once more.
On the final lap of the race, Vettel lined Rosberg up for turn 12 but was unable to gain enough distance under DRS to overtake his fellow German. Vettel hung on in for the remainder of the lap but was unable to find another opportunity to overtake, meaning Lewis Hamilton claims his third Formula One World Championship with three rounds to spare.
The title today means Hamilton is the first ever British back-to-back F1 champion and joins Senna, Stewart, Lauda and Piquet as a three-time title holder.
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