USGP | Lewis Hamilton clinches victory but not the title

Lewis Hamilton triumphs at the United States Grand Prix.

The drivers’ title battle will go on to Mexico as Lewis Hamilton wins the United States Grand Prix from Sebastian Vettel. Pulling a further seventh-points clear of his title-rival with another win at the Circuit of The Americas. Whilst Max Verstappen clawed from the back of the grid to fight for a podium finish, only for his last lap manoeuvre on Kimi Raikkonen to result in a penalty.

With Sebastian Vettel falling further away from Lewis Hamilton in the battle for another drivers title in recent rounds, starting the 2017 USGP from the front row presented the Ferrari with a great chance to regain momentum. Even with Lewis starting from yet another pole.

The fact that only front row starters have gone on to win the USGP at COTA made his front row start even more pivotal. Presenting a chance to challenge immediately into the wide Turn 1 uphill hairpin.

A great getaway by Vettel then allowed him to do so. Pulling alongside pole-man Hamilton, but with the inside line able to dictate the outcome. Taking the lead at his first opportunity.

Though, having stretched the margin to build a slender lead, Vettel lost time to Hamilton on lap 5 as the Briton set the then fastest lap of the race to move to within DRS range. The tool that handed Hamilton back the lead of the race down the long rear-straight on the following lap.

With the lead regained, Hamilton this time stretched his legs to build an advantage Vettel would look to undercut in the pit stops.

But, despite a calm exit, Hamilton covered the Prancing Horse out of T1 despite Vettel closing on the Mercedes gearbox. Lighting up the rear tyres as he eyed the lead once more.

After failing to undercut Hamilton, Vettel’s middle stint saw the German slip further behind and forced into a second stop late on to cover Max Verstappen. Charging back through the track to retake third with a brave move slipping between Bottas and the lapped McLaren of Stoffel Vandoorne, before Raikkonen eased aside for his team-mate.

Had Bottas been more aggressive in his defence at the aid of his team-mate’s title-bid, Vettel could easily have suffered a fraught end to his grand prix with narrow margins separating his rear tyres from the McLaren’s front wing.

Beyond the fight from the front row, the early action at the Circuit of The Americas came from row two of the grid. As Daniel Ricciardo pressured the Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas for third.

Putting pressure on the Finn through the opening uphill hairpin, with a late dive under braking that pushed Bottas wide to avoid taking damage to his front wing.

Ricciardo, though, ran too deep with his late braking move. Running wide on exit, and handing Valtteri the opportunity to cut back and retake the position going into the esses.

After slotting back into fourth, Daniel persisted with his challenge for a podium position. But, following a rapid string of sectors once on fresh supersoft tyres, a problem emerging from his Renault power unit saw the Australian fall out of the race on lap 16.

Without the threat of Ricciardo, Bottas began to close the gap to second-placed Sebastian Vettel. Though fell further away after the German’s initial stop of the day, and later behind Raikkonen after a passive defence on lap 42 saw the Ferrari ease ahead.

Max Verstappen also later got the better of Valtteri Bottas after a late change of tyres presented a new challenge to the top of the order. Causing Ferrari to pit Vettel again to cover the threat now posed.

Max had particularly made solid progress during his opening stint. Moving up the order with ease from 16th on the grid, thanks to the penalty he carried for an engine change.

Ultimately, bettering the team’s predicted outcome of sixth place via his team-mate’s retirement. Though challenging for the podium on the last lap, as Raikkonen’s old tyres slowed the Iceman’s pace.

Unfortunately, Verstappen’s final shot at the podium saw Max marginally drive off the track to complete a staggering move on the 2007 World Champion. A move the race stewards deemed illegal and handed Max a five-second time penalty for leaving the track and gaining an advantage. Taking Max back to fourth place.

Having ended the race in third, though, Verstappen believed he would be on the podium and headed to the post-race cooldown room alongside Hamilton and Vettel. Only realising he was penalised upon Raikkonen’s arrival to take his place.

Esteban Ocon managed to weather the storm of Carlos Sainz to retain sixth place at the flag. Defending from a surging Spaniard making his Renault debut, after the threat of fellow-Spaniard Fernando Alonso dispersed when the McLaren exited the race with an expected power unit problem.

Ocon spent the mid-part of the race with his team-mate in close tow, with Sergio believing he had the greater pace than his team-mate despite the two-lap older tyres. The team, on the other hand, reaffirmed their stance that Sergio would follow Esteban without overtaking.

Ultimately costing the Mexican as he began to preserve his tyres, seeing Sainz slip ahead. But able to defend from Daniil Kvyat, as the Russian looked to achieve his joint-best result of the season in ninth place.

Kvyat, though, slipped behind Felipe Massa in the closing stages. But came home in the points for Toro Rosso in his return having sat out the previous two races with Pierre Gasly occopying his seat.

The gap between Esteban Ocon in sixth place and Valtteri Bottas in fifth also highlighted just how far apart the top three teams are from the closest midfield team. With the front runners coming home predominantly in close proximity. Yet with over a minute in hand to the pink panther, before a late stop by Bottas once with nothing to lose or gain reduced the margin below 60-seconds.

Late drama also unfolded at the rear of the field as Kevin Magnussen found himself spun by Marcus Ericsson whilst allowing Vettel throw under blue flags.

Magnussen had stuck to the outside line at Turn 12 as the podium finishing Ferrari negotiated his way through the traffic. Presenting an optimistic opportunity for the Swede to gain a position with a late dive.

The dive, however, left the Sauber clattering into the rear of the Haas and pitching Magnussen into a spin. Moving K-Mag to last place, behind Ericsson despite the Swede receiving a penalty in the form of five-seconds added to his race time.

Pos Driver Team Engine Time Points
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes Mercedes Winner 25
2 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari Ferrari 10.143 18
3 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari Ferrari 15.779 15
4 Max Verstappen Red Bull TAG 11.768 + 5s 12
5 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes Mercedes 34.967 10
6 Esteban Ocon Force India Mercedes 90.98 8
7 Carlos Sainz Renault Renault 92.944 6
8 Sergio Perez Force India Mercedes 1 lap 4
9 Felipe Massa Williams Mercedes 1 lap 2
10 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso Renault 1 lap 1
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 Fernando Alonso McLaren Honda Engine
DNF Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull TAG Engine
DNF Pascal Wehrlein Sauber Ferrari Contact
DNF Nico Hulkenberg Renault Renault Oil Pressure

 

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