The Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton has secured his sixth F1 world title by finishing second in the United States F1 GP this Sunday at the Circuit of the Americas (COTA) in Austin. Behind him arrived teammate Valtteri Bottas. Max Verstappen has closed the podium after harassing the Briton during the last laps.
Meanwhile, Charles Leclerc, let down by a Ferrari, which couldn’t quite keep up the pace, has finished fourth preceding Alex Albon. The Anglo-Thai Red Bull driver has climbed from the last place of the starting grid all the way up to fifth.
Carlos Sainz has finished eighth behind his teammate Lando Norris. A notable performance from the Spaniard who had to get back his rhythm back after a touch with Albon at the start.
Ferrari has had an appalling day. Added to the lack of rhythm of the Monegasque was the early retirement of Sebastian Vettel due to damage to his car.
All in all, another Mercedes 1-2 with Lewis Hamilton expanding his legend even further. The #44 has now gone over the five crowns of Juan Manuel Fangio and is just one away from drawing up level with Michael Schumacher.
All of his energy from now on will be channelled to that end: to match the record of the most successful driver in F1 history. The Briton has confirmed that he feels very strong as an athlete to address that challenge.
A thrilling start
Bottas, unlike Vettel, maintained his pole position with great mastery as the lights switched off. The German from Ferrari was passed by Max Verstappen, third, in the initial few meters. Behind, a great start by Carlos Sainz who came head to head with Albon in the first corner. As a result of the manoeuvre both cars touched.
The blue car was forced to go to pits in order to repair the damage but the Spaniard remained on track despite the strong impact. He had fallen from seventh to ninth place, but miraculously, he continued in the race.
All the while, Hamilton, the smartest pupil in the classroom, took advantage of the battles behind to climb from fifth to third. On completing the first lap, Valtteri was leading the race ahead of Verstappen, Hamilton and Leclerc, who had overtaken Vettel, now seventh. The German was having problems with his car.
On the fifth lap, Bottas opened up a 1,595-second advantage over Max and a little more over Hamilton. Below them, hampered by the poor performance of their SF90, Leclerc and Vettel were losing patience.
Only three laps after that and drama struck. Ferrari’s German driver had to quit after breaking the suspension. It was goodbye to a Grand Prix to forget. Gradually, the Mercedes #77 began to cement his victory. Bottas kept Verstappen 2.4 seconds behind and Hamilton 3.5 seconds. One place below was Leclerc with not enough speed to catch them up and having lost all hopes of a podium.
The first pit stops; key moments
On the fourteenth lap came another key moment for the unfolding of the race. Max went to pits and Bottas replicated the move one lap after that. Both, Red Bull and Mercedes were keeping a close eye on each other.
Hamilton had now inherited the first place and a decision had to be made as to the strategy that the Briton should follow. From the wall, it was decided that he stayed on track. His strategy, as opposed to that of his partner, would be to make a single pit stop.
Leclerc followed suit. To make things even worse for the Monegasque, an unruly bolt had him lose 10 seconds in the garage!
Bottas chases Hamilton
On fresh tires, Bottas was flying away on the hunt of his teammate who was leading the race. He passed him on lap twenty-four, one lap before the #44 was sent to pits.
It was clear by then that the victory would belong to one of the two Silver Arrows. They were running 19 seconds apart and considering a pit stop lasts an average 20 second, they couldn’t have been more equal.
It all had become a big game of chess at the team of the star. Bottas made his second pit stop in turn thirty-five. The difference between both partners was now ten seconds. Max also went through the pits.
The Scandinavian driver then launched himself towards his English teammate, who was slower on older tires. By the time he crossed the checkered flag, he was three laps ahead.
Hamilton finished second to secure his sixth world title. Only the Kaiser has more crowns than him now. Max closed the places of honour with Leclerc fourth at an embarrassing 52, 239 seconds away! Sainz took a well-deserved eighth place, one below his teammate Norris.