Lewis Hamilton has Micheal Schumacher’s all-time Formula 1 record within his sights after sealing his sixth world title at the United States Grand Prix. 

The Mercedes driver recovered from a difficult qualifying to take a second-place finish in Austin, which proved enough to beat teammate Valtteri Bottas to the 2019 crown, despite suffering a rare on-track defeat to the Finn. 

Here are some of the main talking points from the United States Grand Prix…

Hamilton’s plan for F1 domination 

Hamilton’s third consecutive championship triumph has seen him become the second most successful F1 driver in history, with only Schumacher’s long-standing record of seven world titles standing in his way. 

Given his and the six-time-championship-winning Mercedes team’s form over the past few years, there is little to suggest that Hamilton will not go on to equal Schumacher’s all-time tally as early as next season.

Hamilton already has 10 grand prix victories to his name this season and with two races still to go in 2019, he could edge ever closer to Schumacher’s wins tally of 91 by the year’s end. 

Despite a weaker qualifying record by his own high standards, Hamilton believes he has turned in his strongest season of his F1 career yet and feels he now has the “best tools” to overcome any challenges. 

“I think it’s been the best performing year and I’m working on a masterpiece and I haven’t quite finished it yet,” he added. 

“It takes a long time to master a craft and whilst I feel like I am mastering it, there’s still more to master. 

“There’s still more to add to it. There’s still more pieces to the puzzle to add. 

“There’s going to be more ups and downs along the way but I feel like I’ve got the best tools now, to this point at least, to be able to deal with those.” 

Hamilton has established himself as a force to be reckoned with in F1 and appears unstoppable in his pursuit of etching himself further into legendary status within the sport. 

Valiant effort from Bottas

The only man that could stop Hamilton from winning the title in Texas was his Mercedes teammate Bottas. 

Bottas arrived at the Circuit of the Americas with a 74-point deficit to Hamilton knowing that he had no realistic chance of overturning the gap at the remaining three rounds. 

But that did not stop the Finn from turning in what was possibly his strongest performance of the season at a circuit he has previously struggled at, having finished no higher than fifth prior to last weekend. 

Hamilton is considered the king of COTA given his supreme record in Austin since the race joined the calendar in 2012, but Bottas quietly went about his business to claim a stunning pole position, which marked the first time Mercedes had topped qualifying since its home race at July’s German Grand Prix. 

Bottas went on to convert his fifth pole of the year into his fourth victory on a two-stop strategy but only after passing his one-stopping teammate Hamilton in the closing stages.

“It’s my best season in Formula 1 so far, so that’s good, and looking at other positives, I’ve made huge gains in many areas, in terms of race pace and everything,” Bottas explained after the race. 

“Winning the race this way… I’m sure Lewis really wanted to win this race, to win the title by winning the race. I could stop that and that feels good, obviously. But I just look forward to next year, it’s a new opportunity.”

Despite ultimately missing out on the championship, Bottas’ form in the US was the type of performance he will have to turn in week-in, week-out if he is to mount a greater title challenge to Hamilton in 2020. 

Ferrari goes missing

Ferrari endured a weekend to forget in Texas as its qualifying streak came to an end, before its race performance fell well short of expectations as both drivers struggled for pace. 

Bottas and Mercedes’ first pole in four months brought Ferrari’s run of six straight poles since the summer break to a close, though only by the smallest of margins as Sebastian Vettel missed out by just 0.012s. 

The bigger concern to Ferrari leaving the USA will be its performance in the race. Both Vettel and Charles Leclerc dropped back at the start and were unable to keep up with rivals Mercedes and Red Bull throughout Sunday’s 56-lap race. 

Vettel struggled with severe understeer in his SF90 and fell to seventh before retiring with suspension failure on lap eight, while Leclerc finished a distant fourth - nearly a minute behind the race-winner - and had “no explanation” for Ferrari’s lack of pace.

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen suggested after the race that Ferrari’s mysterious performance drop off in Austin had been the result of a new technical directive surrounding its F1 engine, something which irked the Maranello squad. 

Leclerc branded Verstappen’s comments a “joke”, while Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto spoke of his disappointment regarding the accusations made towards his team. 

Ferrari is set to conduct an investigation into what went wrong, with Leclerc insisting its US Grand Prix struggles were related to how the team used its tyres. 

Albon maintains his Red Bull streak

With Verstappen completing the podium in third spot on another strong showing for Red Bull, his teammate Alexander Albon once again impressed with a fine display. 

Albon showed glimpses of having the potential to outpace Verstappen throughout practice but ultimately qualified fifth on the grid as Verstappen took third. Contact with Lando Norris into Turn 1 threatened to ruin his race but Albon remained calm and turned in a brilliant drive through the field. 

The British-born Thai driver dropped right to the back of the order after being forced to make an early stop due to damage picked up in the incident with Norris, but he fought back to claim an admirable fifth. 

Albon has now finished inside the top six at all seven races since making his mid-season graduation to the Red Bull senior team at Spa, and that run of form has seen him move up to sixth place in the championship. 

Albon is making a firm case to retain his seat alongside Verstappen for 2020, and if the 23-year-old can continue his recent level of performances at the final two races in Brazil and Abu Dhabi, he will make himself indispensable to the Milton Keynes squad. 

 

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