Valtteri Bottas scored his fourth victory of the season in Sunday’s United States Grand Prix after perfecting his two-stop strategy to beat Lewis Hamilton, but could not prevent his Mercedes teammate from clinching his sixth Formula 1 world championship.

Bottas started from pole and went largely unchallenged on-track through the race, only losing track position due to Mercedes’ decision to one-stop Hamilton, forcing the Finn to charge through and pass his teammate in the closing stages of the race.

Bottas was forced into an early stop after Red Bull brought Max Verstappen in from second at the end of Lap 13, prompting Mercedes to react one lap later and move him onto a two-stop strategy.

While Hamilton was able to get home on a Medium-Hard one-stop strategy, he was sceptical of maintaining his pace when Bottas came in to switch back to Mediums on Lap 35, emerging from the pits 10 seconds off the leader.

Bottas made early inroads before chipping away at Hamilton’s lead heading into the final 10 laps, getting within one second with seven laps to go.

A first attempt to pass for the lead on Lap 51 saw Bottas swing his car around the outside at Turn 12, only for Hamilton to shut the door and force his teammate wide to defend his position.

Bottas got closer coming out of the hairpin at Turn 10 on the next lap before using DRS to pass Hamilton with ease halfway down the back straight, grabbing the lead.

With Hamilton’s tyres long past their best, he was unable to try and claw his way back into the lead, leaving Bottas to cross the line four seconds clear and record his fourth win of the year, clinching P2 in the drivers’ championship in the process.

But it was Hamilton who crossed the line with the greater glory, sealing a sixth world championship – a feat only achieved once before in F1 history – with two races to spare this season.

Verstappen’s late charge saw him fall just short of Hamilton, leaving him to settle for third place in the Red Bull after nursing damage to his front wing throughout the race.

Charles Leclerc failed to put up any kind of fight to the front-runners in Austin, finishing a disappointing fourth for Ferrari. Leclerc lost out to Hamilton on the opening lap and ran a second off the pace for much of the race, eventually crossing the line 52 seconds off race winner Bottas. Leclerc did however manage to pick up the fastest lap bonus point.

Sebastian Vettel left Austin empty-handed in the second Ferrari after suffering a suspension failure in the opening stages of the race, forcing him to retire. Vettel suspected his car was damaged after dropping from second to seventh on the first lap, with the suspension finally breaking as he tried to hunt down Daniel Ricciardo and Lando Norris on Lap 8.

Alexander Albon recovered from a first-lap clash with Carlos Sainz to finish fifth for Red Bull on a three-stop strategy ahead of Renault’s Ricciardo, who kept Norris at bay in the closing stages after the McLaren driver made a late stop for Soft tyres.

Nico Hulkenberg took ninth for Renault ahead of Daniil Kvyat, who gained P10 on the final lap after a clash with Sergio Perez that remains under investigation. Perez crossed the line 11th for Racing Point.

Kimi Raikkonen wound up 12th for Alfa Romeo ahead of Lance Stroll and Antonio Giovinazzi, with Romain Grosjean taking P15 for Haas. Pierre Gasly ran in the points for much of the race before dropping back to 16th late on due to an issue, with George Russell taking the chequered flag in 17th for Williams.

Kevin Magnussen and Robert Kubica both retired from the race, joining Vettel on the sidelines.

 

Comments

Loading Comments...