Lewis Hamilton has kept his championship hopes alive after winning the United States Grand Prix ahead of championship leader Nico Rosberg.

Red Bull Racing’s Daniel Ricciardo came home third after his bid for second was spoiled, when fellow Red Bull driver Max Verstappen retired from the race and brought out the virtual safety car, halting his charge at Rosberg.

Having started the race in pole position, Hamilton maintained his lead into the first corner while Ricciardo – having started the race on the quicker super soft tyre – got the advantage over Rosberg into Turn 1 and passed the German on the exit with superior traction.

Further back Kimi Raikkonen was involved in a tangle with Nico Hulkenberg and Valtteri Bottas, as the Force India driver clipped the Ferrari then hit the Williams. Raikkonen was unaffected in the incident and continued passed a slow starting Verstappen for fourth.

The same couldn’t be said for Bottas and Hulkenberg, both pitting after the first lap as the Finn had a puncture from the incident, while a broken steering column forced Hulkenberg out of the race.

On the soft tyre, Hamilton was able to build a lead of two seconds to Ricciardo and avoid the threat of DRS, while Rosberg had fallen down the road and into the clutches of Verstappen.

The super softs only lasted Ricciardo nine laps before the Australian took to the pits for a set of soft compound tyres. He joined the track eighth while Raikkonen also took a set of softs and rejoined 10th.

This set off the rest of the frontrunners first pitstops as Verstappen pitted the following lap for softs, while Rosberg took a different approach and bolted a set of mediums to his Mercedes for a longer second stint.

Hamilton made his pit stop and took a set of softs which set Vettel into the lead of the race, as the Ferrari driver ran a long first stint on his super softs.

Once the frontrunners had all completed their pitstops, Hamilton had a comfortable five second lead over Ricciardo, while Verstappen was flying on his new set of soft tyres, setting a fastest lap of the race as he hunted down Rosberg for third.

Verstappen managed to get within DRS range of the Mercedes but wasn’t able to find a way passed, and when Ricciardo made his second pit stop, Rosberg was released to try and close the gap to Hamilton, who was just under 10 seconds up the road.

In their home race, the Haas drivers of Romain Grosjean and Esteban Gutierrez were running as well as 11th and 12th, until problems struck Gutierrez’s car when his left front brake failed and sent him into retirement.

The direction of the race then changed dramatically with the next retirement. After making a blunder of his second pit stop, pitting when his team hadn’t called him in, Verstappen experienced a gearbox issue which saw him crawl around the circuit and eventually stop at Turn 18 bringing out the virtual safety car.

The neutralisation of the race meant that drivers could take a free pit stop and lose minimal time, which Mercedes took full advantage of.

Ricciardo had already pitted for a set of mediums four laps previous, and was left at a disadvantage when both Mercedes drivers essentially got a free pit stop for a change to the medium tyre which would see them to the end of the race as well as handing Rosberg second position.

Fernando Alonso and Carlos Sainz also pitted under the safety car running in sixth and seventh position respectively, which set up a fight for fifth positon at the end of the race.

Choosing not to pit to dispose of his super softs under the virtual safety car, Raikkonen became the next retirement of the race after making his final pit stop on lap 39.

A problem with the right rear wheel gun meant that his tyre wasn’t secured properly, which forced the Finn to stop his car just after he had left the pit lane. He then reversed his car back down into the pits at the instruction of his team and into retirement.

Now that Raikkonen was out of the race, the fight for fifth position became intense as only two second separated Sainz, Felipe Massa and Alonso.

After pressing Massa for a number of laps, Alonso made a lunge on the inside of the Brazilian and made contact which forced him off the track and took sixth position. The contact gave Massa a puncture which he was forced to pit for repairs, although luckily for Williams, they were able to keep seventh position ahead of Sergio Perez’s Force India.

Alonso then made a move on Sainz to take fifth position from his fellow Spaniard on the penultimate lap of the race, but Sainz wasn’t willing to give up his position that easily. The Toro Rosso driver hung on to the McLaren for the entire last lap and even forced Alonso into making a couple of mistakes. Unfortunately for Sainz he was unable to retake his position and had to settle for sixth position.

Jenson Button made it a double points finish for McLaren as he took the chequered flag in ninth position, while Grosjean scored a home race point for Haas as the Frenchman beat Kevin Magnussen to 10th.

Image via Sky Sports

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Josh Kruse

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