Lewis Hamilton has triumphed to claim his third Formula 1 World Championship title with victory in a thrilling United States Grand Prix.
Our Chandni Patel rates her winners and losers from the weekend…
Clearly Lewis Hamilton tops the pile here for obvious reasons. The Englishman claimed the ultimate prize with his third win at the Circuit of the Americas, putting in a forceful move on teammate Nico Rosberg at the start to claim the early lead. Victory looked in doubt later on when Mercedes didn’t call him into the pits during a Virtual Safety Car, but another full-course caution allowed him to make his final stop without losing too much ground to Rosberg. Victory was sealed with the German’s error late in the race and a richly deserved title was his. All in all, not a bad weekend for him!
Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel started the race with a 10-place grid penalty, but drove a storming race, charging up the field and finishing third. Ferrari chose a different strategy for him and the gamble turned out perfectly for him. He was however, unable to finished ahead of Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg to keep the championship fight going to Mexico – he needed to finish second if Hamilton won to stay in mathematical contention.
The two Scuderia Toro Rosso drivers had a great race for the team, with both Max Verstappen and Carlos Sainz Jr finishing in the points for the third time in the last four races. Verstappen once again showed incredible pace and, coupled with another series of great overtaking moves, finished in fourth place, matching his career-best result from earlier in the year at Hungary. Sainz started last after crashing out in qualifying – the team incredibly managing to rebuild his car between qualifying and the race – and he claimed seventh place after copping a five-second penalty for speeding in the pit lane.
McLaren-Honda looked surprisingly competitive and had one of their strongest weekends of the season. A new power unit was bolted into the back of Fernando Alonso’s car, but surprisingly it was Jenson Button who seemed to have the Spaniard’s measure in race conditions. Button finished seventh – later promoted to sixth thanks to Carlos Sainz Jr’s time penalty – while Alonso hung on gamely until his car developed a problem in the closing laps. He fell out of the points to finish in eleventh place, but the team can still take great encouragement from this weekend.
Local driver Alexander Rossi was the first American to race in a Grand Prix on home soil in almost 10 years, and put in a solid performance to finish on the lead lap in twelfth place. Granted, his finishing position – equaling the Manor Marussia team’s best result of the season – was helped by a high-attrition race, but he once again outclassed teammate Will Stevens and showed why he is worthy of an F1 seat.
Despite qualifying on pole, Nico Rosberg showed a psychological vulnerability that has plagued him for much of the season. Jumped by Hamilton at the start, he then found himself squeezed into Turn 1 and forced down to fifth – a scenario similar in many respects to his being bundled off the track by his teammate after the start at Suzuka. Having regained the lead and looking on course for a win, he then ran wide after putting the power down too hard and allowed Hamilton back into the lead and victory. His post-race demeanor was completely understandable in the circumstances.
Kimi Räikkönen once again had a poor weekend in contrast to teammate Sebastian Vettel. The Finn opted not to set a Q2 time given he was taking a ten-place grid penalty and was nowhere in the race. He took a trip through the gravel trap and retired shortly after with terminal damage.
A saving grace for Räikkönen’s quest to remain in the hunt for fourth place in the Drivers’ Championship standings was a nightmare weekend for Williams, which had its first double-DNF of the season. At a circuit where the team has historically performed well, both Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa retired as a result of collision damage, consigning the team to no better than third place in the Constructors’ Championship standings thanks to Vettel’s podium finish.
Daniil Kvyat came into the weekend ahead of teammate Daniel Ricciardo in the championship standings, but it’s a position few feels he deserves given the Australian’s poor run of reliability. Kvyat had an opportunity to genuinely out-race Ricciardo and claim a strong result for the team, but showed signs of trouble as he started to run wide through a number of corners. One too many times proved enough for the young Russian, who crashed heavily into the barriers.
Daniel Ricciardo fared little better, and despite leading the race at one point, he got caught up in others’ wild driving and slipped down the order, finishing a lowly tenth. It was a poor result for the team after locking out the second row of the grid in qualifying.
Image via XPB Images