Hamilton claims sixth title as Bottas wins USGP

Lewis Hamilton claims his sixth world title pic: Mercedes F1 Team Twitter

Lewis Hamilton claimed his sixth Formula 1 world championship courtesy of second place in the United States Grand Prix, a race won by team-mate Valtteri Bottas.

A strong start and a one-stop strategy saw Hamilton head the race for a time before strategy saw him fall to the second step of the podium in the closing laps.

Needing just an eighth place finish to mathematically wrap up the title, it was still was more than enough for Hamilton to claim his sixth crown.

A strong start from Hamilton saw the Mercedes driver climb two places on the opening lap, clearing both Ferraris as they struggled for pace.

Max Verstappen got a better jump from the line to slot into second from the lights, while Hamilton managed to split Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel to sit fourth by the exit of the first corner.

That became third when he put an audacious move on Vettel by going around the outside of the Ferrari driver at Turn 7.

Vettel then slipped behind team-mate Leclerc and by the end of the lap fell victim to Lando Norris.

Alex Albon and Carlos Sainz found the same piece of road at Turn 1, the clash launching the former’s Red Bull over the kerbing and forcing him into the pits at the end of the first lap.

Next to put a move on Vettel, who was struggling with understeer, Daniel Ricciardo moved up the inside of the German at the first corner as they started Lap 2.

Eight laps into the race, Vettel’s day was done, the right rear suspension failing as he rounded Turn 9.

As the German rolled to a stop, Ricciardo put a move on Lance Stroll to take fifth, moving by under brakes at the end of the long back straight.

From second, Verstappen stopped on Lap 14, swapping softs for a set of the hard tyres with 42 laps to run.

Released from behind the Red Bull, Hamilton increased his pace while Mercedes reacted by hauling Bottas into the lane.

Like Verstappen, he also had a set of hard compound tyres fitted and emerged still in the effective race lead with those ahead yet to stop.

Bottas used his tyre advantage to move back by Leclerc who fell to Verstappen half a lap later.

Continuing to circulate out front, Hamilton was told over the radio that the ‘other cars’ were on two stops, implying he was planning to stop just once.

Leclerc endured a tardy stop when the left rear was slow going on the Ferrari, seeing him emerge behind the two Renaults in sixth.

Ricciardo stopped soon after while race leader Hamilton ignored a pit order to box at the end of Lap 23.

The Englishman had been reeled in by the newer-tyred Bottas, the call to the pits designed to haul him out of the road and save the pair time.

He did stop the next time around, rejoining in a comfortable third.

Complaining of poor front grip, Red Bull pulled Verstappen in again with 35 of the 56 laps run, dropping him to third but with fresh medium compound tyres fitted.

Struggling to navigate through traffic, Bottas was in next time by to hand Hamilton a lead of just over nine seconds.

A recovering Albon moved through on Ricciardo to take fifth on Lap 38, though the Thai driver would stop again on Lap 41 before charging back through the field.

Converging strategies saw Hamilton’s advantage eroded, Bottas just five seconds back from his team-mate with 18 laps to play.

Traffic, however, hindered Bottas’ charge towards his team-mate, preventing him from using his tyre advantage to make inroads.

Having closed on Hamilton, Bottas found himself stuck as he struggled to move to within DRS range despite locking onto his team-mate with seven laps remaining.

A mistake from Hamilton at the hairpin onto the back straight the two Mercedes went wheel to wheel under brakes at the left hander at the end of the track.

With the racing line, Hamilton used the width of the track and forced Bottas off the road to maintain his position.

While all this was going on, Verstappen was closing in, the Red Bull driver able to see the leading pair squabble with four laps remaining.

Closer on the following lap, Bottas claimed the lead in an almost carbon copy of the battle from the previous lap and promptly cleared out to the tune of 1.5s in half a lap.

An off for Kevin Magnussen at the end of the back straight saw the area covered with waved yellow flags from the penultimate lap, robbing Verstappen of a potential overtaking opportunity as he moved to within a second of Hamilton as they started the final lap.

The Dutchman was never able to get close enough and would finish third, Leclerc a lonely fourth and Albon charging back to fifth after his opening lap dramas.

Rounding out the top 10 was Ricciardo, Norris, Sainz, Nico Hulkenberg, and Sergio Perez.

The result marked Bottas’ first win in the United States, and the first time Hamilton has finished second in Austin, while Mercedes claimed its ninth one-two result of the season.

Formula 1 moves on to the Brazilian Grand Prix for the penultimate round of the season on November 16-18 (AEDT).