Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas secured F1 US GP victory but it was his teammate Lewis Hamilton who was crowned the 2019 world champion, with two races to go.
Pole-sitter and Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas made a good start in F1 US GP at Circuit of the Americas to lead from Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen as front-row starter Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel bogged down to seventh due to a slow start.
He not only lost to Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton and Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc but also McLaren’s Lando Norris and Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo went past in the opening two laps. Vettel was lapping relatively slower to the leaders but Ferrari couldn’t spot the issue.
With the Top 7 set, Toro Rosso’s Pierre Gasly was eighth with McLaren’s Carlos Sainz ninth and Haas’ Kevin Magnussen in the Top 10. The Spaniard had a punt with Red Bull’s Alexander Albon into Turn 1 after the Thai racer slid into Sainz and banged wheels.
It forced Albon to pit early as he carried damage as well. While Bottas led Verstappen and Hamilton at the front, Norris dropped behind Ricciardo when Vettel retired due to a suspension failure. The German ran over Turn 9 when the right-rear suspension broke.
Teammate Leclerc was not lapping quicker as well as Verstappen initiated the pit call by stopping on Lap 14 to switch to the hard compound. US GP leader Bottas followed on Lap 15 but Hamilton stayed out until Lap 25 in a bid to go push for one stop.
He was overtaken by Bottas on track as well before pitting. The order was set with Bottas leading Verstappen, Hamilton and Leclerc in the Top 4. Behind, Ricciardo and Norris were fifth and sixth as Albon gained places to be seventh despite the two stops.
Sainz gained a place on Gasly as well to be eighth in the pits with Alfa Romeo Racing’s Kimi Raikkonen climbing up to 10th from Racing Point’s Sergio Perez. The second round of pit stops started on Lap 35 with Verstappen pitting before Bottas.
At the same time, Albon charged through Norris for sixth as the Thai racer then set himself behind Ricciardo and wasted no time to pass him for fifth. His work was undone for the time being as he pitted on Lap 41 for the third time to switch on the soft compound.
The battle at the front continued as Hamilton tried to make the one stop work with Bottas and Verstappen chasing him on two stops. Leclerc stopped again to take the fastest lap as Ricciardo had Albon back on his tail soon after his stop in the fight for fifth.
The Top 10 then had Sainz in seventh ahead of Gasly, Perez and Norris, with the latter having to stop again. There was a good wheel-to-wheel fight out the Top 10 as well between Raikkonen and Hulkenberg – the German got ahead of the Finn.
However, he had all four wheels outside the track at one point, which forced him to yield the position. It wasn’t in vain though as Hulkenberg got past Raikkonen again to be 11th with the Finn losing out to Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat as well.
Meanwhile, at the front, the two Mercedes drivers were in the scrap for the win as Bottas got himself on the tail of Hamilton with four laps to go. The British racer hung on for a couple of laps but didn’t have enough with the Finn retaking the US GP lead.
Bottas hung on to win the US GP but it was Hamilton to celebrate as the British driver hung on to second to secure his sixth F1 world championship with two races to go. He is the only the second F1 driver after Michael Schumacher to win six championships.
Verstappen tried hard but had to settle for third due to the yellow flag on the back straight for Haas’ Kevin Magnussen’s off. It ended up being a bad day for Ferrari with Leclerc only fourth but the Monegasque has an extra point for the fastest lap.
It was a hard run for Red Bull’s Albon, who fought his way up to fifth with three stops as Ricciardo was sixth ahead of McLaren’s Norris and Sainz in sixth and seventh. The other Renault of Hulkenberg fought back up to score points in ninth.
There was drama towards the end again as Gasly was running in points until a late retirement. His teammate Kvyat then had a tangle with Perez to be 10th. But for the second race in a row, the Russian was handed a post-race five second time penalty.
While Hamilton celebrated his title victory, the incident wasn’t shown on the world feed. It dropped Kvyat to 12th with Perez finishing 10th to take the final point after starting from the pitlane. Raikkonen slotted in between them in 11th.
Racing Point’s Lance Stroll finished 13th with Alfa Romeo’s Antonio Giovinazzi 14th ahead of Haas’ Romain Grosjean. Despite not seeing the chequered flag, Gasly was classified 16th and Magnussen 18th with Williams’ George Russell in 17th.
Teammate Robert Kubica retired early due to hydraulic leak. Everyone from Sainz until Grosjean finished a lap down with Russell seeing the chequered flag, two laps down on the US GP leaders.