Lewis Hamilton has returned to winning ways with a measured drive to victory at the United States grand prix.
Lewis Hamilton ran perfectly controlled race to take his 50th career win and with it a fifth victory on American soil at the Circuit of the Americas. While the perception from the outside made it look like an easy afternoon for Hamilton the Mercedes driver admitted to being “petrified” that his car would suffer a reliability issue as it did in Malaysia earlier in the season. “I was just the whole race concerned the car was not going to make it,” said Hamilton. “Right up until the line, I was just in fear of the same thing, the same feeling I had, the sound I heard in Malaysia. So I was grateful the car made it across the line.”
Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg was an ever-present second ahead of Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo in third but he had to work for it. The German dropped behind Ricciardo at the start of the race and faced serious pressure from Max Verstappen after the first round of stops. Nevertheless, the rub of the green went Rosberg’s way and he emerged in second.
Aussie driver Ricciardo was on his way to the second step on the podium but the deployment of the virtual safety car afforded Rosberg a de facto free pitstop and, crucially, track position ahead of Ricciardo. As if to add insult to serious misfortune the virtual safety car was deployed to recover the stricken Red Bull of his teammate Max Verstappen who suffered a catastrophic gearbox failure.
There was a second high profile retirement in the form of Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen as an embarrassing mistake from the pit crew at the Finn’s final stop meant he left the box with a loose wheel that eventually led to his retirement. As one side of the Ferrari garage suffered a costly self-inflicted blunder Sebastian Vettel was able to bring his Ferrari home in a lonely fourth in what was the best the team could have hoped to achieve regardless of the circumstances.
Fernando Alonso embraced the Texas spirit as he delivered a bigger and better performance than McLaren has seen in a while. The Spaniard’s feisty driving showed his fighting spirit as he battled his way into fifth while Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz finshed sixth ahead of Williams Felipe Massa in seventh. Force India driver Sergio Perez recovered brilliantly to eighth after a first corner incident while Jenson Button made up ten places to finish ninth in the McLaren. The Haas F1 Team became the first American team to score a point on home soil as Romain Grosjean collected tenth place.
The grand prix in the lone star state delivered good news all around for Mercedes. The team secured its fifth one-two victory of the season and Lewis Hamilton stemmed Rosberg’s momentum and sliced his championship lead to 26 points. The good news for Rosberg is that he delivered exactly what he needs with his second place finish.
Nico Rosberg’s lead in the championship has been sliced to 26 points with the Mexican grand prix just days away.