Hamilton scores Mercedes constructors’ title with victory at Austin

Lewis Hamilton is within striking distance to winning his fourth Formula 1 world championship with a commanding victory in the United States Grand Prix at Austin.

The Mercedes driver lost the lead to his title rival Sebastian Vettel at the start, but got back past the Ferrari driver early on to score his ninth victory of the season and fifth in six attempts at the Circuit of Americas.

Vettel finished second, 10.1 seconds adrift, and now trails Hamilton by 66 points with only 75 remaining, with Max Verstappen snatching third from Kimi Raikkonen with an incredible pass on the final lap of the race.

However, Verstappen was given a five-second penalty for leaving the track and gaining an advantage when completing that overtake, which demoted him to fourth with Raikkonen promoted back to third.

Valtteri Bottas finished fifth as his Mercedes team clinched its fourth successive constructors’ championship with three races still remaining.

Vettel made a great start from second on the grid to dive up the inside of Hamilton into Turn 1, despite Hamilton’s efforts to defend the line.

Hamilton reported that his tyres felt good and after a couple of laps had got back within DRS range before launching an attack down the back straight.

The Mercedes nipped down the inside to take the position and though Vettel attacked through the twisty section that followed, Hamilton held the Ferrari off.

Vettel pitted at the end of lap 16, swapping the ultra-softs for softs, but Hamilton chose to stay out three laps longer before pitting for fresh set of Pirelli.

Vettel set a series of fast laps, but ran wide at the penultimate corner as Hamilton pitted, with the Mercedes emerging from the pits just ahead into Turn 1 to stay ahead.

Max Verstappen ran a long first stint, having started P16, and rose through the field to take the lead as others made their pit stops.

Hamilton quickly caught the Red Bull driver and used DRS to make the pass on cut back at Turn 14 to retake a lead.

Verstappen pitted at the end of lap 24, taking the soft tyre and rejoining fifth. Red Bull then went aggressive by pitting him for a second time 13 laps later.

The Red Bull driver took the super-softs and stayed fifth, such was the gap to Esteban Ocon behind, with Vettel responding and taking the same compound, rejoining fourth having run second.

That promoted Bottas to second with Raikkonen third, but the Mercedes driver was struggling for speed and after a series of attacks, Raikkonen finally made one stick at the end of the back straight to snatch second.

Vettel used fresh tyres to close back up to Bottas, passing the Mercedes driver around the outside of Turn 1 to take third with five laps to go.

Raikkonen was informed by his team that Vettel was now the car behind and promptly moved over at Turn 1 to allow his team-mate to take second position.

He then lost third in the final sequence of corners when Verstappen dived down the inside of the long right-hander on the final lap only to be given the position back following the Red Bull driver’s penalty.

It was a bad day for Verstappen’s team-mate Daniel Ricciardo who retired early on, having had a great battle with Bottas for third, with a suspected engine problem.

Ocon absorbed pressure from Carlos Sainz Jr to hold on to sixth, with the latter scoring points on his first start for Renault in seventh.

Sergio Perez, who was frustrated with his Force India team when he felt he was being held up by Ocon midway through the race, ended up eighth with Felipe Massa and Daniil Kvyat completing the top ten.

Brendon Hartley finished P13 on his Grand Prix debut with Toro Rosso, 26 seconds behind Toro Rosso team-mate Kvyat.

Nico Hulkenberg retired after suffering a loss of oil pressure, while Fernando Alonso’s race was ended with an engine problem.

Pascal Wehrlein also failed to finish after contact with Kevin Magnussen at the start while his Sauber team-mate finished P15, having incurred a five-second penalty for causing a separate collision with Magnussen.

With this victory at the Circuit of the Americas, Lewis Hamilton is just ten points away in sealing his fourth world championship. It’s going to be a really difficult for Sebastian Vettel to wrestle this title back but anything can happen in Formula 1. Roll on Mexico.

United States Grand Prix, race results after 56 laps:

1    Lewis Hamilton    Mercedes    56    1h33m50.993s
2    Sebastian Vettel    Ferrari    56    10.143s
3    Kimi Raikkonen    Ferrari    56    15.779s
4    Max Verstappen    Red Bull-Renault    56    16.768s
5    Valtteri Bottas    Mercedes    56    34.967s
6    Esteban Ocon    Force India-Mercedes    56    1m30.980s
7    Carlos Sainz    Renault    56    1m32.944s
8    Sergio Perez    Force India-Mercedes    55    1 Lap
9    Felipe Massa    Williams-Mercedes    55    1 Lap
10    Daniil Kvyat    Toro Rosso-Renault    55    1 Lap
11    Lance Stroll    Williams-Mercedes    55    1 Lap
12    Stoffel Vandoorne    McLaren-Honda    55    1 Lap
13    Brendon Hartley    Toro Rosso-Renault    55    1 Lap
14    Romain Grosjean    Haas-Ferrari    55    1 Lap
15    Marcus Ericsson    Sauber-Ferrari    55    1 Lap
16    Kevin Magnussen    Haas-Ferrari    55    1 Lap
–    Fernando Alonso    McLaren-Honda    24    Retirement
–    Daniel Ricciardo    Red Bull-Renault    14    Retirement
–    Pascal Wehrlein    Sauber-Ferrari    5    Retirement
–    Nico Hulkenberg    Renault    3    Retirement

5 thoughts to “Hamilton scores Mercedes constructors’ title with victory at Austin”

  1. United States Grand Prix race review as reported by Formula1.com.

    Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel led the opening five laps of the 2017 Formula 1 United States Grand Prix, but it was Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton who went on to dominate the race, winning by 10 seconds from his title rival, whose team mate Kimi Raikkonen clinched third after a last-lap pass on him by Red Bull’s Max Verstappen was deemed illegal. The result means Mercedes secure the 2017 constructors’ crown, but the drivers’ battle goes on to next weekend’s round in Mexico.

    A five-second time penalty for leaving the track while passing Raikkonen meant the fans’ Driver of the Day Verstappen, who started 16th, lost out on the podium by just 0.9s, having seen his team mate Daniel Ricciardo retire early on with engine issues. Valtteri Bottas ended up fifth in the sister Mercedes, followed by the Force Indias of Esteban Ocon and Sergio Perez, split by Renault new boy Carlos Sainz, who like Verstappen saw his team mate, Nico Hulkenberg, retire.

    Williams’ Felipe Massa and Toro Rosso returnee Daniil Kvyat completed the top ten, the latter’s rookie team mate Brendon Hartley taking the flag 13th on his F1 debut.

    When Vettel got the jump on polesitter Hamilton at the start, it looked as if Ferrari were going to get the win they needed, but it soon became clear that the silver car, right behind him, had better pace. And when the points leader sliced decisively down the inside of him on the sixth lap, that was pretty much all she wrote.

    Hamilton had a scare on the 20th lap as he emerged from what transpired to be his sole pit stop, and Vettel, who had stopped three laps earlier, had wiped out a 4.4s deficit and was almost right on him. Hamilton wasn’t amused and rebuked his team, but at the same time he quickly pulled away again, and when Vettel had to stop again on the 39th lap, it was also soon clear that Mercedes would not need to do the same.

    Vettel had thus by then fallen to fourth place, as Bottas and Raikkonen waged a single-stop duel for second well behind Hamilton. Eventually the older Finn passed his younger countryman, and as Vettel was by then coming after Bottas like gangbusters, Ferrari sensed the chance to limit the damage. When Vettel pounced on Bottas on the 51st lap, they immediately switched Vettel for Raikkonen, maximising the German’s score and limiting the further loss to Hamilton to seven points. Hamilton now has 331, Vettel 265. Very close to that fourth title, but the cigar can’t be lit just yet.

    Raikkonen, meanwhile, hand his hands full with Verstappen, Red Bull’s sole runner after Ricciardo’s battle early on with Bottas had ended with a possible engine problem. The Dutchman drove brilliantly from 16th on the grid (due to engine penalties), to snatch third place with an aggressive move on the last lap. Raikkonen, who had already been in fuel-saving mode, dropped back four seconds immediately, but for Verstappen that would not be enough. He was gathered with Hamilton and Vettel in the green room when the news came that a five-second penalty for exceeding track limits to make the pass had dropped him behind Raikkonen. He was not amused.

    As Bottas trailed home fifth, there was some excellent racing behind the top five.

    Ocon and Sainz were locked in a duel for many laps, but the Frenchman never gave the Renault debutant the opening he was looking for. Likewise Perez, in the other Force India, who had earlier asked his team to tell Ocon to let him by, lacked his partner’s pace but just fended off final points scorers Massa and Kvyat at the flag.

    Williams’ Lance Stroll took 11th, just ahead of McLaren’s Stoffel Vandoorne and the aforementioned Hartley, as Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson and Haas’s Kevin Magnussen completed the finishers; the Swede got a five-second penalty for tipping the Dane into a spin as Vettel lapped them on the 47th lap.

    Like Ricciardo and Hulkenberg, McLaren’s Fernando Alonso fell prey to mechanical ills, while Pascal Wehrlein’s Sauber suffered damage after a first-lap collision with Magnussen.

    Though Hamilton still needs nine points to secure the drivers’ title – just fifth place in Mexico next weekend will be enough – Mercedes cemented the constructors’ championship, and now have 575 points to Ferrari’s 428, Red Bull’s 315 and Force India’s 159.

    Renault have moved back in front of Haas and to within five points of Toro Rosso in the fight for sixth place.

  2. Red Bull Racing’s Christian Horner slams “unbelievably harsh” Max Verstappen penalty. Motorsport.com has the news story.

    Red Bull Formula 1 boss Christian Horner has hit out at the FIA stewards’ “unbelievably harsh” decision to penalise Max Verstappen and strip him of his United States Grand Prix podium.

    Verstappen had started the COTA race from 16th after incurring engine change grid penalties, but a charging drive put him in contention for a remarkable podium finish.

    On fresher and faster tyres, he was all over Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen for third on the final lap of the race, clearing the Finn with a late dive down the inside of Turn 17 and arriving at the chequered flag four seconds ahead.

    However, just as the Dutchman was preparing to step onto the podium, he was informed he had picked up a five-second penalty for having overtaken Raikkonen outside of track limits – which dropped him to fourth place in the classification.

    “There’s been cars going off track all day today and no action at all, so I think it would be unbelievably harsh to give Max a penalty,” Horner told Sky Sports.

    It was the second time Verstappen has been denied a podium by a post-race stewards’ decision, as he lost a third-place finish at Mexico last year in similar circumstances.

    Horner continued: “It’s wrong. We’ll have a look at it, but for me it was fair, hard racing. I think that’s a bad judgement by the stewards to have made that call.

    “He did it the hard way. We’ve seen cars off track all day today, all weekend, so to penalise him at this stage, that’s not right.”

    The penalty has also drawn the ire of Verstappen’s father Jos, himself a former grand prix driver.

    Verstappen Sr. took to social media to express his disappointment with the penalty, tweeting, among other things, “This is bullshit. Sorry. This sucks.” and “Shame on you FIA”.

  3. Race winner Lewis Hamilton was left feeling “surprised” that Sebastian Vettel didn’t defend harder. Motorsport.com has the details.

    Lewis Hamilton says he was surprised Formula 1 title rival Sebastian Vettel didn’t fight him harder for the lead of the United States Grand Prix.

    The Mercedes driver moved closer to sealing the 2017 drivers’ championship with his ninth win of the season at Austin, but he had to pass Vettel to do it, after losing the lead to the Ferrari at the start.

    “One of the most fun races I’ve had for a while,” said Hamilton, who passed Vettel early in the race with the help of DRS down the back straight.

    “I didn’t get away to a great start, Seb got a great start but I was chilled about it as I know you can overtake here.

    “It was great having that battle, trying to keep up, stay close, get within DRS. It was very reminiscent of 2012 here, seeing Seb up ahead and wanting to have that real battle. That is what I looked for and that is what I enjoyed the most.

    “I was a bit surprised Seb didn’t defend more, but it was still fair.”

    Vettel accepted that he could have made Hamilton’s life harder, but he felt the pass was inevitable given the Mercedes driver’s pace advantage.

    “Lewis was able to easily close the gap and easily get DRS,” said Vettel.

    “I tried to block – maybe I could have done a bit more but he was so much quicker it didn’t really matter.

    “Disappointing to lose the lead when you have it but with the difference in pace they had on us today, it probably wasn’t our race to win.

    “I wasn’t expecting to struggle that much. Towards the end it was a bit more normal, but by the end [the race] was lost.”

    While Hamilton didn’t seal the drivers’ title with his win, his employer Mercedes has wrapped up the constructors’ championship.

    “I want to say a big congrats to everyone in the team and everyone back at the factory,” said Hamilton.

    “There has been an incredible push for this kind of performance this year and we have really pulled together more than I have experienced and seen over the last five years to really get something quite special.

    “Especially to go from one car [set of rules] to another, which has never been done, and I am proud to be a part of it.”

  4. Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen had “no idea” why Max Verstappen was penalised. The 5-second penalty was applied to the Red Bull driver for gaining track advantage. Motorsport.com has the story.

    Kimi Raikkonen says he had “no idea” why rival Max Verstappen was penalised for his overtaking move on the final lap of the United States Grand Prix.

    Red Bull driver Verstappen was handed a five-second penalty after the race had finished for having gone off-track to overtake Raikkonen for third at Turn 17.

    The penalty meant the Ferrari driver was promoted to a podium finish, while Verstappen dropped down to fourth, having started from 16th.

    Raikkonen admitted he did not know how Verstappen had passed him.

    “I have no idea what happened with Verstappen or why he got the penalty,” said Raikkonen. “I had no idea what happened to him apart from he got past me at the second-last corner.

    “Obviously I was disappointed just after the race when I thought I had finished fourth but there was some issue with Max.

    “I got to go on the podium but didn’t see it, I don’t know where he went,” he added.

    Raikkonen, who admitted Verstappen’s move surprised him, said he was angry he had let the Dutchman through.

    “Obviously I was half surprised,” said the Finn. “I saw him in my mirror and tried to slow down the whole thing before, the previous corners, and I thought I had enough covering on the corner, and then suddenly he was there.

    “I saw in my mirror and I was a bit surprised, at that speed – I was a bit pissed off he got past me.”

  5. Max Verstappen has blasted Formula 1’s stewards for “killing the sport” with their “idiot” decision to take away his United States Grand Prix podium with a track limits penalty.

    Verstappen charged from 16th on the grid to finish third on the road at the Austin F1 race, after a thrilling last-lap pass on Kimi Raikkonen’s Ferrari.

    But the FIA stewards adjudged Verstappen to have gained an unfair advantage by cutting the inside of Turn 17 and going off the circuit to make the move.

    They slapped him with a five-second time penalty, demoting him back to fourth and stopped him in his tracks on his way to the podium.

    Red Bull team boss Christian Horner called the decision “appalling” and “unbelievably harsh” and Verstappen told TV crews after the race that the stewards were damaging the sport with such decisions.

    “We had a really great race, but with those stupid decisions you really kill the sport,” Verstappen said.

    “It’s one idiot steward up there which always makes decisions against me.

    “At the end of the day everybody is running wide everywhere, there are no track limits. At Turn 9 you can run wide, at Turn 19 you can go off the track and nobody will say anything.

    “It’s the same with [Valtteri] Bottas – I went for a move, and he continued outside the track; he came back, I really had to pass him, and nothing has been done against that while he definitely gained advantage. If he made the track he would have been behind me.

    “It’s not good for the sport – they have to be really clear on the rules that it’s not allowed.”

    Verstappen was frustrated by the “really weird” situation of being unable to challenge the stewards’ decision and said he hoped the crowd would stay away from next year’s race in protest.

    “They decide and you can’t do anything against it, which is of course really weird,” Verstappen added. “What can we do? We cannot make up the rules.

    “Everybody is loving it, it’s great action, you go five or 10cm on the inside of the kerb, everybody is running wide everywhere, they don’t say anything, and they kill the race, basically, like that.

    “The crowd is loving it and then you do something like that in front of world TV – you pick up somebody from the podium and tell them to go away!

    “It’s not good for the crowd. I really hope next year nobody is coming, because like this the sport doesn’t make sense.”

    Source: Motorsport.com

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