Hamilton achieves 50th career victory in Austin

Lewis Hamilton achieved his 50th victory in Formula 1, leading his championship rival Nico Rosberg at the Circuit of the Americans.

The reigning world champion, who has won four times at Austin to add to his 2007 US Grand Prix success at Indianapolis, finished 4.5 seconds ahead of Mercedes team-mate Rosberg, with Red Bull Racing’s Daniel Ricciardo third.

Rosberg’s championship lead has been cut to 26 points over Hamilton, but it could have been more as Ricciardo and team-mate Max Verstappen had an opportunity in upsetting the Mercedes one-two.

Hamilton and Rosberg made clean starts, although Ricciardo took advantage of the wide first corner to get alongside Rosberg, ultimately completing the pass around the outside through Turn 2.

Verstappen, who passed Kimi Raikkonen on lap 12 to claim fourth, then began to push Rosberg who found himself sandwiched between the Red Bull pair.

But Verstappen’s race unravelled from lap 26 when he mistakenly thought he had been called into the pits, with his crew not ready when he arrived.

Three laps later Verstappen suffered a gearbox failure, and he tried to get his car back to the pits rather than stopping trackside.

When Verstappen eventually parked up, the virtual safety car was deployed, which gave Mercedes pair Hamilton and Rosberg what Ricciardo described as “a free stop”.

Having stopped for a second time on lap 25, before the virtual safety car, Ricciardo therefore found himself third, losing what Red Bull estimated to be ten seconds to Rosberg thanks to the virtual safety car.

From that point on the top three positions were sealed, with Ricciardo safe in third as Raikkonen was on a three-stop strategy and had another stop to make.

Raikkonen’s third stop led to the end of his race though, as he pulled away too quickly, with the right-rear tyre gun yanked off in the process.

As Raikkonen began to climb up the hill out of the pitlane he was forced to pull over after being told to stop, from where he rolled his car back down the slope and out of harm’s way.

Raikkonen was the fourth retirement of the race, with Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg first out after a Turn 1 collision with Valtteri Bottas in his Williams, sustaining trackrod damage with his car unable to turn left.

Bottas suffered a right-rear puncture that dropped him to the back of the field, and after an early pitstop he could only manage P16.

Along with Verstappen, Esteban Gutierrez was the other driver to retire after 18 laps with what appeared to be a brake problem that led to him going off at Turn 11.

Behind the leading trio, Vettel salvaged fourth for Ferrari, with Fernando Alonso fifth for McLaren after passing Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz on the penultimate lap of the 56.

Alonso, though, is under investigation for an incident with Felipe Massa on lap 54 that led to a front-left puncture for the Williams driver, who managed to hang on to seventh ahead of Sergio Perez.

The Force India driver suffered a lap one spin after an incident with Daniil Kvyat that led to a ten-second time penalty for the Russian who finished P12.

Jenson Button and Romain Grosjean were ninth and tenth, the latter claiming a point for Haas at the team’s maiden home race.

United States Grand Prix, race result after 56 laps:
1    Lewis Hamilton    Mercedes    56    1h38m12.618s
2    Nico Rosberg    Mercedes    56    4.520s
3    Daniel Ricciardo    Red Bull-Renault    56    19.692s
4    Sebastian Vettel    Ferrari    56    43.134s
5    Fernando Alonso    McLaren-Honda    56    1m33.953s
6    Carlos Sainz    Toro Rosso-Ferrari    56    1m36.124s
7    Felipe Massa    Williams-Mercedes    55    1 Lap
8    Sergio Perez    Force India-Mercedes    55    1 Lap
9    Jenson Button    McLaren-Honda    55    1 Lap
10    Romain Grosjean    Haas-Ferrari    55    1 Lap
11    Kevin Magnussen    Renault    55    1 Lap
12    Daniil Kvyat    Toro Rosso-Ferrari    55    1 Lap
13    Jolyon Palmer    Renault    55    1 Lap
14    Marcus Ericsson    Sauber-Ferrari    55    1 Lap
15    Felipe Nasr    Sauber-Ferrari    55    1 Lap
16    Valtteri Bottas    Williams-Mercedes    55    1 Lap
17    Pascal Wehrlein    Manor-Mercedes    55    1 Lap
18    Esteban Ocon    Manor-Mercedes    54    2 Laps
–    Kimi Raikkonen    Ferrari    38    Retirement
–    Max Verstappen    Red Bull-Renault    28    Gearbox
–    Esteban Gutierrez    Haas/Ferrari    16    Retirement
–    Nico Hulkenberg    Force India/Mercedes    1    Collision

Drivers’ standings:
1    Nico Rosberg    331
2    Lewis Hamilton    305
3    Daniel Ricciardo    227
4    Sebastian Vettel    177
5    Kimi Raikkonen    170
6    Max Verstappen    165
7    Sergio Perez    84
8    Valtteri Bottas    81
9    Nico Hulkenberg    54
10    Fernando Alonso    52
11    Felipe Massa    49
12    Carlos Sainz    38
13    Romain Grosjean    29
14    Daniil Kvyat    25
15    Jenson Button    21
16    Kevin Magnussen    7
17    Jolyon Palmer    1
18    Pascal Wehrlein    1
19    Stoffel Vandoorne    1
20    Esteban Gutierrez    0
21    Marcus Ericsson    0
22    Felipe Nasr    0
23    Rio Haryanto    0
24    Esteban Ocon    0

Constructors’ standings:
1    Mercedes    636
2    Red Bull-Renault    400
3    Ferrari    347
4    Force India-Mercedes    138
5    Williams-Mercedes    130
6    McLaren-Honda    74
7    Toro Rosso-Ferrari    55
8    Haas-Ferrari    29
9    Renault    8
10    Manor-Mercedes    1
11    Sauber-Ferrari    0

Next race: Mexican Grand Prix, October 26-30.

7 thoughts to “Hamilton achieves 50th career victory in Austin”

  1. US Grand Prix race review as reported by Formula1.com:

    Lewis Hamilton stylishly won his fifth United States Grand Prix on Sunday, as he comfortably headed Mercedes team mate Nico Rosberg all the way through and led him home by 4.5s. It was also the 50th victory of Hamilton’s F1 career, putting him one behind Alain Prost for second place in the all-time list, and wiped seven points off Rosberg’s 33-point title lead with three races to go.

    Daniel Ricciardo took the final podium place for Red Bull, with team mate Max Verstappen having retired mid-race with suspected transmission issues. Sebastian Vettel finished fourth for Ferrari, whose second car also failed to make the flag as Kimi Raikkonen was the victim of a botched pit stop.

    Fernando Alonso was a fighting fifth for McLaren, ahead of Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz and Williams’ Felipe Massa. Force India’s Sergio Perez, McLaren’s Jenson Button and Haas’s Romain Grosjean completed the top ten.

    This time Hamilton had no problems with his clutch at the start and headed Rosberg into Turn 1. The German had his hands full, however, and lost out to Ricciardo, who got the “friendly grip” he was looking for on his supersoft Pirelli tyres to jump one of the Mercedes which had started on the soft compound.

    Behind them, Valtteri Bottas and Nico Hulkenberg had a bump in that first corner which hurt both their races; the German retired his damaged Force India at the end of the lap, while the Finn pitted with a puncture and struggled home an eventual 16th for Williams. It was a horrible opening lap for Force India, as Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat spun Perez in Turn 11, condemning the Mexican to an afternoon of fighting back. As he took eighth, the Russian was 12th once a 10-second penalty had been applied.

    Ricciardo kept Hamilton honest in the early laps on his softer tyres, but stopped as early as the eighth lap for softs. Curiously Mercedes brought their drivers in on their softs on the 10th (Rosberg) and 11th (Hamilton) laps; Rosberg took mediums, playing the “long game” according to his crew, Hamilton took more softs.

    That momentarily put Vettel’s supersoft-shod Ferrari into the lead as he ran the longest of all of the top runners on the red-banded rubber, but when he pitted for softs on the 14th lap he fell to sixth behind Hamilton, Ricciardo, Rosberg, Verstappen and Raikkonen.

    The Dutchman looked very racy against Rosberg for a while, telling his team he was “not here to finish fourth,” as they tried to get him to eke out his rubber, but he and Ricciardo stopped again on their 26th and 25th laps respectively. Verstappen had come in by mistake, believing his team had told him to box, and discovered they weren’t ready. That put him down to seventh, but he quickly passed Massa’s Williams and Raikkonen on his fresh medium tyres and was running fifth when he suddenly slowed on the 29th lap. He rolled along as far as possible before parking well off track with suspected powertrain problems, but the Virtual Safety Car (VSC) was then deployed as the RB12 had to be craned away.

    Mercedes immediately pitted both Hamilton and Rosberg for medium tyres under the VSC, and that ‘free stop’ effectively killed any chance Ricciardo had of challenging for the win. It was frustrating, to say the least, for the Australian who had showed plenty of comparable pace to the Silver Arrows, as had Verstappen before his dramas.

    Now it was Hamilton leading Rosberg, and all the reigning champion had to do was work through the traffic and manage his race, which he did to perfection to the flag. Rosberg, however, never gave up even though four second places behind Hamilton in the remaining races would still give him his first crown. He kept the hammer down, and steadily reduced a 16.6s deficit from the 32nd lap to 4.5 by the flag.

    Ricciardo backed off in the closing stages but was still way ahead of Vettel’s disappointing Ferrari, which suffered from rear wing problems which cost him downforce and caused to have a huge wobble in the Esses in Turns 3, 4 and 5. He finished 43s down.

    Fifth place was the subject of a huge battle between Sainz, Massa and a charging Alonso. The former champion muscled Massa out of the way to take sixth on the 52nd lap, then sliced past Sainz on the penultimate lap.

    As Perez fought back into the points, Button had a sensational opening lap to go from 19th to 11th, but couldn’t keep pace with his McLaren team mate and had to settle for ninth ahead of final point scorer Grosjean, who added to the Haas team’s score on their first race in front of their home crowd.

    Three-stopping Kevin Magnussen had a strong battle with two-stopping Renault team mate Jolyon Palmer and eventually finished 11th on the road for Renault, ahead of Kvyat. However, that became 12th – behind Kvyat – once stewards had decided post-race that the Dane had gained an advantage in running off track when passing the Toro Rosso and handed him a 5-second time penalty.

    Behind 13th placed Palmer, Marcus Ericsson raised Sauber’s hopes of a point as he ran 11th at one stage before his final pit stop but had to settle for 14th ahead of team mate Felipe Nasr who had a pass and repass fight with Bottas at the end. Behind them, Pascal Wehrlein led home Manor team mate Esteban Ocon.

    Besides Hulkenberg and Verstappen, Raikkonen was forced out when his Ferrari’s right-rear wheel was still loose as he rejoined after his pit stop on lap 38. He got a far as the rise towards Turn 1 before stopping, then rolled back down to the pit lane to retire. Ferrari picked up a €5,000 fine for an unsafe release. And Esteban Gutierrez battled strongly for points against Haas team mate Grosjean, before retiring with brake problems.

  2. US Grand Prix winner Lewis Hamilton feared repeat of his Malaysian Grand Prix failure as the laps ticked by. Autosport.com has the news story.

    Lewis Hamilton admitted he spent the whole United States Grand Prix in fear of having another Formula 1 engine failure while leading.

    The reigning world champion’s engine expired with 15 laps to go in Malaysia to severely dent his title hopes and memories of that moment were on his mind during the Austin race.

    But after making a clean start from pole position, Hamilton had no such problems to take a comfortable victory – the 50th of his career and first since Germany before the summer break.

    “I’m just focusing on doing the best job I can and today I felt comfortable doing the job,” he said.

    “I was just the whole race concerned the car was not going to make it.

    “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.”

    Hamilton reduced the deficit to team-mate and title rival Nico Rosberg to 26 points with 75 remaining.

    It could have been even better had Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo not lost second to Rosberg thanks to a virtual safety car period that allowed the championship leader to pit without falling behind the Red Bull.

    When asked if Red Bull’s strong pace at Austin gave him hope that Ricciardo and Max Verstappen could take points away from Rosberg, Hamilton said: “I don’t really think about that.

    “I just focus on doing my job to the best of my ability.

    “I can’t control what is going on behind me so there’s no point in hoping for anything.

    “I’ve just got to do the better job on the weekend and have more weekends like this – that would be great.”

    Bad starts have plagued Mercedes this season, but Hamilton said ahead of the weekend that the team had worked hard to cure the problems and that paid off at Austin.

    “I’ve been relaxed all weekend and I feel like I knew the start was going to go well,” he said.

    “That’s the first time in the whole year that I didn’t spin the wheels.

    “So great work done by the guys, great work done at the factory last week and it worked perfectly today.”

  3. Red Bull Racing’s Daniel Ricciardo was left feeling frustrated by virtual safety car timing which affected his finishing position at the end of the US Grand Prix. Autosport.com provides the details.

    Daniel Ricciardo has blamed the timing of the Formula 1 virtual safety car for potentially costing him second place in the United States Grand Prix.

    The Red Bull driver ran second after passing Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg through Turn 2 on the opening lap and was a second ahead of the Mercedes when he made his second pitstop at the end of lap 24.

    Ricciardo was destined to jump back ahead of Rosberg when the Mercedes driver stopped until the virtual safety car was deployed on lap 31 after Red Bull team-mate Max Verstappen ground to a halt with a gearbox problem.

    That allowed Rosberg to make a pitstop while Ricciardo was circulating at reduced speed, with the Mercedes driver coming out of the pits with an advantage that shook out at 2.5s when the race got back underway – a gap that quickly doubled.

    Ricciardo eventually finished 15 seconds behind Rosberg in third, saying on the radio at the finish the impact of the VSC “sucks”.

    “We seemed to be, at that stage, able to hold on to second,” said Ricciardo of the phase of the race before the VSC.

    “With the VSC, we lost 10 seconds to Nico, so I believe after the pitstops we would have had five seconds on him.

    “But after the pitstops, he had close on five seconds on me, so that was frustrating.

    “It would have been interesting, even if he caught me at the end, to at least have a fight.

    “The race became a bit not-that-exciting after the VSC, without it, it would have made it a bit more spicy at the front.

    “Unfortunately, third was the outcome.”

    After Red Bull was able to challenge Mercedes in the race and potentially split Lewis Hamilton and Rosberg had the VSC not intervened, Ricciardo is confident of further strong showings this year.

    “I’d say Abu Dhabi is where I fancy my best chances, it’s been a strong circuit for me and us as a team,” he said.

    “Mexico is still new, the surface is going to be a lot different when we go there [compared to 2015] and it’s going to be rubbered in.

    “Brazil, it’s been a while since we’ve had the magical Brazil downpour so maybe we can get one of those this year and have a chance.”

  4. Ferrari has been fined €5,000 for releasing Kimi Raikkonen’s car unsafely from a pitstop during the Formula 1 United States Grand Prix.

    Raikkonen, who was on a three-stop strategy, pitted for softs at the end of lap 38 but pulled away before the right-rear wheelgun had been released after being given a green light to go.

    As the Finn began to climb the hill after emerging from the pitlane, he was told by the team to stop the car as it was unclear whether or not the tyre had been securely fitted.

    Raikkonen then rolled his Ferrari back down the slope, eventually stopping in the pits and retiring for the third time this season.

    He had been running fourth, ahead of team-mate Sebastian Vettel, but was out of contention for the podium places given the pace of Mercedes and Red Bull.

    On receiving a report from the race director, hearing from a team representative and examining video evidence, the stewards deemed Ferrari breached article 28.13 © of the sporting regulations and handed out a fine.

    With Vettel finishing fourth, the German leapfrogged Raikkonen to fourth in the drivers’ standings by seven points.

    Raikkonen wants Ferrari to investigate the cause of the error, having been given the green light to leave his pit box before the wheelgun was disengaged.

    “The reasons behind why it went green, we have to investigate and understand,” said Raikkonen.

    “Hopefully, in the future, to change whatever is need for it not to happen.

    “The green light came on and obviously I will go. Why did it come on when we were not ready?

    “The wheel was still on when I stopped, but it wasn’t 100% so we had to stop.
    “Unfortunately, there is no way to recover from that.”

    Source: Autosport.com

  5. Red Bull explains Max Verstappen’s pitstop blunder that affected his race at the Circuit of the Americas. Autosport.com provides the full story.

    Red Bull Formula 1 team principal Christian Horner believes Max Verstappen “got himself confused” in the build up to the pit blunder that sparked his United States Grand Prix downfall.

    Verstappen was running a comfortable fourth at Austin, and was in the hunt for a podium when he made an unscheduled second pitstop at the end of lap 26.

    With the pitcrew unaware, Verstappen lost nearly 13 seconds, and when asked what happened over the radio, he replied: “I thought you boxed me. Sorry.”

    Three laps later, the 19-year-old was forced to retire with a gearbox failure.

    “He thought he heard a call the previous lap but got himself confused,” Horner said.

    “It’s something that is totally unusual. He just arrived in the pitlane and said, ‘I’m in the pitlane!’

    “We’re not very good at fitting tyres when we don’t know he’s coming in.”

    Asked what he thought Verstappen heard, Horner said: “He hadn’t heard anything on that lap, so it was basically the previous lap.

    “He had been told to push, which was to close the gap to Nico [Rosberg] because we were going to try for the undercut on him.”

    However Horner said even that could not have been construed as an instruction to pit.

    “It was the lap before, so he would’ve driven past the pits,” he said. “It came from nowhere.

    “It’s a shame – a shame for him because his race was very strong.

    “He put a great move on Kimi [Raikkonen], and up until lap 25 it was going well, but ultimately it came to nothing because of the DNF.”

    Verstappen’s failure played into the hands of Mercedes and compromised his team-mate Daniel Ricciardo, who was on target for second place behind Lewis Hamilton.

    When Verstappen finally pulled off track after touring for most of a lap, Mercedes brought both drivers in for their second stops on lap 31 during the ensuing virtual safety car period.

    Ricciardo had already made his second stop six laps earlier, and was jumped by Rosberg, who went on to finish second.

    “It’s a case of what could’ve been,” Horner surmised.

    “If things had gone right, we would’ve had track position to Nico, who would’ve fitted the softer tyre on lap 36 or 37.

    “Then we would’ve had a pace advantage and he would’ve had to fight for second place on track instead of being gifted it through the virtual safety car.

    “With a possible chance of the undercut on Nico with Max, that meant Nico would have had to have passed both cars, albeit with a tyre advantage.”

  6. Stewards in Austin have decided to take no further action against McLaren’s Fernando Alonso over the Spaniard’s robust late-race pass on Felipe Massa at the Circuit of The Americas.

    Alonso made contact with Massa as he passed the Williams driver for sixth with an opportunistic move at Turn 15 on the 52nd lap. Both drivers ran off track as a result, with Massa also picking up a left-front puncture in the process.

    The stewards announced they would investigate the incident after the race, but having done so determined that ‘no driver was wholly or predominantly to blame for the collusion.’

    In the immediate aftermath of the incident, Alonso – who eventually finished in P5 after another late move on Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz – said over team radio that Massa had ‘closed the door’ on him, and that he was ‘already alongside him’ when he made the move.

    “To get past the Williams today you needed to overtake them in different places, like tight, slow-speed corners, and quite forcefully,” Alonso added after the race. “It was tough but hopefully enjoyable for the fans.”

    However, speaking after the race Massa disputed his former Ferrari team mate’s interpretation. “At the end, Fernando dived into the corner I was taking, hit my car and I got a puncture because of it,” he said. “It destroyed every opportunity I had to finish the race in sixth, and potentially fifth.”

    After making a late pit stop for fresh tyres, Massa eventually finished seventh.

    Also investigated by the stewards was Renault’s Kevin Magnussen, who ran off track when completing a late pass on Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat for P11. The Dane was found to have left the track and gained a lasting advantage and was given a five-second penalty as a result, dropping him back behind Kvyat in the final standings.

    Magnussen was also given two penalty points on his license, while in other penalty news, Ferrari were handed 5,000 Euro fine for an unsafe release of Kimi Raikkonen.

    Source: Formula1.com

  7. Mercedes’ Toto Wolff says the Formula 1 team will take the good fortune of the United States Grand Prix virtual safety car that helped Nico Rosberg, given its recent issues.

    Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo was set to finish second to Lewis Hamilton at Austin, only to be undone by the VSC period that followed team-mate Max Verstappen’s gearbox failure.

    How Hamilton won, but Rosberg didn’t really lose

    Mercedes brought Hamilton and Rosberg in for their second stops on lap 31, and the reduced speed of Ricciardo – who pitted six laps earlier – meant Rosberg emerged ahead.

    Wolff said he accepted the gain, given Mercedes’ 2016 startline issues and unreliability including Hamilton’s late engine failure at Sepang.

    “I think it would be a different scenario [otherwise],” he said.

    “We had the pace, and it was very fortunate when the VSC came out.

    “We have not been very fortunate in the last few races, so we will take that.”

    Rosberg acknowledged the VSC played its part in limiting the damage to title rival and race winner Hamilton.

    In finishing second, Rosberg lost seven points to Hamilton rather than 10 if he was third, with his championship lead now 26 points with three races remaining.

    “It is part of the strategy,” Rosberg said of potential safety cars.

    “When you go long [in a stint] you know there is a small chance of being able to benefit from those scenarios, as well as being able to give it a run at the end of the race.

    “It is part of the game. It came at the right moment for me, for sure.”

    Red Bull again took the fight to Mercedes over the course of the Austin weekend.

    Although Hamilton led a Mercedes one-two in qualifying, Ricciardo passed Rosberg at Turn 2 on the opening lap and held his own until being compromised by the VSC.

    Wolff expects Ricciardo and Verstappen to stay in the mix as his drivers fight for the world championship.

    “We expected them to be a bit closer in qualifying and the race than it actually was, because on Friday they were very strong,” said Wolff.

    “They are doing a good job, they have closed up to us, and [engine supplier] Renault is also doing a good job in catching up.

    “The rules on the chassis haven’t really changed over the last three years, so it’s going to be more difficult for us over the last three races.”

    Source: Autosport.com

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