Hamilton wins in Austin to take 3rd World title
The race in Austin, Texas, supersedes any other this year – an epic F1 encounter. Hamilton needed to beat Vettel and Rosberg to be sure of the championship, though with 4 races to go and 66 points ahead in the drivers championship many were talking of his 3rd Championship as a foregone conclusion anyway. That would not stop the 30 year old British driver wanting to seal the deal at the Texas showdown, and in doing so join Jackie Stewart as the only other British driver to hold 3 world championships.
Bad weather caused havoc to practice and qualifying. There were fears the race could take place at all. The race saw four safety cars, some incredible overtaking and battles on the track with no less than eight retirements.
Mercedes locked the front row again with Rosberg on pole and eager to keep his title chances alive, Hamilton actually got the better start of the two and had taken the lead into turn one forcing his teammate wide. The race from there was not straightforward at all, both Mercedes led the race at one point as did the Red Bull of Ricciardo, however following numerous safety cars, and an unforced error by Rosberg right at the end of the race – Hamilton took the chequered flag and with it his third World title.
Rosberg finished 2nd giving Mercedes yet another one-two, however his disappointment was evident after the race, unsure himself what happened to his lead. Vettel took his Ferrari home 3rd after chasing down the Silver Arrows throughout the race and climbing 10 places after his gearbox penalty started him in the lower half grid – a great drive from the German. Raikkonen wasn’t so fortunate; after a scuffle with Verstappen sent him into the gravel he retired his Ferrari with brake problems. Verstappen for Toro Rosso came 4th in yet another excellent race from the 18yr old, he challenged and overtook Vettel a few times and drove superbly to take his highest finish to date.
Force India’s Perez also had a feisty race, he fought gallantly lap after lap with the McLarens and the Toro Rosso of Sainz; he crossed the line 5th, his teammate Hulkenberg was forced to retire (lap 36) after damaging his suspension in a collision with Ricciardo.
McLaren (yes McLaren) took points home with Button 7th in his best finish this year, Button excelled in the weather and track conditions, his final standing was 6th after Sainz was handed a penalty. Alonso didn’t quite have the same luck after losing power near the end of the race and dropping back to 11th.
Sainz started at the back of the grid after crashing in qualifying though he also stormed through the field and crossed the line 6th on the road – this was later dropped to 7th after a penalty imposed for speeding in the pit lane. Maldonado had an incident free race taking 8th with little drama for Lotus, but his teammate Grosjean retired lap 11 with rear brake problems.
Sauber celebrated their 400th race in Austin, but their race started badly when Nasr and Ericsson collided with each other, they both were able to continue until Ericsson retired lap 26 with electrical failure, Nasr did go on to take points in 9th place.
Ricciardo and Kvyat were speed demons at the start of the race toying with the Mercedes like cat and mouse, their joy was short lived as the track dried, Kvyat made a couple of mistakes which cost him dearly; he later crashed into the wall hard and was out of the race lap 43. Ricciardo could be proud with his race but not crossing the line 10th after being knocked about on track.
Williams had a shocking race with both cars retiring – the first time in years. Bottas suffered in a collision, went to slicks too early and then retired lap 6 due to the same damper problem he had in qualifying. Massa also sustained damage in the first corner brawl and he also retired with damper problems lap 23.
Hamilton becomes the 10th man in history and the first Briton since 1973, to clinch 3 world titles joining the likes of Sir Jackie Stewart, Aryton Senna and Niki Lauda.
Of course despite his win, the races continue. Next up is Mexico…1st November.