Lewis Hamilton wins 6th Formula 1 title as teammate wins US GP
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Valtteri Bottas has won this morning's United States Grand Prix, but the achievement has been overshadowed by teammate Lewis Hamilton, who — in finishing second — earned his sixth Formula 1 title.
While he didn't claim the fairy-tale win, Hamilton's second place did represent one milestone; it was his 150th podium across his 12-year career in the series. With a sixth title added to his mantle, only Michael Schumacher sits above him on the all-time F1 champion charts, with seven titles to his name. Hamilton now surpasses Juan Manuel Fangio's five, with Sebastian Vettel and Alain Prost on four.
"It's just overwhelming,” said an emotional Hamilton post race. “It was such a tough race today, Valtteri did a great job. As an athlete I feel as fresh as can be. We'll keep pushing for the rest of the season.”
The race boiled down to a showdown between Hamilton and his well worn hard tyres, and fast approaching teammate Bottas on healthier mediums. The Mercedes pair led Max Verstappen, with Charles Leclerc and Alexander Albon a distant fourth and fifth. Absent from the final proceedings was Vettel, who had a right-rear suspension failure early in the race. He was one of just three retirements, joined by Robert Kubica and Kevin Magnussen.
The field was littered with late stops in the final 10 laps, which ensured a shuffled final order. Hamilton's fears — expressed over the radio — regarding the life of his tyres were expressed by a margin that quickly dwindled down. A margin that started at over four seconds with 10 laps remaining quickly halved, and Red Bull's Max Verstappen was showing similar pace in third.
A tense final handful of laps followed. Bottas was within DRS range with seven laps to go, traffic was set to be a factor, and Verstappen was catching them both as they battled.
Bottas' first push for position came with six laps to go at the end of the back straight; the Finnish driver outbraking Hamilton but being forced to run wide through the painted corner exit. It cost Bottas time, but by the following lap he was back in position to pounce — and this time, at the same corner, he positioned up the inside on the dirty line. There was no lock-up and no fight; Hamilton simply letting Bottas by for the lead and ultimately the win.
The next question was whether Hamilton was going to be under threat from Verstappen. He did end up catching up to the Mercedes ace, but a late second sector yellow for the spun Haas car of Magnussen restricted Verstappen's passing opportunities, and ultimately the podium would remain unchanged in the dying moments.
"I tried to stay close in case something happened,” explained Verstappen. “It was a very good race and it was fun - I could see the cars ahead of me. There was a yellow flag on the back straight, so we couldn't use DRS."
Behind the podium, Leclerc finished a quiet fourth ahead of Albon, Daniel Ricciardo, Lando Norris, Carlos Sainz Jr, Nico Hulkenberg, and Sergio Perez in 10th place.
Although the series has been decided, there are still two rounds to go. First is the Brazilian Grand Prix on November 17, with the series drawing to a close with the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on December 1.