Hamilton wins spectacular USGP at Austin

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F1 Grand Prix, GP USA, Circuit of The Americasus

Lewis Hamilton has won the United States Grand Prix, despite losing first position at the start. The Mercedes driver quickly rectified that situation and went on to dominate the race ahead of the battling that went on behind him. Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen both joined him on the podium for Ferrari.

Penalties had once again mixed up the starting grid, resulting in Verstappen starting from 16th, Hulkenberg 18th and Vandoorne 20th. Pascal Wehrlein in 14th was the only one to start on soft tyres, all others either on the ultrasofts or supersoft tyres.

As the lights went out, Sebastian Vettel had a best launch off the starting grid and dove into Turn 1 in first position, ahead of Hamilton and Bottas. Daniel Ricciardo threatened Bottas for third but failed to get the pass done. The same happened the next lap, with Bottas eventually managed to stay ahead through the twisty first sector.

Esteban Ocon moved up a spot to 5th, ahead of Raikkonen, albeit just for 2 laps as the Finn managed to get that position back rapidly. Fernando Alonso passed Sainz on lap 1 as well to take 7th, ahead of Sainz, Massa and Perez.

From those penalised, Verstappen moved to 11 after just 2 laps while Vandoorne gained 4 positions to 17th. Kevin Magnussen meanwhile pitted on lap 1 to change to soft tyres, rejoining the race in the very back.

Even though Vettel had veered off to take the lead, and an immediate gap of almost 2 seconds, Hamilton didn't ease off and gained again to enter DRS range on lap 5, and make the pass for the lead on the back straight during lap 6.

On lap 11, Verstappen passed Ocon to take 6th, having enjoyed severel seemingly easy overtakes on the long back straight. His Red Bull team mate meanwhile had to back out of his battle with Bottas to try to preserve his tyres. This allowed Raikkonen to close in, who in his behalf appeared to have no problem to follow within a second of Ricciardo.

The Australian was subsequently the first of the front runners to pit, changing to supersofts on lap 13. It didn't matter a whole lot though as 2 laps later, he pulled off the track saying his engine "is gone".

In the meantime, Alonso, Ocon and Perez had all pitted and changed to new softs. Vettel did the same 4 laps later to rejoin the race in 5th position, behind Verstappen.

When Hamilton rejoined the track after his stop two laps later, he was surprised to see Vettel so close behind him. In fact, it was probably less than two tenths when they went through Turn 1, but all that was due to Vettel making great use of his brand new soft tyres. Verstappen pitted a bit later, making for an interesting overtake of Hamilton on the Dutchman. Verstappen pitted before Vettel became a threat for second place and rejoined in 5th position.

Around that time, Alonso joined the list of retirements as he returned slowly to the pits with an engine issue. Hulkenberg, Wehrlein and Ricciardo made that 4 retirements as just the halfway mark.

Little past halfway, it were the Force Indias who drew the attention once again, with the both of them being held up by Massa. Before the latter's stop, Perez complained he could go much faster than Ocon just ahead of him. However, when the Brazilian pitted, Ocon gained 1.7 seconds on his teammate, who subsequently got passed by Sainz as well.

The battle at the front heated up when Raikkonen put the pressure on third placed Bottas, who on his behalf was also just 2 seconds down on Vettel. Verstappen meanwhile closed in in from behind as well, and by lap 38 was as less than two seconds down on Raikkonen.

Things became even more interesting when Verstappen pitted the next lap, changing to supersofts. Ferrari, wary of Red Bull's threat, pitted Vettel the next lap, sending him out again just 1.5s ahead of Verstappen.

Another three laps later, Raikkonen finally made a pass on Bottas and immediately fired away, gaining 2 seconds the next lap.

By lap 44/56, Hamilton lead Raikkonen by 9.5s. Bottas another 2 seconds further down with Vettel 8.5s down on the Finn. Verstappen followed at 2.3 of Vettel. Ocon was 6th, 50s further down the road and just a second ahead of Sainz.

By lap 51, Vettel had caught up with Bottas and easily passed him through Turn 1. Vandoorne was in the mix there as well and wisely opted to exit the turn extremely wide to not intervene. Verstappen passed Bottas 2 laps later as well, triggering a very late stop for the Finn, one that would not cost him anything thanks to the wide gap behind him vs 6th place.

Vettel meanwhile also easily passed Raikkonen for second, after the latter was informed "the car behind you is Sebastian".

At the very end, it was Verstappen's chance to take third position, and he nearly got it by getting past the Finn on the final lap in Turn 17. However, that was not to the liking of the stewards, as once the Dutchman was preparing to go to the podium, he was handed a 5s time penalty for leaving the track during that overtake.

Lewis Hamilton meanwhile won this race comfortably, thanks to building up a big enough gap before the battle behind him intensified.

Results

Pos.No.DriverCarLapsTimePts
144Lewis HamiltonMercedes AMG561:33:50.99125
25Sebastian VettelFerrari56+10.143s18
37Kimi RäikkönenFerrari56+15.779s15
433Max Verstappen(*)Red Bull Racing TAG Heuer56+16.768s12
577Valtteri BottasMercedes AMG56+34.967s10
631Esteban OconForce India Mercedes56+90.980s8
755Carlos SainzRenault56+92.944s6
811Sergio PerezForce India Mercedes55+1 lap4
919Felipe MassaWilliams Mercedes55+1 lap2
1026Daniil KvyatToro Rosso55+1 lap1
1118Lance StrollWilliams Mercedes55+1 lap0
122Stoffel VandoorneMcLaren Honda55+1 lap0
1339Brendon HartleyToro Rosso55+1 lap0
148Romain GrosjeanHaas Ferrari55+1 lap0
159Marcus Ericsson(*)Sauber Ferrari55+1 lap0
1620Kevin MagnussenHaas Ferrari55+1 lap0
NC14Fernando AlonsoMcLaren Honda24DNF0
NC3Daniel RicciardoRed Bull Racing TAG Heuer14DNF0
NC94Pascal WehrleinSauber Ferrari5DNF0
NC27Nico HulkenbergRenault3DNF0

(*) Ericsson received a 5-second time penalty for causing a collision
(*) Max Verstappen finished in third position, but was given a 5s time penalty for gaining an advantage while leaving the track