AUSTIN, Texas — official release — Mercedes photo —
Lewis Hamilton extended his world championship lead to 24 points after passing Mercedes team mate Nico Rosberg to win a thrilling race in the United States on Sunday afternoon, six years to the day since he secured his first drivers’ title in Brazil.
Rosberg had controlled the race with seeming ease through the first cycle of pit stops — he stopped on Lap 15, and Hamilton followed one lap later — but in the second stint Hamilton steadily hunted him down, slashing a 2.5 second gap to just 0.7 seconds in a handful of laps.
Rosberg rallied slightly, but was taken by surprise at Turn 12 on the 24th lap when Hamilton came from a long way back, trusted his luck and risk assessment, and dived down the inside to take the lead. Thereafter it was all a question of control as he opened a gap and maintained it to the flag despite some late, heavy traffic — the result of several fierce midfield scraps which raged over the closing stages of the Grand Prix.
The triumph was Hamilton’s fifth straight victory, his 10th of the season and the 32nd of his career — putting him ahead of Nigel Mansell’s previous British record of 31 Grand Prix wins.
“What an incredible place this is to go racing,” Hamilton expressed following the victory. “We have such great support here and I have to say a massive thanks to the fans who have been awesome all weekend. I’m really grateful to have had the opportunity to be out front here. It’s a very special feeling to have such an amazing car, an amazing team and to be on this incredible run.”
In regards to surpassing Nigel Mansell, Hamilton said it was a record he for a long time thought he would never match, let alone break.
“I’m very, very proud to now hold the record for the most Formula One wins for a British driver,” Hamilton added. “I have to say, though, it’s all thanks to the team and the car we have this year that I’ve been able to reach that landmark so quickly. Ten wins in a season is just… well, wow!”
Rosberg never gave up the fight and said he didn’t find his rhythm until his teammate overtook him, but by then it was too late.
“It was a tough day for me and it feels horrible to finish second after starting from pole,” Rosberg lamented. “The conditions were very different compared to yesterday and it took me too long to find my rhythm at the beginning. In Formula One it is all about adapting quickly, but it just took me too long. Ten laps after Lewis passed me, I got it right and was able to push much more. Lewis just did a better job today, so congratulations to him.”
Rosberg’s result, however, ensures he will have a mathematical shot at the title in the final race at Abu Dhabi.
“It’s getting tougher but there is still a chance for the title and everything can happen,” Rosberg added. “I’m still going to be pushing flat out just as I always have. I never give up.”
Williams’ Felipe Massa seemed set to complete the podium until a slow stop on lap 32 dropped him behind hard-charging Daniel Ricciardo, who recovered superbly from a slow start to take the place for Red Bull despite a late counter-attack from the Brazilian.
Valtteri Bottas in the second Williams was a relatively quiet fifth, while Fernando Alonso fought his way through to sixth. He only just held off a charging Sebastian Vettel, who started from the pits and made four stops en route to seventh for Red Bull.
The race was slowed by the safety car on the first lap after Force India’s Sergio Perez crashed into Adrian Sutil’s Sauber — an incident currently being investigated by the stewards — and Vettel ran over the resulting debris, suffering a puncture. The German pitted again with a handful of laps remaining for a set of soft-compound Pirellis, which enabled him to scythe through the field in the final laps.
McLaren’s Kevin Magnussen made an early stop under the safety car and later fought tooth and nail for eighth ahead of a tough fight between Jean-Eric Vergne’s Toro Rosso and Pastor Maldonado’s Lotus. Maldonado had shouldered his way to ninth on the final lap but the Venezuelan was later dropped back to tenth after picking up a five-second penalty for speeding in the pit lane. Vergne had earlier muscled his way past the second Lotus of Romain Grosjean, another incident currently under investigation.
Perez and Sutil retired as a result of their first-lap collision, while Nico Hulkenberg completed a miserable weekend for Force India when he pulled off circuit with mechanical problems.