Lewis Hamilton on verge of fourth F1 world title after 2017 US Grand Prix victory
PUBLISHED: 11:07 23 October 2017 | UPDATED: 11:10 23 October 2017
Steve Etherington for Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix Ltd.
Lewis Hamilton moved closed to a fourth Formula One world title by winning the 2017 United States Grand Prix in Texas.
The 32-year-old Mercedes F1 driver from Hertfordshire raced to his 62nd career victory on Sunday.
It was the Stevenage-born motor racer’s fifth win at the Circuit of The Americas, and ninth of the 2017 season.
Continuing his purple patch, the Silver Arrows star made it five wins and a second place in the last six races with another dominant display behind the wheel.
Ferrari rival Sebastian Vettel took second place in Austin, with Scuderia colleague Kimi Raikkonen elevated to third placed.
Red Bull’s Max Verstappen had crossed the finish line third, but was later hit with a five-second penalty by stewards.
Sunday’s success in America stretched Hamilton’s lead over Vettel to 66 points with just three races to go.
Hamilton leads the Drivers’ Championship with 331 points from Vettel (265 points), with Valtteri Bottas (244 points) a further 21 points behind in P3.
Lewis will win a fourth drivers’ title in Mexico City next Sunday if he takes the chequered flag in the Mexican Grand Prix.
The 75th Formula One victory for the Mercedes-Benz Silver Arrows also sealed the fourth consecutive Constructors’ Championship for the team.
Hamilton said: “Firstly, I want to say big congratulations to everyone in the team – both back at the factory and here.
“There has been an incredible push for this kind of performance this year.
“We really pulled together more than I have experienced and seen over the last five years to create something quite special.
“I’m really proud for everyone, especially going from one era of car to another, which is something that has never been done before.
“It shows the strength of the team and I’m proud to be part of it.”
After claiming his 72nd pole position in qualifying, Hamilton was beaten off the start line by Vettel.
However, the Mercedes man showed the kind of pace that podium interviewer Usain Bolt knows all about on the track.
He regained the lead on lap six and secured another 25 points to collect the winner’s trophy from former US President Bill Clinton on the podium.
Hamilton said: “The race was great, it was probably one of the most fun races that I have had for a while – and there were quite a few fun ones this year.
“I didn’t get away to a great start, but I was kind of chilled about it, knowing from the past that I can overtake here.
“I had a lot of fun trying to get closer and overtaking.
“Today the wind changed 180 degrees and it made the track so special to drive; the car felt amazing going through the Esses.
“We have three more races left this season – and that’s three I want to win.”
To extend the title race until the Brazilian GP, Vettel has to make up 17 points on Hamilton in Mexico next weekend.
Hamilton’s Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas was disappointed with his fifth place at the COTA after having to make a second stop for tyres on lap 52.
He said: “That was a tough day for me. In the first three quarters of the race, everything was going quite well and the pace was not bad.
“However, I couldn’t make the one-stop strategy work with all the fighting with Sebastian [Vettel] and Kimi [Raikkonen] in the second stint.
“That was wearing the Soft tyres off quite a bit, they started to go and it simply was not possible to stick to just one stop.
“I tried everything I could to defend, but it was too late, so unfortunately we had to pit again.
“I’m still disappointed with my race, and I will need a few moments to get over it.
“However, I’m also happy for the Constructors’ title. It is amazing to be part of this championship-winning team.”
Mercedes-Benz Petronas Motorsport, with 575 points, lead Ferrari (428 points) by 147 points in the Constructors’ Championship – an unassailable lead with three races remaining in the 2017 season.
Technical director James Allison accepted the Constructors’ trophy on behalf of the team.
He said: “You can’t argue with any race where you overtake on track for the lead and then romp off to the win.
“It was a brilliant drive by Lewis and a very welcome tonic to some of the narrative that had built in recent weeks suggesting that the momentum of the development race had shifted towards our competitors.
“This car, team and our drivers showed themselves today to be worthy winners of the Constructors’ title.”
As for Bottas, Allison said: “For a long time, we looked to be on course for a comfortable podium with Valtteri, too.
“He enjoyed a strong first stint and looked set to take second place from Sebastian for a significant portion of the race.
“However, in the second stint we were not able to make the tyres last well enough to help the one-stop strategy pay off.
“Nevertheless, he still scored the points we needed to secure the title at the first time of asking, and he will certainly enjoy even stronger races in the future.”
Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff added: “I am so proud of what has been achieved: winning across a rule change, something has never been done before in the sport, and doing it because every team member has dug deeper to find performance, been even more diligent on reliability and this has come together in the most special way.
“We had the quickest car out there in the race today – Lewis did a faultless job, picking off Sebastian and then managing his one-stop strategy to perfection.
“Valtteri had a tougher time: running in dirty air meant he couldn’t convert his good pace into what would have been a deserved podium finish.
“But overall, we must be satisfied that we have got half of the job done today; one title down and one more still to win.
“Our target must to be to keep our foot on the gas and win each of the next three races.”