Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton wrapped up his sixth FIA Formula One World Drivers’ Championship title with second place at the United States Grand Prix behind race-winning team-mate Valtteri Bottas. Max Verstappen took his seventh podium finish of the year with third place.
Hamilton started the race from fifth place, his lowest grid spot of the season, but after the start he quickly climbed into the top three as both Ferrari drivers had difficult starts. Sebastian Vettel was passed by Verstappen into Turn 1 and Leclerc was passed by Hamilton.
Further back, Red Bull’s Alec Albon collided with Carlos Sainz and the Thai driver was forced to pit at the end of the lap. He took on medium tyres, rejoined in P20 and then began a fight back through the order.
Vettel, meanwhile, was losing more ground. The Ferrari driver reported “crazy understeer” after the start and by the end of lap one he was down to P7 as both McLaren’s Lando Norris and Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo surged past.
And by lap 8 the German’s race was run. As he ran over the kerbs in Turn 8, his rear right suspension collapsed. He managed to maintain control and pulled over at the side of the track and retired.
By lap 12 Bottas had carved out a three-second gap to Verstappen, with Hamilton a further eight tenths of a second behind. Hamilton now began to close on the Red Bull driver and at the end of the following lap Verstappen elected to put for fresh tyres. He bolted on a set of hard tyres and rejoined in P4 ahead of Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo.
Mercedes responded to Verstappen’s stop by pitting leader Bottas at the end of the following lap and he rejoined in P3, just ahead of the Dutchman. Both quickly powered past the much slower Leclerc and resumed their battle in P2 and P3 respectively.
Further back, Albon made a second stop, for medium tyres, on lap 20 and dropped back to P15. He once again started a march up the order and by half distance he was back into the points, in ninth place.
Hamilton, though, stayed on track and nursed his starting his medium tyres until he was at last passed by Bottas on lap 24. The Briton dived for the pits and after switching to a set of hard tyres he rejoined in third place behind Max.
Ahead, Bottas now led Verstappen by six seconds, with Hamilton a further 11 seconds back in P3. Leclerc was now a lonely fourth, some 25 seconds off Hamilton and 14 seconds clear of Ricciardo. The McLarens of Norris and Sainz were now sixth and seventh and respectively and after dismissing Pierre Gasly and Sainz, Albon found himself in P7. His next target was Norris and within two laps he’d caught his fellow rookie. He then made quick work of reclaiming his starting position of sixth with a good move past Norris into Turn 1.
With his tyres fading, Verstappen was now beginning to drop back from leader Bottas. He dived into pit lane on lap 35 to take on a new set of medium tyres. Mercedes again covered the move by pitting Bottas at the end of the next tour and as Hamilton once again assumed the race lead as Bottas emerged in P2.
Bottas then began to close on Hamilton and by lap 50 the Finn found himself within DRS range of his team-mate and began to attack. His first effort was rebuffed, but with five laps remaining there was nothing Hamilton could do as Bottas made the most of DRS on the back straight to power past on the inside and reclaim the lead.
As Hamilton’s pace dropped on fading tyres, Verstappen smelled blood. With two laps left the Dutchman got to within DRS range of the championship leader, but though he pushed to find a weakness, no opportunity presented itself and as Bottas crossed the line to take his fourth win of the year, and Hamilton took second to wrap up his sixth Formula 1 World Drivers’ title, the Red Bull driver was forced to settle for third place.
Behind the top three, Charles Leclerc finished a distant fourth, some 52 seconds behind the race winner. Albon finished fifth after once again dropping back following a third pit stop for soft tyres late in the race. Sixth place went to Ricciardo with Norris seventh ahead of team-mate Sainz. Nico Hulkenberg took an extra two points for Renault with ninth place and the final point on offer went to Racing Point’s Sergio Pérez.