Hamilton clinches third title with victory in Texas
Reigning champion Lewis Hamilton has added his name to the list of three-time Formula 1 world champions after winning a dramatic rain-affected United States Grand Prix at the Circuit of the Americas near Austin, Texas yesterday.
In weekend characterised by the cancellation of the third free practise session and postponing of qualifying to Sunday morning due to Tropical Storm Patricia, Hamilton took advantage of a late race error by Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg, to join Niki Lauda, Jack Brabham, Jackie Stewart, Nelson Piquet and his childhood hero Ayrton Senna, as the only drivers to have won three titles.
“I can't find the right words to tell you how amazing this feels,” an emotional Hamilton told music legend Elton John on the podium after the race.
“It's just crazy to think I am now a three-time champion. I owe it all to my dad and family who sacrificed it all to see me here. For me the target was always to get the three Ayrton had. I don't know what's coming next. There is no-one else I want to equal or emulate”.
In stark contrast to his victories teammate, Rosberg was left visibly angry in the post-race holding room and on the podium, after the Brit threw a second place finishing cap at him. Rosberg responded by chucking it back much the disgust of Mercedes technical boss, Paddy Lowe, who picked up the constructors trophy.
Speaking at the post-race driver briefing, Rosberg, who took pole position after the deteriorating conditions resulted in the cancellation of the third qualifying phase, accused his teammate of showing to much aggression by squeezing him wide as the field headed into the first corner.
“Turn one was for sure very, very aggressive. Extremely aggressive and we hit each other. Or should I say Lewis came into me, so that's not good. I can't say more than that until I have seen it again,” Rosberg said.
With Hamilton manging to get the jump on him, Rosberg fell back to fourth behind the Red Bulls of Danill Kvyat and Daniel Ricciardo, as the first Virtual Safety Car was deployed following an accident between Williams’ Felipe Massa, and the McLaren of Fernando Alonso.
Heading up the hill, Alonso appeared to brake fractionally late on the still wet track, clipping the back of the Williams and sending both into spin as pieces of carbon fibre were strewn accross the track.
Debris cleared, and having seemingly been outpaced by the Red Bulls as racing resumed, Rosberg immediately got the drop on Ricciardo at the re-start with Kvyat mounting on a challenge on Hamilton for the lead.
The swopping of positions, which eventually saw Rosberg leading and Hamilton in second, then began to fizzle out as the change from intermediates to slick tyres started favouring the Mercedes as both Ricciardo and Kyvat began dropping back.
With the further deployment of another virtual and then actual safety car, Rosberg appeared to have the race sewn up as Hamilton was unable to respond at each re-start.
Proceeding were then thrown upside down 15 laps from the finish, when Kvyat spun coming out of the second last corner, clouting the barriers and brining out another safety car.
Stopping for fresh tyres and within striking range of Rosberg as the green flag dropped five laps later, Hamilton was seemingly set for a final 10-lap duel when the German lost the rear of his Mercedes at turn 16, ran wide and handing the Brit his third title.
“It has never happened to me ever something like that; I can't explain it. I just need to look into it afterwards. It was really tough at the time to lose the lead like that and the win,” Rosberg said after the race.
Behind the Mercedes', Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel bounced back from starting 13th due to a ten place engine penalty, to cross the line third ahead of Toro Rosso rookie Max Verstappen, and the Force India of Sergio Perez.
Having started last after crashing in qualifying, Verstappen’s teammate Carlos Sainz Jr survived an eventful race to cross the line sixth, with Jenson Button picking-up an encouraging result for McLaren in seventh.
With his teammate Romain Grosjean falling victim to mechanical problem, Lotus’ Pastor Maldonado came home eigth with the remaining points going to Sauber’s Felipe Nasr and Ricciardo, who managed to pass Alonso on the last lap as the McLaren began experiencing powerunit problems.
The high attrition rate saw only 11 cars being classified with home crowd favourite Alexander Rossi scoring the final place for the struggling Manor team.
After a 23 year absence, the F1 circus makes its way to the revised Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez for the Mexican Grand Prix this coming weekend.
IMAGE sourced from www.ottawacitizen.com
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